New Glasses

It occurred to me recently that it had been several years since my last eye doctor visit, and I had noticed some changes in my sight including blurriness and tired eyes. It was suggested that I go to an MD instead of an OD, so I made an appointment with a new doc. In the exam room, he placed little lens in front of my glasses to my delight, "Oh, that is much better!" I exclaimed. "Yes, you need bifocals." He flatly stated. "But I am too young for bifocals!" I laughed outloud, but sobbed inside. I always told myself to age with grace, but at that moment I was being a seriously awkward mofo. Previously, my eye care went like this...Step 1: Eye exam. Step 2: Select new frames from the selection available. Step 3: Pay. Simple. At this office, he handed me the prescription and left the room. No, "Have a nice day." or "Do you have any questions about this new vision requirement?" Dilated and dazed, I left the office without even a glance at the frame selection, then drove home wincing from the normally beloved sunny day. What exactly did needing bifocal mean to me? Was it just another pair of glasses or the ringing of my death bell? Ha! 

Tiffany Clark and her infamous specs. 

Tiffany Clark and her infamous specs. 

I was considering ordering my new glasses online, but realized that my prescription did not include the PD numbers. I called the office back, requesting my PDs, which they told me they could not provide unless I returned to the office. Since I was not thrilled about the first visit and did not want to provide them with further funds, I decided to go elsewhere to get those numbers. I returned to Gemini Eyecare, where I used to get glasses and found a modern black cat eye frame. Cost almost $300 with insurance, but I felt hesitant and did not complete the order. Was it the cost? Did I just know subconsciously that they were not the right frames for my face or was I avoiding this new phase in my life? I was stressed and confused. Then I tried Eyemart and found a pair of modern black rectangular frames for just over $100. Again no commitment. I thought about my artist friend Tiffany Clark and her amazing hand-crafted wood frames. Did I want something with artsy personality? I decided to shop around and see if there was one out there that fit my needs and my face, which I already knew, is small for an adult woman. Yes, some of these frames are from the children's section and STILL seem too big. 

A most unflattering collage of me. 

A most unflattering collage of me. 

With most of these frames, I would put them on and think, "Hmmm...I really like these! These are the ones!" Then I would snap a photo, look at the photo and change my mind. Crap. This was not going to be an easy task. At my husband's insistence, I even tried frames from Warby Parker for a free at home try on. All too big. One thing I did learn from Warby Parker is that the plastic frames could be an option for me. I had never considered them before because I need those little nose footers, but the WPs made me realize that some plastic frames have a notch at the top to allow those of us not born with Barbie noses to wear plastic frames. That was a glorious moment. That brings up the question of whether I should even consider ordering them online. Numerous people have warned me against such thoughts, both because of personal experience or because the concept is ludicrous to them. How can a website possibly do what trained professionals do in person? I went back to Eyemart and found a black metal frame, in the kids section, and I am content....I think. Now to get used to the world swimming around me from these wacky progressive lens! 



Seeking Shelter : Studio Images

The Preble County Art Association and the Victoria Theatre Association are presenting the upcoming invitational art exhibition, Bridges of Preble County. The show will be on display at the Schuster Performing Arts Center from March 15 - March 22, 2016, during the production of Bridges of Madison County. I am honored to be one of the selected artists participating in this exhibit.

Seeking Shelter measures 36" x 36" and begins with a birch panel as the base. Recently, I acquired some flight maps from my friend, Ari, and I cut those into 4" squares which will be applied to the panel like a quilt using gel medium. Upon this base of collaged elements, I will adhere a stylized drawing of a human/butterfly hybrid in front of a covered bridge inspired form. The figure is inspired by the amazing butterfly dress made by my friend, Tracy McElfesh, co-owner of Sew Dayton. I had been wanting to make a painting about the Monarch Butterfly and it's struggles to find food and habitat during migration and this seemed like the perfect time. Even though this year marks an upturn in the population, more than 90% of Monarch Butterflies have vanished in the last 25 years. A portion of the sale of this piece will go to the Monarch Wings Across Ohio project. 

A close-up of the maps. 

A close-up of the maps. 

Debating between a white or continuous green border. 

Debating between a white or continuous green border. 

Inspiration for shelter. A bridge located in Preble County. 

Inspiration for shelter. A bridge located in Preble County. 

Photo from shoot with Gwendolyn Vo in the butterfly dress by Tracy McElfesh. Read her blog POST about how she created it!

Photo from shoot with Gwendolyn Vo in the butterfly dress by Tracy McElfesh. Read her blog POST about how she created it!

Working on figure scale and posture with the drawing taped to the panel for stability. 

Working on figure scale and posture with the drawing taped to the panel for stability. 

Gluing the white border down with guide marks to keep it level. 

Gluing the white border down with guide marks to keep it level. 

Ari approves the use of his old flight maps.

Ari approves the use of his old flight maps.

Figure drawing adhered to the map surface. I have seen this technique used before, but I had not tried it on this scale piece. There is more texture than I am used to working with, but success!

Figure drawing adhered to the map surface. I have seen this technique used before, but I had not tried it on this scale piece. There is more texture than I am used to working with, but success!

Blocking in color on the wings and shelter. 

Blocking in color on the wings and shelter. 

I did not like how the bridge inspiration seemed to float awkwardly in the space, so I added some panels to extend the form to the border. 

I did not like how the bridge inspiration seemed to float awkwardly in the space, so I added some panels to extend the form to the border. 

Blocking in the color on the new shape. 

Blocking in the color on the new shape. 

Bringing in some dark tones with Thalo Teal and Naphthol Crimson. The number 13 is a reference to the Greeting Bridge shown earlier, which is labeled with "No. 13" and one of my favorite numbers is 13. I thought this would look better than "Greeting Bridge" or something similar. 

Bringing in some dark tones with Thalo Teal and Naphthol Crimson. The number 13 is a reference to the Greeting Bridge shown earlier, which is labeled with "No. 13" and one of my favorite numbers is 13. I thought this would look better than "Greeting Bridge" or something similar. 

Face blocked in. 

Face blocked in. 

Giving her some character and a better chin. 

Giving her some character and a better chin. 

Modeled her eyes after Monarch eyes. 

Modeled her eyes after Monarch eyes. 

Trimming the hoodie with some teal piping. 

Trimming the hoodie with some teal piping. 

A detail of the hands in progress and the maps. 

A detail of the hands in progress and the maps. 

Legs before....

Legs before....

And new sexy legs inspired by latex. 

And new sexy legs inspired by latex. 

Friday night wino painting with Tinsel supervising. 

Friday night wino painting with Tinsel supervising. 

Visually connecting the skirt to the hoodie style with some teal piping. Changing it up a bit from Tracy's original design to add a bit more color. 

Visually connecting the skirt to the hoodie style with some teal piping. Changing it up a bit from Tracy's original design to add a bit more color. 

One problem with this collage technique...If you need to make a change, you need to take drastic measures. I had to do this alteration on one of her ankles also. Scrap away the paper so there is not a hard edge, then cover with paint. 

One problem with this collage technique...If you need to make a change, you need to take drastic measures. I had to do this alteration on one of her ankles also. Scrap away the paper so there is not a hard edge, then cover with paint. 

Adding glazes of color to the map background to suggest turbulent skies and add some more depth. 

Adding glazes of color to the map background to suggest turbulent skies and add some more depth. 

Playing around with the idea of using map circles as rain drops, but I do not like the scale and I think they are distracting. Most likely will go with clear Pouring Medium instead for smaller, clear raindrops. 

Playing around with the idea of using map circles as rain drops, but I do not like the scale and I think they are distracting. Most likely will go with clear Pouring Medium instead for smaller, clear raindrops. 

Pouring Medium to the rescue! Rain drops drying. 

Pouring Medium to the rescue! Rain drops drying. 

Using a technique I learned from Wylie Beckert, explained in this post.   

Using a technique I learned from Wylie Beckert, explained in this post.   

New glaze, which was applied to soften the white and unify the two layers a bit better, is dry. Going over it with another layer of white. 

New glaze, which was applied to soften the white and unify the two layers a bit better, is dry. Going over it with another layer of white. 

New improved covered bridge. Some tweaks to the background and I think it may almost be done! 

New improved covered bridge. Some tweaks to the background and I think it may almost be done! 

That Naughty Pipe Coloring Book Sneak Peek

Are you ready for a little peek of the collaborative project I have been working on with my friend and local writer, Rob E. Boley? Boley, whom I interviewed in Episode 3 of Art Hops, has been mashing the genres of horror and fairy tales in his series, The Scary Tales. Now he has created an original mash-up story inspired by The Pied Piper of Hamlin and the cult classic, Gremlinsfor this horror coloring book! I am almost done with the rough sketches so we can finalize the story and the layout, then it is time to ink and research printers! We are planning a Kickstarter to help fund the project with lots of special perks, so stay tuned! Until that time, here is your peek! 

Character intro with a hint of what's to come!

Character intro with a hint of what's to come!

Rob's daughter, Anna, channels her inner Gremin!

Rob's daughter, Anna, channels her inner Gremin!

This beautiful and talented muse was a delight to work with on this project! 

This beautiful and talented muse was a delight to work with on this project! 

Best Beasties Forever! 

Best Beasties Forever! 

A twist in the plot! 

A twist in the plot! 

Now it is getting really interesting! Stay tuned for more! 

Now it is getting really interesting! Stay tuned for more! 

Crazy Gypsy Quilt

Occasionally, I find a real gem in my thrift store adventures. Of course, "gem" is in the eye of the beholder. :) My newest find, the crazy gypsy quilt, is very thread worn with most of the applied elements are either shredded or completely disintegrated. Washing the blanket further tormented these fibers, but was still a necessity. The same day I purchased this quilt I ran into Arielle at the Clash Fashion Show, who had freshly dyed her hair Hot Pink. The quilt contained several hot pink sections, so I asked Arielle if she would model for me and she agreed! I adore her smile and bright eyes, but it was the moments when she was "sleeping" that really intrigued me. 

Tobin modeling on the...SQUIRREL!

Tobin modeling on the...SQUIRREL!

Tobin and Boo inspect. 

Tobin and Boo inspect. 

A detail of the hand embellishments. 

A detail of the hand embellishments. 

The flower print is the under framing of the quilt. 

The flower print is the under framing of the quilt. 

Hot Pink Velvet! Hellz yeah! 

Hot Pink Velvet! Hellz yeah! 

Arielle in the sun. 

Arielle in the sun. 

Standing in my mini rock garden. 

Standing in my mini rock garden. 

Getting cozy with the grape vine ball. 

Getting cozy with the grape vine ball. 

Dollhouse Diary : Moving On Up!

Building an original dollhouse has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, but I would not allow myself to dabble with such things until my niece was born. Making the house for her is not a distracting whim of a woman-child, it is the creation of a family heirloom. :) I had started the project with a Lundby mass produced house and almost completely gutted it. Then I created a contemporary sofa from an old purse and gathered items for the rest of the house. After priming the surface and gathering more items for decorating, my Dad decided to build furniture for the house and my Step-Mom cross-stitched several rugs. 

For the loo. Just a sample of the adorable furniture made by Dad!

For the loo. Just a sample of the adorable furniture made by Dad!

Lots of colorful rugs! Living in Tucson, my Step-Mom created fun South West inspired designs. 

Lots of colorful rugs! Living in Tucson, my Step-Mom created fun South West inspired designs. 

The new furnishings could fit into the Lundby I was working on...sorta. It was becoming obvious that we had these amazing items and wanted more room to showcase them. I asked my sister if she could find a better house and she did in record time on a local resell site for $35! 

Out with the old, in with the new! Ti inspects the new digs. 

Out with the old, in with the new! Ti inspects the new digs. 

The new home was partially assembled by the previous owner and was supposed to look like a Victorian Farmhouse with three levels, but I had other plans. Here is what it was supposed to look like when finished. 

Thankfully, the glue the first family used was not stellar and I was able to disassemble most of the house. Just a little redesigning and now we are working on a Midwest Modern style home! The place also got a name, Grand Ant Manor. The kids call me Amy Ant instead of Aunt Amy and since it is mostly myself and the Grandfolks working on it, we thought that would be a fitting title. Also, I loved that it was an oxymoron

Reassembling the floor plan. 

Reassembling the floor plan. 

The bay window becomes a side accent window. 

The bay window becomes a side accent window. 

My first goal, remove the two side porches. They were wasted space and I did not want to deal with all of those little poles! The yellow color will go later. 

New construction drying. 

New construction drying. 

In this photo you can see the three panels from the bay window in their new locations. Two are on the side of the house and the third is positioned in the lower front corner. 

Painters tape is your friend! 

Painters tape is your friend! 

Perhaps you are perplexed as to why I would leave a gapping void where the bay window used to be? That, my friend, is the location of the future black box theater! Did I mention that this will not be your traditional dollhouse, but really more of an Art House!?! The two-level opening on the left side is part of the original design and allows little bodies to access the deeper areas of the house. Flip the panel, and now the lower level is access for little performers to reach around and out the stage entrance. The front opening will get a velvet curtain and doors that open to reveal stage elements. There will also be a removable stage for when performances are scheduled. 

This was my original thought on the interior layout, but decided to take the lower left wall out and enlarge the kitchen instead. After all, my Dad had made lots of cute appliances to go in there! Instead of adding the original third floor sloped roof, the roof will remain flat as shown in this picture. My plan is to cut a stair access hole with a hatch door,  rooftop veggie garden, rock garden and patio area. This decision was not only aesthetic, but also allows us to transport it in the Subaru. We would need to rent a vehicle if it gets any taller! 

Tobin thinks it is already move in ready!

Tobin thinks it is already move in ready!

The layout is finalized, so I remove the inner walls and begin to stabilize and finish the edges with wood filler, then all exposed surfaces get a coat of gesso primer. 

The theater must be black, so I mark out the area and paint all of the inner surfaces with Mars Black acrylic paint. 

Now begins the fun part! Time to decide on the wall and floor treatments before I can continue. The bathroom decision is done with "tile" made from textured metallic paint samples and REAL wall paper designed by me using pictures of my niece and her brothers! Want your own wallpaper, I ordered mine at Spoonflower.com and just sized it to be super tiny! More decor in the next installment of Dollhouse Diary

The Flower House

Every once in a while you enter a space and you feel inspired, enchanted and transformed. That is Flower House. Or more accurately, that WAS Flower House. This temporary exhibit was only open to the public for three days this past October and the house is destined to be deconstructed and the land converted into a flower farm. 

In addition to Flower House, visitors could still see the teaser house next door. This smaller structure was embellished in May of 2015 to promote the main event as well as intrigue potential sponsors. While Flower House was filled with fresh flowers, veggies and other organic goodies, the smaller venue housed the plants dried out from the heat of the summer. The space was a subtle palette of dirty blues, faded browns and the occasional pop of color. 

Welcome to Flower House!

Welcome to Flower House!

Selfie in the second floor bathroom. 

Selfie in the second floor bathroom. 

The Kitchen.

The Kitchen.

The color! 

The color! 

The contrast of textures and colors was intense! 

The contrast of textures and colors was intense! 

First floor bathroom. Note the birch bark for toilet paper! 

First floor bathroom. Note the birch bark for toilet paper! 

Inside the smaller May house. 

Inside the smaller May house. 

Pops of color. 

Pops of color. 

Selfie with a tin ceiling! 

Selfie with a tin ceiling! 

Marketplace of the Mind : Studio Images

The front entry of the Fairview High School.

The front entry of the Fairview High School.

School crest. 

School crest. 

This six-by-six foot beast, Marketplace of the Mind, is a commission from the Reimagining Works project, a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library and the Dayton Art Institute. The Kuosi Elephant Mask and Fairview High School were the inspirations for this playful acrylic on linen painting. View the entire proposal in this POST. 

Final scale drawing. 

Final scale drawing. 

Shield leaves will repeat around the border. 

Shield leaves will repeat around the border. 

Fairview mascot, the Bulldog, will adorn the corners.  

Fairview mascot, the Bulldog, will adorn the corners.  

See the canvas come together in this POST. 

See the canvas come together in this POST

Getting the image transferred was no easy task. See what it took in this POST. 

Getting the image transferred was no easy task. See what it took in this POST

Concentrating on straight lines. 

Concentrating on straight lines. 

Filling in the color. Note: the center of the leaf form will remain raw linen, sealed in clear gesso. 

Filling in the color. Note: the center of the leaf form will remain raw linen, sealed in clear gesso. 

Surrounding the babies in tiles inspired by the Fairview HS fountain. 

Surrounding the babies in tiles inspired by the Fairview HS fountain. 

My set-up for creating the time lapse movie. 

My set-up for creating the time lapse movie. 

Making progress.

Making progress.

So many dog jokes *insert here*. Each dog will have a different look and personality. 

So many dog jokes *insert here*. Each dog will have a different look and personality. 

Starting the elephants. His one eye is a bit wonky, so I plan to fix that a bit later. 

Starting the elephants. His one eye is a bit wonky, so I plan to fix that a bit later. 

Progress as of April 2015.

Progress as of April 2015.

Finishing up the side patterns. 

Finishing up the side patterns. 

The ladder has proved useless and I must work on the canvas upside down to get the upper areas. This is going to get interesting! 

The ladder has proved useless and I must work on the canvas upside down to get the upper areas. This is going to get interesting! 

And sideways! Starting the veggie basket and continuing the little boy elephant. He also needs a bit of color. 

And sideways! Starting the veggie basket and continuing the little boy elephant. He also needs a bit of color. 

Veggie basket finished and a pop of color in the form of a fez. 

Veggie basket finished and a pop of color in the form of a fez. 

Now I need to change some textures to differentiate the materials, such as the little girl elephant's fruit basket. 

Now I need to change some textures to differentiate the materials, such as the little girl elephant's fruit basket. 

Basket weaving completed.

Basket weaving completed.

A full view as of December 2015. 

A full view as of December 2015. 

A close-up of the blanket in progress. 

A close-up of the blanket in progress. 

Ink Well : Studio Images

Work in progress. This painting is 28" x 38". More images can be found on my Pinterest Board for this painting. 

The phases of the Pokeweed plant. It starts with the delicate white flowers, transitions into the green pods and then to the rich, dark berries. Native Americans used to use this North American plant for inks.

The phases of the Pokeweed plant. It starts with the delicate white flowers, transitions into the green pods and then to the rich, dark berries. Native Americans used to use this North American plant for inks.

The sketch to scale, then I use carbon paper to transfer it to the panel.

The sketch to scale, then I use carbon paper to transfer it to the panel.

Starting with a wash of magenta, or more specifically, Liquitex Quinacridone. 

Starting with a wash of magenta, or more specifically, Liquitex Quinacridone. 

The muses for this piece, sisters Hayden and Paige. Photographed in my backyard with the other muse for this piece, Pokeweed. 

The muses for this piece, sisters Hayden and Paige. Photographed in my backyard with the other muse for this piece, Pokeweed. 

Starting work on Paige. My thoughts with her character is that she represents the past. She is connected to the white flower phase of the Pokeweed plant, so I want to try to make her as light and white as possible. 

Starting work on Paige. My thoughts with her character is that she represents the past. She is connected to the white flower phase of the Pokeweed plant, so I want to try to make her as light and white as possible. 

Getting the details in her face. This is a still from the time lapse video I am creating while working on this painting. 

Getting the details in her face. This is a still from the time lapse video I am creating while working on this painting. 

The first bits of color, the Cheshire Cat returns...but not for long. 

The first bits of color, the Cheshire Cat returns...but not for long. 

Beginning Hayden's face. She represents the future and she will be bold, inspired by the final phases of the Pokeweed. 

Beginning Hayden's face. She represents the future and she will be bold, inspired by the final phases of the Pokeweed. 

I just did not like how the cat was sitting in this space. I knew it from the sketch, but I just kept telling myself to keep with it. He may return in a different location. 

I just did not like how the cat was sitting in this space. I knew it from the sketch, but I just kept telling myself to keep with it. He may return in a different location. 

Getting playful with the background. I want this piece to be a mix of what I have learned from working on the Wasp in a Wig and Identification Series. Tightly detailed, yet loose and playful. 

Getting playful with the background. I want this piece to be a mix of what I have learned from working on the Wasp in a Wig and Identification Series. Tightly detailed, yet loose and playful. 

Boo assists with the tracing paper for a second cat. 

Boo assists with the tracing paper for a second cat. 

A silly mini movie from "Ink Well" that shows a drawing of a feline who did not make the cut into the final painting. 

The cat is replaced by a hybrid Bonsai/Pokeweed tree. 

The cat is replaced by a hybrid Bonsai/Pokeweed tree. 

My supervisor keeps me on task. Not 100% on her face. Changes to come. 

My supervisor keeps me on task. Not 100% on her face. Changes to come. 

Starting to develop her new face and hairstyle. 

Starting to develop her new face and hairstyle. 

A new friend!

A new friend!

Getting some definition to the hairdo. 

Getting some definition to the hairdo. 

Some work on the feathers and starting the necklace. 

Some work on the feathers and starting the necklace. 

Making some progress on the tattoos. 

Making some progress on the tattoos. 

Leg tattoos finished. More on upper arm. 

Leg tattoos finished. More on upper arm. 

Starting to add definition to the leaves. 

Starting to add definition to the leaves. 

Giving the shoes some volume. 

Giving the shoes some volume. 

More value in the tree. 

More value in the tree. 

Starting to "carve" the front of the chair. 

Starting to "carve" the front of the chair. 

Blocked in. 

Blocked in. 

Starting the chair face. 

Starting the chair face. 

Adding a few more tats to her shoulder. 

Adding a few more tats to her shoulder. 

Starting the new foliage.

Starting the new foliage.

Starting the green kitty. 

Starting the green kitty. 

Current state of the piece, December 2015. 

Current state of the piece, December 2015. 

Miamisburg Library Proposal Accepted

The ReImagining Works program has finalized another round of library proposals, this time for the Miamisburg Library branch. Four artists were selected and I am thrilled to say I am one of them! Congrats also goes out to Susan Byrnes, Mychaelyn Michalec and Darren Haper. The work is scheduled to be installed February 2017. Here is the proposal I submitted. 


The cover page summarizing my submission. You will see on that this information changes later. 


In order to accommodate the various proposals, the selection panel requested that I move my proposed artwork to a different wall and reduce the size of the pieces since that area had different measurements than my original location.