My Boys’ 10 Year Anniversary Gift to My Husband and I.

My husband I have just celebrated our ten year anniversary. Of course one can’t help but reflect on the past during a time like this. I guess that’s why we’ve created birthdays, anniversaries and even holidays; to reflect and look back. My husband and I have done a lot in the last ten years. We’ve traveled quite a bit and even lived in China for a while. We’ve worked together, gone to school together, done theater together and always supported each other. He’s been my biggest art advocate and I’ve pushed him to purse his dream career. We get along  well which means there’s talking, laughing, dating and cuddling. But there is something even more meaningful that we share that continues to carry us into new arena of deepness and love. That thing is our two young boys. Fortunately I married someone who loves children as much as I do and so creating our family has been challenging but the true joy and work of our lives. With that in mind I thought the most appropriate anniversary gift would be one which represented them. So my boys’ and I got to work in creating a piece of artwork that included some of my favorite drawings of theirs from the last few years. We pulled out a large canvas and used some fun collage techniques using paint, paper, petroleum jelly, tape, masking liquid, glue, handmade papers, matte medium and of course their drawings. It was such a delightful experience of creativity and truly confirmed my assertion that these boys bring a deep love into our home. I am grateful that this anniversary provided me an opportunity to reflect on the treasures and joys in my life.

20140720_184107Here we are at the beginnings of this project.

20140720_184849I even got help with the drying portion of the project.

20140723_063538The final masterpiece!

20140723_063922What an adventure! My husband was quite touched:)

Flowers, Gifts, Treasures and More at the Rocklin Floral Shop

I admit that I’ve been by the Rocklin Florist Shop on Pacific probably hundreds of times without ever thinking of stopping in. Usually when I need flowers I just order them online. It wasn’t until I put my artwork up at this shop that I realized how cute and amazing it was! Of course there is flower arranging that is being done but the walls, tables and stands are filled with all sorts of boutique like goods. My work fit right! Here are a few pictures of my work arranged among the knick-knats and cuteness of the shop.


The Rocklin Florist Shop is located at 5885 Pacific Street in Rocklin. Come check out not only the most adorable shop with all sorts of unique gifts but also fantastic artwork as well!

Jeremy and Adria: 12 Years Later and Still Full of Romance

The most recent custom portrait I’ve completed has been a study in relationships, romance and love. I was approached by the husband in the relationship, Jeremy, to take on this piece. The image we decided on was especially meaningful for him and as I worked with this picture I could see why. Here is the original picture he sent me:

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This picture was taken at their wedding after all the ceremony was over with and it was time to just enjoy the evening. I thought about how important it is to keep this memories near at hand. Now 12 years later this picture can serve as a reminder of what they share, the love that brought them together and the devotion they have for each other. There is so much romance is this one moment. I asked Jeremy to write what this picture meant to him and why he choose it and this was his response:

“As with most weddings, we were inundated with hundreds of pictures to chose from to make our wedding album and for prints around the house.  We had the obligatory posed photos of us, our family, and friends.  However, we also asked that our photographer blend in during our celebration at the Ebell in Los Angeles; we told him we didn’t want to know he was there until we saw the photos.  We were pleasantly surprised with the results which ranged from celebratory moments among our friends we never knew happened to members of our newly combined family dancing and enjoying themselves.  However, there is one photo that I immediately fell in love with it as it simultaneously captured the classy, unique, and fun vibe we were going for with our wedding as well as the love and joy we felt in getting married that day.  The shot is simple; it depicts my new wife, Adria, and I dancing.  However, the smile on Adria’s face melts my heart every time I see it.  We are staring into each other’s eyes and despite all of the celebration going on around us, it is clear that only the other person exists at that moment.”

I absolutely love that! SO romantic!

Silk is the 12 year Anniversary so Jeremy cleverly decided to commission a portrait with silk incorporated into the work. With this piece I wanted to capture the oneness that is so evident from the picture so I limited my palette and tried to bring the focus on the couple and their expressions. Fortunately for me their faces tell the story and that made it a delightful piece to work on. Here is the completed piece framed and matted:

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A little closer look:

20140627_213244_HDR

 

For more information about purchasing or merchandise please visit my SHOP page. For more information about my custom work please visit my CUSTOM WORK page.

Teaching and Learning Art

Being around kids in not a foreign world for me. I’ve been a nanny several times around, worked at a daycare, a Summer camp, a preschool, I’ve taught children abroad and have my own kids running around often times along with their buddies. Within each of these settings I’ve always been experimenting with art.

My love for art education all started with my mom. She’s been a teacher of young children for over 20 years. She started as a preschool teacher and then moved on to elementary school. When I was a seventh grader I was home schooled for a period so I helped my mom in her classroom everyday. She inspired me in so many ways then. Art was integrated into so much of her curriculum and she welcomed my input. I remember as a teenager helping her out for the day in her Kindergarten class. It had rained the day before and so while it was still wet she had the kids collect snails. She took a large piece of paper and laid it out across a 6 foot table. The kids dipped their snails into various containers of paint and set them on the paper. The paper with the inching snails were left there all day and when the final bell of the day rang a spaghetti design of snail trails covered the once blank paper. My mom of course was not exploding with excitement as I was, along with 20 five years olds because she had done projects like this over and over again. Well my admiration for my mom’s ability to ignite creativity and excitement for the world around through art with young children just sky rocketed. So when I have the opportunity to attempt such lofty goals of my own that same excitement I felt as a teenager all comes flooding back.

This last week was once messy project after another with two art loving kids. I practically used every paper making/ decorating project I knew because these kids were an unstoppable frenzy of creativity. The inspiration I had previously felt from my mom was doubled over when I witnessed the uninhibited process of art making from these two kids. By the end they each brought home their own home made journal several inches thick full of the week’s paper making creations. In August we will have a show at the Shady Tea and Coffee shop in Roseville showcasing these small but innovate minds. I am so excited to have some of the public see what children artists are capable of.

Here are some of the week’s accomplishments:


 

A Moment of Celebration: The Scheck Family.

I certainly have been honored recently to have had the opportunity to work on a piece that is chalk full of meaning for a family I adore. The Schecks have been friends of the family I was raised in for years and years. Every so often life brings people into your life and you just don’t want to get rid of them. So growing up, semi-daily spottings of one or several members of the Scheck clan hanging around our house was pretty much expected. Even through moves, kids going to college and busy lives they have remained close to my family.

I think my family related well with the Schecks because of both families emphasizing education and a quest for knowledge to their kids. Both Scheck parents were in the academic world and expected great things from their kids. This portrait was years and years in the making as they worked tirelessly to involve their kids in the community and their schools. This picture really celebrates an exciting time for this family as both of their children have now graduated from prestigious Universities and are going on to contribute and enhance the working world. As I worked on this portrait and contemplated all the experiences I’ve had with these people I can’t help but join in with that feeling of excitement.

People seem to come in and out of our lives so quickly it might be hard to gain much from them. Other times certain people stick. The friendship my family has built with the Schecks is not going anywhere and I am grateful. They have been an example of perseverance, immense generosity and devotion. Hooray for their moment of victory!

This piece was designed on a stressed wood panel using handmade and hand decorate papers, thread, acrylic paint and embroidery floss. It measure 8X10.

The Scheck Family

The Scheck Family

For more information about purchasing or merchandise please visit my SHOP page. For more information about my custom work please visit my CUSTOM WORK page.

Grandpa with Grandson: Hidden Conversations.

Have you ever had a conversation or quick exchange with someone that just tickled you? Or been truly inspired by just a few words? or had the oppurtunity to slow down and enjoy life with someone else? I love to explore the relationships and experiences of young children in a lot of my work. My kids pop up frequently on my wood panels as they are my main source of child observation. Its fun to see where my kids’ tickle points are or what makes them stop and think. I especially become delighted when they ignite from having interactions with someone besides me. I love capturing those simple moments that represent so much. This piece is my own story of my son stopping and becoming interested in the world because of my dad’s interactions. Though its personal to me I know I’m not alone in my sentiments which is why I love to share. Enjoy!

This piece was done on a stressed wood panel. I used handmade and hand decorated papers along with stitching and embroidery to create my desired design. This piece measures 8X10.

 

Grandpa with Grandson

Grandpa with Grandson

For more information about purchasing or merchadise please visit my SHOP page. For more information about my custom work please visit my CUSTOM WORK page.

Paper Decorating Technique: Paste Paper

I learned about the paste paper technique in college when I took a book binding class. Part of the book making process is making decorated papers to use for book covers. Paste paper is basically finger paint except you aren’t limited to only your fingers. I was absolutely fascinated with the soft gooey texture of the homemade paste and the endless patterns that could be formed by using simple tools. Here is one of my books with a paste paper cover:20140609_140522To make the paste and use it to decorate paper is actually quite simple and is really fun for the whole family. Here’s a quick tutorial:

20140608_092512Mix 1 part cornstarch to 4 parts water and heat over stove until thick or translucent. Let it cool.

20140608_134118Put the mixture into a blender or food processor and add one to two cups of water. Blend it all together until smooth consistency.

20140608_134359Mix your paint in. I used poster paint.

20140608_134749Tape your paper down and get out an assortment of paint smearing tools. I have palette knives, brushes, combs and who knows what else I dug up. Be creative!

20140608_135302Pour your paint/paste on and go to town moving that stuff around! This is the fun part!

20140608_135511Add another color if you’d like.

20140608_135647Its fun to see how the colors mix. If the paint/paste gets too think just use a palette knife to scrape some off. I usually have a bowl nearby to put the extra paste.

20140608_142503So many fun ways to make designs! Perfect for collages!

I’ll be teaching this technique along with many many others during Paper Making Summer Camp. Check out it out and get involved!

Round Two for Shady Tea and Coffee

logo This is the second time I’ve hung my work at this local little coffee shop, Since my last show in October I’ve frequented this shop quite regularly. After my marketing classes at the Blue Line Gallery I walk to this shop and settle into a comfortable atmosphere as I work. My favorite alternative type music plays overhead and I never can stop myself from overhearing the employees discussing their weekend excursions. My secret desire to wear patterned leggings and cropped shirts is welcomed here which is a fun feeling. Their variety of beverages are of course are delicious and I’m usually begging for more. I love having my artwork welcomed into an environment of community, openness and artistic expression. Shady Tea and Coffee also hold concerts on the weekends for local bands, their walls are plastered not just with art but fliers, posters, business cards and postcards and the entire atmosphere of the place just screams “relax, chat and have fun”. I know this is not new news for a coffee shop but when one does it well it s a pleasure to be a part of it! I’ll be up there for the entire month of June so take some time to enjoy yourself while looking at great art!

325 Douglas Blvd, Roseville, CA

A few pictures of my show.20140601_074849 20140601_074826 20140601_074802   A few sample close-ups.

Torn Abstract for web

Smiling Baby

grandma with baby webYou can purchase any of these framed ready to hang pieces right from the shop! For more information on purchasing my other work and merchandise please visit my SHOP page. For information about custom work please visit my CUSTOM WORK page.

 

Anna and Mike: Photographing Life.

My sister and brother-in-law are professional photographers. They make their living from capturing moments and making memories last forever. They are in the wedding event market and so I’m used to seeing pictures they take of decorated table decor, the gushing white costumed bride, and the awkwardly cute tuxedo dressed toddler. Over the past ten years they have photographed hundreds of weddings and somehow seem to keep their images fresh and personal. I am spotlighting my sister and brother-in-law on this post today because of their exceptional way ignite the viewer’s engagement with the pictures they take. Here’s the handsome family below:
The_Costa-Family (1)
Now I know what you’re thinking! They are my family so of course I am going to prefer their work. I admit I have a pretty strong bias, but fortunately for me they have been featured in magazines, blogs, books, TV shows, websites, been given numerous awards and even went on a speaking tour to inspire other photographers to be as successful as them, so I’ve been validated in my admiration. Their business is built on ingenuity, entrepreneurship and business sense but of course I am here to say this amazing couple touch the world they live in with heart and sentiment which is the true token of their success. I have envied their work for a long time simply because of the technical skill it takes to handle a professional camera. Recently though as I been more involved in my own work as an artist I’ve realized how important the visual contribution to a person’s life is. What a rare opportunity is it to design memories of an event that will prove to be one of the most important in their clients’ lives. They rise to that challenge time and time again with images that result in glazed eyes and tender smiles.
To reach this level of competency it takes a couple who can not only see a unique vision when viewing our visual world but also has the capacity to understand the human heart. Since I’ve been inspired by them time and time again I felt compelled to create a portraiture of their family. It’s time for their story to be told; a couple who enrich and validate people’s lives through the work they do because of who they are. My story focuses on them, not their clients or the wedding events they attend. I found a moment that needed to be captured. Its simply a story of love. A story they tell time and time again in their own profession. This time its their own story and instead of a camera, paper and thread.
Here is the piece I did of my sister, my brother-in-law with their daughter. This piece was done on a stressed wood panel using handmade, watercolor and hand decorated papers. I incorporated acrylic paint, stitching and embroidery thread into the piece. It measures 8X10.
thecostafamily web
Now I know you’re all dying to see their work! Go to http://www.michaelandannacosta.com/ so you can be blow out of the water with their incredible portfolio!

Willy Playing the Drums: A Deaf Boy and His Parent’s Journey.

I am so grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to create a custom portrait of a couple’s two year old son who was born Deaf.  Instead of a photograph they sent me a video of little Willy playing the drums. Willy has two cochlear implants which help him hear and as he continues to grow he has to work very hard to recognize and process sounds. This video touched me as I watched his sweet facial expressions as he reacted to the sound of the drums. My goal was to capture one of those moments of joy and realization. I asked Willy’s mom to write a short paragraph of her experiences of being a mother to a deaf child. This whole project has brought about deep reflection and ultimately I’ve been inspired by the strength and captivity of this sweet family. I hope you will too.

“Having a Deaf son has changed how we, as parents and individuals, look at all aspects of our life. His world is more than words; it’s full of color, feeling, textures, to name a few. When we first met and saw Leah’s art work, and her talent of bringing depth into a picture by a woven stitch and unique paper, this was a harmonious encapsulation of how our little boy gave us a new light into our life.”  -Willy’s Mom, Jody.

 This piece was done on a stressed wood panel. I combined hand made, hand decorated papers, acrylic paint, sewing and embroidery into the image of Willy and his drums. This piece measure 9X12.

willy playing drums web

 

For more information on purchasing and merchandise please visit my SHOP page. For information about custom work please visit my CUSTOM WORK page.