October 31, 2009

Play today

So I have made it this far, Max's actual due date! I feel great, like someone has given me a shot of adrenalin. Good thing as we are having a Reformation Festival at our house today. It is the 4th year it has run and a highlight of our year. As I type folks are setting up activity and craft booths, and an art show which runs all day and features the art of both kids and adults from our small, but artsy church. Later in the day will be a music concert by the pond featuring the original music of some of our songwriters. Most everyone wears Medieval costumes and eats lots of sausage on a stick and candy.

The sun is shining, my kids are excited, I have on my costume, I am going out to play.

Some images from last years festival (note, the third photo down is my friend Trudy from Sewing with Trudy)

October 30, 2009

Echo - Week 2 - Decorate #1

New collaboration theme 'Decorate'. This is Shannon Mucha and my first version. More to come!

Here are this project's originator's collaborations: Susan Tuttle & Chrysti Hydeck.

October 29, 2009

A mother's love

A few week ago I was doing everything - keeping house, homeschooling, listening to the girls constant chatter, going to the grocery store, the library, gymnastics, keeping up with my art and blog. I was beginning to get very tired.

Then Mum arrived. Sigh. She just fits in to our family so seemlessly. The kids adore her. She knows them so well. She has patience with them, but doesn't take any misbehavior. She makes sure they are washed, dressed, hairs brushed and ready for the day. She spends time with each of my kids. Every morning she goes walking or cycling with Lily, every evening she watches juggling videos with Matthew and every night she shares a bed with Laura who hates to be alone and is so much happier to be in the big red bedroom with her beloved granny.

And then there is Annie - Annie is a chatter box. I was having a hard time schooling the others with her constant (very cute, but distracting) talking. She wanted to do school too but being 3 1/2 she needs my one on one attention. I simply was not able to give it to her. Well, if having my mother here couldn't get any better, it did - she is schooling Annie for me. They take her pre-school books to the dining table (far away from us) every morning and afternoon. Annie is beside herself, and being such a good student. She is learning tons from the one-on-one attention. So she will be that much further on when Mum leaves in January.

Then there is the help she gives me - she does the dishes and has taken over the laundry and the trips to Kroger for food. It is like having 2 of me to do everything. But even more - she has helped me prepare for the baby. She washed all Max's clothes, the bassinet and play pen. She is as into nesting as I am!

Today she took Lily to gym and the little ones to the library. Then, as all good granny's do, she took them to Chick Fil A. Where was I? On the couch resting, working on the computer! Ah the life.

What a role model I have? My mother is a selfless servant. She loves with her hands and time and loyalty. It is priceless.

What does she get in return?

Lots of love.

October 28, 2009

October 27, 2009


I didn't plan it, but Laura arrived into the schoolroom with incense sticks from my craft table! (One more reason I like to homeschooling - my kids get to enjoy incense candles in school). I was having a really hard time getting my camera to focus on the smoke with such a dark house, honestly we have NO natural light in my house, so often I have to use to 1600 ISO, ahhh! but when I caught these two shots I knew that didn't matter. They may be grainy and so unprintable, but oh am I pleased I have them.

If things couldn't get better - Laura watched the smoke for a long time, swaying and waving her arms in an echo of the dancing smoke and finally said "I wish I was smoke, then I could move like that". How lovely to see something mundane through the eyes of a child.

And top it off, here is a poem by Henry David Thoreau 1817 - 1862:


Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn
Circling above the hamlets as they nest;
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

Henry David Thoreau

October 26, 2009


This week is an adventure for the Cole family. Tomorrow it is my husband's birthday and may well be Max's too! If not tomorrow, then Wednesday would be fine as it is my Mother's and my Father's birthday! Or maybe it will be next week....

Thank you to those who have signed up to 'follow' this blog! I appreciate each of you. I will stop by your blog to say hi :)

October 24, 2009

Giveaway announcement

My book, the Artistic Mother, is going to be on the market March 8th, 2010. I am pretty excited about it and have been thinking of ways to 'count down' to launch date. I really appreciate everyone who has encouraged me over the years, who has come to visit my blog and especially those who stay and 'follow' it. So I have decided to do a giveaway of some mixed media art and photo prints to thank you, my visitors and to mark the occasion of the publication of my first book.

Every Saturday starting December 12th, 2009 until March, 2010 I will be giving away pieces like the ones in the picture above. I will be including some collages, jewelry, fabric work and photo prints, so there should be something to please everyone.

Here is how it will work:
Followers of this blog (see 'Enjoying the view' in the side bar) gain automatic entry to the weekly giveaway. Each Saturday I will post a photo of 4 art pieces and then I’ll do a random number generation to choose the winner.

If you are picked I will announce it on this blog and show a few art pieces that you can choose between. You get to choose one of the pieces. At that point you can email me your physical address and I will get your 'prize' off to you.

This giveaway will start Saturday December 12th and run until the first Saturday in March, so there will be ample chance to win a prize.

So sign up to 'follow' this blog and you will be in the drawing. Oh, I will ship internationally :)

October 23, 2009

Beautiful hands

Left: Nikki just before she had Noah; Right: Laura, my ever present muse.


Shannon did another Emerge combo, I am loving this collaboration project. Thanks Susan & Chrysti for setting it in motion.

October 22, 2009

baby update & big kids craft videos

Nesting has finally hit! Been moving, throwing out, assembling, washing. Last night I had 4 hours of Braxton Hicks that scared me into packing a hospital bag. Camera - check, Flip video - check, iPod - check, notebook - check, going home outfit for me - hmmmm kind of, going home outfit for Max - uh oh.... My mother has taken the girls out to Target to buy some clothes for the little guy. She has my debit card so she may be adding blankets and a bassinet... we got my old one out today and it is 1) girly and 2) grubby.

The girls are all wild and high, I am glad of a little peace in the house. They are twittering like, well, little girls excited about a baby to play with. I don't think it has really hit them that he will be asleep or nursing for the first few weeks. They think they will be carrying him around in the Ergo the day he arrives home!

Here are some cute craft videos that Lily and I watched today and will be trying (probably not today or tomorrow... but soon):

Seven Flowers. Awesome Pop Up - Click here for more home videos

Amazing Pop Up. Unbelievable Easy. Yellow Flower. - Watch more amazing videos here

How To Make A Paper Spring (And What To Do With It) - For more funny videos, click here


When I came down this morning Lily, 7, had made two of the paper spring cards all by herself!

October 21, 2009

Echo - Week 1 - Emerge #2

This is the second collaboration piece I made on the theme of Emerge, my photo is on the left. It is actually the third in the series as Shannon did a combo as well. Check it out here. I am loving this collaboration! She and I work together so well.

Here is our Emerge 1.

October 20, 2009


I love the visuals of this short poem by Tom Hennen read so well by Garrison Keillor on the Writer's Almanac.

October 19, 2009


Sometimes things just don't get done around here!

October 17, 2009

collage for little girls

A little wall hanging I made for my girls.
They love everything pink and with wings.
The image is made from a composite of some Sandra Evertson stamps that I got from Stampington & Co:
Prima & the fairy from Botanical Illustrations

October 16, 2009

Echo - Week 1 - Emerge #1

Susan Tuttle and Chrysti Hydeck are doing a bi-weekly photo collaboration. They invited folks to play along. Shannon Mucha and myself are always in need of a challenge or deadline so this was perfect timing for us! Shannon and I are not new to collaboration, we did a whole year of a project on the theme of motherhood that was recently published in Journaling by Somerset Studio.

The first theme is EMERGE. This photo is our first version. Shannon sent me a bunch of 'emerge' photos and I choose one of them that went with my emerge photo. I will then send her some back and she will do her own pairing too.

I took the photo on the right in Tymon park in Dublin of a sculpture by Linda Brunker. "The sculpture is named Cliabhán which means cradle in Irish and symbolizes the way in which an individual is held through the (adoption) counseling process."

October 15, 2009

Motherhood and art

Trudy and I got into a big discussion about motherhood and being an artist on Sunday after church. She has touched on many of the main thoughts over at her blog. She did a great job of summarizing the conversation, need I say more? Well yes, probably I should. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head, so many experiences and opinions. I never know which one to talk about here, so I end up speaking with photographs instead. They don't demand as much editing! Topics like the balance between self and service, the importance of creativity, how to fit it all in, prioritizing, art with children, use of time and so on... there is so much to say. Oh where to begin?

I have been writing a series of articles on topics like these and in general about motherhood and art for my new website. I am developing content that is both real and hopefully inspiring. I write the stuff that I wish I had heard when I first became a Mom 9 years ago. I am pretty excited about it. I am researching a web hosting company (is that even the right term?). I found one I like, but their templates are fairly plain. It may take me a while to get organized, in the meantime I am focusing on recording my ideas. It is like writing my book all over again!

I am also mulling over the idea of doing videos on the topic of motherhood and art to post here. A few folks that I have talked to in person have urged me to do it, that it will lend a sense of 'realness' to my blog. I was looking around at posts of artists or moms talking, just to get a flavor of what is already out there on the net and I found this great peek inside an Artistic Mother, Nina Gilbert's, home. She shows us how her creative space is set up so that she can do art alongside her 3 young children. I love how honest it seems, somehow video can really cut thorough to the essence of what the creator wants to say. I like that.

Other videos I have been enjoying are some 'how to' art videos by Robin-Marie a mixed media artist. We were off school yesterday in honor of my mother arriving and while she played with the little ones Lily and I watched all that Robin had to offer. It was fun and inspiring and a nice Lily and me time. We particularly liked this one on making art tags.

Altered Art Tags from Roben-Marie Smith on Vimeo.
It was interesting to see how much time she spent on the tag and I gotta get some of that Adirondack Color Wash spray ink by Ranger.
I am also thinking about doing some how to videos like these, I would just have to get use to the sound of my own voice on video! Of course, I could do music over ones like this one of Robin-Marie's.

Watch the Process ~ Feeling Free from Roben-Marie Smith on Vimeo.

So these things are in the boiler at the moment, along side of course homeschooling my 4 kids, preparing for Max's arrival (just a couple of weeks now!), taking photographs and doing my mixed media art. Can I do it all? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

October 13, 2009

Nap is over

I know the creak on the floor upstairs
I know the step stool I painted purple plaid
has been pushed over beneath
the light switch
I know, on her tippy toes,
arm reaching
her pointer nudging the toggle ‘on’
I know her basket of toys, plastic plates, cups become alive again
and in the white light
I know she is cradling her doll,
wrapped in a blanket

dancing her little mother songs
of roses and snowflakes,
her music blends my days one to another
until they become a delightful perfume
making sweet this sip of motherhood

I place my glass on the counter
I hear her steps upon the stairs

October 12, 2009

October 10, 2009

Art card tote bag

Yesterday and today I was not feeling so tired, so I got some sewing done. I printed some of the art cards I made onto Blumenthal Craft PhotoFabric printable cotton canvas and sewed them to some fabric. I made this tote in a similar way to a tote that is in my book (which is due in stores March 8 2010).

I am very much a beginner at sewing, unlike my friend Trudy over at 'Sewing With Trudy', she is a pro and another example of an Artistic Mother. She kindly mentioned my upcoming book on her blog today in her post on doing a little art a day. Her post is very much in the flavor of what my book is all about. I am glad discussions of how to fit art into life are out there, the more ideas and support we give each other the better our lives as artistic mothers will be! So take a trip on over to Trudy's wonderful blog and say hi.


Completely unrelated - but this is super cute. The agony!

October 08, 2009

Slowing down

No one said being pregnant was easy, so I wonder why after 4 previous times through it I am so surprised at how tough it is towards the end. Man, am I tired and moving slow, unable to sleep well, breathless (and not for poetic reasons) and a tad on the hormonal side. Nothing else, not feeling particular artistic, not feeling together and I am not even nesting yet (though I did go to Walmart to buy pillows at 11pm last night.. so maybe that bird like behavior is setting in).

I would like to stay on the sofa for the rest of the day and let the kids watch DVD's. But instead I will keep it going. I have kids to school, a house to prepare for the arrival of granny, a book to market, 2 art projects to finish, oh and a busy husband who I am sure needs some attention.

If you want something uplifting and surely are not finding it here - check out some of my favorite Artistic Mother Blogs:

Soule Mama

Angry Chicken

Blue bird baby

October 06, 2009

Poems that change your perspective

Pump House

Ted Kooser in his book 'The Poetry Home Repair Manual' writes about poetry changing the way you view the world. He says "...here's a one-line poem by Joseph Hutchison:

- Artichoke

Oh heart weighted down by so many wings

Could you ever look at an artichoke in the same way after reading that?"

I love that idea. That the poem burrows down beneath the surface, or runs around the back to expose a new perspective, that the poet shows you something that you never saw before, illuminates the mundane. I thank God for poets who can do this. I would love to be able to do that too, I know it will take years at the rate I can study and write poetry.

Anyhow, on the Writer's Alamac Sunday was a poem by Billy Collins entitled 'Water Table'. It struck a chord with me because last week we had our well pump replaced. Throughout the whole ordeal - days without water, without flushing toilets, conversations with the plumbing guys about needs and cost, dealing with them as half way through the job they recommended upgrading our pipes for even more money, feeling trapped by it all - it never once occurred to me to think about it in a poetic way. Never once did my mind think
"...about the enormous body of water
that lies under this house,
cool, unseen reservoir,
silent except for the sounds of dripping
and the incalculable shifting
of all the heavy darkness that it holds." from Billy Collins 'Water Table'

Nope, not once. Sigh.

Even if you don't have well water issues, you really need to hear this poem read by Garrison Keillor. It is simple and beautiful and moving. Oh, I am so glad for poets.

October 03, 2009

Art cards and book news!

I have been working on a series of 'art a day' cards, each with a different theme. Committing to making a piece of art a day is really great way of keeping yourself accountable to doing something creative on a daily basis. They are quick and easy and very satisfying to make. I have made about 25 of these cards, OK I am cheating and have been doing more than one a night, but I have not skipped any days for the past 2 weeks. I love being productive.

I was going to work on putting some of the art cards together in a wall hanging this weekend, but Thursday I got another version of my book to proof! So I am working on that. My sweet husband has taken the kids to 7 Acres for the afternoon so I could work.

Let me brag a little: Marissa Bowers, who designed Kelly Rae's book Taking Flight, has done a superb job of the book design. The layout is clear and easy to follow. The color scheme is lovely - colorful but soothing with all the colors I told her I like. She and Christine Polomsky the photographer did a fab job of the beauty shots of the artwork I left them and of my contributors work. I am blown away.

As I can't yet reveal the book cover or inner pages, here is a preview of the book's color pallet.

It is amazing to see how much editing was needed for this book. Early in the process I had a lot of ideas and wrote and wrote and wrote. The book is 128 pages, which sounds like a whole bunch, but when you put my text into columns and add artwork and necessary blank space to let everything breath there is surprisingly little room left. Liz, my editor, has done an amazing job of chopping my long winded sentences down to fit in the space available. She was so measured in deciding what goes in and what gets thrown out. It is all very interesting and impressive. I am 3/4 way through proofing now, will be sending it back to Liz Monday, I just hope she can read my terrible handwriting!

October 01, 2009

Making artist's papers

This morning Laura slept late so Lily and I decided to fill in the time looking at craft videos on Youtube. We looked at a whole bunch, Lily was so inspired that she wanted to craft too. The video that finally put her over the inspirational top was this one about making artist's papers from Stampington & Co. (In Week 1 of the workshop in my book, The Artistic Mother, I have directions for making background papers, which is pretty much the same as 'artists papers')

At first I was reluctant as I would have to get out all those supplies and then Laura may come down and want to do it too and then we would never get school started. But when Lily offered to get the supplies out I knew she really wanted to craft and I didn't want to deny her just cause I was being a little lazy. As I looked at her earnest face I envisioned the project I had the wave of motivation I needed.

She picked out pink and purple paint and got a large paint brush off my craft table. I found a piece of bubble wrap conveniently stored on the ground in my craft room and tore a few pages out of an old journal for the background. Lily choose a few stamps. I grabbed my favorite Staz On ink and a piece of yesterdays local newspaper and we were good to go.

A few weeks ago in nature class we studied flowers and we pressed a few (sadly, not grown in our garden, but bought from the florist). I remembered them and suggested she use them in her artist's papers. Everything was was coming together smoothly and easily.

Step One:

Here she is stamping with acrylic paint on bubble wrap, just as in the video.

She worked in a conveyor belt style, completing each step on each background sheet at the same time.

Step Two:

She randomly stamped a heart and snowflake rubber stamp with purple and orange Staz On ink.

Step Three:

Lily then glued on the pressed flowers. She planned out where the flowers would go first and then used regular liquid school glue to glue them in place. It was then that she decided to give these papers to her friends. I suggested that because the substrate is old paper they would need to be mounted onto something. We brainstormed ideas and decided cardboard would be best and that we could make them into wall hangings! For Christmas gifts! Way to go Lily thinking ahead.

Step Four:

She typed up her friends names and choose pretty fonts. I printed them onto card stock and trimmed them with her choice of decorative edged scissors. Lily glued them in place.

Step Five:

Later I mounted them on cardboard, covered them in scrapbook paper and layered the papers on top. I decided to do this portion as I used a kraft knife to cut the cardboard (so the lines would be straight) and then spray glue to fix the papers in place and she is too young to do either.

Step Six will be to add wire hangers. I will get to is soon, as I promised her :)


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