Tag Archives: art

Making Art from Paint Chips: “So Different” (3 of 3)

Don Drake, who is the artist at Dreaming Mind, recently completed an edition of So Different.  When I saw the book, I loved his very creative and thought-provoking use of “white” paint chips. I’ve looked at a lot of paint chips and I’d never thought of using them in this way. But then that is what makes art so wonderful, many of us can look at the same starting materials and create such different art. Today is the last post about art using paint chips. From boxes, to flag book flags, to exploring perception of color.

Don says of his book, So Different:

“So Different was sparked by a routine conflict with a friend and the subconscious urges to forgive and punish that bubbled up. The result was a cycle of 4 short poems. I read them as psychic autopsies; an opportunity to stand aside and view the paradoxical logic the us-and-them. Paint chips seemed a perfect illustration for these character studies. Their subtle hues only take on real meaning when placed in a context and their names are crafted to evoke emotion and memory.”

Have you made art using paint chips? Feel free to post a link to your work in the comments section.



One Step Forward, One Step Back – Wasn’t there just a studio there?

So it turns out that Morgan Hill has one of the more, um, careful, planning departments and even though the location of my studio had been approved, it has now been unapproved, moved and re-approved. Hence the pile of dirt  five feet farther away from where there used to be a framed foundation. Hmm.

(That’s Greg on the left, and our construction superintendent, Jon, on the right. That pile of dirt in the back, the beginning of the new, new studio.)

Apparently now the studio has to be five feet further from the fence on one side and raised up a foot more which means starting all over. Jon was worried I’d be upset, but really, how upset could I be? A studio of any kind, any where. It works for me. After talking with several friends who’ve built studios, or remodeled houses to make space for art, we’ll be lucky if this is the biggest hassle we have. On a positive note the “secret” garden behind the studio will now have more room for papermaking and other messy but wonderful art making techniques.



Making Art from Paint Chips: Flag Book (2 of 3)

From boxes to artists’ books made with paint chips:

In my recent Recycled Materials class the challenge was to buy no new materials.  This flag book, made by Janice Bohman, is made from found materials that highlight artistic creativity. You’ll notice postcards from dance events, gallery shows and more.

Janice had some great palette chips from a Sherwin William’s sample box. Not only were they colorful but they came pre-labelled with text that one supposes you might feel if you paint your walls that color. Words such as elated, mature, humble, saucy and vague add a terrific element to Janice’s book, they fit both the artistic temperament and perhaps the quality of the events and shows themselves. Janice cut them in half and then attached them in the back and forth manner characteristic of many flag books.

I’m looking at paint chips a whole new way!



Making Art from Paint Chips: Boxes (1 of 3)

Isn’t it funny that the moment your focus changes you become more aware of something that has always been there? Many years ago a friend of mine, Michelle, told me that she collected alligators. Alligators? I mean really, how many alligator things are there? All of a sudden I saw alligators everywhere. Alligator salt and pepper shakers, alligator t-shirts, alligator mugs.

My new awareness is about paint chips. You know those nifty little sample cards that you can’t help but collect when you go to the hardware store? They’re like candy for artists. Small, perfectly proportioned, neatly contained bursts of color. I’ve always been drawn to them, but now I have an excuse! I’ve started collecting them for our new home. What color for the living room? The bedroom? The kitchen? You get the idea.

I’ve now got a sizeable collection of samples (some of which make me wonder – what was I thinking?!) and I was trying to find something to do with the samples we rule out. Right about the same time, I ran across a blog titled, How About Orange, and this great tutorial on how to turn paint chips into boxes. “Oh!” I thought, “I have to write a post about that.”

Then, as I was writing this post I had another aha moment and remembered this amazing artists’ book that my friend, Don Drake, had shown me recently where he used all white paint chips as the subject matter. And later, when I was about to post this, I remembered another great book with paint chips that another friend, Janice Bohman, recently made in the Recycled Materials class. So this single post has now became three:

  • Today, the original paint chips into boxes
  • Wednesday, Janice’s artists’ book using paint chips as flags
  • Friday, Don’s book which uses all “white” paint chips to examine our perception of color.

So, first, here is the tutorial from How About Orange on making boxes from paint swatches. And here are some photo of the boxes I made.

My paint chips were not 5×5 so I adjusted the sizes as I went along. As long as you keep your sides all the same size it’s pretty easy. I made my box tops 1/8″ longer and 1/8″ wider than the base so they would fit neatly. I went one step further and turned another paint chip into a small accordion book that fits in the boxes:



In Loving Memory of the Very Best Studio Cat: Dickens

Art is impossible today. In fact doing anything other than wandering aimlessly through the house seems impossible. The pieces of my broken heart are rattling around in my chest. I had to say goodbye to my beloved kitty after almost 20 years.

I found this adorable little white kitten in the bushes under the stairs of my old apartment. He was pure white with the bluest eyes you can imagine. He was one of the prettiest kittens I’ve ever seen and his fur, the softest of any cat I’ve ever had. As he grew up he began to get orange striped bits on his beautiful white fur. I named him Dickens because he got into everything. He pestered the other cats, he got into the cupboards, he attacked anything that went by.

At the beginning of his life he disliked being held and hated being kissed on the head. I used to tell him that he just had to deal with it since he was so cute. For the last few years he let me kiss his head endlessly and purred and curled around me when I picked him up. He had a warm, rich purr that vibrated through both of us, I already miss it so much.

He was my best friend. He followed me from room to room. In the bedroom he slept on my shoulder or on my feet. In the office he lay near me on a couch. In my studio he insisted that the spot on the table by the window was his, whether there was artwork there or not. He’d lay right on it. He liked it best when I put a towel on that table.

As he got older his eyes faded to gray and his vibrant orange fur became tan. His kidneys were trying to shut down and, through the miracle of IV fluids lovingly administered by my husband, Greg, Dickens had almost three extra years of laying in the sun, purring in my ear and eating handfuls of cat treats and ham. Oh, how he loved cat treats!

Every evening we’d cuddle on the couch and, when he stopped climbing the stairs four weeks ago, I’d sleep downstairs on the couch with him until I woke up with a crook in my neck. We knew his body was changing again, but we were so glad to see him still doing the things he enjoyed. He had a terrific weekend. He’d go out front and watch the world go by, come in and roll in some cat nip, bop one of the other cats for good measure (he was the alpha cat, without question), and then settle in his nest on the couch for a good brushing.

Our goal was an excellent quality of life with no pain or suffering and I’m so glad we were able to honor him with such. He gave us an excellent quality of life, too.  He soothed us when we were sad and stayed by our sides when we were ill.  He always seemed to understand when we needed him. He was funny and sincere and feisty in a way that belied his age. He had such a presence about him. Today our home feels so empty. I’m terribly sad that he couldn’t live as long as we will. But I am so grateful for every day of those nearly 20 years. 

Perhaps when I move on from tears to happy memories I can create art in celebration of such a special soul.



The Heaven Project

The Heaven Project began during a trip to Yellowstone National Park during the summer of 2009. I came across a rabbit that had been run over and had the thought that bunnies must go to Heaven because obviously they were “good.” What could a rabbit possibly do that wasn’t good?

I was not brought up in any specific religion, and my mental picture of Heaven is still the one I’ve had since I was a little girl kneeling next to my bed with my grandma teaching me the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” I started to wonder where God put all of the people and animals when they go to Heaven.

I asked my husband his opinion, and assumed, since he was raised Catholic, that there would be a standard answer. Instead, he told me that he thinks Heaven is individual for each person. That God grants us the Heaven we envision. If there are bunnies in my version of Heaven, then they’ll be there. If my grandma is in my version, she’ll be there, too.

I didn’t expect this answer from someone brought up with a particular church doctrine, and I started to wonder. What does each person think their Heaven will look like?

I sent out an e-mail to mailing lists and list-servs with the above text and asked people to send me a description of their version of Heaven. The replies are generous, trusting and sublime. It has been a gift to be allowed a glimpse into such personal visions.