This blog is hoppin’!

It’s the 2014 Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap Blog Hop! Be sure to follow the links to see all the artists and their amazing artwork — 209 artists from 10 countries liberated 1254 art postcards. It is such a thrill to be part of this huge event!!!

This is the art that I sent out into the world. It represents a phoenix surrounded by Tiare flowers, also known as the queen of flowers or Tahitian gardenia or Monoi in Hawaiian.

MHPostcardFinal_2

The quote I included for my card is from Ursula K. LeGuin: “It is good to have an end to journey, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

The first card I received was from 5th grader Olivia from South Orange, NJ.  I love it!

Hello! My name is Olivia Morgan and I live in New Jersey (USA).  I am in 5th grade.  I love to write stories and draw in my free time.  This drawing is a mosaic that makes a girl's face.  It's a lot of people of different races.  Hope you like it. --Olivia Morgan, South Orange, NJ

Hello! My name is Olivia Morgan and I live in New Jersey (USA). I am in 5th grade. I love to write stories and draw in my free time. This drawing is a mosaic that makes a girl’s face. It’s a lot of people of different races. Hope you like it.
–Olivia Morgan, South Orange, NJ

The next card that arrived was from Emma Bogush (at emmaisanartist.blogspot.com) It showed up the day before I had to return to the Mainland for a whirlwind trip so I was unable to showcase Ariel in her proper environment until we returned a couple weeks later… On the back of the card is the quote: “There is no point in growing up if you can’t act a little childish sometimes.” The Fourth Doctor…. I totally agree!  I find that at 50, I’m more childish (full of wonder, amazement and delight) than ever!

Ariel spends some time on Turtle Beach, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii.

Ariel spends some time on Turtle Beach, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii.

When I returned from our trip to the Mainland, this lovely story card from Lori Moon (lorimoonstudio.blogspot.com ) was waiting for me!  “May you find beauty in every day” was the request on the back… so I took it to Hanauma Bay for a little Hawaiian beauty…

Bringing the NY subway to the beach.... Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Bringing the NY subway to the beach…. Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

The next card that graced our mailbox was from Jo Murray of Australia! (jomurray-art.blogspot.com.au) Since we have no dryer here in Honolulu, I thought I’d add her card along with the rest of the wash…

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see (Thereaux)

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see (Thereaux)

And then came Madeleine Jone’s wonderful abstraction from Grosse Ile, MI (but postmarked Washington, DC)!

Swirling crescents mark the silent presence Fringed stalks  of plummage

Swirling crescents
mark the silent presence
Fringed stalks
of plummage

And finally, all the cards together, including Kat’s card called “Layered Autumn”

All cards from the Liberate Your Art postcard swap of 2014!

All cards from the Liberate Your Art postcard swap of 2014!

This challenge really pushed me to focus on creating something during the first weeks of confusion in our sabbatical home.  While I was still acclimating to the weather, figuring out the bus system and amazed by the rain, the deadline of creating a work of art and turning it into a postcard to share was an anchor and a guiding light.  And when the cards from the swap started arriving, I could share not only the cards, but the amazingness of our temporary home, Oahu, Hawaii.  Now the swap has ended.  And it is almost time for me to return home.  But the magic will remain… 6 cards and the gifts of their art.


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The second card

The second card in the Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap arrived this afternoon.

LYApostcard2_ElephantEars

From Emma Bogush: emmaisanartist.com
“There is not point in growing up if you can’t act a little childish sometimes.”
–The 4th Doctor

I really wanted to take Ariel to Waikiki Beach, but since I leave tomorrow morning for San Diego — and I don’t have a car– I won’t have time to run downtown and back in time for my shuttle to the airport.  Sigh.  I might take her to the beach when I get back… just because…

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First postcard to arrive

The Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap of 2014 is now underway.  My cards have flown out into the world and other artist’s cards are winging their way here.

My first card arrived all the way from South Orange, NJ.

Hello! My name is Olivia Morgan and I live in New Jersey (USA).  I am in 5th grade.  I love to write stories and draw in my free time.  This drawing is a mosaic that makes a girl's face.  It's a lot of people of different races.  Hope you like it. --Olivia Morgan, South Orange, NJ

Hello! My name is Olivia Morgan and I live in New Jersey (USA). I am in 5th grade. I love to write stories and draw in my free time. This drawing is a mosaic that makes a girl’s face. It’s a lot of people of different races. Hope you like it.
–Olivia Morgan, South Orange, NJ

I decided to showcase it next to a glorious lobster claw ginger which grows abundantly throughout the islands.

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Life happens… an update

It has not been the most stellar time in paradise. Rain, fitful sleep, many early morning phone calls to the veterinarian in New York (6 hour time difference is not fun!), and a UTI have been the order of the week.

Miss Java at the Pet Hospital

Miss Java at the Pet Hospital

Java (and her “sister”, Sahara) have been under the care of my patient Mother-in-Law.  Sahara has been the problem cat — jumping where she shouldn’t jump, knocking things off shelves, opening doors and snooping in closets.  Java was the sweet one… until she started drinking excessively… which lead to peeing excessively… not necessarily in the litterbox.  The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was when my mother-in-law returned home to find all her towels had been knocked down out of the closet — and all of them had been peed on…. and there were also puddles in the bathroom.  The volume was incredible — even if both cats had a peefest.

So, last Friday, Miss Java went to see the veterinarian (thank goodness, our friend who was helping out with the litterbox changes just happens to work at a veterinary clinic!).  She had a mouth ulcer and was dehydrated.  They put her on an IV and ran a full range of tests. She started a course of antibiotics for the ulcer.

The tests all came back negative — including the one for kidney disease which she had tested positive for back in October! The vet is at a loss to explain her excessive drinking. But the antibiotics have been working well to clear up the infection and after a few days of subcutaneous fluids, she is back to normal.

But she can’t go back to my mother-in-law’s house.

And she can’t come to Hawaii (very strict quarantine laws).

It’s been a sleepless week working through all the options. And yesterday, we decided to take a week to go retrieve our cats from New York and bring them back to a cat’s only hotel in San Diego, The Purring Parrot.

Located in lovely Point Loma, The Purring Parrot features very attentive staff, views of an aviary, and lots of climbing space.  And webcams. It won’t be home, but it will be close enough.

So now the travel arrangements and reservations have all been made.  Family discussions have started.  And it will all work out.  Hubby leaves for a conference in Arizona tomorrow. When he returns to San Diego, I’ll fly out to meet him and we’ll fly to NY at the end of March.

Now I just need to figure out what the best place is for Miss Java for the next 2 weeks.  Sister-in-law is contacting her list of catsitters for options.  And I just need to stay calm, get enough sleep, drink a ton of cranberry juice, and know that by Monday when Java is discharged, we will have a plan.

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March (music) Madness

I am in love again…

csj_ukelele
With an ukelele… and singing lessons.

I stopped by the Manoa School of Art and Music because it was in our neighborhood shopping center, the door was open and I thought I might ask about art lessons. It turns out that there are no art classes at the moment, so I impulsively signed up for both voice and ukelele…

This is not as crazy as it might sound. In a previous lifetime, I used to sing and fiddle in both early music ensembles and Celtic bands.  But since we moved to San Diego in 2000, I just wasn’t able to find the right combination of non-neurotic musicians and a synchronicity of schedules. So for the past decade or so, I’ve just focused on other things.

I wasn’t sure how things would turn out.  It’s been more than a decade since I’ve sung and I’ve never played anything that is chord-based.  But it turned out that I wasn’t very rusty at all — things came right back and my vocal range is still fairly close to what it used to be decades ago.  AND, although the ukelele tuning and fingering is very different from a violin (or mandolin which I can also play), I picked the basics up in our first lesson.

Teaching an old dog (or lady) new tricks

I’ve been doing some reading on aging brains and the capacity to learn.  I have noticed that I don’t remember things as easily as I used to and that I have to use tricks (like a basket for the housekeys) to keep some things running smoothly.

According to an article in the New York Times, older brains have a hard time remembering new things because they have a hard time forgetting old things. It is crucial to have BOTH the capacity to learn new ideas AND the capacity to weaken old memories. And the older we are, the more memories we have.  So that explains why I forget the Japanese phrase for good afternoon that an exchange student taught me last week, but I still remember a number song in Spanish that I heard when I was 7… those old memories were laid down when I had little else in my brain to get in the way.  But now, I can blame all those other things crowding the language file in my brain for interfering with my ability to recall how to say, Good Afternoon in Japanese. (Konnichiwa is good day… Ohayo gozaimasu means good morning….I learned those words in college, but good afternoon?.)

But brain overload does not explain why when I took a class on Art History a couple of years ago, I sailed through with very little studying even though I had never taken that kind of class before.  The explanation for my good grade in Art History is precisely because my brain is filled with memories.  And the older we are, the better we get at making connections.  So while my young classmates were just trying to absorb all the names and dates and countries, I was making connections between art styles and historical events, between music and architecture and politics… and since I had context already, the art pieces just fit into what I already knew and enlarged that picture. A+

AND, there are other researchers who have noticed that adult learners still have the capacity to learn, and learn with precision and accuracy, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than children. They postulate that the main difference is focus. Yes, younger brains are more plastic and have less junk cluttering up the filing cabinets, but they also benefit by the quality of focus given to what they are learning.  The average child learning a second language is in a classroom, has homework, and spends a lot of time just focusing on learning.  The average adult might take a class, but also have to go to work, make sure the bills are paid, the garbage goes out, the car has enough gas, the groceries are taken care of… the average adult has more on their plate to divert their attention than the average kid.

So what’s a busy adult with a full brain to do?

1. Do short bursts of study more frequently.  So instead of practicing the same chords over and over again for an hour, I should play the chord sequence a couple of times, then listen to the song I am learning, then do some fingering exercises, then do something else.  Apparently, when we focus too intently on trying to memorize something, we tend to push the issue and learning becomes harder.

2. Focus on the outcome instead of the structure.  So, for singing, one should focus on the sound quality rather than the placement of the soft palette or for a golfer to focus on the motion of the swing instead of the hand placement.

3. Find ways to incorporate your new knowledge into your daily life.  Seek out people to practice Japanese with. Sing those songs while washing dishes and make dates to play golf.

4. Enjoy the process.  If it’s not enjoyable, then why are you doing it?  There’s no test, no grade, no requirement to learn anything else once you graduate from school… so why bother?

Because it’s fun!

And that’s what I’m having now!

(This was previously posted on www.confessionsofaskincarejunkie.com)

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The postcards arrived!

My postcards arrived from Overnight Prints yesterday afternoon.  They look fabulous!  Professional printing really does look nicer than home printed cards.

MH_PostcardMailing

So I packaged them up and sent them off to Kat this morning.  They should arrive by Wednesday of next week — in plenty of time to meet the deadline!  Woo hoo!

Now that waiting begins! Postcards will get mailed out on March 17th and then trickle in to my mailbox any time after that!

 

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Getting ready for LYA 2014

It’s time once again for the annual Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap organized by Kat Sloma!  The deadline is March 15th.  Ordinarily, I’d wait until March to start this project and just print the cards from my home computer, but since we are in Hawaii and we don’t have a printer here, I looked at the shipping times and realized I needed to have my project at the printer’s by yesterday if I wanted it back in time to get to Kat in time for the deadline.

The idea for the piece came — as they always do — as a flash picture.  The whole.  A phoenix on a beach, dipping her toes in the water.  The first visions are never what the final product will be, but they do get me started.

So I started to sketch out phoenixes.

MH_Phoenix1SketchMH_Phoenix2_SketchMH_Phoenix_Sketch3I like the idea of a Phoenix — the symbolism of a bird transformed in Western culture and of an Empress in Eastern cultures.  And at 50, I am feeling in the midst of a transitional phase so I identify with this old bird.

The first stage of the LYA 2014 phoenix

The first stage of the LYA 2014 phoenix

She wasn’t in a pose suitable for being on a beach, but I had a flash that perhaps she could be in a rainforest setting.  We are currently living in a rainforest in Manoa, Honolulu and as much as I love the beach, I prefer the mountains…

The rainforest at the Lyon Arboretum, just up the street from our house.

The rainforest at the Lyon Arboretum, just up the street from our house.

Adding in some color; Phoenixes are warm, fire colors

Adding in some color; Phoenixes are warm, fire colors

Gift bag background

Gift bag background

Gift tissue background

Gift tissue background

Wavy fabric background

Wavy fabric background

Plain fabric background

Plain fabric background

Hawaiian print fabric background

Hawaiian print fabric background

I love the Hawaiian print fabric and played around with the placement, but in the end decided it was too busy and detracted from the Phoenix.  I also really liked the gift bag background, but wanted to change up the placement of the flowers.  In the end, I chose the plain background and started embellishing the Phoenix (which was cut out of watercolor paper with scissors!  My exacto knife is at home in San Diego…)

 

MH_Phoenix_embellishI used black acrylic paint in a henna cone to get the detailed lines I wanted.

In the end, I decided to add in some cut-out tiare flowers from the gift bag and also do some embellishment with white acrylic paint.

MHPostcardFinal_2

Then began the crazy process of sizing and creating a border for the printer.  The first version got rejected by the printer because the edges were uneven… yes, it’s a fabric collage; the edges ARE uneven.  But since I had a deadline and wanted to get it done, I just evened things up and sent it in.

And now we wait.  The prints are supposed to arrive on Monday… but this is Hawaii, so I don’t expect them until next Wednesday.  And then I get to bundle them up and send them to Kat Sloma to label, stamp and distribute.
It’s always so much fun to be part of this project.  I meet new people, see great art and get to push myself a bit further each time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Update

It has been a looong time since I posted anything over here.  Life has been very busy. Lots of gigs, then the holidays, then… we moved to Honolulu for Hubby’s sabbatical.  We will be here until May 1.

It was very hectic getting here — finding a place to live that 1) was walking distance from UH-Manoa’s campus, 2) within our small budget (we are still paying the mortgage and bills for our home in San Diego — our housesitter has a very cushy deal for the next few months…) and 3) preferably bigger than 300 sq feet.  We finally found a great place just after Christmas and things fell into place a few weeks later — and then we got on the airplane on February 3!  What a whirlwind adventure!

Now that we are here, Hubby will focus on work with his Hawaiian colleagues and hopefully find some new planets.  I plan to read, relax, learn about Hawaiian designs, and walk the Hapalua Half Marathon in April.  And enjoy the amazing scenery.  Oahu is lush and green!  And hot and rainy… and as the new blood in town, fodder for all the local mosquitos… but it is gorgeous here and despite the bugs, I really love this place.

The tree on the corner of our street in Manoa Valley.

The tree on the corner of our street in Manoa Valley.

Our neighbor's pikake bush -- it smells like heaven!

Our neighbor’s pikake bush — it smells like heaven!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Byodin Temple

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

 

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An intensive henna retreat and workshop

This past week-end I drove up past San Bernadino and into the San Gabriel Mountains to the Lions Teresita Pines Camp in Wrightwood, CA.  It was the site for the 2nd annual Henna Intensive and Retreat, a 4 day workshop for henna artists.

We stayed in spartan cabins — 6 bunk-beds per cabin.  Thankfully, there was only one person per bunk so we all had both levels for stuff and sleeping.  The bathrooms were a short walk downhill and the showers were in the building next to them.

The cabin

The cabin

The mess hall is where people gathered for morning yoga, to doodle on the collective canvas, and to chow down on the camp’s excellent (and generously portioned) food.

Yoga on the Mess Hall deck

Yoga on the Mess Hall deck

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

Drawing on the community canvas

Drawing on the community canvas

 

So many amazing classes, such a gorgeous setting!  So many creative and generous artists! It was an incredible week-end of sharing and receiving and learning and teaching. And friends made for life.

Catana Padilla leads our class on jagua

Catana Padilla leads our class on jagua

Watching Khadija of HennaSooq draw

Watching Khadija of HennaSooq draw.

A free-for-all drawing session in Cabin 7

A free-for-all drawing session in Cabin 7

Jessica from Eyecons, displays her wares.

Jessica from Eyecons, displays her wares.

An amazing design by Bridget Bartlette of Maple Mehndi in Vermont

An amazing design by Bridgette Bartlette of Maple Mehndi in Vermont

Catana Padilla drawing a dragon.

Catana Padilla drawing a dragon.

hennaphile-marshmallows

hennaphile_woods

hennaphile_squirrel

hennaphile_blackBee

A flower ribbon from Elizabeth Tong of Crimson Art Henna in Georgia

A flower ribbon from Elizabeth Tong of Crimson Art Henna in Georgia. Sahara had to show off her paw, too!

A glitter tattoo I did on the amazing dancer, LaTrisha Allen

A glitter tattoo I did on the amazing dancer, LaTrisha Allen

Jagua done on me by Khadija of HennaSooq

Jagua done on me by Khadija of HennaSooq in Maryland

 

Home now and trying to assimilate all the new information and inspiration.  I have ordered some jagua and am eager to play with that on co-workers at the day job.  Island style ribbons dance in my head and I’m going to play more with Moroccan henna designs in glitter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holiday Monday in the Park…

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial-Day-Slider2

And while we paid homage to the service men and women who served our country in times of war, it was also the official first day of summer for most places.

And it’s the first day of henna season for me. From now until Labor Day I will work at one or more jobs every day, six to seven days per week. It’s intense, but fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way… well, maybe without the day job… but I need that in the winter so I stay during the summer… so it goes.

For the past 6 years I have spent Memorial Day at Spanish Village in Balboa Park (where I am a juried member of the group of patio artists). It’s a tough job… but somebody’s got to do it…

Here I am at my table on the patio
Here I am at my table on the patio
Don Strandberg soothed us with his mellow guitar playing
Don Strandberg soothed us with his mellow guitar playing
Only in San Diego can you find poinsettias and jacarandas blooming together...
Only in San Diego can you find poinsettias and jacarandas blooming together…
The hibiscus were in full bloom
The hibiscus were in full bloom
A fun design
A fun design
Look up in the branches of the jacaranda tree...
Look up in the branches of the jacaranda tree…

 

I discovered this little gem in the tree next to my table!
You never know what is sitting just above your head!
(Yes, I stole these this post and photos from my other blog, www.confessionsofaskincarejunkie.com)
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