Monday Musings (on a Tuesday): I have been a busy bee

Monday musingsI promised myself I wouldnt write about how cold it is so I will skip to what i’ve been up to. Yes, I have been busy.

Busy. Since I do have a day job, most of my waking moments have been preoccupied with a task that actually helps to pay the bills. When my focus is required, I tend to drift towards these things that actually translate into cash at some point or other, and it has been busy enough that I have gone home exhausted and sometimes I just choose to sit and rest. So things like writing tend to take a backseat. Half a dozen drafts started but none finished — and I don’t think it was for lack of trying, but rather because my brain was too tired to get anything coherent together.

Bead busy. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve actually been deep into organizing my craft supplies. I had hoped to start creating again for the shop, but between the mental and physical exhaustion from work, I haven’t had much of a chance to really sit and create. I do think I’m making progress. I had a tendency to separate working supplies into bins and then forget to return the left over pieces to their original trays. Then there are the bits and pieces and parts of a strand that fall out of the tray that never find their way back. So for now, I’m sorting by kind. (Glass crystals, Czech pressed glass, freshwater pearls, gemstones, metal findings.).

I am also trying out a new way to pull the beads together, basically vine wrapping the wire to form a branch of something. I pulled it together into a brooch and I wore one last week for a test run, and I think it held up well and got a few nods. I’m getting to that point where I will be working on more pieces for the store. More to come!

Art journaling reboot. Funny how I wrote my first post today and it was about the gigantic headache I was having and mom being sick. You think of journaling in terms of profound brush strokes and big tapestries and you find yourself going back to basics. At least it’s moving.

UntitledSimple gestures that make their mark. I know it’s Valentine’s and no, this is not from an admirer or a suitor. It’s a spontaneous gesture from the boss who saw it in one of flowers shops here in Grand Central when she went for her afternoon coffee. I am grateful. I think it’s the universe speaking to me.

I had been rather restless the past couple of weeks and I have been told time and again to not stress about things. Doubts crept up and overtook me — and they were difficult to shake off. Countless questions raced through my head — many remaining unanswered. And then this.

I hear you.

A sight to behold: Analogia in Bryant Park

Analogia over at Bryant Park - viewed from across the Avenue of the Anericas.  This is an epic new public outdoor art installation by artist Ben Tritt making it's worldwide debut at #bryantpark.  There until March 18.  Just another one of those everyday t

It’s entitled Analogia and it’s one of those things that make being in New York City a privilege.  This has been up for a week now and you have another week or so more to enjoy it.  Up until March 18, this epic art installation in Bryant Park by Ben Tritt, produced by Jodi Kaplan has been standing proud on the Fountain Terrace.  The picture above was taken from across Sixth Avenue, aka Avenue of the Americas.

I snapped up a picture during my noon walk and another on the way home.

Even when taken with natural lighting, the graphics were imposing and just amazing.  Although the installation is not lit, the way it was executed makes the visuals come alive, more so when viewed up close from street level, making the various levels “connect” into one flowing scene on each side.  (Just below the steps is the better angle.)
In Bryant Park: Analogia at night with the Josephine Shaw Lowell MemorialFpuntain glowing at the back and the New York Public Library standing guard in the distance.  Even more imposing at night and viewed up close by the steps.  Art installation by Ben T

It was pure luck that I stood in the middle and then noticed the gap framed my fountain beautifully.  Just moving a few inches to center it made for the gorgeous evening shot.

Catch it if you can while it’s still in the park.

Art Journal Every Day: Just Believe

Art Journal Every Day: Spiral

This layout picks up from the previous multi-page layout, BELIEVE,  which had a dangling letter on the front and back end.  Because I had an “e” dangling from the “BELIEVE” layout, you see the back of that letter as the first portion of this next spread.  It was a watercolor background which made for easier journaling, and I played around with shapes and writing directionally — literally.  Somewhere in the midst of completing the days you see here, I wrote the passage on the right based on my daily readings as a reminder of the verse which resonated with me.

“Change my heart, oh, God.  May I be like you.”

But the title of this layout is “JUST BELIEVE” because of the admonition you see around the spiral on the left side.  I find that these days, my faith has become stronger even if I have put the blind faith hat on — where I don’t go beyond believing.  I don’t even think about it… I just believe — and trust that all will be taken cared of.

With these stained hands, I type

Angelo saw my hands this morning as I handed him his daily allergy dose.  “What happened, Mommy?”  He looked on curiously as he saw my hands, stained with pink ink. 

“I was  busy last night.”

Busy, indeed.  Thankfully, after more washing and a shower, the stain is hardly visible.  And wonder of wonders, my nail enamel was totally unaffected.  (Vanity again. LOL)

I finally worked on a new set of stained map backgrounds and now have an additional 22 backgrounds to work with.  (Happiness..)  I also did something different by purposely “saving” the paper towels I used to wipe off the spray ink from my work mat (which is a plastic surface) and I came up with some rather interesting tie-dye like napkins.  I am scanning these and putting them up at my craft blog, Gotham Chick, as soon as I can make up my mind about the theme for the site. 

I need to rev up traffic to Gotham Chick, and what better way to do it than to offer digital files of the backgrounds as downloads for the digital and hybrid scrapbookers out there?  (I always like freebies!)  Soon.
Digital Paper Pack: Stained Paper Towels

Meanwhile, I made an effort to step out and actually HAVE a lunchbreak, and I went to my favorite Thai food street cart over at 43rd Street and Avenue of the Americas called “Bangkok Thai Street Food by Tuk Tukk Boy.”

Lunch: Thai food c/o Bangkok by Tuk Tukk Boy on 43rd and 6th Ave

I’ve been craving their Thai Shrimp Dumplings which I had already featured here before, but this time, I tried their Chicken Basil without the rice.  (Yes, I’m starting my diet unofficially, in baby steps.)

It was yummy as is, but would have been even yummier with rice.  I loved that it was spicy and yet not overpowering.  I got a little extra chicken because I didn’t get any rice to go with it.  (Thanks, Boy!)

 Thai Street Food on 43rd and 6th

I wanted to disappear into a corner in the airconditioned public area across from my building, but all seats were taken by people who were lounging around after the lunch hour rush. I didn’t want to go into the park, so I went instead to the open seating behind my building where I ate my lunch under the sun. It was pleasantly cool — and the sun wasn’t scorching. I really should do this more often.


Raine Sarmiento: I Paint the Roses Blue

Apologies to Raine Sarmiento for mixing her up with Raine Tobias, but I got an e-mail invite to the event below.  Apologies to Raine  whom I bumped ito  at a local Philippine Postcrossing Facebook group and with whom I  have been corresponding with  via postcards.  I realize now my connection to Ms. Sarmiento is probably through Etsy. Apologies but still endorsing!

Raine Sarmiento at the LittleLitFest

She’s a lady of many talents — our local artists need our support and I encourage you to go and meet her and see her body of work at this event sponsored by the National Book Development Board on May 31, 2013 at the Museo Pambata.  I have already contacted her to get a set of her postcards and at least one autographed one.  I am truly honored to know this young lady… good luck, Raine!


Serendipity Background 7: Skeleton Leaves and dried white flowers alternating with bits of woven cinnamay 2 (Upclose)

I am currently working on a serendipity background which is essentially a huge piece that one puts together with the intention of cutting up the original into smaller usable pieces.  So for Artist Trading Cards which measure 3.5″ x 2.5″, you essentially create one artwork to break up into the smaller cards.  I am working on two of my first ones, and the one pictured above is what I will use for the swap.  As I write this, I’m working on a tandem post in my craft blog,, which should be up before the weekend is done.

So you see a snapshot of but a portion of the serendipity background which measures 12″ x 12″ above.  I had some pressed rose petals that came in handy, some dyed skeleton leaves and woven cinnamay if not abaca fiber.  The white flowers were bought here in the US already.  I’m all excited.

According to Wikipedia,  “Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.”  So we’re looking for whatever “happy” or “pleasant surprise” this layering of materials will produce.

We come across a lot of happy accidents on a day-to-day basis which we often only realize upon reflection at a later point in time.  And sadly, not all happy accidents end up being happy once all is said and done.  Sometimes, the universe just plays a mean joke on us and we find ourselves just plain surprised — not “pleasantly.”

I’d like to find more $5 or $10 bills tucked into my coat pocket but wouldn’t want to have to spend that to pay for some unplanned expense.  It just seems that often, the happy ends up being pulled down by something in the opposite direction.

I’ve grown cynical about the upside of things in life in general.  We often find ourselves growing wary of letting ourselves get carried away with what might, at first glance, appear to be an abundance of good fortune.  At the back of our minds, we wonder what price it will exact from us.  Perhaps it’s just age getting the better of me.

The past weeks have been very challenging for the communities and states around me.  I will say it again, I have been blessed.  We have always been fortunate where we live.  No matter how much snow falls, we have managed to stay warm and toasty in our home.

I am touched, though, at the outpouring of notes, text messages and e-mails from friends who asked about how we were doing.  I know the prayers for our safety reached the heavens because we fared pretty well.  I am no longer surprised at how the threat to life and limb can make even those most determined to stay invisible crawl out of the woodwork and reappear.  It is heartening to note that through it all, my well-being still matters somehow to so many others and it’s not because I owe them any sum of money that they are afraid will end up not getting paid if anything untoward happens to me.. HA!

So other than trying to hurry through walking under the huge trees lining our streets on the way home and praying that I don’t find myself under a fallen branch or worse, an uprooted tree, or that I don’t slip in the ice in my Helix-like snow boots, I can take the cold as it stings my face.  It’s hard to answer the queries beyond “We survived unscathed.”  I get a little emotional knowing that many are still suffering even if we have barely gone into winter.

I have to admit that I often ask myself what I’m doing in a place that can be so brutally cold in the winter, cursing  under my steaming breath, as I walk briskly home.  Then I open the door and Angelo greets me from the top of the stairs, walking down to kiss me, giving me a hug and checking out what I might have brought home for him.  (Usually more for the latter.. ha!)  And I’m literally warm all over — even if he suddenly gets me all riled up because of unfinished homework or a mess of toys that greet me as I walk up to the living room.

That one is not serendipitous.  It is a given– a true blessing — in my life.

Bob Carlisle sings it beautifully in Butterfly Kisses: “Oh with all that I’ve done wrong / I must have done something right/ To deserve a hug every mornin’ / And butterfly kisses at night.”

We have our usual Friday evening date tonight, and he’s still thinking about what he wants for dinner.  I told the boy to call me at 5pm so I can get it on the way home.  We’d normally sit shoulder to shoulder watching something in the living room, but our cable box is still out of commission, so we’ll probably sit side by side holding a tablet each, watching our own shows separately.  =)  (The cable service works when streaming on the iPad, but not through the cable box.  Go figure.)

Happy Friday indeed.

My Art, My Altered Book

My Altered Book: Multi-page layout - Flower spread up close

My screensaver these days here at home is a simple black and white square graphic of some inspiring words from Kurt Vonnegut:

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So do it.”

Indeed.  So I keep trying.  I am actually setting to put this quote on a mini-canvass and put it up on my desk.  Coming soon.

I’ve been working on my altered book which has been on a semi-break most of the previous week.  I was busy trying to catch up with the Artist Trading Card (ATC)  swaps and work has totally exhausted me at the end of the day.  I even left the book at home most days knowing I wouldn’t have the energy nor the time to do any work on it.

I’ve made up the last two nights, creating this multi-page doodled flower.  It’s been tricky cutting the pages but I figured I can always trim it smoother.  The layout is not quite finished but I’ve worked down to the final two-spread background page.  I just need to finish the doodled petals.  I’ve also switched to using Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers instead of my usual V5 signpens.  I’ve noticed that the signpen ink doesn’t dry completely when written over acrylic paint, and so far, the sharpie permanent marker has not stained the other page it closes against.

I have been making progress and I know I’ve been saying that I will start journaling and writing my happy stories, but I haven’t had the chance just yet.  That’s one reason the section devoted to my altered book here in the blog has lain dormant.


Shifting Gears and Friday

I’ve been trying to pick up with my “me” stuff again, from my art journaling, snail mail writing, reading, to my crafts.  (I can’t believe I haven’t touched my tools since I got back from Manila, and I need to seriously get moving with the hybrid scrapbooking to make more cards. )

So I’ve been busy working on my first Art Journal entry for the year — teaser provided to my left — and I think with this 50% done, I can proceed to my next pieces before the weekend is out.  This is actually a background piece I had done long ago  (sometime third quarter 2011) which got tucked away with two other spreads.  One, I had actually decided to totally discard (topic/subject matter was no longer relevant to me), and the other, I’ll work with one of these days.  I might scale back yet again to smaller pieces, or maybe work on sections.  The thing with sections is the flow of the work is not consistent.  Or maybe I’ll just see where it goes.  I’m thinking words. Or I might yet do something ambitious and attempt a scroll (!) one of these days.  (Ambitious!)

I was looking out the window 41 storeys above Bryant Park the other day and I vowed to myself I will make regular trips to Central Park this year to document the changing of the seasons.  I haven’t been there in ages!  Winter has been rather fickle-minded this year — with spring seeming to rear it’s head in for a peek one moment, and then winter coming back with a vengeance the next.

Why do I take on so many projects when there are only so many hours in a day?  I don’t pretend to do them all at the same time.  I find pockets of vacant periods in my day and do something I like for a change.  It helps me get back in touch with “me”, and in turn helps me to tune in to my world as I know it now with better clarity.  (Like it helps me decide what’s for dinner faster than when I find myself torn between this and that dish.)

I love weekends because I look forward to Friday nights.  It’s a special time for me to just be me and do things that mean something to me.  I don’t go anywhere special — I stay home.  I pick the things that I fancy at that particular Friday night and zoom in on that for the rest of the evening.  I am able to savor watching my favorite shows on TV without anyone hijacking the remote and then stay up to the wee hours of the morning just relaxing.  If I’m lucky, I even catch my bestfriend, Fe, online.  (Such a treat!)

My Friday started a little late today — midnight.  Here I am returning to this unfinished blogpost trying to pick up from where I left off.

My heart, though, is somewhere in mid-air.  I haven’t quite decided what I’m doing tonight, and my “night” is halfway through.

Do you ever have one of those conversations about a subject matter that drifts off to another totally unrelated topic which somehow gets injected into the flow of words — you say something — the person you’re talking to reacts, and while the reaction was innocent, you catch something that makes you stop and think, “hmmmm.”  There was a pause somewhere there, then a change of topics and it makes you wonder what caused the sudden shift in gears.  You try not to think about it because it was off topic — but the unease lingers.  “Hmmmmm…” you say again.

I’m just trying to intellectualize things too much like my friend, perhaps.  Then it occurs to me that my innocent remark, said half jokingly, might have awakened a panic reaction that I had not anticipated.  (“Hmmmmmm” again..and now I feel silly.)

Fridays are supposed to be simple.  Fridays are supposed to be fun.  I’ve had some fun tonight.  Time to get the weekend going.  Let me get back to zentangling and my “hmmmm” moment might disappear into the darkness.

My weekend has begun officially with the midnight hour tolling here in the big apple.  I’m listening to this rare rendition of “Can We Still Be Friends” by the great Todd Rundgren and Darryl Hall which I recently discovered where else — on YouTube.  Been listening to it over and over again for the last half hour.  Used to be my song for a long-time ago ex boyfriend who, I  believe, to this day, can’t quite seem to get this song’s message and why it was my song for him.  Alas, we’re no longer friends.

It’s worth a listen to, so let me leave you with this find:

Art Journal Every Day: An attempt at Artful Lettering

So as always, I took inspiration from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer who had featured Joanne Sharpe in a blogpost about Artful Lettering and had proceeded to do these two layouts in two days (!).

I must confess, too, that this is my first real attempt at doing watercolor painting with real watercolor (not just watercolor pencils).  It was an adjustment tempering the muted down colors once the colors lost themselves in the water, but I think I’m getting the hang of it and I am getting to like it.

I have been trying to find an apt translation for “maarte” but I’m stumped.  Any ideas?  I was nervous with my color combinations and everything was pretty spontaneous.

For the second layout, I used a picture of my tyke with his brand new Smurf, Brainy, when he and I spent the day together  here at work. Taking Joanne Sharpe’s advice, I stuck to my handwriting and added a few swirls here and there which I really, really liked.  I tried to do something “extra” in the layout featuring Angelo by attempting to do white stamping of leaves over the layout to “cover up” my attempts at drawing swirls.

I have come to look forward to my art journal entries and I keep leafing through my journal which has a very limited number of entries.  At least I know that I’m moving on with the project instead of just leaving that stewing somewhere in the backburner.

More importantly, I’m just so touched that Julie has taken the time to comment as she said she bloghopped from participant to participant in last year’s Art Journal Every Day signup.  (We sign up every month..)

So  between the polymer clay research, experimenting and the once-in-a-while attempt to come up with something worthy of posting in my Etsy shop, I’m getting good at multi-tasking. =)

Art Journal Every Day: Love and Crayons

Art Journal Every Day: Love and CrayonsThis started out with scribbling which didn’t quite work for me, so I had to “repair” it by creating something to put on top of the word art I had written. I had to scribble the caption before the crayons because it would’ve been difficult to write over with text or additional drawings.  I think the word art I put on top of it worked quite well, and I’m still thinking of other journaling to add on strips of  kraft paper to be pasted onto the heart.

This makes the third of my heart series for our Art Journal Every Day Project, inspired by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.

I’ve been raring to use crayons on kraft paper which, much like construction paper which is supposed to be a good medium for the wax to stick to, makes the color float in a more vivid fashion.  I love the way it came together, after which I decided to doodle in black ink to create the background.

The wordart was created using the “Miserable” font in outfline form, then I enclosed it in a square in random fashion and then doodled the background again.  I was torn between coloring in the letter or just leaving it blank, but in the end, my red sharpie pen called out to me.

I’m already getting ready to start the next one, although I am still not positive I will get to my 28 hearts by the end of the month.  Then again, never say never.. right?  Not all the journal entries will involved actual drawing anyway, as I am thinking of doing some hybrid scrapbooking somewhere along the way.

After days and days of not being able to start anything for my art journal project, it’s coming a bit easier now.  I’ve come to accept that art journaling per se does not require all that much journaling because the work is supposed to speak for itself.  The words will come later.

In time.