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Just Because

Ariell posted something on her Facebook yesterday that reminded me of a poster I got in high school (and still own) by SARK. I had it up on my wall for years, and it inspired me. It even inspired the Beauty & Dynamite trailer. On a lark, I went looking for an image of that poster. Happily, it wasn’t hard to find.

I think I need to  hang this up again.

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The Affair of the Necklace

I recently met a few friends in Fuquay-Varina, NC (still one of the coolest town names ever) for the weekend.  That Saturday was Drew Williams’ signing at the Lazy Lion (where I scored a lovely signed copy of his new book The Corruptor…do you have your copy yet?)

We didn’t want to crowd Drew, so we browsed through the store a bit, like the hungry bibliophiles we are, and when the manager got sick of us we popped out to explore the quaint little burg that is Fuquay-Varina. We stopped in to Stick Boy Bread Company first and got some smoothies. I had a divine cookie called something like a Hootenany (it doesn’t appear to be listed on their website) with oatmeal and cranberries and pecans and fairy dust mixed in.

After that, Rhonda and Joe and I split off from the group and headed down the street to gawk through shop windows down Main Street. Enticed by a VERY enthusiastic dancing ice cream come, we sought respite from the heat in an indoor mall — not like a big-bucks-anchor-store mall, but one of those minimalls where you’d find booths of Antique dealers. Only these little independent shops dealt in custom birdhouses, vintage clothing, shoes, and some awesome jewelry. As cute as the dancing ice cream was, we were put off by the overly-zealous woman trying to hawk her apple cider, and shifted further into the bowels of the mall.

Joe pulled me back to one kiosk (that was far too close to the cider woman for my taste) to check out some jewelry he thought I’d like. I certainly liked the Victorian-dressed doll with wires for hands she was using as a necklace-display, and I coveted it. The woman behind the counter, who was in the middle of telling another woman how she hand-makes all her beads, stopped long enough to tell me where in town I might find something similar. I thanked her and let her continue on her spiel while I half-heartedly browsed. I wasn’t really trying to find anything, so I wasn’t really looking. I wasn’t really looking until I saw an old-fashioned key through a glass bead filled with roses at the same time a voice above me said, “Do you know what steampunk is?”

I looked up at the woman with a sparkle in my eye and said, “You are talking to the right person.” And then I started to examine–really, truly examine–the jewelry, and it took my breath away.

Marilyn–for the shopkeeper was indeed the artist herself–returned the sparkle and began to do that whole artist thing where you start explaining to someone what went into a piece, what elements you used, and what you were trying to achieve. We both got excited and a little carried away, and we probably drove Rhonda and Joe both nuts, but I didn’t care. Her designs were EXQUISITE. And regardless of whether or not she jumped on the Steampunk bandwagon, the movement is right up her alley. Marilyn has the Victorian sensibility to make her PERFECT for this kind of work.

http://www.perazabeads.com/Whats_New.htm She went on to tell me that she gives classes on how to make glass beads. This was one thing about Fuquay-Varina I adored: from coffee roasting to stained-glass work, almost every single store gives a class on SOMETHING. I wanted to stay for a week or two, just to take them all. I definitely took a card, and promised that I would check out Marilyn’s website. She has some glass bead tutorials there, and a myriad of other things to peek through and find. She also has an Etsy shop (though there are no Steampunk items currently for sale there) and a place at 1000 Markets (there is currently a Steampunk ring there for less than $40. You better snap it up before I do.)

The best way to see the Peraza Beads merchandise, of course, is to visit the shop in Fuquay-Varina, if you can. Tell Marilyn I said hello. And be sure to pick up a piece or three while her artwork is still affordable. I got the cross-and-rose necklace at the top, of course. I couldn’t resist the handmade chain, or the fact that the center stone of the cross was a garnet — my birthstone. And Marilyn’s…and Rhonda’s daughter. We’re all just a bunch of stinking Capricorns.

But boy do we make gorgeous art.

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Happy Almost-Spoleto!

It’s that time of year…time for Charleston’s annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival! It always starts on Memorial Day weekend — this year it runs from May 28th to June 13th.

The combination of historic Charleston’s old European charm and the world-class Spoleto Festival USA together produce a unique and impacting synergy for all who come to the city by the sea to experience this magnificent international multi arts festival. But what really adds the ingredient of magic to the mix is Piccolo Spoleto, which provides access to the festival for Every Person, especially children. Focusing primarily on artists of the Southeast region, Piccolo Spoleto is the perfect complement to the international scope of its parent festival and its 700 events in 17 days, transforms Charleston into an exhilarating celebration of performing, literary and visual arts. Piccolo Spoleto’s traditional program offerings include visual arts exhibits, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, poetry readings, children’s activities, choral music, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts, and film.

I will be making an appearance at the Charleston Public Library booth at the Children’s Festival in Marion Square this Saturday. Click here for more details. I will have AlphaOops and H: is for Halloween to read, and there will be fun activity handouts, as well as everything else fun for the kids to do at a festival!

I love being in Charleston for Spoleto. It’s like coming home…

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Return of The Ladies

Back in December, right after Christmas, my little sister sat me down with a paintbrush and a piece of gessoed masonite and said, “Paint me one of your ladies.” It was a lot of fun, and reminded me of something I should be doing…that I *haven’t* been doing. Not because I haven’t wanted to or needed to or had the time to, I just haven’t been focussed where the art is concerned.

The awesome thing about that, is that IT’S ART. You’re welcome to play around and do whatever you want to get your ya-yas out. Doing so is a lot of fun. Having a venue to show them off (like my artist’s table at Mo*Con — you’re going, right?) is a fabulous motivation. And having your friends all around you saying, “Hey, can I do art too?” is just wonderful. Because we all know: Magic is much better when shared.

This week I got a bazillion fun pieces done for Mo*Con, and I wrote my reviews for IGMS, and I showered (a few times) and packed and got everything pretty much cleaned up and ready to go. Which meant that last night was a freebie. Last night wasn’t work, it was just for me. I could play around and goof off and have the freedom to screw up and take as much time as I wanted doing so.

So I did what my sister asked me to do (and has still been asking me: “Lee, you should just do some! They don’t take that long!”) four months ago. I painted some Ladies. I finished them up, and will be proud to display them at my table. Hooray!!

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The Art of Screwing Up

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
~Scott Adams

I screwed up one of the pieces I was doing yesterday. I had originally achieved the affect when prepping a rainbow-colored butterfly on a scrap piece of paper, and Gypsy and I both loved how it looked. My goal was to recreate that same butterfly above a sea of little black butterflies. The black butterflies came out great. The rainbow butterfly looked like trash. I tried to fix it. It looked worse. I wasn’t pleased, and said as much.

“You would just tell me that’s art,” said Gypsy.

She’s right — she’s been out in the garage tinkering along with me for the past two nights. Every time she complained about something being crooked or not the way she imagined it to be, my response was always, “That’s art!” and an encouragement to keep at it. The Hippie made a great analogy for her — one that a fellow writer would understand. Just as the written word is the tool you use to tell the story in your head, the pens and brushes and glue and glitter are the things you use to translate what you’ve got in your head. At first it’s rarely (if ever) the same thing. You just have to work at it. Just like writing. Gypsy frowned at us, but she kept at it, and I was glad to have the company.

But I was not happy about this piece, and I wanted to do something about it before that globulous layer of crap dried forever. I had seen some words on another piece of scrapbook paper, and I ferreted them out. “There lived a beautiful princess,” the words said, and I grabbed my scissors to cut them out. It seemed a bit tougher than usual, and when I snipped the last corner of the strip I realized why — it had been stuck to the page behind it. I had snipped the exact same similar strip out of the page behind it, a dark wine-colored print.

“Hmm,” my brain thought, and as I clipped the words into pieces, so did I clip the strip of wine-colored paper.I wiped off the offending glitter and pasted my new pieces right over it. I was so happy with the result I immediately did two more pieces in a similar vein.

“Look,” I said to Gypsy, showing off the finished piece. “That’s art.”

She stuck her tongue out at me.

For the rest of the gallery of artwork I’ve completed this month, click here and just arrow forward. I’m adding new pieces every day until Mo*Con! (And then I’ll remind myself how to do that Etsy shop…)

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More Arty Goodness

Yes, folks, Mo*Con is this weekend — are you coming? Don’t forget, we’re launching Dark Faith and there’s going to be a massive signing with lots of authors.

I’ll also have an artist’s table (which is starting to become something of a tradition for me at Mo*Con), with lots of lovely, affordable art that I’ve been working like gangbusters on all week.

Here are the newest pieces I finished yesterday — I’m really, really happy with all of them. There’s just something about collage that soothes me. Maybe it’s the glue.

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Art So Far

The third one is my favorite so far. I love the colors, and how the butterfly stamps contrast without distracting. The story/poem on it says:

“Darkest quickly comes the night and hardest brighty burns the light. One and two for counting crows, red and blue for rain’s arced bows. Tried and true and just pretend comes fast the love that never ends.”

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The Butterflies In My Stomach Were Blue That Night

Once at Mo*Con, I drew millions of stars to keep from bursting into church giggles (my cohorts know who they are). So when five minutes drags on into an hour and there’s no shutting the brain up, there’s only one solution: Butterflies.

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Art Break

My sketch of Chloe.

I like the rainbow.

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Today’s Artwork: “The Ladies”

My sister commissioned a piece of artwork today — sitting me down and handing me brushes and paints is pretty much the only way to get me to do art lately — to fit in a small frame she had found and had my father fix while here was here over the holidays. She had them cut a piece of masonite and gessoed it for me…and then said, “I want you to paint one of your ladies.”

I didn’t realize I had “ladies.”

I did the Dream-Haired Woman (the one up there at the top of this website). I started my Bruxa Evora shortly after that…but I’ve only painted the woman. I haven’t started any of the collagework yet. I’ve had more than a few compliments about the piece in the past few months. Apparently, she looks awesome just as she is. Now I’m almost afraid to finish.

So Soteria commissioned a “lady” — the lady is the easiest part! — it was teeny-tiny enough to finish in an hour or so… I accepted. Why not? I paged through a gorgeous book of paintings from the Prado and selected a woman with great hair from one of Goya’s paintings to use as a reference.

Here is my miniature version of Dona Arias.

I hereby promise to do more painting in the near future. Perhaps some more ladies? Hmmm…I might just smell a New Year’s Resolution…

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