art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma, Days 4-5: Far East

As with the other class, I was so completely engrossed in Sharon Payne Bolton’s Far East class that I didn’t get many process photos. However, I took a lot of photos of her books and my classmates’ books for inspiration and they are on my Flickr page. The photo above is of the front cover of my book. Here are a couple of shots of the spreads in it:

I felt like I have so much more to learn from Sharon – she was an amazing teacher with boatloads of patience and imagination. I hope that I’ll be able to take another class from her. Art-is-You Petaluma is moving to the spring next year and spring retreats are nearly impossible for me to attend.

Collaging and binding frenzy!

Stencil area

This rainbow ended in this lovely lady’s tutu.

I said goodbye to Anne, my roommate who ran a terrific store at the event, boarded a bus for San Francisco, and took the red-eye back to Greensboro.

And as you can see from the dates of these posts, I’ve been too busy since to blog about it until now. I’m starting to feel a little less frenzied now and I’ve got more to write about. Later.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma: Day 3, Cornerstone Gardens

Roxanne took this photo of me on the second day of our class, when we went on a field trip to Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. The task before us was to sketch and take photos of the many unusual sculpture gardens on site, and I went a little crazy on the photos. In this photo, an olive fell out of the tree above me on my sketchbook so I decided that it was asking to be included. I used my watercolor pens and it came out pretty good in the end.

I saw a lot of tapestry designs in these photos. I was going to say that the eucalyptus garden was my favorite because of the smell and the concept (three walls formed from a fallen eucalyptus tree) but then I remembered the lines and shapes of the agaves but then I remembered the beautiful grassland paths but then I remembered the reflections in the pool with the lily podlike structure…oh well, you get the idea. More photos at my Flickr site.

In the eucalyptus garden

Took lots of reflection shots here

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma 2014: Days 1-2

Tuesday, September 23 was a traveling day for Sandy and me, but we took off in different directions. He went home to Greensboro, NC, while I headed further west to Art-is-You Petaluma, a retreat that I also attended in 2012 and enjoyed so very, very much. On the way there I flew over Utah, which was probably the weirdest landscape I’ve ever seen from the air. I couldn’t stop taking photos. I’ve already posted one but here’s another:

I ate fish tacos at the Sheraton bar and wiped out that night. Dramamine on the bus ride dropped me like a rock. It was Albie Smith’s last retreat for teaching and that made it very hard for me to choose my classes. In the end, I went with two other instructors whose classes I’ve been daydreaming about, because they would be new for me. Hopefully I will get back in contact with Albie when I move to Oregon. Another great reason to head to the PNW!

Mixed Media Natural Journaling with Roxanne Stout was my first 2-day class. I love her style. She is every bit as sweet and talented as I suspected that she would be. The first day we decorated small glitter jars and mostly prepared backgrounds in our watercolor field journals. She had lots of different paints and pastels and fun little add-ons like beads for us to use. We did a few drawing exercises during the class of grasses, twigs, and leaves. It was a lot to take in.

(photo by Roxanne Stout)

(photo by Roxanne Stout)

Honestly, I was so deeply involved in the making of my journal in the classroom that I didn’t take a lot of photos of my own work, but there are photos of my classmates’ work on my Flickr page. I did manage to pour a cup of white wine on my new friend Jodi’s expensive camera AND her journal at the end of the class while taking photos. I was absolutely mortified, but fortunately the camera survived and Jodi was very gracious about the whole thing.

art retreats, Art-is-You, California, Colorado

In the air again

I’m about to head out west again, this time with my husband to visit family in and near Denver. Sandy will fly back home on Tuesday while I hop another flight to California to attend Art is You Petaluma. I will be glad to see my family, but I just can’t get up much enthusiasm for the retreat afterwards. Usually I am pawing the gate. Now I would rather come home and paint the new bathroom, get the house put back in some kind of order, and weave. I’m feeling low about Mama and the big tasks on the other side of this trip, but I paid too much for this retreat to skip it due to moodiness.

Some good news: the bathroom should be finished by the time I get back, except for the painting and window treatments. I have a loving pet sitter so I won’t worry about my critters. I’m caught up enough at work so that I should not have a huge pile waiting for me.

I know that once I get there I will thoroughly enjoy myself. I went to this one a couple of years ago and it is really one of the best, in a beautiful Sheraton which is also a marina on the Petaluma River. I’m taking classes with three artists who I really like. I’m splitting a room with the retreat vendor and she lives in Petaluma so we will probably use the room at different times. The weather forecast is great for all of it. I will get a little alone time. I will even enjoy the bus ride from the San Francisco airport to Petaluma.

I’ll come home with a couple of fabulous journals, a little more knowledge about watercolor and mixed media, a few new friends to bombard with Facebook posts, and some grand memories. That’s the good life for me, and I’m grateful that I can do it. Of course, I’ll blog it here because that’s one of the best parts of traveling – reliving it.

California, National Parks and Monuments, Pacific beaches, Point Reyes National Seashore, Wildflowers

Cat and Laurie’s Fabulous Point Reyes Adventure

My art retreat was over on Sunday, September 23. After saying my goodbyes to Albie and Ricë, I slipped away while the others were in their Sunday workshops, with a bit of envy. But not too much, because I was about to spend the rest of my day with my fabulous friend Cat, who moved out west from North Carolina several years ago. I walked a couple of trails in the marshland park next to the Sheraton Sonoma and Petaluma River. There were pleasure boats passing by and fellas fishing on the banks. It was a quiet place and I sat and wrote in my journal while I waited for Cat to pick me up.

Aahhhh, it was good to spend a few hours with Cat. She always refreshes my soul, a source of glowing energy. We talked and listened, got a little lost, rode around in circles, and enjoyed every minute of it. We stopped at Nicasio Valley Cheese Company and bought some soft cheese for a picnic that never really materialized so I eventually had to toss it out, but I tasted some great cheeses for free and they had other good local organic products too. We wandered through the little town of Point Reyes Station and finally made our way out to Point Reyes Lighthouse, passing a herd of tule elk on the way.

Not quite ALL the way to the lighthouse. It was very foggy and you could barely get a fleeting occasional fuzzy glimpse of the waves beneath the cliffs. Since the steps down to the lighthouse itself was the equivalent of a thirty story climb, we decided to skip it. You know how I love wind and water shaped rock? That was a good place for it, high above the Pacific Ocean.

Isn’t she just gorgeous? I miss her.

Then we went to Point Reyes South Beach, which curiously, was north of the lighthouse, but, hey, everything’s relative, right?

That’s not rope, it’s a kind of seaweed they have on the Pacific coast.

We found a cool little stream with lots of piled up driftwood logs. There were multi-colored succulents and wildflowers everywhere too.

Then we drove back to Petaluma where we met up with Amy, another N. C. girl, and ate dinner at Central Market. I couldn’t leave without drinking some local wine and I already knew how good the oysters are in that area. I had the rainbow trout after the oysters.

Then there was a bit of slapstick when we rushed to the car to get me to the bus station in time for the 8:30 bus and I couldn’t find my purse. It turned up at the restaurant bar where we had first been seated. So I took the 9:30 bus to the San Francisco Airport, and ended up being there in plenty of time for my 11:50 flight.

There must have been a family named Young waiting for stand-by on my flight. Either this was unfortunate or somebody at the computer had a wicked sense of humor. Or maybe I just have a twisted mind. Either way, F. You seemed to be out of luck.

art retreats, Art-is-You, book arts, California

Art-is-You Petaluma – Petaluma – Albie’s class

The Sheraton Sonoma is also a marina on the Petaluma River. This was the view from my room on Friday morning, Sept. 21.

Albie Smith was really the teacher I came to see in Petaluma. It wasn’t that I felt that she had bookbinding techniques to teach me that I could only get from her. I took a book class with her at Art & Soul once and a three day class with her at An Artful Journey, where I focused on color and decorative papers. I came to Petaluma to be in the sphere of her energy because I love her personality, her style, and her beautiful, rich palette of colors. I just wanted a relaxing workshop where I could pick up a few basic tips (I always do, no matter what level I think that I’m at) and stitch books together with her luscious papers. And that’s what I did.

The best thing that came out of this class was that Albie connected with me and brought me into her circle. I wish that I lived in Oregon so that it wouldn’t be so expensive to study with her because I’d love to make paper with her. I don’t know why, but I feel a deep affinity with Albie.

The following photos are from the class. The papers were painted by Albie. None of these are my work, and I apologize that I did not get names. I didn’t take many photos because I was focused on what I was doing.

Albie’s samples and a classmate binds two signatures with a dash stitch.

Albie shows off a student’s chain binding. The covers of this book looked like an abstract beach or sunrise. The entire book was quite beautiful and I wish I had gotten a photo that showed them.

art, art retreats, Art-is-You, California

Art-is-You Petaluma – Benicia

September 19-20, 2012. My trip to San Francisco was nearly perfect. It was so easy to take the Airporter Express, a very nice bus with free wi-fi and a bathroom, to Petaluma. I finally got to travel across the Golden Gate bridge, and I had perfect views of the Marin and Sonoma County landscapes, which surprised me the whole trip. It was less mountainous, less tree-covered, and much, much less developed than I expected. There were marshlands and wide, hilly pastures. Not many people there for the Art-is-You retreat seemed to be around that night, so I ate a delicious kabocha squash ravioli and knocked back a couple of Red Tail Ales at the hotel bar. This area of the country is dedicated to local food and has some of the most active Slow Food convivia in the country. (I know that SFUSA calls them “chapters” now. But I love the word convivium and choose to use it.)

On Thursday, I went on a “Magic Carpet Ride” in Benicia, a nearby arty little town that was once a capital of California. Some of the retreat attendees took two-day workshops there in a former arsenal that has been repurposed for small studios and businesses. Our tour guide, Lorri-Marie Jenkins, was a resident artist and was the perfect hostess. Our small group walked the town to visit small shops and the library, stopped for scones and coffee at the Rellik Tavern, then joined the other students at the arsenal for lunch. We then toured the Arsenal, where we visited individual artist studios and a vintage wallpaper company that screenprinted its product by hand.

I came away from this day determined to take one of these pre-retreat workshops next time because of the amazing work the students brought back.

One nice plus of this day was that I was able to spend a little time talking to Ricë Freeman-Zachary and the Ever-Gorgeous Earl. They have somewhat of a rock-star status in the mixed media world, and the last time when I met Ricë face-to-face they were both covered in artists and students wanting their company. Ricë was especially sweet when I kept running into her for the remainder of the retreat. And it was nice to have another obsessive photographer in the group. The EGE and I would say at the same time, “Did you see this? Oh, look at that,” and go wandering off, camera always in hand, often taking the same shots. I felt like I already knew Ricë from reading her blog, even though I have hardly read any other blogs in the last couple of years.

That is a very weird feeling — meeting a stranger who “knows” you from reading your blog. I suppose she must be used to it but back when I had a lot of readers it always came as a shock to me when someone in the farmers’ market would say, “Oh, YOU’re THAT Laurie!” and proceed to ask me about whatever cat problem or gardening issue I had written about in the last month. Not that I didn’t get a kick out of it. But in a way, I’m sort of glad that I write for myself and don’t feel the obligations that a widely-read blogger begins to feel. My readers began to fall away when I stopped writing about gardening and food, and that’s okay. I had written enough on the subject and there were several local bloggers who came along and did it better around here.

But I digress. Here are some photos from Benicia. Picking the photos for this post is tough, so I’ll refer to you to the Flickr set for more if you’re interested.

Wonderful show at the local library and public art by Guillermo Wagner Granizo on the sidewalk of downtown Benicia

The waterfront and the fabulous styles of Lorri-Marie and Ricë.

Sharon Payne Bolton‘s studio and work from her book class

Hip Chick Designs

Screen printing wallpaper at Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers

The Ever-Gorgeous Earl admires the wallpaper samples in the office.

Joseph Mele’s studio and Mary Oros’ studio.

Outside view from a studio in the Arsenal.

“This is not a white sofa.” In Beatrice Guttman‘s studio. I didn’t get a clear photo of her work.

This is Slow Food country – Benicia Farmers’ Market in the late afternoon. I love being able to buy almonds directly from the farm!

An Artful Journey, art, art retreats, book arts, California

More photos from An Artful Journey

Stenciling gesso onto bookboard makes both a nice raised design and a resist.

My work area in Albie’s class. The bookboards above have been trimmed down and painted, and will be bound with a coptic or French stitch using the papers drying in the rear of the photos. A very wee book – I like small.

This is probably my favorite of the paste papers I made, even though I don’t usually work with these colors. I found that I was most satisfied with the papers that I didn’t think so much about. Even the “worst” papers I did will be useful as backgrounds or in pieces for collage or strips for paper weaving so I kept everything I did, and some of my classmate’s “trash” as well!

An Artful Journey, California

Heading back east

I’m sitting at Gate 4 in the San Jose Airport, where I have already purchased my required refrigerator magnets, one for San Jose, and one pack of art magnets which I had to purchase all four in order to get one that is titled “Guido Cat.”

This retreat was such a wonderful event. I like that it was much smaller and more intimate, the three-day format is much more suited to my needs, the setting was fabulous, and the organizer took incredible care of us with many friendly extras. I would definitely come back to this one, but the problem is that it happens during my busiest time at work. I didn’t get to explore the grounds because the weather didn’t clear up until Sunday, and by that time I was squeezing every drop of goodness I could get in the classroom. Monday morning gave me a few minutes to walk around and gaze up into some redwoods. Then I spent most of the day in my hotel room just decompressing and watching Showtime, which I don’t get at home. I did get out to a restaurant across the street for some Fat Tire drafts and seafood.

Part of the reason that I stopped blogging was that my camera batteries died and then would not recharge. I think that I have talked about my camera addiction before. I love to take many many photographs wherever I go and I use them a lot in my personal journaling or as jumping off places for other art ideas. It is when I am deprived of my camera, especially on a trip to a beautiful spot like this, that I realize that I don’t experience the present moment because of my addiction. I am always looking for images instead of really looking at what I’m looking at. I would like to find a good balance.

The blue sky that I spotted on Saturday morning was very temporary. It quickly turned back to heavy rain and then snow off and on all day. The snow didn’t stick but it was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that looking out the window distracted me while I was cutting bookboard and I cut my finger. Luckily, Albie was ready with Liquid Skin, and then although the cut was not deep or that bad, I nearly fainted. She was ready for that, too, and took good care of me without getting anxious or overreacting. She told me that her daughter does the same thing and that it is called vasovagel response. I’m glad to have a name for it so that I can warn people before I get a shot – maybe I won’t get another nurse who treats me like a toddler if I make it sound like an official diagnosis.

An Artful Journey, art, art retreats, book arts, California

Day one of Albie’s class

I need to take more photos, but as usual, I became entranced with what I was doing. I kept going until I absolutely could not do it anymore. Today I have to remind myself to SIT DOWN. My hands are not too bad, but my feet and back were letting me know it last night. We are doing a lot of stenciling and stamping and tearing papers, which means it seems more natural to stand slightly bent over a table. My spirit was willing to keep going; my body said NO.

Albie is teaching us a lot of tricks and it was hard to believe how fast the time went by yesterday. I spent most of the morning on only two papers, neither of which I was particularly happy about. Realizing that I was over-analyzing, I managed to change my mindset to play and produced several more papers that I was much more satisfied with. I would like to produce a large amount of papers today and tomorrow for books for the gallery and Etsy, and take advantage of being able to use so many different stencils. However, Albie has several examples of sweet book structures that don’t require a lot of fancy stitching so I’ve decided to make one or two books here.

Cindy O’Leary is the organizer of this retreat and I have to say that we are well taken care of! There are lots of good snacks including amazing homemade chocolate chip cookies, coffee and tea 24 hours a day, good meals, and last night at the instructors’ sale she had some much appreciated wine for us. It is a beautiful, old place with some modern facilities, although the rooms in my building are what you might expect for a 100 year old convent turned college turned conference/spiritual center. I love the simplicity.

Prayer flags sent in by the Artful Journey attendees hanging in the dining hall. The Pueblo building where I am staying and taking my class is in the background.

Now I am looking out my window at 7 a.m. and I see the blessed blue sky, something I haven’t seen since I’ve been here. Yay! Listening to the rain come down through the pipes in the hallway, which apparently used to be an outside courtyard, was like listening to a waterfall, but I am tired of wet.

Time for breakfast, but I believe that I’ll just grab a piece of fruit and go on back to the classroom. We are doing some techniques with gesso today that make the paper look like embossed leather. I am so happy that I made the decision to come here. This is where I need to be right now. Albie is a wonderful teacher, and the knowledge that I take home from this will sustain my imagination for quite some time.