Designing Dragon stamps & pop-up book… What could be more fun?

854649F9-213F-4961-B2E3-0D8142F26F93I went to buy some stamps at the Post Office. When I got to the counter, the clerk asked me what type of stamp I would like. I asked what she had. She opened her binder display and said, “Flowers, American flag, DRAGONS…”

Dragon stamps, at the post office?

Apparently, at the APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show last year, USPS unveiled these special mythological stamps. There were four designs for the FOREVER stamp.

Greg Breeding, Art Director for the U.S. Post Office designed the stamps. He worked with artist, Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio, who created the digital illustrations.

At first glance, some of the dragons appear hidden; however, as you look more closely, you can see the dragons. Here is a description for each stamp:

  • A purple dragon, orange wings, black armor on its back snaking around a white castle.
  • A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle.
  • A wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.
  • A black dragon, green wings/armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea.

In addition to the stamps, Breeding and Clark also created a pop-up book to be sold at the U.S. Post Office. It’s interesting to read “how” they created the pop-up book.

Thanks to the Dragon stamps, I learned something about our U.S. Post Office. I didn’t realize we had an Art Director on staff. Most people are paying bills online now, so we don’t need many stamps or think about stamp designs anymore.

Glad I had to mail a package,

Dragon Stamps – what a surprise!

Brought me back to “Dungeons & Dragons” days…

Art, drawing class – tapping into our inner artist

FEAF1040-3ADC-4C9C-AA23-31734AD893B6When I was young, drawing and painting were not encouraged. My parents didn’t go to College, they wanted “better” for their children. Anything to do with art was frivolous, would get us “no where.” Focus on studying to get a “real job,” they said. We had to support ourselves. It’s a tough world out there. Sound familiar?

Fast forward, zillions of years later…

I decided — it’s time to have fun! Treat myself to an illustration class, see what it is all about. Is it true that I have no artistic abilities? I needed to find out.

I was AFRAID, none of us want to embarrass ourselves with the worst drawing ever.

What have I learned? First, drawing can be done anywhere and it is fun! Artists practice, a lot. The more you practice, the better you become. I had no idea. This sounds silly, I know, but I thought being an artist was EASY. It’s actually hard work! Second, being an artist takes determination and dedication. To be good at anything, we need to be passionate and put the time in to practice.

I’m sharing some of my sketches with you.

Last year, I was on the train in Italy. I noticed a woman writing in her journal the entire hour. I thought how dedicated she was. When I got up to leave, I walked by her. Guess what, she wasn’t writing, she was sketching a portrait of a man on the train — unknown to him. It looked beautiful.

Yes, practice makes perfect. My instructor said, “Everyday, you must sketch. As you sketch, you become faster at sketching anything (draw the perfect circle, the perfectly straight line, arms, hands, cars, houses, etc.). Through practice and mistakes, a head that seems too large, might turn out to be your nutty professor.

That is the beauty of art, what seems like a mistake, might be your next masterpiece!

Next, painting with watercolors.

Art, any form of it, does make us HAPPY!

This is the just the beginning…

Textiles: Indigo, Japan to Indiana

3c665b69-ddc6-4b1c-9250-889d338d5fb2When I was in grade school, my parents would travel around the world for three months at a time. They left my twin brother and I at home. When they came back there was big excitement. Their luggage smelled like world travels and my mother had gifts for us. From Japan, she had chopsticks (of course), a pin cushion for sewing, a pearl ring and the big surprise was a kimono. Keep in mind, in the 70s, unless you traveled around the world, you would not find these special items.

I fell in love with the color indigo when my mother gave me this special kimono from Japan. My mother loved kimonos. The kimono was a lovely white / indigo pattern with a bright pink sash. For those of you who might not know, indigo is a color between primary blue and violet. It’s a very majestic color.

A few years ago, I went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for the “Mood Indigo” exhibit and learned that a man, Rowland Ricketts, had an Indigo farm in Indiana. He had a beautiful exhibit at the museum. It was in one room, he had textiles hanging in a tall circular direction (see here), so we would have to walk in a circle viewing the shades of indigo. Brilliant idea to add the plants around the room that produce the indigo color. He wanted us to connect the fact that the blue dye comes from plants.

This was such a surprise, because I am from Indiana, not a lot goes on in Indiana. We do have farm lands with sweet corn, cabbage, sunflowers, etc., but I would never have thought a farm for indigo. This was interesting! Oh, HOLD ON, Mike Pence our Vice President is from Indiana. Forgot about politics. Otherwise, just corn.

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Indigo plant

Ricketts’s story is that in 1996, he apprenticed in Japan for 2 years to learn the art and process producing the indigo dye color. He was looking for a job that would bring meaning to his life, creating indigo dye was it. The process is a long and laborous one, because the dye comes from a plant, which needs to be grown, dried and fermented. He met his wife, Chimani, while they apprenticed together. They make a good team, he does the farming side of the business and Chimani weaves the yarn into fabrics.

Ricketts is an Associate Professor in the School of Art, Architecture & Design at Indiana University.

Clearly, I am excited that with so many art forms dying out that Ricketts has brought the Japanese textile art of indigo to our home state of Indiana!

Las Vegas Desert Art… Have you seen “Seven Magic Mountains”

2D667E2E-7BD6-46DB-9AC1-7C107452F32ESwiss Artist, Ugo Rondinone, created this colorful boulder display called, “Seven Magic Mountains” in the desert of Las Vegas. The exhibition started May 2016 and has been extended due to its popularity.

What do you think? If you went to Las Vegas, would you rent a car, drive out to the desert and see this exhibit OR would you stay in the casino and gamble?

Chicago: Painted Lighthouses by artists, many with disabilities

Lighthouse 2If you’ve been to Chicago, you know our Magnificent Mile is gorgeous in the summer. The flowers are in bloom in front of all the shop windows, the Chicago river looks fantastic and tourists are everywhere. We really enjoy summer, because we know that soon winter will be upon us.

Lighthouse 3A few days ago, I was walking down Michigan Avenue and I saw a lot of painted Lighthouses. Each one had it’s own theme. The Lighthouses on The Mag Mile™  are displayed for the public to enjoy celebrating people with disabilities. There are 51 six-foot lighthouses to see. I found a few and took pictures.

Lighthouse 4My daughter saw one that looked really spooky she said, with hands painted as if they were coming out of cracks in the wall. I was looking, but didn’t come across that one.

Lighthouse 1It’s a wonderful project, fun to see how creative the artists have been. The Lighthouse Art Display runs from June 19 – August 11, 2018.

Art: Gallery in the Dungeon, visit Cortona, Italy

3E1B71C3-2F09-4709-A95E-4E32D4B1B9F5When you see a sign that says, “Gallery in the Dungeon,” you’ve got to check it out! Going in the doorway was a bit dark, so I admit I was tip toeing in, wondering if this was a good idea, but I kept going.

I found this staircase and started my decent, looking at the artist’s paintings on the way down. The artist, Daniela Piegai, is an Italian woman living in Cortona now.

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She paints in a very interesting 3D type of style. There is movement in her paintings, you can see this in this painting of the buildings as if the wind is swaying the houses. She uses bright bold colors. While her paintings seem childlike, they are interesting even for an adult audience, because they are unique.

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Once you are down in the dungeon, you’ll see a room that looks like THIS photo below with the sofas. If you zoom into the photo, you can see she does some interesting paintings with people, children, cats, funny looking owls, and more.

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I was hoping to meet the artist, while I was there, but she was not in. I would have liked to better understand how she developed her style and painting technique.

So… never pass up a chance to visit a dungeon, never know what you might find!

New York – Jimmy Buffet goes to Broadway with “Escape to Margaritaville!”

Are you a fan of Jimmy Buffet? I know I am! He’s on Broadway (just started February 16th) at the Marquis Theatre with a musical called, “Escape to Margaritaville.” I saw a clip of the musical and it was wonderful. Many of his old and classic songs. It’s hard not to be in a good mood when we are listening to his Caribbean style music. It does feel like Paradise.

Put your tropical shirt on, get your straw hat, fix a margarita and GET READY TO SING ALONG! Thanks to YouTube you can hear his Broadway team practicing the songs here.

Hard for me to say which song is my favorite (Fins, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Margaritaville, He Went to Paris, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere….)!

On CBS Sunday Morning, Jimmy Buffet was being interviewed. He said that his mother loved going to the theatre. A few times a year she would go to New York to see some Broadway shows. A favorite of his Mom’s was “South Pacific!” That warmed my heart, it was a favorite of mine too. Such fantastic songs. His Mom’s watching from Heaven, she’s proud!

I still enjoy the movie, “Mama Mia!” with music by ABBA. Always puts me in a good mood. Now, I’ve got the Caribbean beat in my mind, I’ll be humming his songs all day!

Good Luck to Jimmy Buffet! Like he says in his songs, “get a margarita, its 5 o’clock somewhere!”