Sunday, December 28, 2008

Burning Sky

Today the sky was on fire. Here is the stunning progression of a most spectacular sunset:

If you’re wondering why I have my head in the clouds, what you suspect is true; I’m doing more staring out the studio window and daydreaming then painting these days. My mind is lost on personal projects and I’m having difficulty focusing on creating something new to submit to N.A.W.A’s upcoming small works competition. The mail in deadline is only 12 short days away…

Morning Deer

This warm and misty morning, the house was surrounded by a herd of beautiful deer. Here are a few photographs I caught of them at first light:

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Year End Review

With Christmas behind us, December is quickly coming to a close, so I thought that today is as good a time as any to look back at 2008. In January I stated that my New Year’s Resolution for 2008 was “to DO-BE-ACHIEVE MORE!!!” and I had also hoped “to paint more and participate in more gallery exhibitions”. Overall, I feel as though I made fairly good progress with those goals, and for whatever its worth, despite my frequent moments of doubt, disillusionment and disappointment, I am going to continue with those same goals for 2009.

Here is what happened in 2008:

13 Exhibitions/Competitions

* N.A.W.A. Small Works Exhibition Competition

* AVA Gallery and Art Center's Silent Auction

* New York Hall of Science Juried Exhibition “
Art Envisions Science
* Plainfield 4th of July Art Show
* AVA Gallery’s Annual Juried Competition
* N.A.W.A.’s “The Nature of ThingsJuried Competition
* Cornish Fair Art Show
* N.A.W.A. at Goggle Works for the 119th Annual Exhibition
* “The Nature of ThingsInterchurch Center NYC
* N.A.W.A.’s Autumn Art Festival NYC
* “N.A.W.A.’s 120th Anniversary Exhibition” Competition

* "N.A.W.A. at 120” Exhibition Competition

* AVA Gallery’s Annual Holiday Show

72 New Paintings

* 5 Duplicity Paintings
* 6 Tapestry Paintings
* 16 Garden Room Squares
* 13 Exalted Beauties
* 16 Poppy Paintings
* 10 Textured Beauties

* 6 Textured Poppies

6 Exalted Beauty Medallion Collections

* The Voyager Medallions
* The Oracle Medallions
* The Daybreak Medallions
* The Mindworks Medallions
* The Lifespark Medallions

* The Origin Medallions


* 100+ Photographic Presentations showcasing flora and fauna from “The Living Painting” See: Photography, Wildflowers and Wildlife

Projects Made For Caden

* Caden’s Carnival

* Goblin Costume

* Christmas Cougar

Upcoming Events

* I’m currently debating whether or not I have time to create a new painting to enter into the N.A.W.A.’s Small Works Exhibition Competition. The postmark deadline is a mere two weeks away!

* I have had work accepted to N.A.W.A.’s upcoming Penn State Exhibition Opening February 19th. I’ll be posting more information about this show very soon!

That's it for The Year End Review of 2008! I’m looking forward to pursuing many new art endeavors in 2009. I hope you will join me as I continue to chronicle my creative journey in art, family and life! Best wishes to you and yours in the New Year! Have a happy, healthy and productive 2009!

Christmas Morning

Here are a few pictures from Christmas morning at our house:

Before Opening:


Our Wii Family:


We decided to keep things simple for Christmas this year, giving Caden one *Big Gift* rather then lots of little stuff to open. He already has everything a five year old boy could possibly need, so obviously we had no choice but to go with something completely frivolous! The Wii games were something he had previously enjoyed playing at his cousin’s house, so we thought it would be an entertaining Christmas gift for the whole family (in essence giving the gift of family time). As you can see from his face above, he was absolutely thrilled with his Christmas present. Overall, beyond Caden receiving the *Big Gift*, many things contributed to making this Christmas time especially memorable. I think we even managed to instill the true ideals of the holiday season. Caden was able to experience and appreciate the joy of giving, sharing, and spending quality time with his family. He had a great time making crafts for others, such as the Grandparent Masterpieces, his hand drawn Christmas cards, and he participated in the numerous Christmas baking projects (including some fabulous sugar cookies that his Dad helped to decorate!). I think this year was extra special because we slowed things down, simplified and took the time to create many new Christmas traditions that were very personal and meaningful. In fact, even I, the self proclaimed Christmas Grinch, might be warming up to the holidays… Maybe. I hope you all are enjoying your holiday season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

AVA Holiday Exhibition

Last chance to buy some great art as gifts for the holidays!
AVA’s Holiday Exhibition ends Saturday December 27th, 2008!
Here is what I currently have on exhibit at AVA Gallery and Art Center:

Regal Beauty

Impending Storm

Don’t miss out! You can choose from over one hundred original works created by local Vermont and New Hampshire artists!

Gallery Hours:

Tuesday–Saturday 11–5
and by appointment

AVA Gallery and Art Center
11 Bank Street
Lebanon, NH 03766
(603) 448-3117

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Past

Here are some Amy E. Fraser original Christmas cards from Christmas past:






Unfortunately I couldn’t find the entire set, but like the images above, the missing cards were equally *unique*, definitely not your usual Christmas iconography. Overall, I think the card illustrations were based on my reaction to the stress of the holidays rather then an actual celebration of Christmas, but whatever the case, I think the friends and family who received these cards generally understood the sentiment and found them to be quite humorous (as was intended). Every year, all year long, people would ask what crazy thing I was going to come up with next. It was a great conversation piece as well as a way to work through the Christmas stress. However, the series ended in 2005 when two of the Christmas card stars passed away within weeks of each other (our beloved cat and dog, the Great Dane, “Loki” and the Havana Brown “Kitty”). I was so heart broken, I couldn’t seem to make myself create the Christmas cards anymore. I’m getting better about the passing of my beloved fur babies and we have since added two new crazy characters to our family (black and gray striped mother and son tabbies Jasmine and Tonka) that would love to be the stars of future Christmas cards… so we’ll see what next year brings. I hope you all are enjoying your holidays, having fond memories of Christmas past and working toward creating fun new memories and traditions for Christmas future! Happy Holidays!

Snickers Brownies

Want to bake a quick and easy treat for the holidays? Try making this simple smash success: (my World Famous) Snickers Brownies!

Ingredients: a box of your favorite fudge brownie mix (eggs, oil, water) and a bag of dark chocolate Snickers Mini’s.

Use a 9” square brownie pan, fill with brownie dough, add 36 evenly spaced chocolates to raw dough, bake according to package, then add 3 more minutes to the recommended baking time. Ta Da! Gourmet chocolate perfection that will have your guests fawning over your culinary prowess!

Here’s a picture of the finished product:

I recommend cutting these into bite sized squares. Effortless to create and oh so decadent! I promise these will be the holiday treat they remember! Enjoy!

Winter Wonderland

Snow and more snow! We received over two feet of snow here since Friday!

Caden is enjoying our icy cold winter wonderland:

The house is buried:

And even the sunset seems to have lost some of its fire on this cold winter’s day:

Brrrr! It’s definitely going to be a white Christmas this year! Hope you all are staying nice and warm!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas Cougar

Photo property of Oregon State University.

The story of our Christmas Cougar is in no way related to any tale that you may have heard before, in fact, I’m afraid it is quite an arbitrary thing as I’ve been delirious due to my experiencing this rather wretched binge of stress and sleeplessness. Some would suggest that the appearance of the Cougar symbol in my life is an indication of clarity and strength in decision making. However, I think the mundane reality of the Christmas Cougar’s origins lie in the Will Ferrell movie the Mr. and I caught the tail end of the other night. After which, I said I wanted a Cougar for Christmas, he said sure thing. While HE wasn't serious I do think a Cougar would make a fine pet!

Here’s a photo of Will and his amazing co star:

Apparently what I gained from this film was a subconscious seed that I was unaware had any effect whatsoever until I began to paint the ornaments.
Here is the finished set of “Christmas Cougar” ornaments:

I had originally made the pointy eared teddy bear shape as a vehicle for Caden to create some fun Christmas characters, but as I mentioned in the Holiday Havoc post, he lost interest, leaving me the job of completing the ornaments.

When the Cougar suddenly appeared, Caden created a story to go with it.
According to Caden, Santa left this baby cougar (with a big red bow) on our doorstep Christmas morning "for us to take care of". Caden named this beautiful exotic creature “Cougar”. Cougar soon became a member of the family; he was a very good cougar that got along with everyone, most especially with our cats Tonka and Jasmine. His days were spent happy, playing and bringing joy to everyone he met. When he was “all grown up and had his tenth birthday” the Cougar decided that it was time to be on his own and he returned to the North Pole to work with Santa where he continues to bring joy and happiness to people all over the world.

Sounds perfectly Christmassy to me. And HELLO! Let’s talk about how cute the Christmas Cougar ornament is with this pale green and red wrapping paper (from Wally world, made in the USA and 100% recyclable)!

Here’s the Christmas Cougar happily decorating the tree:

To learn more about the Cougar and it’s more traditional symbolism visit these links:

“The spirit of the Cougar chose to take the earth and walk as a spiritual hunter, to teach unconditional leadership, patience and determination.”
- The Cougar Fund

Cougar Keywords “Leadership, Power, Decisiveness, Speed, Grace, Mystery”
- Religions and Spirituality Guide

“According to ancient beliefs, the cougar is known in many cultures as a symbol of leadership and courage with the ability to balance power, intention, strength and grace in one's life. The cougar is also a symbol of magic and mystery. Cougar encourages you to think freely and clearly, to stand true to your convictions and lead yourself to where your heart longs to take you.”
- Wild Animal Tracks

Now that I’ve learned a bit more about the Cougar and all of the magic, mystery and power the animal represents, I think it makes a fabulous new symbol for Christmas.Why not? It’s fun to create new holiday stories and traditions!

Caden’s Christmas Art

Here are the masterpieces that Caden made for his Grandparents:

For Nani and Papa:

For Grammy and Old Barry:

For Grampie and Monica:

Pretty awesome huh?

Winter Son

Here’s my handsome darling boy out enjoying today's winter sun:

Christmas Tree

Here is a photo of this year’s Christmas tree:

This tree is another beauty from the tree farm next door, while it’s certainly not the big fat monster from last year (Christmas Tree 2007)
it is still quite lovely in it’s own crooked imperfection. :)

Caden and I plan to update the tree topper after the big “Grandparent Christmas Dinner Party”. I think he mentioned some sort of “Christmas Cougar” topper? We’ll see where his thoughts are by Monday. Whatever the case, I suspect I may be too exhausted to do any more Christmas crafting after the feast and Sunday’s cookie swap. Lynn made mention of the cookie ladies suffering from the Charlie Brown teacher syndrome… (oh you know the sound) I think it has something to do with an excess of wine? I can't wait! :)

Out Of The Blue

They appeared from the blue of night into the break of day, their cold beauty a thing of magic in the snow filled silence:

Taking a break, trying to find the calm between storms, or perhaps just procrastinating… stressed out brain says, when on overload, do nothing!

Holiday Havoc

This year, I thought I was finally going to get it together for the holidays so I started making Christmas plans before Thanksgiving… but then, it was as if I blinked and it was suddenly December 15th! Oh my! What happened? Well, I can’t exactly explain what has kept me so distracted lately (besides ice storms, power outages, computer mishaps, possible career changes, and the usual life dramas) but I can tell you that when Monday arrived this week, the yearly round of Christmas panic hit head on! Christmas panic involves frazzled nerves, lots of pacing and running in circles, stomach disorders, pulling hair and scribbling down impossible to-do lists that must be executed in a ridiculously limited amount of time. Overall, it’s a big, messy, emotional, frantic waste of energy and effort. But do I ever learn? Apparently not. As of Monday I hadn’t made or purchased a single gift (except for Caden’s) or really put any thought whatsoever into what was going to go down this Christmas season. With our extended families we usually have anywhere from 8-10 Christmas related events scheduled in like a 6 day period. It’s obviously too much to accomplish in such a short time frame, causing lots of stress, and in general, as wonderful as it is to see everyone, all of that rushing and traveling makes the holidays a pretty miserable experience. So this year, I attempted to make Christmas *less* by turning 3 of the events into one and planned the much anticipated “Caden’s Grandparent Christmas Dinner Party” here at our house.

Great idea, really. But, unfortunately for me, I planned it for this Saturday, December 20th! As of today Thursday December 18th, I have merely purchased the *ingredients/supplies* for the gifts and the big Christmas dinner but I have not yet begun to make, assemble and bake said gifts and feast. According to my to-do list, I am supposed to organize, shoot and print the yearly grandparent photo gift of the Life and Times of Mr. C, make baked gifts, hand make Christmas ornaments, design and execute a Christmas Package concept (don’t ask!), as well as cook a traditional Christmas turkey feast with three homemade desserts (menu ordered by Caden) in two days. Did I mention Caden has a holiday party at school tomorrow and that I have a cookie swap on Sunday? Apparently I am expecting a Christmas Miracle!

So it has been 3 days since Monday, what HAVE I been doing besides aimlessly wandering about the stores with the other last minute shopping masses? Well other silly time wasting stuff of course! Before I admit my stupidity, I might add that the Christmas induced panic makes one formulate rash decisions. While we were decorating the Christmas tree, we put on the ornaments that Caden and I created last year and (while feeling deeply overwhelmed by the effects of their adorability) I asked him if this was something he wanted to do again this year. Here are last year’s ornaments:

Caden’s Christmas ornaments were a huge hit last year, as a result I thought perhaps if we kept it simple, another batch could be executed in a timely manner. Caden seemed into it, so while he was at pre-school Monday morning I began the process of creating 42 polymer clay ornament blanks for him. By the time I was finally finished, my very frivolous five year old had spent a morning at pre-school and an afternoon of playing and was therefore no longer interested in making the ornaments (that I just invested 7 incredibly precious hours in shaping/baking); in its place, he decided he wanted to give his grandparents framed Masterpieces! Yet to be made I might add!!!

Great! Can’t exactly force my little artist to create what I want can I? So instead of letting all that work go… I felt the irrational need to waste more countless hours as I was compelled to design and paint the ornaments myself! Ah yeah, that was instead of doing the other more important things on the mega giant to-do list! And worst of all, the ornaments are turning out to be rather tragic renditions of the “Christmas Cougar” and I am SO not finished! They would have been much cuter had Caden stuck to the plan!

Stay tuned for the reveal of those little lovelies as well as lots more Christmas fun! Watch the struggle and panic as I attempt to get through the Holiday Havoc with zing and panache! Or not! I hope you all are enjoying YOUR Holiday season!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Day

Here’s Caden enjoying his favorite weather:

Hope you all are making the most of your Snow Days!