Sunday, March 28, 2010

The People Who Have Touched My Life...Touched My Art - Meet My Aunt Rita!

While we are not an overtly artistic family... there is some "creative gene" lurking somewhere in the family tree. I always remember that my Aunt loved to paint & never really knew how she got started or where it came from. Well, we're in for a real treat! As I got her to tell her story, which most was unknown to me - just so neat!
I remember for my 18th birthday (at least I think it was then) she asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted her to paint me a ballerina. I remember her being a little anxious about it, because still life painting was something relatively new to her. It turned out so beautiful! I still have the painting and the House In The Woods that is pictured in My Life In Vignettes - The Foyer. I will treasure them forever.
This was something we shared in common, our love of art. We would ocassionally over the years go & do artistic outings together like seeing Phantom Of The Opera and the Monet Exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Our funniest outing was going to the Museum of Contemporary Art and seeing some shocking exhibits of eh em...unmentionable body parts. She just kept giggling she was so shocked. We were in quite disbelief of what we saw...boy did it make a memory.
So now I'll share with you Aunt Rita's story...
I'm not sure when the creativity began exactly but I think it must have always been there. My earliest memory of being creative was when I was about seven years old and had a bald-headed doll. I guess the ones with hair cost more money and my parents couldn't afford one. So, I got hold of a ball of string (see where I'm going with this?) cut the string into different lengths, wet the string, squeezed the string into ringlets and attached the pieces to my doll's head with tape. Voila, a doll with hair!
Because of the creativity, I got in trouble a few times. I remember as a very young girl we lived on the first floor of a two-flat building in Chicago. The landlord lived upstairs and didn't take care of the yard very well. The yard had bushes that were dead and really looked ugly. I decided to do something about that. I got hold of some of my mom's crepe paper, cut out several strips, fashioned them into flowers and attached them to the bushes. I thought it looked great, but the landlord was not too happy. She complained to my mother and I was punished.
In grammar school I was always drawing in class and trying to conceal it from the nuns by holding my book in an upright position. Of course, I was caught, nuns have x-ray vision. They finally decided that if they couldn't beat me, they might as well join me. So I became the class artist and it was my job to decorate for every holiday, including painting winter scenes on the classroom window and for all the other holidays as well. I loved it! In my senior year of high school I was the art editor of the school newspaper.
After I was married and my children were grown, I finally decided it was time to take art classes. I joined the Fedelle Art School in NW Chicago, IL and following that, I took private oil painting lessons with Jean Bisek from Elmwood Park, IL. Landscapes are my specialty, but I do enjoy doing still life and florals. When I moved to Arizona, I was presented with an opportunity to share my gift and for the past seven years I've been giving watercolor classes to early-stage Alzheimer's patients. The program is trademarked as "Memories in the Making" and is sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association. My students enjoy the process and the end result. Sometimes I feel I get more than I give.
Hopefully soon, I'll be able to encourage my dad to share his story. See? I get that creativity honestly. Until next time...
**Notes: Estelle Fedelle is the Author of How To Begin Painting for Fun
YouTube Video Clip of an Example of Memories In The Making

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Love Affair With Glass Continues...

Since I just spoke about my glass obsession, I thought I would take the opportunity to give some examples of why I get so darn excited about it! Last Fall I had the opportunity to do a trunk show at The Genuine Article. The proprietor, Betty James is a fantastic glass bead artist. Her gallery is also host to nationally known glass art as well as being a bead store/studio where classes are taught by herself & other professionals in the field of jewelry design.
Recently Betty had acquired the inventory of a bead shop. Her wonderful manager Mary Beth asked me to take a look at a small box that they had acquired as a part of the inventory. It contained a decent sampling of W. German art glass, along with some period & vintage buckles & buttons. I gladly sorted everything & was thrilled to be able to cherry pick my way through the box of goodies! I came away with what I considered a small treasure trove of some of the best examples of W. German opaques as well as other types from the 1940's.
A week or so later, I came back into the shop & noticed that they had managed to incorporate much more of the new inventory into their own displays. However, what they didn't realize & what caused me to gasp with glee was the now HUGE showing of vintage west german art glass beads that I've ever seen in one place! I eagerly sorted it out from the rest of the inventory & created it's own area. I know we all have our things that give us inspriration... I get so jazzed when I see beautiful new/old stock - meaning never been used glass beads. So of course, I HAD to get more!
I've been playing around the past few months or so with my interpretation of a bygone design which can reach back into Egyptian Revival as well as Victoriana with the bib necklace. My design incorporates funky texture with art glass and vintage Swarvoski crystal. The fun blue design has been dubbed the "ju ju bees necklace" by Mary Beth.
Art glass & swarovski crystal beads and victorian & 1940's black glass buttons, just totally get me going! I figured I had to share where my recent inspiration is coming from. And thank you to Miss Mary Beth for asking me to come on in, woo hoo! It was a pleasant surprise.
Quick note, I am unsure why the top picture continues to come in upside down, and I tried to alter it several times - but it makes an unusual visual, don't you think?
until next time...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The People Who Have Touched My Life...Touched My Art - Ethel & The Murano

I touched on this a little bit during the How I Fell in Love with Vintage Beads & Buttons Series... how a part of this journey was discovering more and more about the types of materials I wanted to work with - in the early stages, ah... I knew so little.

Meet Ethel! A largely boisterous old lady who had a 2-3 pack a day habit & went to bed each night with an old-fashioned as her toddy. Tough as nails, rough around the edges old farm girl who had dug her way around old barns and houses, went to every flea market and auction she could, to feed her specialty of glass treasures.

I'll never forget the first day I walked into this great little antique shop in St. Charles, IL...there sat Ethel behind the counter, and as she barked out "can I help you" in that deep, scratchy voice, I remember being a little bit afraid. But oh...Ethel, her bark was much worse than her bite & it was the start of a beautiful, every-so-often friendship. Every time I'd see her she'd yell out "hey kiddo," and we'd be off on an adventure of her educating me about art glass.

I never realized just what an impact those first several encounters had, until I walk around eight years later & see all the paperweights, pheasants and art glass that I now cherish. It was a delight to sit and learn from her, and listen to her tales about how she found some of the most exquisite examples of pre-1940's glass I have ever seen.

Not only did Ethel aid in starting my addiction to glass, but she was also one of my first connections to obtaining large quantities of vintage beads. She had a gentleman who would come from Georgia with bags & bags of beautiful necklaces. I remember her taking a chance on me when my pocketbook was small and I'd stash away 50-60 strands with a promise of return with the money & she believed in me. That very first purchase, was supposed to be with a friend, and I was never able to get this person to pony up the cash... and I was embarrassed, it had been far too long since the last time I had seen Ethel with the promise of a soon return. Somehow I finally managed to get the money together and make my visit to pay for all those treasures she had been patiently holding for me.

Little did I know at the time that I was primarily sitting upon the biggest collection of antique & vintage murano glass beads that I have since never seen. Unknowingly, I parted with some of these beauties to my friend for a song! As I continued to research & learn more, I honestly told my friend that I had made a mistake, and if I had known, I would not have been such a good sharer! But that's okay, I learned as I matured in my interest & knowledge of glass. And honestly, Ethel knew very little about beads herself, so neither of us knew the value of the treasure she had bestowed upon me.

Ethel isn't around as much now, having lost her husband about 3 years ago. I have tried to keep in touch with her, but I think her passion for glass has waned a bit and she's getting up there in years & now lives a more quiet & peaceful existence. I will forever be grateful to the old lady who may have been gruff, but was willing to share about her stuff. If it wasn't for her, I would not have evolved and grown my passion for all things glass.

More soon....

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Life in Vignettes - The Master Bathroom

I am not much for before & after pictures... I really should have done that with this room. This was my second attempt at designing a room (I'll present the dining room another time)... which really required some major work - like moving a plumbing stack, a reinforced floor, etc. It was a challenge for my old-school contractor to see my vision, but the end result is super cool. And hats off to my plumber who understood where I was going & made his own artistic contribution with the bathtub faucetry straight from England - the crowning glory of this fun & funky room.

I wanted the traditional 1950's style black/white hexagonal tile flooring & the beautiful tile walls that you see pictured...courtesy of a wonderful free-style tile guy... who did all that by hand with no spacers! The tub, toilet & pedestal sink are Kohler Ironworks Historical Series. The paint on the 1/4 wall matches the claws & pedestal. My house had no linen closets... so where you now see a bench and cabinetry is where there used to be a tub. And where the toilet closet resides, once was a free-standing shower.

The cabinet artistry was done by the daughter of a friend who was in art school at the time. Giving a feel of art noveau and gothic nuance. The rocket style lighting, bark cloth cushions, punched metal table, magazine stand & garbage can, combined with the eames style clock & vintage lucite seahorses give this room a more atomic feel.

Probably the most bold & talked about place in my home. People visit & go into the bathroom on purpose just to see what can be done....if you dare!

Until next time.....lisa

Spring Trunk Show Announcement!

For all you Chicagoland people, a quick drop in about the event I'm doing this weekend! If you can stop by, would love to see you!


Monday, March 8, 2010

My Life In Vignettes - The Foyer

We own a little 1928 Queen Anne... bought it about 10 years ago & I told my husband that it had all kinds of character. Well, it did - but it was also a bit of a fixer upper. I didn't really find my inner artist or know what I really liked for decor until we moved here. I remember returning from Germany 20+ years ago with all this crystal, porcelain, huge massive oak furniture, paintings & a friend saying to me; "It's really lovely, if you were maybe 35 or 40. I really don't think you know what your style is yet." And boy was she right!

I didn't realize what a texture girl I was...that I loved colors... dimensionality & grouping treasures together that people wouldn't expect. Dare to be bold! I was finding that out about myself in my jewelry design, but I had only just hit the tip of the iceberg in my home.

I made it my mission...."out with the new, in with the old." Ten years later, I am pretty content with the colors in my home even still & I tweak a little bit on finding old treasures. There is no area that I wont collect...from rugs to glass, pottery to wall art - anything is fair game. The more unique, the better. I also believe that because I adore doing non-traditional visual display of my jewelry with vintage props, that it has trickled down into my home life. Thus, "My Life In Vignettes," because I really do feel this is how it has evolved.
From time to time, I will be photographing other parts of the house. I am totally interested in learning about those of you who have allowed your art & creativity to kind of spill out into your home decor.
Until next time...