Monday, December 26, 2011

"Reach"-my word for 2012

I lay in bed, cozy and comfy.  It's my favorite place to fill up my juices.  I am grateful for all the holiday celebrations, and ready to look ahead to the New Year. Recently, I read a post about how to find a word for the New Year to emulate what you want to focus on, and thought, "I should do that".
Here is the link for those who care to read it... So after much thinking I came up with the word "REACH".  This painting will be my Reach inspiration, I barely started it and will share it's development as it evolves...

and tonight I did this one with my new pan pastel I got for Christmas...

It feels like what I am going to be about next year.  I want to reach further and higher, to stretch myself to my fullest capacity.  I even treated myself to some help.  I am going to be working with Tiffany Moore of Teahouse studios, to help me structure and nurture my goals for the upcoming year.  This is a giant step for me, to have someone help me fine tune my goals.  I have never done this before and I am really excited.  It's so easy for me to have art ADD and want to do this, and that and then flitter all about and not get anywhere.  With help I am hoping to implement a more strategic way to get where I want to go.  Even knowing exactly where I want to go is hard, but I have some lofty goals, and while I am moving towards them I know it will become more known to me where I am supposed to go.  That's what always happens.  When I am in action the universe responds.  Usually very generously.  It's the getting going that can be the challenge, and in which direction.    So instead of bumbling about like I tend to do, I am hiring a guide.  How lovely, to not have to figure everything out on my own!!  Yay.
I am also treating myself to some delicious inspirational reading, I can't recommend this enough! "Succulent Wild Woman" by SARK.  I am devouring it, bite by delicious bite. It is a feast for my creative senses, in every way.  Visually stimulating, emotionally engaging, and highly motivating.  I read a few pages everyday to start my engines, she is so inspirational.  Here's just a sample of what I mean...

"All my life, I've heard that I'm too much.  Too wild, too outrageous, too emotional, too sensitive, too needy, TOO MUCH. "
"Living wild has consequences.  Welcome to these and learn from them.  PLEASE GIVE YOURSELF TOO MANY GIFTS! "

"We have the right to live wild, succulent lives.  right now open your window and yell at the top of your lungs "I'm here1 I'm wild!  I will live a daring and remarkable life! "
scary huh...
I have really only started this book and there is so much MEAT to it I don't do it justice.  I encourage you to read it, do what she says and treat yourself.  I have been doing this lately and I am loving it.  It feels good, and am I harming anyone? NO, am I making us go broke? NO, am I giving myself what I need? YES!  hip hip hooray!!  It's kind of hard isn't it to really dote on ourselves, we are so used to being martyrs that it's actually EASIER to deprive ourselves then treat ourselves.  Now I can't speak for you of course, maybe you are already a succulent wild woman who completely, utterly loves herself and treats herself like the queen that you are.  if so, GOOD FOR YOU!  You are awesome.  Personally I don't know that many women who do this.  And I know a lot of women, and very strong, talented women at that.  Even me, a tutu dancing, artist has a hard time totally indulging myself.  I am learning, and I learn form those who show me how.  I look to the women who "lead by example".
So I think 2012 is going to be a big growth year, and I intend on reaching and stretching myself as far as I can.  Here's how....
I want to try new things, go on adventures with people I love and by myself, grow artistically, improve in my business, meet new friends and play with those who can, love deeply and often, laugh daily, pause when agitated, SLOW DOWN and quit being so impatient all the time, shush my critic and encourage myself instead, be kind, be silly, be TOO MUCH, be creative, dance and sing and eat good food, sleep a lot, and exercise, feed my spirit with spiritual food, be in nature often, see great movies and eat popcorn, have passionate sex, massages and pedicures, explore towns I have never been to, talk to strangers and take classes, take tons of pictures and absorb the world as a wondrous, glorious place, swim in tropical waters with turtles and eat fresh mangoes, try a new art retreat and learn new techniques, have artist dates with myself and marvel at the limitless possibilities of creativity, love myself more and stop being so critical, go to flea markets often and find amazing treasure, learn how to build things, paint often and not care what it's for, spend less time on facebook and more time with real people, do nice things for those I care about, and even those I don't know, reach and stretch and grow beyond what I can even think of, and most of all be grateful.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tracy Verdugo Interview

Tracy Verdugo and I have never met before but I feel like I know her thanks to facebook.  She lives down under in Australia, a place I long to go, so we wouldn't meet ordinarily, were it not for our facebook connection.  I found out that she is coming here to the USA next year so we will meet in person at "Art is", I can't wait.  I chat with her on facebook from time to time and asked her if she would do my 5 question interview.  Being the sweetie that she is, she agreed.  Without further adieu here it is..

1.How long have you been making art?
The journey into finding my creative voice really coincided with my journey into motherhood. There is something so empowering and awe inspiring about bringing a precious life into this world so I guess it’s not surprising that shortly after the birth of our first daughter Santana 18 years ago I sat down with half a dozen tubes of cheap acrylic paint and with my beautiful girl asleep next to me, painted my first two little paintings. I was so proud of my first attempts and felt the seeds of something amazing stir. Around the same time I also found the courage to share my voice. I had sung my whole life but very rarely in front of an audience as my performance anxiety was overwhelming. With the loving support of my husband Marco I progressed from singing just with him to performing on stage over a three year period. Currently we are in the studio working on our third album release, this time with our band The Long Goodbyes.
"She felt the potential"

2.How long did it take for you to find your unique style?
In 2002 I held my first solo exhibition inspired by our travels in Mexico where many of Marco’s family lives. My first works were described as colorful, vibrant and joyful so I guess in some ways I fell into my own unique style early. In other ways however as my skill level has increased and my spiritual journey has unfolded my work has morphed and I find myself often painting now in a much more intuitive, playful and soulful way, searching for meaning in my work as it progresses and then building layers of exploration upon that.
"Love lives here"

3.Do you consider yourself successful?
It has been a long journey, 18 years now since I first picked up a brush, difficult times and wonderful times and many times where I forgot about my creative self completely.
In the last year however something big has shifted in my own perception of what is possible and many doors have begun to open. 2012 is looking incredibly, almost unbelievably, and a little bit scarily, amazing as my dream of travelling the world teaching and inspiring others to honor and unleash their own creative beauty begins to unfold.
In January our whole family will travel to the enchanting island of Koh Samui, Thailand where I have been asked to judge a major mural competition, teach and hold my first international exhibition thanks to my gorgeous friend Michelle Ho who is organising these events. All commissions from the sale of my paintings will go to the Dog and Cat rescue centre on the island where our animal loving 14 year old daughter Sienna will volunteer for several days while we are there.
In March I will teach at the wonderful retreat “Art Is” in Sydney and then in September I will fly to the U.S to join the Art Is family again in California and Connecticut. I will also be teaching at the spectacular Sweet Freedom Retreat in Missouri and Hacienda Mosaico in Puerto Vallarta. Other wonderful online friends have offered to help me organise workshops in Texas, California, Georgia, Florida, Canada and Hawaii and I’m doing my best to be able to fit in all of this wonderment during the five months we will be in the U.S.
I am also thrilled to be one of the teachers in Tamara Laportes online extravaganza LifeBook which will run through the whole of 2012.
"Awakening the Muse"

4.Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas and inspiration bombard me continuously and come from many different sources, the small details, the big picture, a poem, a color, a memory, snippets of text cut out of old books. Inspiration overload can sometimes be just as paralyzing as a lack of inspiration as I sometimes struggle to find a starting point with so many ideas flying around in my head.
"Concept and Creation"

5.Do you have a loud critic at your back? If so how do you manage it?
I still occasionally have to deal with my inner critic but I’ve learnt (for the most part) to turn the volume down. I imagine it as the voice of a well-meaning relative who thinks they know what’s best for me but is acting out of their own very different perspective. I also find that staying in balance physically and emotionally, getting enough sleep and treating my body well also helps me to focus clearly and keep emotions of doubt and fear at bay.
Gratitude has also played a huge part in my creative journey. Our family takes a moment each night before we eat to tell each other the things that we are grateful for that day. The more I find to be grateful for the more I realize just how much there is and this awareness helps me to move through the world in a more wholehearted way.

Find me here

Monday, November 21, 2011


Yesterday I went to Restoreandrework,, in Castro Valley, a hidden gem, owned and operated by Cisco Diaz.  I met Cisco about 6 months ago at the Treasure Island flea market, he has wonderful vintage items at good prices, so naturally I was hooked.  He is as nice as can be, warm and friendly and we chatted about antiques and business.  Since then I have seen him at various locations (he gets around), namely the Alameda antique fair and vintage sales in town. He has a knack for display and I love his combination of jars, baskets, containers and treasure.  Here we are in front of his store yesterday
I needed mason jars to make Joy Jars and he has plenty....I bought a lot...
Giant Joy Jars for people like me who use their Jars so much they need to keep upgrading to bigger and bigger jars...these will be transformed by Hip Chick and you can buy them at my store or online for a great holiday gift.  I will talk more about these later...back to Cisco's awesome store...I did a quickie interview while we were packing up my goodies...
"When did you start your business?"  Cisco said, "June 2010.  I was unemployed.  I couldn't find a job.  I decided to build some things, and I built my first birdhouse..
then I built another, a bench, an table, and next thing I knew I had 40 things to sell, so I went to the local Castro Valley farmers market and sold my first item.
Then from there I did other farmers markets.
people said , You should do "Alameda", so I baby stepped with smaller venues first.
I went to the DeAnza flea market, and did some vintage shows, the Treasure Island Flea and finally "Alameda" 8 months ago.  His spot if F27 for those who go frequently (like me)...
Various items Cisco collects
So I asked him, "Do you love what you do?" and he said, "I wish I would've started before, I was a mortgage wholesale representative and now I love the freedom to do what I want.  I love the creativity to make new things from previously used old things.  I love the interaction with people.  The big shows keep that alive."
Cisco can be found at the Alameda antique on the first Sunday of every month at F27, at the Treasure Island flea market on the last weekend of every month,, and at his new shop in Castro Valley open the 2nd Saturday of the month from 9-6.
He has a facebook page, which is this link and could use some support, he is going to quickly get it, I can tell you, his place sings with charm.  Here are some pictures of his new store in Castro Valley...
there is so much to see, everywhere you look there is treasure..
I love all the rusty pieces mixed with useful jars, and boxes..
I got the killer candle holder and it sits on my bedroom vanity, thanks Cisco!  
charming rusty bike mixed with frames, boxes, candelabras and vintage frogs...
I love supporting other people doing what they love, and Cisco is good people.  I know we will be doing business together in the future and if you live in the area you should check him out.  You will find yourself leaving with a smile and some treasure, what more could you ask for??

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free Pet Portrait for the Holidays!

I am giving away a free custom pet portrait for the Holidays and the lucky winner could be YOU! Do you love your pet? Do you know someone else who LOVES their pet? Then you are eligible. All you need to do is email me your name and why you love your pet to You are entered to win. The lucky winner will be announced December 1, 2011. They will receive a custom pet portrait of their choice just in time for the holidays. I have been enjoying painting pets so much lately that I felt it would be in the spirit of giving to provide a lucky winner this heartfelt prize. The best part about painting people's pets is how happy they are with the results. I love seeing people's faces light up when they see their beloved animal on canvas and that is why I offer pet portraits for a service. This is valued at $150.00 so it's a real treat for someone to win. Here are some recent portraits I did for a client who had a whole family of dogs
I have painted many animals and more can be found on my website if you are interested. Here is the link.
My favorite pose for a portrait is close up and personal. If you can get the animal to show it's personality that makes it really special. I started painting pets after I painted my own dog, Chester. He is a German Shepherd/Poodle mix with lots of wild hair. He was such fun to paint that I thought "hmmm, pet portraits.." and that was that. The winner will also get their portrait and story featured on my blog, so don't even think of passing on this fun opportunity! What's better then free?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Jane" my portrait painting and it's progression

I am not highly skilled at portraits, quite the opposite.  But the only way to get better is to practice, so I decided to take an online class from one of my favorite artists "Gritty Jane" or Jane DesRosier.  Here is her link if you are interested...
She does amazing work, and I would love to be able to emulate her style.  So part of the class is of course making your own portrait.  This was my attempt.  I called her "Jane" in honor of Gritty Jane and her style which is layers and texture mixed with paint.  I am amazed at how much my portrait changed every time I worked on it.  I think it's pretty good for my first attempt at this style, and the fact that I don't typically paint people.  I can say that people are very challenging, there are so many components, mainly proportion.  That is always a challenge for me, and really it comes back to the basics of drawing.  There is no over estimating the importance of this practice.  It is the back bone of all art essentially.  What I tend to do is jump in without first laying down an accurate drawing.  I am so excited to start painting that I jump in too quickly, thereby making more work for myself later on.  But try as I might this is how I am.  I have always done it, and probably always will.  The good news is I choose a "forgiving" medium in acrylic paint.  You can just keep going til you get it right.  Watercolors were never for me due to the fact that you make your mark and it's there, if you need to move it, too bad.  It's stuck and it ain't never going to move again.  Oils and acrylics are so forgiving you can virtually paint an entire new subject over another and never even know it.  That's for me.  I can't stand being rigid when it comes to choices.  I want to loosen up and paint with total abandon, and I feel like this happens after years and years and years of work.  I am not there, not even close.  But at least I am painting, and I am learning and I am trying.  I quit art years ago after being so frustrated with my inner critic yelling at how bad I was.  I challenge that critic now, I stand up to it and I say "go away, you aren't needed right now...." I am allowing myself to learn, to grow, and to try all kinds of ways to create.  My biggest hurdle is ME.  My critic and my expectations, if I can get past that, I am a success...I hope you enjoyed my process and if you can relate please share...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sharon Payne Bolton-Artist at the Arsenal

I met Sharon about 3 years ago when I first got my studio at the Arsenal in Benicia.  I was mesmerized by her right away.  She is gorgeous and talented, which can be very annoying except that she is also very humble and friendly.  She does everything well.  I am not exaggerating,  She has more energy than anyone I have ever met.  When I met her she was pregnant with Brody (who is now 2 years old), newly married and a mother to two more sons, Wyatt and Tucker.  That's plenty for anyone, but she managed to carve out an art career and be an all-star sports star to top it all off.  The thing that really had me in awe was how she could use power tools like a man, and build furniture.  I mean really.  Is there anything she CAN"T do?  And while she was tending to her newborn, she was making art, and juggling a family.  The funny thing about Sharon is how humble she is, she really didn't want to be interviewed.  But I am very persuasive, and persistent.  So without further adieu I asked her the same 5 questions I asked Sharon Tomlinson.  Here they are...

1. How long have you been making art?
Maybe we should ask my mom this question?  I think she remembers the toys I used to make out of wood, nails, rubber bands, tape, coffee cans, etc...She probably remembers the clothes I use to make for my Barbie Dolls? Fast Forward to when I was just out of college and would have an open block of time, I always wanted to build something... so, with the help of a friend at the time, I built my first fish bench... 

after I had  my first son, I worked a little smaller, (woodwork mostly) furniture, etc 

After I had my second son I saw my first copy of Somerset Studio and it gave me the mixed media element...

2.  How long did it take for you to find your unique style?
I am still chasing my unique style (is that even possible?)... My guess it that it might be out there, it might not... I wonder what is lost on trying to be something vs. simply just being? I think we all have to relax and let the exchange happen... art is an exchange.

3.  Do you consider yourself successful?

Successful?  hmmmm... I wonder when that happens?    I really believe that I have a long way to go but I have come a long way too.  I have some pretty lofty goals and now that I think about it, I have actually met some of them.. 

OK, OK, I will admit one of them... I have been exhibiting at the Ketchum Arts Festival in Sun Valley, Idaho for over 10 years now, and I always thought it would be a VERY cool honor to receive the Best of Show (Best Booth) award, well last year, 2010, my booth won!

 I am not surprised....her art and style are so appealing.  This is from her studio in the small section....

4.  Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas are everywhere (not sure who owns ideas anyhow!)... sometimes if I see a shape off in the corner of my eye, sometimes a word in a song will take off and become a Cabinet of Curiosity,  sometimes from a dream, sometimes from conversation, sometimes I will create something and I will have no idea where it came from.

This is some of Sharon's current work, assemblage.

5.  Do you have a loud critic at your back, if so how do you manage it?
My critic likes to drive, but I do think I am getting better at pushing that critic out of the way, well sometimes I can kick that critic off in the corner... I think I am starting to work with my critic, accepting that critic could be a necessary evil... I have had the good fortune of having some incredibly supportive people in my life, a lot of them artists.  Three years ago I found the Arsenal and I found a place that is one of the true Centers of The Universe... The support, the artists, the energy, the collaboration, the friendships, the realness of This Place has become such a HUGE part of my life that I truly had no idea existed... 
This last picture is her newest work.  I love it.  It is so unique, beautiful, layered and funky just like Sharon herself.  You can come visit Sharon (and me) for our December Open Studios December 10th and 11th from 10-5.  This is a real treat if you have never been to the Arsenal in Benicia, it's a playground of Artists, shops and beautiful architecture.  This event if family friendly, fun and FREE.  
Here is a link for Sharon's website for those who want to see more...
This is one rising star I can tell you, her work is also featured in the downtown Benicia gallery 621..
I am happy to be a friend of Sharon's and I hope some of her artistic genius blows over Hip Chick's direction.  Come visit both of us anytime at the Arsenal!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Handmade Christmas ornaments

I went to Spark the Event in Salt Lake City Oct 21st and 22nd and came away completely inspired by the level of creativity there.  We did nothing but craft for two full days and my head was spinning from so much stimulation.  One of my favorite parts was the "make and takes", they are quick easy projects that can be done in 15mins or so.  It made me think of offering make and takes at the shop for open studios in December.  Handmade gifts are so special and many people are too busy to do them but if there was a table with all the supplies and a teacher (me) to show you how to do it, then perhaps this would be popular.... So I went to Michael's craft store yesterday.  Ouch.  That places hurts my head and my pocketbook.  I have such art ADD I seriously can't handle a store like Michael's.  I want to make EVERYTHING and buy EVERYTHING.  Well as we all know that's big bucks.  What I did buy was some glitter, pipe cleaners and stars to try out my make and take concept.  Here is what I came up with...

I think these would work for make and takes, and I am having fun creating one of a kind styles.  To personalize for make and takes I would have letters so people can say "Grandma" or "Mom" etc and then they would be giving a unique present. What do you think??  I was thinking of pricing them at $10.00 I know I would love to do this if I were looking for a Christmas present and it'd be fun to make one for my own tree...Here they are together..
and I am going to make more with some other styles and shapes...Also here is my last painting I made on a day I was struggling with thinking too much...

it's a good reminder for me to stop thinking and just create...I love crackle and want to incorporate more of it in the future.  So that's what I've been up to.  Off to the shop to make more make and takes and paint....I love to hear from you, so let me know if you are creating and if you have any good make and takes ideas to share....

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Interview with Sharon Tomlinson-Artist Extraordinare

I love women artists.  They inspire me daily.  I have met the most incredible artists on facebook and one of these talented ladies is Sharon Tomlinson.  I love her work.  It is unique, fun , gorgeous and dynamic.  Probably like it's creator I'm guessing, who was generous enough to take some of her time and respond to my questions about what got her started.  Before I share my questions and her response, let me show you a few pictures of her work..
 I just love the dynamic palette she uses, her original style of mixed media and collage, and her obvious talent with faces..

 This is a softer and more relaxed palette, again using imagery for the overall composition, and leaving the story up to the viewer.
I don't know Sharon well, I am just an admirer of her work, and soon to be student in her new class, "Faces in Collage" which starts November 4, 2011.  Here is her link to find out more

I asked Sharon 5 questions that I as an artist am curious about.  
1. How long have you been making art?
"I guess you could say I have been making art since my oldest was one year old.  He is now 43.  Yes, I am old.  And throughout all those years my art play took me in many directions.  I experienced seeing something and wanting to try it; because, when you are young and have a creative spirit, that is just what you do.   For example, I started with ceramics and tole painting which led me to oil painting. I was a oil painter of landscapes, still life, as well as, the human figure.  I am self taught with the exception of one mentor who shared her studio and talent with me nearly every weekday.  It was during that time that I discovered my passion for sculpture.  Studying how-to books, I became an original doll maker and made my own production molds as well as the wigs and costumes right down to the tiny one inch leather shoes.  I think that was the first time that I realized I had a creative passion about something. However, doll making, my way, from the lump of clay to the tiny shoes was so time consuming that during my children's teenage years, I had to put the lump of clay down for a while.  Then I joined my husband in our insurance business.  All that being said, I took about a 20 year break from my art.  However, my creative spirit could not be squelched totally.  One example is during that time I was involved with community theater where I wore all the hats of a community volunteer including, painting many huge backdrops for the theater productions. 

Then, about 5 years ago, I discovered a new passion.  The discovery of collage, mixed media and altered books on the Internet knocked me over.  I don't even remember why I started using acrylic paints as I had never used them before.  But I feel the passion and no matter what I am doing, I must have a brush in my hand.  More than that, I must be painting faces.  Faces are my passion."

 2.  How long did it take for you to find your unique style?
"Well, I have been making art for so many years and I'm sure my style has been evolving.  But I actually feel like my style today has only been developing this past five years.  I think a unique style develops when you have such a passion for something that you just keep doing it over and over and over.  
And you let yourself grow by being fearless and experimenting. And you daydream about it when you are not doing it. In my case, "faces" being part of my passion, I can't even watch a TV program without looking at mouths and eyes and noses and getting lost.  I even see faces in patterns and texture when there are no real faces. I think your unique you shows up when you get lost in the process.  I think it's about passion."
 3.  Do you consider yourself successful?
"Yes, I do. 
I have so many successes: almost 50 years of marriage; two beautiful grown children who gave us four grandchildren; my health; and our business.
I also consider my creative self successful.  I sell my art and have a great online art teaching business that is very successful.  My newest class, Faces In Collage, starts November 7th."

 4. Where do you get your ideas?
"I find and see and hear inspiration everywhere and anywhere.  I'm not looking to see the whole or finished next painting.  Sometimes, I hear the quietest whisper that snags my imagination and is all I need to "start".  You just have to start and know that you are an artist and you have been inspired. And then after you have started, keep listening because and you will get inspiration for the next brush stroke.  And the next. And the next. My new class tag line is "images inspire the story". I think that relates to your question because it is the real images, as well as, the minds eye images and images from our memory that all get stirred around and give us our imagination that becomes the story."
5. Do you have a loud critic at your back, if so how do you manage it?
"I know him. But he has been pretty quiet lately. I'm not sure why.  Maybe ignoring him long enough worked and that gave me some confidence.

Thank you Sharon.  Thank you for sharing yourself with me, and my friends, for inspiring me and helping me grow.  I know so much more about you now, and I look forward to watching your career unfold.  I am simply in awe of how women in the arts collaborate instead of compete.  It's utterly refreshing to ask such personal questions about the artistic process and get in depth answers within a day's time.  Sharon Tomlinson is a class act and I am thrilled to be able to showcase such a talented artist.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Spark the Event" ignited an inferno in me....

I am going to try to find words to tell about Spark the Event.  This is challenging because there was so much happening every minute, I couldn't even catch my breath.  But I need to share my spark, it's my duty.  I have been given such a gift, I want to pass it on to the best way I can share how amazing this whole experience was is to SHOW you with pictures.  Cause seeing is believing, right?
 Here I am beginning my spark journey, inspired by my surroundings of the mountains in Utah.  My first time there and definitely not the last.  The scenery, the people and the energy is all pure and fresh.
 How clever is this, just walking upon the door we begin to see the joy and beauty that awaits....

 My new friends Gina and Jennifer.  All these women from all over the country (even some from Japan!) came to ignite their creativity.  It was grown up girls art camp, and it was fabulous.

 I met Nancy Wyatt after being facebook friends and she is just as fun and friendly as you would imagine.  I was struck by the realness of everyone involved.  No one had a diva attitude or wasn't just humble and genuine.  How refreshing!  These are dynamic, successful women and they were all gathered together to help facilitate growth and bonding for creative women...
 the decor was happy and ingenious, using all recycled items.  Margie said they didn't spend a lot but you wouldn't know it, which is really creativity as it's best.  Use what you have around you.  You don't have to spend a lot to make something beautiful.  It's been my motto all along, and I loved seeing how the decorations were made with ribbon, yard and paper scraps.  I am going to implement some of the sparkness I saw at the shop...
 This is the uber talented Mindy Gledhill.  She is AMAZING.  She sang a song called "Anchor" and I was hooked. line. sinker.  I am bought her CD and I have since played it over and over, I can't wait to bring it to the shop and create whilst listening to that melodic is the cutie patooties website...
 I like this shot, the light was so nice, I was so overwhelmed with joy and took a moment to look out the window and thank God for all this goodness.  The talented Cathe Holden was kind enough to take my picture and she was also generous throughout the event in sharing useful tidbits of information about being in the creative business world.  Here is her awesome blog "just something i made"...

Cathe is also a local to me living in the darling town of Petaluma, hopefully our paths will cross again soon...
 Here is our gorgeous food table, it was always charming, and lavish.  We wanted for nothing.  Included in the package was lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks galore.  I am amazed at the value, not to mention they showered us with freebies.  All of a sudden you would be deep in concentration, making a project and in would walk Margie saying "Who wants some presents?" and we would get a giant bag of scrapbook was just constant goodness is all I can say.
 Here is the view from the rooptop of Noah's the gorgeous building where this was everywhere....
 We had the whole place to ourselves.  The meals were in the big room downstairs and the various classes were all upstairs, the schedule was 8AM-9PM and we crafted and created like elfs the day before Christmas.....
 my spark homies: Nancy, me, Gina, Jennifer and Michelle.  What a great group of women, I never knew any of them before Spark and we bonded instantly.  I was surprised at how many women went by themselves, they were all brave and stepping outside their comfort zones, many having their first Mom getaway ever.  I think it helped form instant friendships and I know everyone who went has spark sisters they will stay connected to.
 This is one of the many classes, this is Donna Downey's class and this was my favorite of them all.  Why it was my favorite is because I love Donna's style, loose and free,and I used pan pastels for the first time.  I just found out about them and I love how non-messy and convenient they are.  I also liked how Donna's class was "do-able" in that we made a collage in an hour.  Some of the classes were tough only in that I wanted more time (and I am a fast worker), but her's was basic enough to finish in the amount of time we had.  I will be buying pan pastels ASAP as a result of this class, and I am now a big follower of her work.
 Donna showing the sample collage and explaining how to make it.  It was surprisingly easy....
 Donna is so down to earth and funny.  I loved meeting artists whose work I admire.  There is no pretentiousness with any of these ladies, which made it non stressful and uplifting.  Art can be intimidating and even if you were a beginner you would have been able to walk away with a finished piece of work and felt good about it.
 "Here is our work teacher!!" Loved this technique and will be doing more of it in the future....Here is Donna's blog for those interested in her work...
 This is Christy Campbell Tomlinson, creator of "She Art" which is so popular right now.  She's as delightful and real as the rest, sharing her touching story of how "She Art" manifested through her father's death.  She made her first "She Art" for her sister to help her cope and it just exploded from there.  I am struck by how organic the whole process of art is, how if you just let go and create, what is meant to happen will happen.  This is powerful for me as I often struggle with wanting to know where my path is going.  I need to let go and let God, and see what unfolds.  If I try to force it , then I only get frustrated.  When I keep myself open things come to me, just like Spark.  I wasn't even looking for it but it came right to me.  I am so glad it did.
Here is Christy's "She Art" link for those interested...

 This is the darling Emily Falconbridge, queen of felting.  I had never felted before, nor did I even know what felting was.  It's a technique used with wool and this was our last class at Spark.  We made felted soap, which is an extremely relaxing and somewhat sensual process..  I shall take Emily's online felting class and continue to learn more about this's a link to her blog if you want to check it out..
 This was our dinner table for Saturday night, full of beauty and Spark.  I probably gained 5 pounds from all the yummy food and desserts.
 Here is the Queen, founder and creator of Spark, Margie Romney-Aslett.  She is so inspirational to me that I gave her my original red tutu of the tutu series.  I felt compelled to do so.  She has sparked so many women's lives and her leadership shows me what can be accomplished with hard work and ingenuity.  It is women like her that show us how to get there, by surrounding herself with other amazing women that support her vision.  By being genuine, funny and talented she has accomplished so much.  Honestly I know she does a lot more then Spark, she teaches, has a creative team and a whole lot more.  Here is her blog for those who want to find out more..I know I will be watching her rise to fame, cheering her on the sidelines and happy to Spark again next year...

 Here is another incredibly talented woman Sarah Sample, she performed on Saturday night and rocked the house with her beautiful voice.  She told us stories of how she wrote her songs and then we helped sing along and I had chills from the collective energy of the room.  It was hard not to cry at times, it was so powerful.  I also bought her CD's and have been loving playing them at home, keeping my Spark is Sarah's link, check her out, she is on her way to the top, no doubt about it...

 and then I met the darling, the delicious Chrissy Gardner.  It was love at first sight.  We are both cowgirl hippy's and we sparked immediately.  She is one of those instant friends, you can just tell by her smile can't you?  I have a big time girl crush on her and I look forward to collaborating on a hippy cowgirl line in the near's miss fabulous's blog for those who want to know her...

 and then after all this mind-blowing goodness, and I do mean mind blowing.  My head hurt from all the excitement we go to the Dear Lizzie store.  OMG is all I can say.  It is the best store I have ever seen.  My mouth literally opened and I think I might have even drooled a bit, I am telling you, it's GORGEOUS!  If I lived near this shop I would never need to go anywhere else for a pick me up.  Laura the owner is as kind and warm as all the other spark sisters and she deserves all the credit for making this slice of heaven.  I gasped when I saw these tutu's, I would never be able to resist if my daughter was small...
 The hardest part is taking it all in, every inch of the store is packed with beauty.  Very inspiring for me as a shop owner.  I saw some familiar things and some things I wanted for the shop.

Here is the link to Laura's store to find out more...

 This was one of the last pictures and I love it cause we were cracking up.   I saw someone get this drink (that I have in my hands) and I gasped, and said "What is that?!" It was a Fizzy Lizzie drink which is essentially cherry soda and whip cream.  What a perfect drink to finish off a perfect trip.  Nancy and I were laughing as I was trying to take a picture with one hand in the mirror and cheers with the other....Nancy is another multi talented woman who has her hands in many things creative.  Here is her blog to check out as well....

As I sit here writing about Spark I am still reeling from the weekend's events and happenings.  This magic is going to permeate my art and I am so excited to go to the studio tomorrow.  I expected to like Spark, I knew it would be fun.  But it far exceeded my expectations.  I made a Spark shrine with all my goodies, I have sparked up my dining room chandelier and I have yet to unpack.  I have been Sparkformed, as have all who went.  I can hardly wait to do it is the Spark website for those who care to look...