Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Art from the Heart - Free Giveaway!

Catherine Matthews-Scanlon is giving away two copies of her great book, "Art from the Heart"! If you would like to sign up for her very generous giveaway, please visit her BLOG and read the requirements.

Oh...and speaking of hearts, if you would like to be entered into a drawing to win one of my tile or glass mosaic hearts, please comment on the entry directly before this one.


Monday, January 28, 2008

One World - One Heart (FREE GIVEAWAY!)

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Jeweled Heart
9" x 8.5"
Mixed media mosaic
Stacy Alexander


I am a participant in the One World - One Heart art event. If you would like a chance to win one of my mosaic hearts (a $95 value) ABSOLUTELY FREE, please leave a comment after this post. That's all there is to it...but....

Part II. If you would like chances to win EVEN MORE free art...and to read more about this event, please click on this link, then visit the artists' blogs listed on the right hand side of the page: ONE WORLD - ONE HEART

(All comments will be moderated and will not show up here until they have been approved. Your information will be kept private and WILL NOT be sold to anyone!)

Call for Entries!

Call for Entries for The Artful Home Portfolio Competition

Ahlogomaintop Madison, WI – The Guild, Inc., presenter of The Artful Home® catalogs, website, and Guild Sourcebooks, is sponsoring its second annual juried competition designed to identify original works of art that can be turned into a signed and numbered edition of giclée prints and featured for sale through The Artful Home catalogs and website.

The Grand Prize winner will receive an artwork publishing contract with The Guild for the sale of the signed and numbered edition of giclée prints to be made from the winning image and sold through The Artful Home. The Grand Prize winner will also receive a $1,500 cash award and an artist page in the residential section of The Guild® Sourcebook, a book that connects artists with design professionals who can hire them for commissions. Two Honorable Mention winners will each receive a $500 cash award.

The competition is open to all artists, 18 years of age or older, who are legal residents of the United States or Canada, except as specified in the Official Rules, which can be viewed at

Artists may enter up to three images of work created in any two-dimensional discipline including, but not limited to, drawing, fiber, painting, one-of-a-kind traditional prints, photography, and collage. All entries must be the work of the entrant and must not have been previously published elsewhere.

Entries will be accepted from January 15, 2008, through 5 p.m. Central Time February 29, 2008, at, the website for Juried Art Services, a digital jury and application system, which is managing the entries for The Guild.

Ten finalists will be selected by a jury led by David A. Ross, chairman of the Artist Pension Trust Curatorial Committee, and former director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. The Grand Prize winner and two Honorable Mention winners will be chosen from among the ten finalists by a public online vote, held April 7 through May 15, 2008, on

Complete entry information and Official Rules can be viewed at

The Guild, Inc.® is the leading online retailer of original art and fine craft items shipped direct to customers from artists’ studios. The company presents the work of today’s finest artists through the website, and The Artful Home® and Artful® Gifts catalogs, which offer collections carefully selected from the 10,000 items available online. Since 1985, The Guild has also published annual sourcebooks helping design professionals locate commissionable artists for special projects.

For more information, go to, or contact Julie Kolka, Manager of Public Relations and Partnerships, at (608) 227-4105 or

KrazyDad Kaleidoscopes

One of the coolest software toys to come down the pike is the Kaleidoscope Maker by KrazyDad. The application allows users to insert urls from their original pictures and it converts those into two different versions of a kaleidoscope image. The examples shown here were all made from my own photos of my original art using the urls provided by flickr.

The site generates a downloadable image url from one of the two visual options provided. I found it difficult to gauge which images would make good kaleidoscopes. Sometimes, the results were very different than my expectations...but that was half the fun.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spreading the Anti-Blizzard Juju


24" x 18"
mixed media on canvas
Stacy Alexander

The subject of Jen Worden's art challenge for Week #4 is "citrus", with hope, perhaps, that the collective artistry of those of us who participate will somehow restore sunshine to those blizzard-laden lands North of this sunny state.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I (Heart) Gocco

Not long ago, The Wurst Gallery in Portland (one of my favs!) held an exhibit called "We Heart Gocco", the focus of which was on artwork created with the much-beloved Japanese tabletop screenprinting device the Gocco Printer. It is muy impressive to see how different artists have utilized the gadget's capabilities. You can still purchase some of the prints online at the gallery's website. Here are two examples of the 14 prints available, "Little Love" by Mizna Wada (above) and "Love with a Needle" by Evan B. Harris (below). Click here for The Wurst Gallery

Here's a little video on how to make a Gocco print:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Brian Dettmer

The art of altering books has grown in popularity over the last decade and remains high on my list of artistic endeavors. I have a couple of my own altered book projects in the works and also enjoy looking at the work of other altered book artists. One of my favorites is Brian Dettmer.

Brian Dettmer sifts through stacks of antiquated books, boxes of dusty cassette tapes, and piles of obsolete maps to uncover the perfect source and subject for his conceptual explorations and sculptural dissections. He alters pre-existing materials by selectively removing and manipulating elements as a way to allow new interpretations and ideas to emerge. With the precision of a surgeon, Dettmer uses scalpels, tweezers, and other medical instruments to carve into the surface of his found objects to reveal hidden meanings.

Dettmer has exhibited extensively in galleries and museums throughout North America and Europe. His work has been featured in several books and in 2007 he was selected as the featured artist by the Illinois Art Education Association, a program in which images of his work were incorporated into lesson plans for student art projects. Just look at the amazing work he does! whoa!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mosaic Madness

6 hearts

The picture is a little out of focus, but this is what I've been up to at my house over the last couple of days. It has been mosaic madness. My usually very clean kitchen is, at this moment, a mess with broken glass and adhesive everywhere...and I'm just getting started! I awaken early and start making mosaics and continue through the night until I'm ready to drop. I learn something new with each one that I make. Glass is definitely my thing. I'm still pretty sloppy, but I plan to get in enough practice to work out the kinks and get good at this. Having a blast!

Tomorrow, I grout!

Need a gift...but low on cash?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

POPaganda: The Art and Subversion of Ron English

Ron English

(Thanks goes out to Arlene for turning me on to the POPaganda site!)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jen Worden's Art Challenge - Week #3 - Monoprint

I am having a blast with Jen Worden's weekly art challenges! They are great warm up exercises for the other projects that I'm making and a great exploration of techniques and materials.

This mono print (which Jen now has featured on her blog) utilized a very simple technique that I'd not used in a long time. It was made by covering a glass plate with acrylic paint. I then drew in the paint with both the handles and brush ends of a variety of sizes of brushes. Finally, I went over the entire thing with a brayer. I plan to enhance the dragonflies a bit with some metallic powders.

Twelve Wings in Flight

Twelve Wings in Flight
Stacy Alexander

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mark Khaisman - Tape it up....

I have been following the sculptural tape trend that a lot of my friends are trying, and have been having a good time with it. However, today, I stumbled upon a new use for regular packing tape that blew me away! Check out these amazing works crafted from packing tape by Ukraine born, Philadelphia-based artist,
Mark Khaisman These large archetypal images are made from layer upon layer of translucent packing tape, applied to plexiglass and then placed in front of a light box to give the image shadow and depth. Mark is inspired by people, places and things which have a classic style to them. he believes that reinterpreting these classics, using his medium and method, transforms these iconic figures and objects into a remarkable personal experience for the viewer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Air Tap

Call for Art - Deadline Feb. 22, 2008

A gallery in St. James, NY has put out a call for artists who create work about women. Submissions are accepted via mail on CD. Details below:

Accepting entries for a national juried exhibition celebrating a global image of women and and their daily lives. In celebration of Women's History Month, the exhibit is to be held at the Mills Pond House Gallery March 29 – April 25, 2008. Artists are invited to submit works of art that depict women throughout the world with themes that include, but are not limited to, jobs, chores, families, and friendships. Artists may submit their work by JPEG (300 dpi, not to exceed 6 inches in any direction) on CD only. Entry fee.

For a prospectus send SASE to:

The Smithtown Township Arts Council
660 Rte 25A
St James NY 11780

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jen Worden's Art Challenge - Week #2 - Dot to Dot

Jen Worden Art Challenge - Week 2 - Doilie

This is my completed project for week #2 of Jen Worden's art challenge. I enjoyed this one so much! Really got me out of my own head and into the discovery of new techniques and materials.

The assignment was to open any DIY book or magazine and create the FIRST project we came to. Mine was from the March/April 2005 Somerset Studio, a piece called, "Dot to Dot". I had a blast creating it. Now I have a good image to manipulate and use on cards, et al.

Thanks, Jen! You did it again! ;-)

Stitch Witchery

Apart from being an inspirational and supportive friend... and the mother of one of my adorable godchilden, Lili... artist Ana Voog (shown left in one of her fiber creations) inspires me artfully in more ways than I can say. Known by many from her days as lead singer for Minneapolis band, "The Blue Up", she is probably better known today as the performance artist behind anacam, a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week webcam. Last year, she was featured in an international documentary called Webcam Girls that profiles some of the leading players in the webcam phenomenon. She is intelligent, inquisitive, a devoted mother and an awesome visual artist who works with a wide variety of media. I find myself particularly inspired by her fiber work....and since tomorrow is National Hat Day (bet you didn't know THAT. Did you??), I would be remiss if I didn't mention Ana's beautiful and unique art hats.

Ana creates some pretty incredible one-of-a-kind, sculptural art hats from crochet, usually from wool that she spins herself. Click here to see! Having recently been gifted with a spinning wheel and loom, I have gained new appreciation for Ana's work with fiber. I liked the description of Ana's hats given by another blogger: "Ana Voog's hats are everything that hats should be...impractical, individual, and WARM! They are an outlandish tribute to the lost art of hat wearing."

I, personally, come from a long line of women who sew and work with fiber, only I never learned to do these things myself. When I was a child I tried to learn, but my Mother, in her ardor for sewing as a way of life, would, without fail (and probably from a lack of patience) finish my projects for me. Otherwise, I would have monopolized her sewing machine for weeks. In retrospect, I think that sewing was a great comfort to her at the time. She was very good at it. She doesn't do it much these days, but her old Singer still commands a prominent place in a corner of her dining room.

I've always been attracted to creating things with fiber. I love going into stores that sell yarn and to examine colorful, textural fabrics, imagining the projects I could create with them if only I knew how. In fact, when we make the drive from California to Oregon, I always insist we stop at my favorite yarn store along the way in Ashland. There, I pick up skeins to use in future projects. I do use fiber in non-traditional ways in my art work sometimes, but I don't really know how to knit, crochet nor to create garments for myself. I have a very nice sewing machine, but haven't done much with it beyond sewing straight seams for curtains and pillows. I plan for this to change in the next couple of years.

One thing my mother encouraged when I was around five years old, was my learning to embroidery. I used to sit by her side and work on my embroidery projects as she zipped through her own projects on her beloved Singer. I can remember more than one instance in fact, when I stood up from my chair to discover that I had embroidered my work to the upper part of my jeans!

Wanting to get back into the whole swing of things before I dive in head first into other areas of fiber work, is my current project, an embroidered likeness of Frida Kahlo, whose spirit and inspiration have taken me through some trying times. This is a photo that I digitally enhanced, and I am pretty much going to simply follow the outlines with stitchery. I call this one, "Frida Electro".

Frida Electro

I probably won't haul out the loom and spinning wheel until some point after I get through my master's program in school, because I will, no doubt, have to take classes to learn how to use it all. Right now, embroidery seems like a good place to start.

Baby steps....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Polina Seminova

Art Challenges for 2008

I am privileged to be part of a group of artists working in collaboration with friend, Jen W.,a mixed media artist from Nova Scotia, to meet each week of 2008 with a new inspirational art challenge. This week, our assignment is to open a DIY art project book and complete whatever project is there...without leafing through the pages to choose one that we like or particularly want to make. We are to pick the first project that we read about, regardless of what it is,when we randomly open the book. This exercise has the potential to take each artist out of that comfort zone that goes hand-in-hand with creating art using familiar techniques and materials. It is designed to make us address projects that are potentially outside our individual tastes by readjusting, rethinking and examining what the actual POINT of the specific project is.

I have observed that often, when artists choose only one medium with which to identify and focus, and they concentrate solely on that one medium, their scope as inquisitive explorers and illustrators of the human condition narrows along with their single choice. Sometimes their points of view also become less broad and they become limited and stale in other ways. Jen's latest art challenge will help us remove those potential restraints and will, perhaps, instill at the very least, a greater understanding of the perspectives of others.

Sometimes it helps to get out of one's own head and observe what the rest of the world is doing. It is good to reexamine and make our own boundaries more flexible, to open ourselves up to the possibility of learning from others and viewing the world through eyes that belong to someone else. It is for this reason that even after I finish my current program in graduate school, I will continue to take classes and be a student at some level for the rest of my life.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Farmer of Patterns

A real inspiration of late has been New York artist, Alexander Gorlizki. (Click image (left) to show detail.) According to contributing editor, Laura Eden, in the latest issue of Decor, Gorlizki considers himself a "farmer of patterns". Pithy. Gorlizki deconstructs the elements of traditional Indian folk art miniatures and recombine them into surreal whimsies with an almost comic flair.

What resonates with me most about Gorlizk's work is that the original drawings he uses are not at all humorous thematically, yet he converts their original elements from one thing into another, one that has completely different meaning. He turns stale scenarios into stills from Monty Python!

What a simple, yet loaded message. This, for me, is reminiscent of the corny old adage, "When life hands you lemons....make lemonade."

Sometimes we are faced with challenging, even ugly circumstances that can initially appear insurmountable. However, with a little deconstruction followed by careful reconstruction, the results can exemplify "life crafting" of an entirely new work of art....a whole lot better than the original.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

After spending the last couple of days helping a friend through an unfortunate situation regarding someone who has a well-established reputation for being abusive, I found myself listening to the same statement I have heard time and again about this person, "______ will never change!"

Today, I find myself questioning the notion of whether people actually CAN ever change in those fundamental ways that make a difference to themselves and those around them. Will abusive people always abuse? Will liars always lie? Will control freaks continue to bully in their attempts to dominate everyone around them? Coincidentally,(and amazingly, under the circumstances) we touched on the answers to these questions in my psychology class this evening.

Behavioral theorists believe that change occurs in people because of cause and effect. A good example is the therapist who tells the sociopath that if he wants to stay out of prison he won't consider whether or not his spouse "deserved" to be hit. He will simply stop hitting her. If he wants to go to prison, he will continue to hit her.

Cause and effect.

Those who follow the tenants of Cognitive therapy will, perhaps, examine the individual's motivation. Another individual behaves as he does because his mother is a raging alcoholic. The person gossips, vilifies, lies about and has unreasonable expectations of others because the mother did the same to him and he now has all the classic characteristics of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. The cognitive therapist helps that person determine what motivates his/her client, addresses certain conflicts and can perhaps, result in there being a specific desired change consciously enacted.

People can undergo change because of experiential circumstances...perhaps they experience a heart attack because of their own gluttony and begin at that moment decide to appreciate and embrace life. Therefore, they begin to eat a healthy diet. Perhaps a man's wife leaves him and takes away his children because he refuses to stop drinking. This would be enough motivation for some to discontinue the consumption of alcohol, a big change.

Combined with experiential circumstances, there are times when interpersonal experiences such as religion come into play or perhaps an enlightenment or an "Aha!" moment pushes an individual toward change. In fact, any one or any combination of these factors can cause change in people to varying degrees and for varying lengths of time.

But at the end of the day, when you see the same things happening over and again, you have to face the fact that some people are just ass-hats, too blind to see the harm they cause others and too callous to care.

Those are the ones who will never change.
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On This Day in History

On this day in 1971: Fashion icon Coco Chanel died.

Fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, died today at the age of 87.

"She rescued women from the corsets and long-skirted frills of the Edwardian and World War I eras and in 1916 introduced inexpensive jersey cloth to high fashion. Tweed suits with jersey blouses, bell-bottomed trousers, trenchcoats and pea jackets, turtleneck sweaters and the collared and cuffed little black dress were Coco innovations," reported The News on January 11, 1971. "She introduced the sailor hat, and when she impulsively bobbed her hair one night another fashion sensation was born."

Chanel, who was raised in Auvergne, in south-central France, moved to Paris in her twenties to open a millinery shop. "Although her money was borrowed, her ideas were her own, and she opened up a tiny shop in an obscure section of Paris, where she made a few hats and demanded a price for them that was four times as high as any Parisienne had ever thought of paying before," explained The Edwardsville Intelligencer on November 20, 1931. Chanel's hard work, strong will and innovation quickly made her an icon in the fashion industry. NOTE: Her most popular perfume, Chanel No. 5, was launched in 1922 and is still well-known throughout the world.

Ah, Coco!

One of the best research tools a writer can have is a subscription to a newspaper archiving service. A good trick is to look up dates a few days BEFORE a historical event took place. It helps to read accounts of the preparation for any events that turned out unexpectedly to be historical. For example, by researching local Texas newspapers for the three days prior to Kennedy's death, I got background material for a piece I was writing about a child's reaction to the assassination.

Reading about how Dallas locals prepared for the Kennedy's visit was very helpful in gleaning some speculative info expressed by the locals. There was much talk about the First Lady's wardrobe and her penchant for Coco Chanel suits including much buzz by the "ladies at lunch" crowd about who was wearing what to the many events that were scheduled for the 22nd. of November, 1963. Details such as this can be very helpful in creating a realistic fictional account.

Recommended subscription services? If you're a student, you probably have access to Lexis-Nexus via your college or university. However, a good online service available to the general public for around $90 a year is Newspaper Archives dot com.

Jacqueline Kennedy in Chanel

P.S. Completely off topic...but a Swedish friend made this soup for me the other night. I don't usually eat eggs, but I recommend this recipe highly!

Roasted Garlic Soup with Poached Eggs and Croutons

¼ cup olive oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
4 slices of a baguette, cut on the bias
4 cups vegetable stock
4 eggs
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add whole garlic. Cook until lightly browned and very fragrant. Remove garlic from oil and add baguette slices and toast, over medium or medium-low heat, until browned on both sides. Add smoked paprika to pan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add stock and cooked garlic to pan. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, crack the 4 eggs into separate ramekins. Bring soup up to a low boil. Carefully drop each egg into the soup stock. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit 10 minutes.

Scoop each egg out into 1 of 4 bowls. Ladle soup on top. Top of each and grated cheese, salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with a toasted baguette slice.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thankful in the New Year


What better way is there to ring in the new year than in the company of good friends? Nine days later, I am sailing into 2008 with another school term under my belt, another step closer to my goal and so much to be thankful for that I barely recognize what I felt this time a year ago. My spirits are exceptionally high and I feel happy to be alive.

It's all good.

I was recently contacted by a representative of the Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau who had seen some of my photography and was urged to enter certain photographs in their upcoming contest to be used a promotional materials for the City of Oakland. Even if I don't win, I am flattered to have been asked, especially just after having tied for first place in another photo contest with this photo:

Beware the Angry Gull!

My other work seems to have turned a corner in the increase in sales and commissions and the landing of a potentially great show in March.

Things are looking up!

Pinkie Bhutto

To those of you familiar with my other blogs, this post may seem a departure from my usual writing about the arts, but it isn't. Not really. I am in the midst of working on a mixed media installation about influential women in history....not just artists, but political figures, outstanding citizens and other notable women. My latest piece, in the wake of her assassination, is about Benazir Bhutto.

News clips have now confirmed that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27 by a gunman a split second before a suicide bomber blew himself up at the scene. Like most of the world, I was saddened, but not surprised. A number of newspaper reports stated that Bhutto told a supporter in the U.S. that if any harm came to her, Musharraf would be responsible for failing to provide adequate security. On many occasions, she had expressed concern for the lack of security provided to her. An attempt on her life had already been made under suspicious circumstances and there wasn't even an investigation of that event which killed 179 people. The government of General Musharraf absolutely refused to call in the investigators she had requested from Scotland Yard.

As I reflect on the tragedy of her untimely demise, I have a very different vision of Bhutto from most of the world.

I recall sitting in my now-deceased former father-in-law's luxurious Memorial Drive apartment in Cambridge looking through the family photo albums and seeing the face of a smiling, young Harvard student known back then simply as, "Pinkie". My then father-in-law was the assistant director of Middle Eastern studies at Harvard and her government professor. His wife, Anne, was Ms. Bhutto's adviser. During her time at Harvard, "Pinkie" became a family friend and attended teas and other family functions, often showing up one of her home made cakes. I remember one particular photograph of her at an Easter gathering, looking so young and full of hope. The family described her fondly as very intelligent and friendly, a beautiful, happy young woman who was a staunch defender of Pakistan.

The political situation in Pakistan has been steadily spiraling out of control since Zulfikar Ali Bhutto first came to power. Since then, there has been a succession of militarist dictators, coups, assassinations, judicial murders, and mayhem. Bushpal, Musharraf has now found himself in some serious trouble. His Ameripal had this to say:

"President Pervez Musharraf condemned the killing and urged people to remain calm so that the "nefarious designs of terrorists can be defeated."

...and, of course, the U.S. is beating the drum of al-Qaeda so hard, one can only wonder if Bushpal's comrads were somehow involved in helping with the assassination?? Sad this. The whole thing turns my stomach.

A skill acquired long ago, but honed more finely for me personally since mid-June of 2007, has been to use the power of art as a healing tool, to channel energies created by anger or pain into meaningful creation, so I sit here this morning with my sketchpad, feeling a little overwhelmed by the task in front of me. Even a small representation of this woman is a large personal responsibility. (I'm hard on myself like that.) ;-)

Stacy Alexander