Un-gift Guide

  • Making Books Again

    I had a renewed interest at the end of last year to make some books again. It started with a carousel book that I exhibited at the Bennington Museum, and then I got some momentum going in the month of December with a very loooong accordion that I used for a monthly challenge, with prompts related to the Advent. I'm working almost daily on collages which makes me so happy. I forgot how much I enjoy piecing together little bits of things that make a cohesive whole. 

  • Artist Book at Bennington Museum

    I made a new artist book for a show at the Bennington Museum. It's a carousel book, inspired by poems by Robert Frost. Here's the cover, which is all done in colored pencil. It felt really good to make a "real" piece of art for a "real" show! It's for sale as a part of the museum's gala event fundraiser. It can also be viewed in the galleries for the entire month of December. Let me know what you think if you see it!

  • More Food and Drawing

    For some time, I've been meaning to submit recipes to the They Draw and Cook website. I finally got two finished for a recent food geometry challenge. I submitted the recipe above, along with another. It was a really fun project for me. Especially challenging was getting the piece in the correct format and size (my Photoshop skills are still lacking), and doing some digital touch up work to make them look their best. I was ultimately happy with how they turned out, and proud of myself for getting it done!

  • Food + Drawing

    I don't know why it took me so long to start drawing food. I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to combine my two interests somehow. In the last eight months, I've done lots of food drawings, beginning back in October with my Inktober recipes. I wanted to illustrate for someone other than myself, so I reached out to friends who have a coffee business. I'm working on a series of illustrations for different methods of brewing coffee. It's so much fun for me, and I find it satisfying to be working for "clients" other than myself.  

  • Chickens

    These chickens were modeled on my own chickens, Duck and Cluck. I took an online class from Anita Lehman through Carla Sonheim's website that was a very thoughtful look at composition. Sometimes it's nice to get back to basics and see how structure influences outcome. And, on a side note, it's been nice to have fresh eggs to eat and use in baked goods!

  • A New (Old) Way of Working

    I don't know why it took so long for me to go back to making collage and mixed media pieces. Maybe I didn't think they were "serious" enough, or I forgot how much fun it was for me to work this way, or maybe I just forgot how to do it. Recently, I found some fruit that I painted simply on canvas paper. I took out cheap, thin acrylics, poured green and yellow on top, and pushed the paint around the paper. After it dried, I tore out the fruit and saved them for a collage. That's where my playing around with fruit bowls began the other day. For a slight change of pace, I took a yellow piece of painted paper and turned it into a French press. I've mainly been using really smushy media, like a soft pencil, conte crayons, and Faber Castell gelatos. These collaged pieces really feel like me, and I'm loving all the color!

  • New Things!

    I'm test driving some new products at the market this Saturday. It's so much fun to play with color and shape on functional bags and totes. I like the simplicity of playing with fabric, paint, and potatoes. Yes, potatoes! That's what I used to make my stamps......and, they're compostable!

  • Stretching

    I decided to challenge myself with an online course, Explore Florals, taught by Victoria Johnson. It was three weeks of design briefs, each focusing on a different way to think about florals, with an accompanying palette. It was harder than I thought to get out of my own way of doing things and try something new. Just like life, I suppose.

  • Creative Thinking


    I am so thrilled to have my very first drawn illustration in the current issue of UPPERCASE Magazine! 

    I drew this on Thanksgiving, 2017. We decided to stay home and celebrate, just the three of us. I wanted my daughter to feel like that even though we weren't going anywhere, it was going to be a special day. So, I let her pick the drinks!

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Un-gift Guide

You may have guessed that I'm one of those people who make the majority of their holiday gifts. I do–but not always in the most well-intentioned way. After an entire month of making things for the farmers' market and focusing on what other people want to give their loved ones, I become gift-stupid. I forget about the gifts I'm supposed to get until a few days before we load up the car to drive south and visit family. Then my husband will conjure a list which has been in his head for the previous few days and gets worriedly translated to mine with our rural, limited shopping venues to keep in mind. Then, I'm in the basement staring down the least popular jams that are lingering on the shelves and wondering about the shelf-life of wrapped biscotti. After piecing together the most desirable edibles left over from the holiday market and any finished craft projects that may have been gathering dust for the past three years, some sort of homemade present takes shape. I don't necessarily feel proud of my efforts.

This year, I feel slightly more prepared for the season. I am trying to think about presents pre-emptively, order things, and have cute packaging on hand before I get busy making candies, truffles, and cookies for other people. One of my favorite things to do is to check out the gift guides: best books of 2011, best kitchen gadgets–really any sort of "best of" list instantly grabs my attention. I like looking at all of these things, but I don't imagine actually buying any of them. The guide that I am most inspired by so far is the one at Design Sponge for gifts made with your hands. And while they mention all the usual suspects, the guide could have been subtitled gifts made with your heart. It wasn't about invoking your inner Martha Stewart, but about really thinking about the recipient of your gift. What would she like? What would make her life better/easier/calmer? It made me think about how often we don't do that for people, even our close family and spouse. We get so wrapped up in finding the perfect thing that we forget why we're buying it in the first place.

So, maybe the true gift to put on your list this year is compassion. Imagine yourself in someone else's mental space for a minute. Maybe this person has been especially grouchy or happy or angry this year. There's probably a good reason even if it's not something that you can rationalize. Don't judge her, or tell her to snap out of it; instead, be accepting of where she is. And then cook her dinner or make her bath salts while keeping in mind why she's so important to you. Let everything else go.