I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Making the world a better place, one tutu at a time"- Hip Chick

This was my sister's birthday weekend. I won't tell you how many birthdays because it's not important and we have decided that it's more about the creative process than the years.
So we spent last Saturday at an art class in Benicia, CA. at Carrie Clayden's Hip Chick Designs learning how to put paint to canvas.
The Artist Colony is in the old buildings of the Benicia Arsenal.
It was a lovely California winter day with fog that sat stubbornly near the water and finally broke off for an hour or so while we ate our lunch on the "veranda".
We started the day inside Carrie's charming business... in the back studio.
She talked about art and the creative process. She told us about herself, how she came to her realization as an artist and how TUTUs played a big part in this process.
 I told her that I would die for a space like this...
A place to create, make a mess and not have to clean it up for dinner,
A place to allow myself... give myself... creative license. Carrie said that she had gone though the same feelings. So, at some point she put a Tutu on and life became happier... and her creativity took off and so did her business. All of the things that she didn't think she could do were finally tried. If there was a "mistake", she would move on... covering the canvas with more paint... covering the wrong color with another, until she found her place as an artist. She says that there are no failures... only new opportunities.
So. with bravery and many acrilic paints to chose from, I wet my brush and covered the white canvas with two or three colors...all kind of green and yellow... mixing them together like I knew what I was doing.
What fun!
I put the brush down and used my fingers. What fun!
 Carrie said "Don't worry. This is just the first layer."
That was when I didn't take anymore photos with the camera until after lunch because my hands were so sticky and messy.
I tore old newspapers up and collaged them on top of the paint.
I fell in love with a beautiful blue paint.  I dripped and ran magenta paint down one side
With Carrie's help, I sketched a dress on top of the layers and painted a beautiful white "tutu" dress on the canvas with lots of real tule fabric added to the skirt, with piles of Mod Podge and more paint. I added some pink and blue highlights to the dress and then it was time for lunch and drying the paintings in the sun.
Eating a delicious salad that Carrie had fixed for us...
And eating some wonderful desserts.
After the relaxing lunch we returned to our easels... added more paint and even laid the paintings on the floor and splattered paint on them from above. This made me a little nervous, but I did it.
I felt like a student of Jackson Pollock  . It was really liberating.
Finally, I added some cool, lacy  fabric to the bodice of the dress and a touch in the corner.
With Carrie's suggestion, I wrapped the edges of the canvas with old "1938" newpapers and added a little sparkle here and there. She showed us so many techniques and gave us all kinds of ideas to help complete our paintings. She's a great teacher.
She believes in showing the new artist many ways to use their "tools",  but lets each person express and create their own vision. She guides and teaches, but doesn't make you do it her way. It's just magic!
And as the sign over the doorway said...
It certainly did.

We had a great time and we created our little hearts out.
Here's to always being creative, always learning something new and spending the rest of my life being a multiplicity artist of anything that I choose. I may never land anywhere or stick to one kind of art. There is always a need inside of me to learn something new.
So, I guess I'm a writer, photographer, mixed media, collage, maker of fancy envelopes and strange repurposed dolls, a knitter, felter, gardener, blogger and gourd artist. I'm OK with this because I'm living a creative life and I find this all very exciting.
It's like when the poet, Mary Oliver, asks,
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Well... I have an answer.
I create art. I see photos and stories in my head.  I fold paper and get glue on everything...
AND, I love the process.
Multiple personality... a bit Attention Deficit... a day dreamer? Probably.

But, It's OK. My friends and family understand and my husband tolerates my passions. (He has a few of his own.)

So... here is my painting.
I'm so delighted with it.
It's even prettier in person.
This is what the inside of me looks like.
Can't you just see the happiness?

I had a great day with my sister and we celebrated her birthday all weekend.
It was a good visit.
Happy, happy, happy birthday Sis.


  1. so cool on just giving you the tools and letting you have your own way about it....sounds like fun stuff to me....

  2. Happy belated birthday to your sis. Connie you have many talents and are good at every one of them. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  3. Love the painting, and the description of your day!!!

  4. Fun fun fun! Experimenting with the unknown can sometimes lead to love! You are like me in that I'm always trying something new that may be that special portal into...who knows what but we are brave enough to enter through it. Do what you love and love what you do.

  5. It warms my hear so when you tell stories of spending time with your sister. As you know my sister is estranged from me, her choice, and not once in the last ten years have I been wished a Happy Birthday or happy anything from her although she never forgets our brother's special days! Oh sorry, I forgot that this is not therapy time for me, but painting looks as if it might be great therapy. You are so creative, and I think your painting is gorgeous. Where are you going to hang it?


  6. First, I love your painting. Your colors are great! And you are, indeed, brave to just let go and CREATE!

    You sure do find the neatest art-learning places. You have given me the motivation to start looking around Michigan to see what I can find. You have inspired me!! Love ~Dawn

  7. What a great way to spend the day with your sister, celebrating your creativity! Love the painting! You gals did a beautiful job "putting on your tutu." NICE!

  8. That painting is oh so charming...no wonder you're so happy. What a magical day you had. I hate to wish my life away, but I really can't wait to be retired so that I can spend more time on artistic pursuits like you! In the meantime, I'll do what I have time for and find inspiration from people like you!

  9. What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. I love your painting and hope you create many more.
    It's great to follow your heart and do what you enjoy.


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