Monday, October 28, 2013

Do People in Santa Fe Have More Fun?

Americans tend to have a good sense of humor, but Santa Feans could write the book on it. Everywhere we went in the City Different seemed to feature or display something that was designed to tickle the funnybone. Whether it was quirky yard art in gallery courtyards, humorous descriptions on restaurant menus, or slyly amusing merchandise displays, the residents of Santa Fe seem to excel at making people smile. Having been treated to their lighthearted approach to life, I'm happy to share it with you. The photo below is an example of what I'm talking about.

This sign in the Farmer's Market building made me burst out laughing. Love it!!

Text and photo ©2013 Lynn Edwards

Friday, October 25, 2013

Zentangles Are Just So Zen...!

 A couple of years ago, my friend Dinah got me interested in Zentangles. They're a form of "doodling" that's very calming and meditative. Basically, the idea is to lay down loose, flowing, overlapping lines on the surface of your paper, then fill in the negative spaces with a variety of repetitive patterns using a black fine tip pen.

"Office Romance"   ©2011 Lynn Edwards
The concept has been expanded by artists over time to incorporate color, representational subjects and other refinements, but I haven't taken it to those levels. I keep it simple by just sticking with the basics.

When Dinah first introduced me to Zentangles, I was eager to try them. At the time getting into a Zen state of mind sounded mighty good to me.

A terrible tsunami and earthquakes had just devastated northern Japan. Political turmoil was rampant, both here at home and around the globe. Deadly tornadoes had brought death and destruction to the city where most of my family lived, and in the midst of that god-awful year my mother had been diagnosed with cancer as well as an aneurysm threatening to snuff out her life. Was I stressed out? You bet. If picking up a pen and making funny little marks on paper would give me a modicum of calm, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes, I was all for it.

Garden of Eden ©2012 Lynn Edwards
It didn't make the problems and stress disappear, of course, but doing Zentangles did help soothe my frazzled nerves. It provided moments of temporary respite from some of the intense anxiety I was feeling. When all you're focused on is making simple repetitive patterns, the part of your mind that's busy conjuring up mental bogeymen and posing terrifying "what if's" just sits down, shuts up and takes a back seat to the task at hand.

I churned out quite a few Zentangles that year. The materials needed (a pen and a small piece of paper) could be carried around in my purse, so I took them everywhere. Just knowing they were so accessible was something of a comfort. And the Zentangles were fun to do. No pressure to make a masterpiece, just move the pen around. No prepwork; just begin. No rules to follow, either. Just enjoy the process. And so I did. Still do!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Glorious Santa Fe - Part 2

Our first morning in Santa Fe was spent at their popular Farmer's Market, held on Saturday mornings in the Railyard area. I was amazed at the wide variety of food being sold. We saw everything from enormous orange pumpkins to bright green pole beans, purple onions, luscious red tomatoes and of course the region's famous red and green chili peppers everywhere we looked. There were all kinds of vegetables I've never seen before as well, with names I couldn't pronounce.

A number of vendors were selling decorative items for the home, including some very pretty wreaths made from red peppers that would have looked great on anyone's front door. Inside, vendors were selling locally produced soaps and toiletries, specialty honeys, home grown lavender sachets, wearable art, hand crocheted slippers -- you name it.

The Saturday Farmer's Market in Santa Fe attracts quite a crowd. Local growers offer a huge variety of fresh produce, much of it grown organically and sustainably.

Here, I learned how one of these talented artisans dyed and carded wool from the area's sheep herds to turn it into beautiful shawls, scarves and hats.

The colorful wearables in this booth generated lots of attention. 
The Artist's Market section, directly across from the produce growers, offered sculpture, jewelry, paintings, stained glass, wood crafts and other works at excellent prices, all accompanied by tunes from a live band. A darling little girl of about 5 or so stood on the steps of the market building, dancing enthusiastically to the music and drawing the smiles of passersby. A man walked past, gnawing on some kind of vegetable that looked like a gargantuan white carrot. The vibe was lively and upbeat, and everyone was smiling -- so typical of the residents of this amazing town, and for that matter, everyone we encountered in New Mexico.

Lots of art and Santa Fe's beautiful weather made for an enjoyable morning at the Market.
In fact, smiling seems to be everyone's pastime in this part of the world. People are so friendly it's impossible to feel like an outsider here for long. The warmth is genuine, the atmosphere totally laid back, and everyone goes out of their way to be helpful. It's an extraordinary place. We're already planning a return trip!

All text and images ©2013 Lynn Edwards

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Glorious Santa Fe - Part 1

Hubby and I have just returned from a long-anticipated vacation in Santa Fe. It was our first visit to "The City Different" and it was fabulous! As an artist, to me it was like finding the Holy Grail. Art and culture are the very essence of Santa Fe. It's literally everywhere, from hand-painted window panes on charming adobes to its numerous outstanding art museums to the hundreds of galleries all around its beautiful Plaza and up and down its fabled Canyon Road. Everywhere you look, there's art -- paintings, sculptures, handcrafted jewelry, wearable art, hand tooled leather, museum quality beadwork...I could go on and on. Suffice it to say I was on Total Sensory Overload from the moment we stepped off the New Mexico Rail Runner, the commuter train connecting Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and caught whiffs of fragrant pinon pine scenting the cool night air.

We stayed in a delightful little inn, El Paradero, within walking distance of the Plaza at 220 W. Manhattan St. Having decided to go totally green on this venture and use nothing but our feet and public transportation to get around, the location was ideal. The walk to nearby restaurants, the Plaza and all of the surrounding attractions was easy. The only time we relied on vehicle transportation was to go to and from Canyon Road. We could have walked but because Canyon Road runs uphill and we're not exactly spring chickens, we opted to save our energy by taking the free shuttle.

El Paradero's courtyard gates, flanked by ristras -- strings of red chile peppers. Note New Mexico's famous turquoise sky in the background. It truly is that blue!

Our innkeepers, Paul and Sue, have decorated all their guest rooms with hand painted motifs in keeping with the area's Spanish, Mexican and Native traditions. But my absolute favorite was the room in which we were served breakfast each morning, shown below:

Warm yellow walls, festive tablecloths and colorful pottery add cheer to El Paradero's sunny breakfast room.

A fire burning in a hand painted kiva fireplace warmed the room on chilly mornings
Who says colors don't affect one's moods? There's no way a person could fail to start the day smiling when served breakfast in a room this upbeat!

And why live with plain glass panes when you can decorate a door like this?

Hand painted designs brighten the entry to El Paradero's breakfast room.

I like this door and window treatment so much, I'm planning to paint designs on my French doors here at home. All it takes is a bit of acrylic paint, which is easily removed when you want to make changes to it. The light shining through the colors is beautiful, and if the design used is "open" enough, you can see through the glass to the view outside, while still enjoying some privacy. Painting glass panels will be much more fun than hanging curtains! Later I'll be posting a photo of my efforts, but in my next several posts, we'll be covering many more fascinating aspects of Santa Fe. Have you been there? If so, what was your favorite part of the trip? Leave your comments by clicking on the "Comments" link below.

By the way, here's what we saw when we looked out those same French doors earlier today. Now we've seen everything!!! No idea where it came from, but the little rascal has had a great time chowing down on the hostas. Is anyone missing a pig???

Our unusual visitor.

All text and images ©2013 Lynn Edwards

Friday, October 11, 2013

More "Stained Glass" Mosaic Cards

The technique for making "stained glass" mosaic cards I described in my post of Sept. 30 offers room for experimentation. After designing several compositions using photos taken from old magazines, I decided to try a different twist on the basic technique.

Some time ago I had made some collage papers using paper napkins imprinted with vintage botanical drawings. After carefully separating the napkins' layers, I had fused the top (printed) layer of the napkin onto acid free artists tissue using acrylic gloss medium. The resulting collage paper had a highly textural feel to it, which I liked. This texture, I thought, could be another variation of the basic "stained glass" mosaic technique. In keeping with that basic technique, I stamped additional designs on the collage paper using permanent ink and rubber stamps.

Cutting this stuff into pieces was more difficult than cutting the magazine photos had been. Because the napkins had been adhered to the artists tissue with gloss medium, the finished paper was considerably heavier and thicker than the magazine stock. I was able to use my trusty paper cutter, but I had to cut very slowly and carefully. Otherwise the collage paper would bunch up and tear.

Because this paper was semi-transparent, I couldn't use dark card stock under it or the botanical drawings would disappear into the dark background. Instead, I used white card stock, which allowed the botanical drawings to show up clearly and preserved their colors. After cutting the "tiles" and gluing them down with  Elmer's glue stick as before, I rolled over them with a rubber brayer. Then, to create the illusion of grout, I took a black permanent Sharpie and colored in the spaces between them, along with the edges of the card stock. Here's how it turned out:

This card design features a very textural collage paper made from artists tissue and paper napkins.
I'll be making more cards using other motifs found on the same collage paper. When I've used all of those, I'll try yet another approach. With so many ways to create interesting surface designs, there's no chance of ever running out of ideas for making cards.

All text and images on this page ©2013 Lynn Edwards