Tuesday, September 25, 2012


"Little spider on the wall,
You ain't got no hair at all,
You ain't got no comb to comb your hair.
What do you  care, you ain't got no hair."

~ performed by Ish Kabibble aka Merwyn Bogue, a nearly-forgotten radio comic during the early 40s~
 (Spider Charm for Vintiquities Halloween Charm Swap

The little ditty above might just be one of the few things that have stuck in my head from senior high English Lit. class.  If I were to have penned this ode to a spider it would have read much differently.  Perhaps something like this:

Little spider on my wall,
You ain't got no chance at all,
Hanging by your silken hair-like thread,
While I whack you good and dead!

Much less cute and comic and more violent and deadly!
It is no secret that there is no love lost between me and spiders.  While I greatly admire their spinning skills, that is where my admiration stops.  Around here spiders and surprises go hand in hand and not in a good way.  Last year, in September, I was bitten by a spider, I seriously hope this is not to become an annual event as it happened again  a little over 72 hours ago!  This time I was not so lucky as last, it was kin folk of the Brown Recluse that nipped me the first time, it was the real deal poisonous kind this time.

I am wondering if I used some sort of charm to conjure up their apparent perception of welcome.  Perhaps they were hanging outside of the studio window and saw a scattering of small silver webs being fashioned...
With black widows reposing in the center of each one...
And they thought it was an open invitation to move right in and partake of tender flesh while one is sleeping.

  I picture this event as an old black and white movie, Attack of the Killer Spiders, or some such nonsense.  Cue scene, an unsuspecting victim sits at her vanity combing her hair while while strings of eerie suspenseful music of strain in the background, reminding you of creepy crawling things.  The camera pans to her bed post when an insidious spider is darting back and forth peeking at its unsuspecting prey.  At each lurch forward the spider becomes visible and the camera pans to a close up of the victims bare arm, hand holding a guilt brush, sweeping strokes of hair being brushed away from the tender flesh of a neck.

The Victim moves to the bed, arranges herself prettily for sleep, one arm cast above her slightly side tilted head, baring tender flesh of neck and arm, choice spots for the attack of the killer spider.  A small sigh escapes parted painted pouty lips, you know all in those old black and whites the victims go to sleep in full make up, and she is asleep.  All eight legs of Darth Fanger begin to wiggle in glee as he scuttles across her pillow accompanied by scary heavy breathing, supposedly that of the spider, heightens the suspense.
The unsuspecting victim thrashes and almost squashes her foe but he is too quick and makes a leap onto the edge of her perfectly fanned curls  slowly creeping toward the tender flesh of her exposed arm.  In one swift move forward he has landed on her arm, the camera pulls in close as fangs bear into her flesh.  Her big dewy eyes open as she cries out in pain, bolting upright she lets go of a blood curdling scream, for while she was only once bitten, her bed is covered with converging spiders.  End Scene. 

I don't really know what happened only that I was bitten on my arm in my sleep...again!  Spiders do not make good bedfellows.  I had Handy Hubby flipping over furniture, emptying the closet, and vacuuming every nook and cranny...again.  Sprays and sticky traps were set...again.  Bug guy coming to spray inside and out...again.  I learned an interesting fact, this is the time of year spiders try to migrating inside southern homes to quite cool dark places for the winter. 

Here are some links to handy dandy keep away spider tips:
Both of these sources offer some really practical advice to keeping these pests at bay.

In my book, the only good spider is a dead spider!
(Tombstone charm display tags for charm swap)
Handy Hubby has taken to calling me Spider Woman, if only one of her super powers were to be mine at the moment it would be her ability to  have immunity to all forms of non-corrosive toxins and poisons after an initial exposure to them. These initial exposures make her dizzy, but her metabolism quickly recovers and renders her immune to it.  Unfortunately....
I was bitten on the inside back of my left upper arm, the venom has now spread from almost shoulder to elbow making an ugly red swath of orange peel skin in a 10 in. x 4 in. area.  I have been one sick victim.  Symptoms did not show up until about 6 to 8 hours after the bite and when they did they were severe.  On top of a venomous poisonous bite and all its typical reactions, I had a severe allergic reaction that resulted in head to toe hives and anaphylactic shock.  Two of the medicines I am taking to combat this, both of which I have taken before, also give me nice added side effects on top of  the spider bite/allergic reaction side effects, one causing muscle cramping in my legs and lower back, the other giving me stomach pain, nice!  After getting medical treatment I am playing the waiting game to see if this will be a best case or worst case scenario as to the possibility to skin damage to my arm where the venom has concentrated.  Needless to say I am not feeling well, so, I'll be taking a blog break until at least some time next week while all the side effects and symptoms of both bite and medication work their way through my system.
I hope you are all enjoying the cooling temps, colorful displays, and spider free days, as we dip into autumn here in the US.


Comments are closed on this post, due to illness and I am woefully behind on responding to recent comments.  I do hope you will understand.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


 Eyes fluttering open as the edges of the dream world recede and reality sets in.  With only a few blinks the day already feels heavy or perhaps that was just my heart.  Move into the day I must, and so it is began again, another day of living loss. The grieving process is different for everyone.  I am not sure if it is better to have one great consuming loss or if it is better to be done over snippets of time like it is being experienced as my mother slips further from her former self a little each day.  I have experienced both ways now, each leaving an ache in the soul, a gaping emptiness that is never quite filled again.  A sigh escapes as I arise and move through my morning ritual.
The cool contact of damp wood on bare foot stills me.  Something is different.  A soft refreshing wind brushes feathery light kisses across my skin making it prickle.  My spirit lightens.  I breathe deeply the scent of damp earth and crisp clean air.  The woodlands call to me to come and explore.  I gratefully accept the invitation.
Standing in the beams of the morning sun, hair lifting on fingers of the breeze, I felt the elements waring for my favor.  Warmth and light make me lift my face, close my eyes, and savor the invisible contact of incandescence.  The sound of the wind is like the gentle whisper of "Shhh..." through its puckered lips blown across fingered tree tops, it stills my soul.   I give them equal attention as a small measure of peace slips around me like a light mantle.
I turn my back on the responsibilities of the day and simply walk away.  With each step I felt the restlessness in my spirit being sated.  I idly wandered along a meandering path in the east woods stopping to drink in deep breaths of sight and sound.  That is when I noticed the absence of the constant thrum that vibrates the summer air.  The cicadas had gone silent, no grasshoppers sawing a lazy summer tune, not even a peep from the peepers.  
Standing stock still, I watched a tree breathe.  Its lifeblood of sap coursed through its veins, a slight movement right then left gave it the appearance of the rise and fall of human breath as its barrel chested trunk moved in rhythmic motion at the brushing of the passing wind.
Along the ridge, over a rise, through the woods, along a deer path, where there was no path I continued my journey.  I thought of my inherit need to connect with nature in a tangible way.  It makes me feel grounded in a way that nothing else does.  It is my escape just as surly as it was my ancestors.  I take to the woods to seek reprieve from the oppressions of life as they did.  I find strength, renewal, peace, and shelter in this form or prayer, this aimless walking.  My trail too, is covered with tears.
Passage of time ceases to matter.  Destination does not need to be decided.  Thought can be fleeting.  Foot to earth is all that matters.  I stop.  There is a gift on my path...a downy feather, a message from nature to contemplate.  My ancestors believed that all feathers relate to the human spirit and its innate connection to the Divine.  A feather has the ability to lift, insulate, and protect against life's elements.  The symbolic meaning of a feather is to inspire us to soar to new heights.  This simple gift from nature was a symbol of reassurance, appearing in this difficult phase of life, letting me know that I am loved and watched over.  I am under His wings.
Lift of head, lift of heart, lift of lips in bow curved smile, I step homeward.  At the trail head amid a blanket of coppery decaying leaves is one brilliant spot of color.  Riddled with rays of lemon and orange radiating to  ruby red center is a setting sun rooted to the earth.  Its brilliance against the dull backdrop makes me gasp.  
 I have glimpsed the intricate beauty of life this day, sadness and sorrow, past and present, life and death, the natural world and the celestial one, all interconnected.  I return with renewed vigor to the chirping of the phone, and so it is begun again, another day of living...

Monday, September 17, 2012


 With crumple of paper and spill of button...
 With pile of lace and stain of stitches...
  A new work is begun...
I am so excited to have begun work on my new "Heritage" collection!  I have brainstormed and sketched ideas, culled through supplies, and even taken on learning something new to make this artful vision a reality.  I have three pieces in mind to begin the collection and it may expand should time allow.
This collection will be based on the thought of heritage, things that might be handed down from generation to generation, with an artful twist.
 Do you have something special that has been handed down in your family that reflects your heritage?
I'd love to hear your history.     

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Thespa, of Vintiquities Workshop is hosting a Halloween Charm Swap. 
For anyone interested you can visit Thespa's sign up post HERE for all the details.

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful cozy day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


(Flight in Clouds, charcoal, watercolor and paper on canvas by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

*All images in this post are used with the permission of the artist and are the personal property of Sarah Mattingly-Benson.  Please do not remove or pin these images without express permission.*

 Sitting quietly, with no sound save the methodical ticking of the antique clock marking time and space, her mind was free to roam.  The poke of needle and pull of thread at the flick of hand were the only visible movement in the room.  If you could but see inside her head you would glimpse active racing thoughts as they pinged from one musing to another all the while creating a vast raceway with starts and stops, road blocks and exits to be maneuvered around or through at the thinkers choosing.
(Southern Summer, colored pencil by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

Hands still.  Work is surveyed.  Eyes widen.  Mind switches itself to the present task at hand, "This is not what I imagined."  Brow furrows.  Head cocks.  Movement ensues as photos are snapped.  Mouth opens.  Words escape, "It looks like a teepee."  At that utterance an idea was born.  The art speaks, "Why not go with it?  Embrace it."  The mind ponders upon this and accepts the challenge.
(Lunar II, mixed media by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

The idea pulls and tugs at the personal history of the artisan but the connection is vague and more information is needed.  The idea pushes forward as a quick Google search is made that leads to sending a text that leads to a phone call or two that leads back to more googling.  An invisible thread is picked up in cyberspace that begins an incredible weaving of a textile that is known as heritage.  Heritage...something that comes to or belongs to one by reason of birth.  Evidence of the past was linking itself to the present through a simple idea.
(Uncle Toot in Flower Bed, charcoal, watercolor, paper, found objects, by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

The idea had taken deep root.  Its first vague form was beginning to bud.  The deeper the search the larger it grew.  It was put aside with great reluctance as more pressing tasks were attended to but it hovered at the edges of all activity niggling not to be forgotten.  It was with great impatience that the discoverer moved through her day wishing it away so she could fully embrace and immerse herself in the new found knowledge.
(Miles of Winston County, mixed media, by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

Necessity took her far away from any hope of touching more upon the idea, or at least that is what she thought as she drove away both physically and mentally.  She was utterly unaware that she was actually driving toward a place that would send a single seed of thought into a full bloomed ready to be executed idea.   
(Sarah Mattingly, Southern Woman, colored pencil, by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

The doors whooshed open and she stepped across the threshold feeling the competition of the oppressive heat on her back and the tingle of cool on her face.  She was looking down as she moved forward only raising her eyes in greeting until a sound to her left caused her to turn.  She took in her breath at the sight before her.  There stood Uncle Toot in his garden, Luna moths and fireflies darting across painted surfaces, birds winging their away across layered water color paper clouds, and faces, ancestral faces in charcoal on unconventional materials like rippling rusty tin or old wooden boxes.  The exquisite works of Sarah Mattingly-Benson speaking of her rural southern roots was on display.  Her heritage speaking volumes to the quiet observer.
(Reverend, mixed media, by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

In that moment, walking around the displays of the temporary gallery, her purpose for being there was forgotten.  She dared not but her fingers itched to touch the art.  Her eyes drank in each detail and her heart was filled with longing to make her own work of purpose.  Her own personal heritage was calling her hands to duty.  The idea solidified.  While her own heritage collection would be vastly different from Sarah's, for she does not possess the training, skill, talent, or years of practice, nor do they work in the same mediums, it would still be hers, wrought from the simple idea of heritage.  Her next work is begun...
(Kin, mixed media by Sarah Mattingly-Benson)

Have you ever had an idea that would not leave you alone?
What did you do with it?


P.S.  The photos in this post do not due justice to the intricate beauty of Sarah's work.  Uncle Toot in the flower bed is amazing in person.  Each leaf is created individually and carefully layered to create depth and texture.  The same method is used on the clouds in Flight in Clouds, truly stunning.  If you would like to learn more about Sarah's art you can view her three part presentation as follows: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Friday, September 7, 2012


 A sweet blog friend recently left comment on one of my series posts that really gave me pause to think about finished art vs. unfinished art.  She said that the post had really made her think about stops and starts on art pieces she was working on, asking herself if she had to finish everything or is it OK to put a piece away when she is no longer having fun with it.  I truly think that not everything we set our hands to needs to be a finished piece of art.  A huge part of the artistic process is experimentation.  You need to give yourself permission to play without the pressure of creating a finished piece.  I hope I did not give the wrong impression that everything needs to be brought to completion.  I was just sharing my point of view on reaching a particular set of goals. 

I also think art making should be a balance of fun and work based on your personal goals.  Are you making something for discovery, trying a technique, or for the pure pleasure of creating?  Then these might not be things that get to the finished stage.  However, if your goal is for profit, publication, or public presentation (like a galley show) then yes, there is going to need a completion process.
 I totally advocate what I call "piddling projects", like a quilt top, a stitchery piece, an afghan, scrapbooking, an art or inspiration journal,  etc. something that you can pick up and put down at mood or will.  These types of projects are also something you can work on in between ideas or use as relaxation time.  Most artist need a lot of variety and I for one suffer from too many ideas and too little time to execute them, that is probably why I have so many unfinished things going at once.  By all means make the artistic process fun and filled with enough interest to keep your creative juices flowing.
 I have been known to put projects aside that were beginning to frustrate me or that I was losing interest in. Sometimes I go back to them and sometimes I don't.  The art making process is a completely individual and personal pursuit.  Most of what I term as my "unfinished or experimental art" that will never develop into full finished projects are based on trial and error, developing or mastering a technique, working out a new idea, or learning a new skill.  Just this week I have indulged in three such exercises. 

I had some leftover paint on my palette that I did not want to go to waste so I pulled out my art journal and smooshed the excess around on a few pages.  These might be used as backgrounds for future journal pages or torn out and used in a collage, or they may just be what they are...paint smooshed pages.
I have an idea for a new book art project but I wanted to experiment with some different binding techniques to see which one would be a good fit so I grabbed some scrap papers and bound away.  I ended up with three little books that will never be used for anything other than to help me decide on the binding technique I want to use.

Lastly I had an idea for a little garment project that I have been wanting to try.  This is purely for experimentation purposes.  Most of these types of  things never make it onto my blog and most of them I don't count worthy of mention, this is just a part of how I learn and grow my skills.(And how I end up with a drawer full of unfinished stuff ;c)
For me, what it all boils down to is that I see a purpose in having both finished and unfinished projects as part of my own personal process.  What are your thoughts?  Is it OK to put a piece away when it no longer becomes fun or do have to finish everything you start?

I hope you all enjoy a beauty filled weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


 Have you ever suffered from project let down?  You know, when you get a project finished and then you feel all at loose ends and you ask yourself , "What's next?"  That is what I have been asking myself since my series wrapped up.  Create Mixed Media came to my rescue with INCITE: Mixed Media Dreams Realized!
 If you too are feeling a little at loose ends or just want to challenge yourself then you too should check out this art contest for mixed-media artists.  North Light Books is introducing the first-ever competition entirely devoted to the best of mixed-media!  If you desire to share your work with a wider audience or to see your work in print, this is a great opportunity.  Your dream could be realized if your art is selected for this hardbound book that will showcase the very best in mixed-media expression.  You can read more about the competition and find out all the details about how to submit your artwork here!
 I have been mulling this idea over and think I might have come with an idea I would like to submit.  I hope some of you will join me on this journey!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


"By viewing nature,
Natures handmaid, art,
Makes mighty things,
From small beginnings grow..."
~Dryden - Annus Mirabilis~
(The above quote is used as text on this piece.)

 You might be wondering why you would need to title your artwork.  Many times you do see published works that are accredited to an artist but described as "untitled".  Titling your work makes it more memorable.  It leads the viewer to a suggestion of what you want the piece or pieces to say.  A title is a signifier, a thread, or an open door as a way for the viewer to approach the image and appreciate what the artist is trying to say. Titling your work is also important if you are presenting at a gallery, a show, in a publication, or when artwork is for sale.

For me, titles rarely ever come until the work is complete and I have had time to spend with the art looking at it and thinking about it.  It is kind of like writing a book, you always have a working title but often it changes once the book is brought to completion.
 (I used a contrast of hard and soft textures of metal and fiber to give this piece depth and dimension.)

Sources for titling your work are abundant from the actual materials you use to getting out a dictionary, thesaurus, a synonym finder, poetry phrases, lines of a quote, magazines, books, song titles or lyrics, anything that will connect to the image(s) of the body of work you are trying to title.  You want to seek out a title that supports your work, but that also challenges or engages the viewer.

Spend some time with your artwork once it is complete, look at it, study it, then ask yourself what you are trying to say or show through your piece.   Is there a hidden depth or meaning?  A message you wanted to covey?  Simplicity or beauty?   Is there a mood or feeling you you want it to express?
 (I like how this little egg sort of rolled right off the edge of the canvas.)

Find key words that tie your series together or express what your individual artwork is about and make a list of as many as you can think of.  Write down any ideas or impressions you get from viewing the finished work. Then, narrow the list down to a few descriptions that describe the focal point or message of your work.

Take a standpoint of a viewer of your work not as the creator.  Ask yourself what stands out the most or what draws you to the work the most.  Narrow your list even further by these descriptions.
 (I used same texture on texture and same technique on technique to add interest to this piece.)

You have to figure out what you want your work to convey even before someone looks at it.  What feeling or response do you want it to invoke in the viewer?  Narrow your list to the best of the best descriptions of your work.

TIP:  Alliteration (the repetition of a beginning sound) helps when titling, you want a title that flows off the tongue and creates strong imagery or emotion.

From your list you will be able to create a title for your artwork that is descriptive, meaningful, and sounds great.
(I also used a variety of hand dyed fabrics to enhance the design.)

TIP:  Invite someone else to view your finished work and monitor their response or ask them to make a list of their observations.

TIP:  You want to stay away from negative titles, such as "Rage".  Most people do not want to purchase or hang a negative titled work in their home or office.  You may well have been trying to express rage in your work but more than likely it will be a hindrance to a selling point.  Although there are a few select collectors who might want a negative piece for their collection.

Not all work will lend itself to a title and that is perfectly fine too.  Often there are series or individual works that are simply numbered and signed and that is perfectly acceptable also.
 (Piece three of the series complete!)

TIP:  You also want to stay away from a title that is too obscure or vague or has a meaning only to you that your viewer or potential customer will not readily recognize or relate to.

Now, I need to go and spend some time with my artwork, taking my own advice to titling this series.
 (The complete series hanging out in the studio)

 Do you have any tips for titling artwork?
Do you want to help me in that process?
Then leave me some ideas in the comments,
 I 'd love to hear them!

PART 1: Thoughts on Working in a Series can be found HERE
PART 2:Artistic Goal setting can be found HERE

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