Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Playing Hooky.

With a history of chicken ranches, cows and wineries on the hillsides , I have always thought of Petaluma as a town that I could live in... and to top it off... there's a river that runs through it. Well, kind of. It's really a tidal slough that feeds into San Pablo bay and then into San Francisco Bay. But it's called the Petaluma River. It just has to be dredged out once in a while.
This is part of the river that goes under highway 101 and the marina at the Sheraton Hotel where we were staying. This is looking west toward the town of Petaluma.

American Graffiti (1973), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and Phenomenon (1996) 
were filmed here. It still has the iconic theater and corner that was used in many movies .

The corner consists of the Mystic Theater and Music Hall.
And McNear's restaurant and bar.
Across the street is the old Post Office that is now something else. We saw someone walking out of the building with workout clothing and a gym bag. Maybe it's the local gym.
It's not a post office any more  but isn't this all a great place to shoot a movie? Just changing some signs, the cars, lighting and strip the trendiness of the 21st century down to the wonderful old buildings and voila... It could be the 1940's or 50's.
Sis and I didn't have a workshop on Friday so we had planned to spend the day in downtown Petaluma. Our workshop teacher, Clarissa, didn't have a class to teach either. She flew down from Washington state so she didn't have a car... but we did, so we all drove down to Petaluma together. 
We had a great day. We ate lunch at Mc Near's, bought some spooky things at Marisa's Fantasia. This is a great store that is filled with *Halloween*. There are lots of Christmas things too, but right now it's all about Halloween.
You cannot imagine the assortment of Halloween goodies that filled the inside of this place.
I bought some eye glasses for the Beans (my grandsons) that were kind of dark Harry Potter style. but when you looked at them they had eyes and skeletons on the lens. Kind of 3D and spooky. But from the wearers point of view you couldn't see the designs on the lens. They just seemed like sunglasses. I knew the boys would love these.
We also went into an Antique store. It's a good thing that we only had a small car and Clarissa was flying home. We could have gotten all carried away here.
This place has a few spooky additions sitting around too. Halloween was in the air. Do you think this could have been a real crow? It was too high to reach so we'll never know.
We antiqued, we bought shoes and chocolate... and we laughed a lot. Yes, it was a decadent day. Clarissa, Sis and I walked and shopped until MY feet gave out. We went back to the hotel and took a nap. Yes we did.
Later we drove back downtown and had dinner and bought little pies at the Petaluma Pie company.
It was an over the top day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wild Things

Oh, the fun I had at ~ART IS YOU~ in Petaluma, CA. My sister and I arrived at the Sheration Sonoma Hotel on Tuesday afternoon so we would be ready for our first class on Wednesday morning.
Sis and I only took one class together so we shared a room, but went our separate ways during the day.
My first class was Clarissa Callesen's class called Steampunk Sally... where we recycled an already constructed doll.
This is one of Clarissa's dolls. A wonderful example of the "Steampunk" concept.
Remember the dolls that I took with me?

See the little doll with the blue striped outfit, white lace apron and dark hair? When striped down to the basics, she ended up looking like this... after the gesso, some butane fire and walnut ink, acrylic paint and body tats. The parts can't be plastic for this technique or they will melt during the burning. They have to be resistant to heat, like porcelain.
 But she just didn't look like a "steampunk" personality. She looked more like a Santos doll.
Also, this doll (and I now believe that they all do) has a distinctive personality. She is not a happy one. She's Joan of Ark, she's Hester Prynne after the fall from grace.
Something is not right with her. If I were giving her a "story", I would say that she is physically not well. She has a hump on her back and her spine is crooked.  She can only stand and finds sitting difficult. She is a complicated woman, but one that is resigned to her fate.
So, I will not be making her into a "steampunk" doll. She may stay the way she is... but I think that I will give her some clothing and let her live out her life, somewhere quiet and safe, in some corner of my home.
I will work on another doll with the leather, wires and goggles of the steampunk genre.
This doll has had quite enough.
(I do know one thing. I now understand why I didn't want dolls when I was a child. Stuffed bears and other fuzzy creatures were fine but not dolls. They always scared me a little and I think they might have tiny minds of there own.)


On Thursday, my sister joined me for a second class with Clarissa Callesen. This one was called "Wild Things". We had a fun and wonderful time .
This was one of Clarissa's examples.
There is no end to what you can do with a doll and a stuffed animal. It's fun and creative. You get to play with body parts like Henry Frankenstein... in the classic movie. Remember?... " Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE"
I'm sure that line was running around in our heads as we created these amazing creatures. I heard it!
 I took the stuffed gray mouse, cut out the nose, eyes and paws.

And added some doll parts .Clarissa calls it "creative surgery" and "transplantation". Sounds like Dr. Frankenstein, doesn't it? Then we repainted the faces. We had already Gessoed the heads, arms and legs, carefully wrapping the cloth parts in foil because we burned the gesso with a butane torch to make it bubble and darken. We also used Walnut ink to age the burnt gesso even more.
Then we learned to paint faces. This was a real learning curve for me but very satisfying.The face below was not completed when I took the picture. This is a process that requires time and careful attention to detail.
 Clarissa showed us all the techniques of face painting right down to putting a sparkle in their eyes and a blush in their cheeks.

Here she is... Miss Marsha Minnie Mouse, named after my Mom's sister who was a very pretty lady and, although I never knew her, because she died when she was 18 years old, I loved the name.
I need to do some finishing touches on her arms and add some embellishments but she is basically done. I love her sweet expression.

My sister started with this doll.
And created this unique piece of art.
Sis wants to work on attaching the fur to the shoulders. This doll shows too much frontal exposure. Can't keep her dress on. Maybe she was Gypsy Rose Lee in a former life. But look at this face...
I love this face.
This was a cuddly, creepilicious class that created some amazing art dolls.You can see more of what Clarissa Callesen does here... and here.

Tomorrow we go into Petaluma for lunch. It's a charming little town on the Petaluma River that has a lot of history with chickens.