I just had to laugh when I saw this picture. It unintentionally captured an aspect of life that I love so much. The yin and yang of being alive. Our time in the light and our time in the shadows. Between the contrast of the two, life is beautiful, rich and full of meaning and lessons. I never feel really fulfilled as an artist unless I'm working on a balance between the two.
I love the complex love affair between angels and demons. I can honestly say that some of what I thought were the scariest demons in life that I've faced, turned out in the end to be some of the greatest blessings I could have asked and prayed for my angels to deliver.
You'll often see me wearing clothing and jewelry with skulls on them. They are a reminder to myself that everything is not always as it seems and when I see those hollow "demon" eyes appear in situations in my life, to ask myself what blessing is this angel in disguise bringing to me on the other side of that toothy grin. All the while Buddha over my shoulder smiles that knowing smile as he knows that angels and demons are two sides to the same coin.
There was a day many years ago when all seemed lost. I was taking a walk outside doing my best to think how in the world I could make things turn out right.
I sat on a rock underneath a little grove of trees at the side of the street that I was on. As I sat there pondering things, my foot shuffled a few leaves and two tiny dimes appeared at my feet.
Somehow those two sweet dimes shining at me were so bright and cheery, it felt like they had been hidden there for me to find as a message from the powers that run this universe that all was well and my guardian angels had my back.
From that point on, I have happily picked up every coin that finds its way mysteriously into my life and the phrase was born, “I’m having a Two Dime Day!”
Over the years, the collection has grown quite a bit. Just when I need them most, shiny little coins show up in magical, mysterious ways to let me know all is well. I see every little dime and penny as a sweet love note from the universe that I am loved and have more blessings than I can ever count with a cheering squad that has angel wings.
Join me in the studio today! I had an idea and decided to try something fun.
I love pop-up story books and I love Halloween, so I decided to give it a shot and create my own dimensional “pop-up” Halloween scene.
I drafted, cut out and crafted every single piece that this is created from, with the exception of the ribbon and the skull and crossbones charm on the front.
Working in mixed media and paper like this is one of my favorite mediums to work in. I love the texture and dimension I can create with the various layers and types of papers to create a little mini world and make it come to life.
To begin with, I needed the basic base to build the rest of the scene around (The basic shape that will pop from the page as it is opens up.)
There are a ton of die cut templates that you can buy in order to create this kind of thing, but I wanted to go old school and create the entire thing from start to finish.
One piece of cardboard with all the proper cuts and scoring to create the pop-up base
And so with a lot of trial and error (and more than a fair share of swearing) I finally got the right angles and dimensions for the cuts and scoring and I now have a basic shape that folds flat when it is closed and pops up when it is open.
As an artist, I work in all kinds of different mediums and different techniques to create artwork. I have to say that I feel the most creative and enjoy working the most when I am figuring out how to construct something and make it work the way I see it working in my mind’s eye. How does it need to be put together?... what could I use to make it do this? …. how can I create this effect?... and so on.
When I take stock in what I want to accomplish as an artist complimented by what I love doing the most, one of my favorite Disney heroes, a woman named Harriet Burns comes to mind and I’ll tell you why.
Burns began working at Disney Studios in 1955 as a prop and set painter for the Mickey Mouse Club and then later as model builder for WED Enterprises, which is now known as Walt Disney Imagineering.
Harriet Burns with some of the Enchanted Tiki Room Birds she created.
I have many reasons for adoring her, but one of the biggest reasons is what she was able to create for Walt Disney.
She is responsible for so many of my favorite iconic parts of the parks. Walt would tell her that he wanted singing birds for the Enchanted Tiki Room and she would figure out how to MAKE them for him. She confessed that the tiki birds were one of her most challenging projects of all the projects she had a hand in.
She developed the prototypes for the birds and all kinds of logistics for them to pull off the entire illusion of live, talking birds. From figuring out what kind of material to cover the birds in, to how to make the feathers look realistic when the birds would breathe in and out. She was the one tasked with creating a miniature concept sculpture of Sleeping Beauty’s castle for Disneyland. She had a huge part in the creativity behind the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, the Haunted Mansion and she was a key contributor to the team that designed the Carousel of Progress for the New York World’s Fair.
These are just a few of the reasons that I just love her and her work.
One of my favorite things to do while painting and working in the studio is to watch documentaries about the Disney parks, rides and attractions. I just love watching Harriot Burns’ interviews on the various Extinct Attractions DVDs. She has a twinkle in her eye and according to her friend Rolly Crump that worked with her, she really knew how to tell a good dirty joke! I am sure we would have gotten along well if I had been working in the WED Workshop back in the day!
OK, enough geeking out over my Disney heroes! Back to my project:
Figuring out how to layer the pieces of the house…. Constructing windows and window panes….
As I am constructing the Haunted House, I am not only trying to create the right shapes and figure out how to create the effect that I want, but I also have the challenge of finding the right paper and texture to create each layer with. When I really get rolling, it looks like a paper factory threw up in my art studio. Every single surface has layers of paper laid out so that I can see how they work together and if one looks just a little better compared to another… It’s exhausting and wonderful all at the same time.
If I can’t find a paper that has just the right effect, then I create it. This is done with different texturing techniques with paint and inks and sometimes stamping.
I needed to employ some of these techniques to create the violet/blue base for the house itself. If ya can’t find what ya want, ya gotta go out and make it!!
In a perfect world, I would actually paint all of the papers myself. That way, I’d have exactly what I wanted, but in the interest of time, I use crafting papers that are out there and any other neat paper and texture I can find. I’ve even incorporated shapes cut from the paper cup sleeves that you get in coffee shops (to protect your hands from the hot coffee) in some of my pieces in the past. Some of them have really neat textures! I have my favorite coffee shops that I like to snag a few extra cup sleeves, just cause I love the texture of paper that they are made out of. Shhhhhh!!!!
If at all possible, I also like to pick a pattern on the paper that has images on it that add a little extra dimension or meaning to the piece. Sometimes it is really subtle and maybe I am the only one that ever even notices that it is there, but it gives me that extra burst of joy as I’m putting a piece together.
Now for the last few details…. Another favorite part! Acrylic paint for the candlelight glowing faces on the jack o’lanterns, details on the black cat and antiquing all of the edges of the various papers to give them a less than“crisp” look. A few ghoulish ghosts too and I think we are done!
And now I have my little Halloween pop-up for anytime that I need a little Halloween spirit in my day, which is often!
Halloween isn’t just for one day a year! Halloween Magic is always near!