Friday, November 9, 2018

Healing Art to Mend the Shell Shock

We Baby Boomers grew up in a world facing the horror of having fought an enormous, again, world wide war AFTER the "war to end all wars."

Putting women in huge skirted dresses, and men in ticky-tacky boxed up jobs, and children in 'our places', only promoted a backlash of unbridled Love and Art, the "Me Generation', and more wars and depressions of dubious origins that we at least, finally, had the decency to stop naming "Great."

We are now living in a world of hurt and anxiety, not tremendously surprisingly. And so are our children, and theirs.

What will we do?

The Great War ended 99 years ago, this weekend, and we are still shell shocked.

We could turn and look the hurt straight in the eye. We could Listen. Sometimes when we are not well, the thing to do is honor what the pain is trying to tell us. Which can take courage.

May I offer my own personal favorite method of wholesomeness? Make art.

Art Heals.

Art Saves Lives.

Let's start with something simple. We can draw a Doodle Mandala. Give yourself this.

Put a dot in the center of a blank page.

Draw a little circle around it.

Make a series of a shapes on the outside of the circle; little circles, squares, or more dots, perhaps.

Draw another circle outside of the first. Draw more shapes, scallops, or even lines.

Add more circles and more shapes. Make simple or compound decorations. Don't try to be too perfect. Let this be easy.


Turn off the music, the news, the manifestations of other people's minds and listen to your own. 

Be kind to your own Dear Self. Be polite. Be compassionate. 

Be gentle. Our minds have a lot to tell us. Keep drawing. Step back from all of those thoughts going down the river. Just let them keep going on past you. Thank your brain for helping you to eat, and sleep, and brush your teeth. Keep drawing. All is well. Even if it sounds crazy. Especially when we sound fragile, or angry, or desperate, or scared, keep drawing. Scribbles and slashes can make a mandala too.

You might choose to draw a circle of hearts. Perfect. Love is our answer.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Heart Buddies

I am reading Noah St. John and being shaken up with challenge! He wants me to find "Loving Mirrors and Safe Havens". Who does he think he is??

Well, among other things a guy who can tell his story, inspire people and make a living. And all of that is on my bucket list too.

So, being a visual kind of gal I thought that I would make paper dolls to stand resolutely on the shelf above my desk and silently repeat the kind words that my friends say to me: encouragements, smiles, cowabungas and other such.

You are welcome to join in: copy and print the Heart Buddies above onto cardstock. Color them, and cut them out* NOTE to cut straight across the bottom of the feet - it will make the legs sturdier. Follow the directions on the paper to make the stand and fill in the speech bubble with quotes from your friends.

AND IF you leave me a comment telling me the general direction of encouragement you want to hear I will send you one.

I personally, while I am in the midst of writing three books at once - and having a ton of fun until I realize that I am going public here - would love to hear if you think I might just go ahead, have fun, and write two art-how-to books and one personal memoir.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Joyous, Abundant Thanksgiving

I am sitting at the dining room table writing a book which is turning out to be so much more fun than I thought it would be.

I mean I love writing, and I have had all of these books inside of me for, um, decades. I have wanted to be a writer since high school. So, I am here and writing. I had a lovely, colorful, playful idea for a book to celebrate the opening of my new website. I thought that the idea was so great that the writing would be fast and furious, but now that I am past the concept stage and into the writing process I remember how I love being changed myself as the idea morphs into words.

There are always surprises and, um, can I call it 'deepenings'? The magic of connecting symbolism, to passion, to a carefully chosen word. I love this.

So I am sitting in our dining room while my daughter takes on the WHOLE Thanksgiving dinner! (Wonderous Girl.) I am sitting next to my son who is attending to his cyber world while I attend to mine. We three regularly stop what we are doing to feed our bunny a morsel of kale or a bit of carrot and marvel at his adorability. The new pop album is blaring, yesterday's new snow is stunning. And I am writing.

Now how lucky am I? Very. Very.

I wish you all the life of your dreams.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Classes: Hand-made Books & Felt Intention Cloths

My autumn classes at Five Towns Adult Education are open!

First, here is Felt Applique Intention Cloths: little art quilts for your wall and also to use as an object of focus and an opening into your inner wisdom. Set an intention (it could be about your new car, your wedding, what to do with that closet down the hall) and then as you sew, magic things happen in your brain. I will tell you all about it in class, but it works. Art makes us smart. I swear. And if you just want to come to learn the really pretty design technique, that would be fab too. xo

Sign up here:


You could come over to the High School and take the Handmade Books class which is geared specifically to parents and teachers. I teach you (and we play and have fun) and then you take these cool ideas home/to class and show them to your children. It is a great way to have time with one's kids, especially if you use it as a way to watch just how creative and smart they really are. All that color. All that folding, and handling, and experimenting with paper. What a way to brainstorm wonder.

Sign up here:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Art Quilts

There is a lovely peace that comes with beading. A sweet rhythm of counting the beads: "One and two and three and oh! and umm." (The oh! being a slight intake of breath as my needle picks up the accent bead and the umm a gentle release as I add the last 'knot' bead to a line of beads that will hang down from the edges of the applique.

The meditation for this piece is about foundations. I hired a business coach. Now with so much new information to assimilate with what I have known for truth all these years, my head is busy and buzzing. Where do I belong? What is happening to me? Where have my feet gone? I wanted to know, and years of experience has taught me that my fingers will find the answers in my stitches.

So I stitch colors to colors and beads in lines to lead my eyes ... and at the end I always know.

I am teaching a version of these quilts at Adult Education this fall. I long to have your company. We will discover what is rich and wonderful in you - or you can just sew a little quilt. They are so pretty. Like jewels. If you are local to mid coast Maine click here to sign up - 4 Thursday evenings in October.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Times That Are For Changing

Where once there were three there are now two.My brother died. I took my children to the beach for the healing. The air was soft and kind. The tide was full-ish.

I have been remembering my history with my brother and the times that were the best were the ones where we were around dirt and water and sand.
There were the roots of the tree near the front door that we dug up regularly to make roads for his matchbox cars.
There were the big rainstorms that poured thrilling cascades of water down our steep driveway to crash through our mud and leaf dams in the gutter.
There was the Connecticut beach that we shared with our cousins where we spent whole summers making exquisite drip castles.

I looked for striped Good Luck rocks. I said prayers for him. I have grown up in a world which assured me that the place hereafter can be trusted for its goodness and I choose to believe that.

Then I said prayers for the living: our family and especially, especially, his children.

May the Whole Universe convene to keep them well loved in this time.And I have been thinking about what I said yesterday to a friend: that our Treasure is in the place where grief, tenderness, yearning, anger and love all exist together. It is messy but this is the truth of my life: a somewhat chaotic gathering of emotions and thoughts. With all of these resources I will walk a rich journey and write a deep story. A steadfast adherance to only one, pristine beauty might be poetic, but then the adventure is over.

There is more.

My children, there, on the beach within arm's reach, had needs. I wanted a good cry and was being required elsewhere. I considered feeling frustrated but then laughed inside at how good a circumstance it is to have my teens trust that their well-being is safe in my hands. We turned around and picked a few more pebbles and photos.

My treasure won't go away.

I told my sister how the grief rolls in and out.

All of it is rolling in and out.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Beauty and Power that is U.S.

A little over two weeks ago I set out on an adventure with my two children. I had signed up for a workshop/retreat with Christine Kane who is an entrepreneurial coach - no, as she puts it she is a "mentor to women who are changing the world".

Yes'M. That'd be me. (There are some things that I know about courage and I think that it is about time I let loose with the secret.)

So, because the retreat was in North Carolina, and because of 47 other reasons, one of which being some excellent homeschooling opportunities on the way, I packed up my teens and headed out.


Yes, we drove. One of the educational opportunities taken by my daughter was to learn to play Navigator. She learned to read directions (TripTiks are great, but not all at once. She learned to ply me with only certain, shorthand amounts of information at a time), make sense of maps (red roads, blue roads and the like), and even use her pinkie to estimate distances. She's been awesome since the day she was born. 12 days of car and hotel room proximity were further proof.

Views of US: The Tappan Zee Bridge in New York.

I grew up near here, and am still delighted by its length, and math. The mid-river perspective of the banks of the Hudson are really too lovely to be appreciate while driving. Bummer.

Views of US: Virginia Highway
Views of US: The Virginia Mountains
It was a little hot and hazy in VA, so we couldn't see the mountains in the far distance, but as we got near I was thrilled. Up close and personal they were soul strengthening. Really beautiful.

Views of US: A Map of US c. 1774 (at Colonial Williamsburg)

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Jersey look much the way we expect to see them today, but you'll notice that Maine is a wee, squish of a thing, and New Hampshire and Vermont seem to not have come into the picture yet, perhaps on account of the map-drawer allotting an awful lot of pink to New York. Pennsylvania is only slightly misshapen form our modern maps and I am absolutely either amused or horrified by the straight lines, east to forever, for Virginia, The Carolinas, and Georgia.

"Hi, I'll take my portion straight across here."

Kinda tells us a lot about the mindset of the Europeans on this continent: 20,000 years of history on North America ... GONE. (And yes, I am completely aware that my great...grandparents, on both sides, were some of those Europeans.) They talk that way still -in Washington DC - that the history of this country began with a bunch of folk from across the Atlantic in the 1500's. I think that I keep dragging on about all this to somehow figure out if my children's Asian ancestors were on this continent before mine. I mean, they were. It is just that the history books keep forgetting to mention it.

Well, anyway, The Capitol of US captured all of our hearts and minds. For me, the thought that has gone into the beauty and symbolism of the architecture of Washington is stunning. I could look at it for a very long time.

Views of US: The Capitol Building in Washington DC

Views of US: Lady Freedom on top of The Capitol Building

I grew up near New York and Lady Liberty has long been a favorite of mine. Now I have a new friend.

Views of US: Cousin Barack's House

So, um, yes. Cousin Barack and I have mutual great...grandparents. My guess is that there are several million people with a relationship less multiplied and removed than mine, but hey, it makes our visit to WDC all the more personal. :)

Views of US: Hot in DC

Yeah, yeah, I've already mentioned that, but see? Even the panda thought so. (How cute are pandas??)

Views of US: Power and Beauty

So, since our road trip, my own journey to my own power and beauty has become more clear and more worthy. I still feel honored to have been able to spend those four days with Christine. There is a reason for all of this. It makes me work harder to be worthy of it all. To be worthy of my children. There is so much for us to learn. Homeschooling never stops.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Delight + Excitement


By All That Is Good, Here I Am. For the last two weeks my kids and I have been out wandering the wide world.

It had occurred to me that I had somewhat come to a stop in my studio. I needed a great big, astounding infusion of Thrill and Inspiration. I knew it. Then I saw Christine Kane's invitation to work with her in Charlotte, North Carolina in July. I decided to go. My two teens worked it out with me that they would come along for the ride and we'd play "Tourists" on our way back home.

Flowers, indeed.

Christine is warm and sweet. She is also a powerhouse and had to keep restraining herself from "fire-hosing" (deluging) us with information. And this presence, this power, this wisdom is exactly what I needed.

So: SUNNE SPOT is getting a revamp.

New classes.

New books.

New embellished art quilts.

A brand new video and e-book package; well, actually, four of them.

(I figured this out today while driving the last leg of the trip home,)

my logo up there is going to get a lovely new set of colors.
My kids and I saw a Momma deer and her two babies on our front lawn just before we left for our trip. Deer have been a beloved symbol for me since I was little. Read here. (Scroll down to what "Sherry" said.) I also kept seeing people with North Carolina license plates up here in Maine. I just took it all for good luck and blessings.

And it seems like it was, because the trip was some kinda wonderful stuff. A lovely time with my dear-ie-o's, a somewhat cosmic time with Christine and the other women who came to the retreat, and even the mess-up on following AAA's Trip-Tik directions and driving across the George Washington Bridge smack dab into New York City by mistake ... (AAAAAH!!!) (We were told by everyone to leave City driving to the New Yorkers and skirt to the north and west) ... well, it all worked out because I was born and raised north of the City and I ended up recognising the names of the highways and we made it out laughing at our fears of living large in the Big Apple. (O.K., O.K. We were there for all of about 10 minutes, but still...)

So: magic and delight are afoot. Sign up for my newsletter over there on the left and keep up on the "In" list.

I haven't had this much fun in ages.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Come to Paint Papers with me.

From May 2nd to May 23rd I am teaching a class at Five Towns Adult Ed, here in Rockport, all about lavishing brilliant acrylic paint on paper.

Here's the info:

Why paint on paper rather than on stretched canvases? Well, because it is less expensive, and thus gives us a lot more freedom to play. And this is the point of this class. Oh, sure: you'll get bunches of info to take to your next acrylic painted canvas, but the work we'll do layering color on paper will give you rich, fabulous papers with which you can collage, decorate, scrapbook, art journal and design. I will show you some simple bookbinding and card design to get you going.
There is still some room left. I am really looking forward to 4 weeks of pure play. (And you will have a ton of georgous papers to take home with you so that you can play on, and on, and on...!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Handmade Journal Making

Good morning. I have been away. Not so much physically, but emotionally. I think that I have been shifting gears. Laurie Adams, the once-potter and now paper artist, used to plan a come-down period after she'd take her pots to a big show. It just takes some time to shift from that "out" energy back to the inner focus of home and studio work.

I appreciate the time I spent in an outside-my-home teaching studio, but the timing wasn't quite correct, and now I am glad to be home with my excellent homeschooling teens. I have gotten our groove re-energized and the solidity that I feel there is spilling around.

Lately I have been getting some calls and emails about my studio work and here is a post about journal making, thank you to S from Alaska. :)

We always have questions about the sizing of our hand made journals. The answers are found in what we use them for, and what they are made of. The focus today is using brown paper grocery bags - the big ones. It is a sturdy paper and able to stand up to lots of paint, crumpling, collage and more. I love working with it.

So take a bag and cut off the edges of the two long sides of the bottom. Then slip your scissors inside and cut the two short sides.
(Sorry that this pic came out sideways!) This wierd little layered and folded piece can be saved to make a wierd little piece book:
Cut the circle of the bag open along the seam in back.
And you end up with a lovely, huge piece of art paper.
(Another crazy sideways pic - I don't know why the computer turns them and won't keep the corrective rotations that I do..)
Anyway, here are two journals that I made with brown paper pages. Both of them had covers - that I made first - from painted cereal boxes, so the size of the boxes determined the size of the journals. The brown paper didn't easily fold into the correct sizes and so I folded the bags in half twice, and then I bound pages that were too long for the covers making some of the pages into fold-out pages where needed to fit the pages into the covers. Check this post to get a few more photos.
Another thing that you can do with the bags is to NOT cut them, but bind them just as they are. Stack them bottom to top and then top to bottom. Fold the stack in half (this book uses 4 big bags) and stitch them together down the middle.
The flaps of the bottoms of the bags make secret hiding places for writing...
And the open end of the bag tops make huge pockets for extra pages, or storage of art materials.
Here is a bottom flap (sideways, grrr) taped up to make a shallow pocket for these three mini-tag-books.
Another brown paper and cereal box book:
Punch an odd number of holes through the center of each signature of paper as well as through the cardboard of the spine - sooo much easier if you make a template, use an awl, and use an old piece of "blueboard" (hardware store) as your surface. The binding here left a long tail of ribbon at the top and I sewed a running stitch down, and back up again. I rather like the hand binding. Thicker signatures are possible. But experiment with your heavy duty sewing machine and see what happens.
And notice how much space I left between the signatures: I am planning on adding many layers of ornamentation to these pages and the wider spine and signature spacing will give me all the room I need to not have the book bulge.
Here is a photo of the flaps that open the spread a little wider.
Another question to consider is whether to bind the book first or to paint the papers first. Here is a journal where all the painting happened before the binding. The journal looks a little neater but functions more like a book (content first) than like a journal (place, not perfection). It's just a choice. There are advantages both ways.
Notice on the yellow page the ripped, uneven edge, and the green paint showing from the other side of the page. When I bound this book I found that the pages kept sticking together and so bound it with paper in between each painted page that is very like tracing paper - that weight and texture. It does the trick.
And the "hand" of gessoed and painted, double sided, is just great, kinda cloth-like, like canvas.
In this pic you can see how widely spaced the signatures are. Clearly, I am not finished yet. :)
As for binding, (if I am not using the whole cereal box) I like, and use most of the time, a strip of cardboard for the spine. The spacing between the two covers and the spine makes the covers very easy to open. You can use a strip of cloth wide enough to span the edge of the two covers, the spaces and the spine in the middle. Glue the boards with gel medium, white glue or whatever you have. Alternatively, a couple of widths of duct tape will hold your book together. And check out the wonderful colors that duct tape comes in now.
Good luck Have fun, S, with your children. I love answering questions. Anyone is welcome to write with more.
Now I am off to quilt a boat. (Pictures to come.)