Friday, April 30, 2010

In Praise of Shadows...

in praise of shadows junichiro tanizakiI used to work at a little Irish pub in the Lower East Side. The interior was dimly lit, with the only sources of illumination accredited to the dirty yellow light of sodium street-lamps filtered in through panes of warbled glass and miniscule tea light candles swallowed up by booths or extinguished by spilled beer. With each passerby, the shadows danced and flittered wildly. Sometimes, when there weren't many customers, I would take out my big black sketchbook, lay it down and trace the lines of the shadows.

One of the regulars saw me doing this. He got up, said he'd be right back and disappeared. For a second, I thought he had left without paying his bar tab. But eventually he returned and with a beat up copy of a thin paperback. He passed it over to me and said, "I think you should read this."

And I did. The book was Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadowsin praise of shadows. It's an essay written about the opposition of traditional shadows of Japan and the stark brightness of the modern age. It's a sweeping essay that touches on everything from architecture, to bathrooms, to lacquer. It made me acutely aware of the depth and dimension of shadows. I think this is a must read for all creative types.

Self-Portrait Friday...

One of my favorite characters from J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, albeit a minor one, was Peter Pan's shadow. I was struck by the sense of duality, of darkness and light portrayed by a flimsy thing that came unstuck and had to be reattached by needle and thread. Light and laughter was balanced with shadow and shade.

I remember being at a trade show and having someone come up to me and say that they read my blog. I said something like, "I hope it was a good day." The truth is that I live a life of ups and downs, just like everyone else. I have problems just like everyone else. Some days are better than others. It's true that I use my blog as a tool to try and stay positive, but my shadow will always be there. This self-portrait, framed by early morning pre-dawn light, is of my shadow – another part of me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fragile Things...

Today started out beautifully. I was getting a lot of things done and was crossing things off my list happily. (I even repotted some of my succulents!) But the creative bubble is a fragile thing. Any irritants and the bubble might pop!

WHAM! My bubble was popped. One misunderstanding turned into another, and I'm beat. Maybe it's the moon making my temper flare and making everyone involved so emotionally on edge today? In any event, I think that everything has been resolved and will be better for it now. I know that this is all seems vague, but I have no will to rehash it... especially not publicly.

I'm disappointed with how little work I actually accomplished today. All of my attention was devoted to fixing problems and not on my work or on my deadlines. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Beautiful Day...

It's an absolutely gorgeous day here in Pennsylvania. My hands are tired from working late into the night, but all of the work I made was solid and good. My hands are tired, but my heart is happy and it is beautiful and I have a pitcher of sweet tea. I think I will turn my phone off and close my computer and continue to work. I am making absolutely beautiful things. This is good because there are deadlines swirling over my head and my heart hasn't been into them lately. But I am inspired and it is a beautiful day to make beautiful things.

If you need me, I'll be out on the deck...

Impossible Project Space...

impossible project spaceThe folks who are leading the Renaissance of analog instant photography and developing new Polaroid film for old cameras, Impossible Project, are opening The Impossible Project Space in New York City.

The opening party will be in SoHo on April 30th, 2010 from 3PM to 8PM at 425 Broadway on the 5th Floor. Be sure to swing by to check out The Impossible Collection (a showing of over 20 artists' work), enjoy in-store-only specials, have your picture taken with the new films, be eligible to win prizes like film, cameras, and Freitag bags, and sip free wine from City Winery! If you're in town, this is definitely worth attending.

Thursday Giveaway...

This week's giveaway comes courtesy of Pam Wynn of Pam and Heather Wynn. One winner will receive a matching strand of five of Pam's polymer mokume gane round art beads. I love the richness of the color and the contrasts between the pale blues and vibrant oranges, accented with crackled copper. Aren't they gorgeous?!

To enter to win, all you have to do is leave a comment AND be a follower of this blog. (I know, it's a little different than past Thursday Giveaways.) A winner will be randomly selected from the comment section on Monday (May 3rd) at midnight EST. Once a winner is selected, I will check to see if they are indeed a follower of the blog. If they are not, they will be disqualified and a new winner will be selected. So, make sure to leave a comment AND become a follower if you're not already! And don't forget to leave your name if it doesn't already appear next to your comments.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rocky Mountain Postcards...

On the way to Denver to work the Green Girl Studios booth at the Rocky Mountain Bead Society's Bead Bazaar, our plane flew right through a thunderstorm. My neighbor was fairly new to flying. As the plane shook and the flashes of lightning illuminated the sky, she began to cry and pray loudly. Her make-up was running. Her hands clutched the armrests tightly, her nails digging in. I felt bad for her. I'm so used to flying that a little bit of turbulence doesn't phase me at all. Although she was a stranger, I tried to comfort her by saying, "I don't think that they would fly us through the storm if they thought it was too dangerous. Nothing to worry about at all. We'll be on the ground shortly, I'm sure!"

lightning united airlines flightThe flight was rocky, but there was nothing to worry about. Above is a shot from my window.

patti cahill lampwork glassI love Patti Cahill of Dyed in the Fire's work. The colors are so rich and vibrant and are saccharine sweet. Above is a photo of her at her booth.

raven's journey michelle mach melanie staffordAbove are some snapshots of folks who dropped by the booth. At the far left is Lenka of Raven's Journey who has some of my most favorite Czech Glass ever, Melanie Stafford (the new editor of Creative Jewelry magazine), polymer clay artist and bead store owner Janis Holler of Loco Lobo Designs, and freelance writer extraordinaire, Michelle Mach.

bernadette fuentesI very rarely get a chance to see Bernadette Fuentes and her lovely lampwork creations, so it was particularly nice to swing by the booth before the show opened for a few moments to catch up. She gave me some helpful advice to combat Denver's high altitude.

kristal wick heidi lillypilly jamie hogsettAbove is a picture of the birthday girl (Kristal Wick), Heidi from Lillypilly Designs and Jamie Hogsett author of Stringing Style: 50+ Fresh Bead Designs for Jewelryjamie hogsett stringing style at the vendor and volunteer appreciation dinner after the first day of the show. Normally we're all too busy working to socialize too much, so the dinner was a great way for us to interact en masse.

I was amused by the line for the buffet line and took a short video of the line wrapped around the ballroom.

benjamin moore paints sign denverI adore good signage. I was particularly enamored with this bright, big neon Benjamin Moore Paints sign overlooking Denver. So much so that I had to snap a picture of it.

denver skyline

I had a few hours before my plane took off and I wanted to check out the museums in Denver. I've heard lots of amazing things about the fine art scene in Denver, but never had the opportunity to explore until this past weekend. Unfortunately my plan was shot down due to the fact that most of the cultural buildings and museums are closed on Mondays. It wasn't all lost though. Denver sports a huge reputation of being a patron of public art.

toxic schizophrenia tim noble sue webster denverAbove is a shot of Toxic Schizophrenia (Hyper Version) by artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster. This revolving, light-studded sculpture is outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art: Denver.

denver art museumThe Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, with all its unusual angles juxtaposed to the more traditional surrounding architecture is a work of art itself!

yearling donald lipski byers-evan house claes oldenburgThe Yearling is a sculpture of a giant chair topped with a pony outside of the main branch of the Denver Public Library done by Donald Lipski. I was delighted to see the name on the placard. Years ago I did a workshop with him and a group of us even went out to his studio in the Hamptons to see where the works of art originated from. In the center is a picture of the Byers-Evans House. Apparently this used to be the premier home in Denver, built by two of the most influential families in Denver and home to a vast collection of art. It is now a museum and a Ray Tomasso show of new works on paper is now up in the gallery. This is one of the few museums open downtown on Monday. (Be sure to saw hello to Lynne, who was amazingly kind and extremely helpful. She pointed me to the Novo Coffee and Dozens across the way. Yum!) On the right is a snapshot of the large-scale sculpture, "The Big Sweep" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen outside of the Denver Art Museum.

scottish angus cow calf dan ostermiller denver
Another of the large scale public works of art I saw was "Scottish Angus Cow and Calf" by Colorado sculptor Dan Ostermiller, who is represented by Nedra Matteucci Fine Art gallery. I was struck by the sculpture's sheer mass and presence.

I had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back. Next time though I'm going to try to plan to come earlier or stay later to check out all the amazing artwork that Denver has to offer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thursday Giveaway Winner...

The winner for this past week's Thursday Giveaway is Alice. Please email me with your contact information and I'll put your prize in the post. Be sure to be on the look out on Thursday for another chance to win!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beaded Links...

Carmi's Art/Life World
Stranded by the volcano, Carmi has time for a little more window shopping.

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
For Cindy, yellow is the color of anticipation.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie sets up a trunk show at her favorite local indie craft gallery. Check out her display!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Resin has become quite popular in jewelry design lately. It's a lot trickier than Lorelei had originally thought. She tries out the technique for the first time.

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Do not miss out on Andrew Thornton's amazing sale and giveaway! It is fantastic!!! Go now! Really fun!

Strands of Beads
Melissa creates a sweet Spring necklace from wasabi-colored pearls and a beautiful Lillypilly pendant courtesy of Jewelry Making
It is flower power time! Mix resin, real flowers, and beads for this necklace design.

Art Bead Scene
The Art Bead Scene Welcomes Miss Fickle Media to the editorial staff!

Barbe Saint John - New Jewelry from Forgotten Artifacts
Barbe will be at Unique LA promoting the Steampunk Style book.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Be entered to win a one year subscription to Beadwork magazine! Find out how!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Self-Portrait Friday...

I'm running out the door. I'm headed to Denver for the Rocky Mountain Bead Society's Bead Bazaar. I didn't have time to paint a self-portrait this week. I've been running around frantically trying to get everything done. I'm always running behind, always rushing to finish one last project. Inevitably and invariably, no matter how much planning or extra work... I always am rushing at the last second. I'm always trying to squeeze in one last thing.

(As indicated by the hair) I took this several years ago. I had posted this picture before, when I first started the blog. I discussed what I call the "Deeper Well". I still feel the same way about it now. Lately I've been feeling in touch with the Deeper Well, but almost like my movements are in slow motion, held back... almost like I've been struggling against the current.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrating Earth Day...

I have so much to do before I leave for the Rocky Mountain Bead Society's Bead Bazaar in Denver! (If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello!) A lot is on my plate, but I wanted to do something to celebrate Earth Day. In the past, I've went to symposiums on renewable energy and sustainable materials. I thought I'd do something differently this year and more in touch with my path as an artist. I went down to the river and collected and ground down some natural pigments. I found lots of burnt sienna and ochre. Both are from iron oxides. I even found white and (a little bit) of blue. The white was from lime. I can mix that with calcium carbonate. The blue, I'm still trying to figure out. It might be from copper or might have resulted from the old, now defunct, iron furnaces nearby. I'm doubting it was lapis lazuli. It felt good to relax by the river, finding natural treasures that will be incorporated into my artwork. I feel closer and more connected to nature and my craft.


Thursday Giveaway...

Vive la France! Paris, je t'aime! For this week's giveaway, these very Frenchy polymer clay components come courtesy of the talented Lynn Davis of Expedition D. They remind me a lot of travel souvenirs and the one with the key particularly reminds me of relief carvings from Notre Dame Cathedral.

To win this lovely set of polymer art bead components, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post. A winner will be randomly selected from the comment section on Monday (April 26th) at midnight EST. Facilitate the process by making sure to leave your name if it doesn't already appear next to your comments.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beadwork Magazine Giveaway...

As an additional THANK YOU, everyone who purchases something from the shop during the Spring Cleaning Sale and the Send My Debt Away Sale will be entered in a random drawing to receive a year long subscription to Interweave Press's Beadwork magazine. That's six issues filled with inspirational beady goodness! I already subscribe and know that whoever wins will enjoy it greatly! All you have to do is purchase something from my shop and you'll be automatically entered to win. (Everyone who has already purchased something from the Spring Cleaning Sale has already been entered.) I'm passing along this gift subscription to one lucky winner who will be drawn at the close of the Send My Debt Away Sale.

OH! And be sure to keep an eye out for the weekly Thursday Giveaways for more opportunities to win!

Legal Note: This giveaway is NOT sponsored by Interweave Press, Beadwork magazine or its affiliates. As a private giveaway hosted by me, Andrew Thornton, it falls outside of the previously established giveaway rules set forth by previous contests, competitions, and/or giveaways offered by the publisher and/or the magazine.

The Neighbors...

When I lived in New York, I had lots of neighbors. Living in a big city, you're constantly surrounded by people. I was always cordial and friendly with my neighbors, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that they were friends or that we had any special relationships besides living next to each other. (That is with the exception of living in the doll factory in East Williamsburg. It was like living on the frontier by way of Modern Day Manifest Destiny there.) One of the very first things you learn living in a big city is to mind your own business and that just because someone is close in proximity, doesn't mean anything – because EVERYONE is close in proximity! You become an island, surrounded by other islands.

I now live in a carriage house on several acres of land in rural Pennsylvania. I don't have very many neighbors. But I'm happy to say that the ones I do have are all wonderful people who have been so gracious, generous and helpful. They've always been there whenever I needed anything. When I first moved here, they gifted me with a pair of gloves, protective glasses, and my first ice scraper. This provided to be very instrumental to me getting around this past winter. Another example of how nice they are came recently in the way of a parcel of fresh river trout. Fishing season launched this past weekend and we were gifted with some very tasty fillets. For dinner, I dipped them in beaten eggs, dredged them in a dry mixture of flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs and seasonings, and fried them up. They were absolute perfection. I served them with mixed vegetables tossed in an Italian salad dressing. Nothing fancy, but a wonderful meal nonetheless.

I feel really fortunate to live where I live now. "The Neighbors" have become family.

Local Friends...

jen palmer  aisling photographyWhen I left New York, I wasn't just leaving the city that never sleeps behind. I was also parting ways with many of my friends. It's true that with the internet, cell phones, and being upwardly mobile with a (mostly operational) vehicle, I've still been able to stay in close contact with many of my good friends back in the City. Even still, sometimes it's just nice to have friends who are nearby.

That's why I jumped at the opportunity to meet local artist and photographer, Jen Palmer of Aisling Photography. She's brilliantly talented and I look forward to working with her in the future. Sitting down for coffee with her was like sitting down with one of my old friends and it was such a treat to get out of the house. Jen is originally from this area and has lots of great suggestions for things to do and places to see. I adore her work and love how she captures the subtle nuances and humanity of her subjects. Be sure to stop by her WEBSITE and her BLOG.

Green Guide for Artists...

green guide karen michelEarth Day is a great excuse to pick up Karen Michel's Green Guide for Artists: Nontoxic Recipes, Green Art Ideas, & Resources for the Eco-Conscious Artistearth day karen michel. It's packed with all kinds of useful recipes for art supplies that are environmentally friendly and are alternatives for traditional toxic materials.

When I went to art school, this was all still new and undiscovered territory. It was common place for students to use petroleum-based-jet-fuel-smelling chemicals to wash out their brushes (and just as common for them to dump them in sinks)! One particular classmate comes to mind. She can't taste certain foods and is chemically sensitive now. Perhaps if she had this book back then, she could have saved the ground water a little, still be able to enjoy the nuances of dinner, and be able to use dryer sheets. Surprisingly, people tend to forget that we are apart of the environment as well.

For more tips and information about being a greener artist, check out Karen Michel's blog.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Cleaning Sale Continues...

andrew thornton spring cleaning saleI just wanted to send a BIG thank you to everyone who is helping me reach my goals by purchasing goodies from my Shop during the Spring Cleaning Sale! THANK YOU! I'm still adding things to the Sale Section, so check back often!

Preparing for Earth Day...

Earth Day is just around the corner. What does that mean? To me, this day marks an opportunity to learn more about what we can do to live more eco-friendly lives. Knowing more allows us to make more informed decisions. We might not be able to stop the destruction of all the rain forests in one fell swoop or patch the hole in the Ozone layer, but there are little things that each of us can do to reduce our carbon footprints and live more sustainable lifestyles. And who knows... maybe all our small actions might amount to something really BIG! One thing we can do to prepare for Earth Day is swing by Yep! They've just launched Amazon Green, a place to learn more about green solutions. They're also offering huge savings on some of the most popular environmentally-friendly products. So do yourself (and the world) a favor and check it out!


When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was talk with my best friend about all the things we would buy if we found trash bags of unclaimed money. Neither of us came from affluent families, so most of our fantasies revolved around quelling what lacked in our lives. I grew up in an old, wood-framed orange grove house, wore "vintage" before vintage was cool, and rode around in vehicles in various states of being rusted out. So naturally, my daydreams involved how many nice homes I would own, how many nice clothes I would wear, and how many nice new Lexus cars I would drive.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have whatever I wanted. But nowadays, my daydreams are more grounded in reality. I don't think my dreams are diminished now, just more informed. For instance, I love my apartment (and dread the thought of moving, especially so soon after having moved in), but one day I'd like to own my own home. I know now that it won't be fancy and will require a lot of work, if it happens at all, but it'd be my very own. Perhaps I was poisoned by too much Gone With the Wind, but the idea of owning land is very appealing and I have hope that one day, (probably many years from now, if at all) it will be a reality.

As far as owning a closet full of fancy clothes, I think I've outgrown that. The work I do is conducive to paint splatters, glue spills, and resin leakage... and the idea of walking around in frock and finery just doesn't make sense to me now. I am more enamored with the joy of making things rather than looking pretty. Of course, in my fantasy world, I would design and have all my clothes handmade just for me. I like the idea of creating my own uniform and supporting other independent artisans through its making.

Instead of a fleet of brand new sports cars and luxury automobiles, I'll settle on one that doesn't have a busted taillight, a cracked windshield, non-functioning gages, and an engine with a penchant for overheating and breaking down. The idea of relaxing when I sit behind the wheel, instead of worrying if I'll make it where I need to go and back is very enticing.

One blog reader wrote and asked what exactly the "new directions and exciting developments" concerning my work were. I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to jinx my opportunities, but I have quite a few things that I'd like to do. One of the big ones is to participate in a new art community that is developing here and having a studio outside of the house. Although the studio is extremely affordable, anything above what I'm paying now is more than what I'd like to and more importantly – can – afford. The only way I'll be able to do this is if I find new ways of supplementing my income, while maintaining my freedom to create. With that being said, I want to have some of my paintings and collages turned into giclee prints and notecards, create some new components (which will require me to get more materials and more tools), and finally launch my own website (which will necessitate certain programs like Photoshop and maybe even a nicer camera). Some of my other big projects include finding time to work on my own books, purchasing a printing press for intaglio etching and maybe even make enough to hire someone to help me tackle all this. I think all of these dreams could be achieved and are not out of reach. It is possible.

Each sale in my shop brings me closer to achieving these dreams. Without the kindness, generosity, and support of my loyal readers, friends, and customers... I wouldn't be able to even consider these things as potentials. But you give me hope. For that, I am eternally grateful! You're not just getting pretty things, you're also enabling me to do what I love best and creating a life blessed by art and learning. Hopefully through my art and words, I am able to repay every kindness. Thanks to you, my dreams are possible.

Thursday Giveaway Winner...

The winner for this past week's Thursday Giveaway is Leslie @ Bei Mondi. Please email me with your contact information and I'll put your prize in the post. Be sure to be on the look out on Thursday for another chance to win!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beautiful Words...

sarah williams devereux poetYesterday we drove into Pittsburgh to attend a poetry reading by my friend Sarah Williams-Devereux (and Romella Kitchens) at the Carnegie Library. I met Sarah years ago at a summer residency program. I was working while participating in the residency and went in after most of the other artists had already left for the day. I often found myself in the studios alone late at night. When I got frustrated or tired and needed a break, I would wander the halls. One night, bleary-eyed and exhausted, I came across a line of text running along the base of the sink in the restroom. The words were so tender, heart-felt and impossibly beautiful that I broke down in tears. The next night, I went back to savor the words again, but they were gone. At the time, no one knew who had left the poetry that was infiltrating our lives in the most subtle and unexpected ways. You might find a string of spidery handwriting on a pane of glass in an empty studio, or a stamped letter message running along the floorboards. As quick and as mysterious as they would appear, they would just as easily disappear. Her words held us all enthralled... and they still do. I wouldn't drive two hours and battle traffic (each way) for just anyone. Sarah is a master wordsmith, who I admire deeply. We were fortunate enough to hear her latest works, a kaleidoscope of images, memories and emotions.

Spring Cleaning Sale...

spring cleaning sale andrew thorntonToday marks the official launch of a two part sale I'm hosting in my shop! The first wave is called, "SPRING CLEANING SALE". I'm trying to make room in my shop for the second wave. All of the prices in the sale section have been lovingly reduced – many of them going for a fraction of what they were originally acquired for. I want all these lovelies to find good homes out in the world. I've got some really excellent items in the sale section and will continue to add them as space allows. (BigCartel has a limit of 100 items per shop.) The SPRING CLEANING SALE will run until next Monday, April 26th! The second part of the sale will be called, "the Send My Debt Away Sale". I've been working on a unique set of components for the past couple of weeks that I'm really proud of. Once you see the components up for grabs, you'll understand perfectly why it's called "the Send My Debt Away Sale". I'm hoping to pay down some of my looming debt to help fund and facilitate new directions and exciting developments with my work. Starting new projects, especially on the scale that I'm envisioning is very expensive, and I'd like to do it without going too much further into the red.

To show my appreciation, all orders placed during the SPRING CLEANING SALE will receive special gifts and don't forget that all orders placed during the month of April are subject to an additional 5% off. Use the coupon code "cyndi" to claim your additional discount!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beaded Links...

andrew thornton bead blogger links
A Bead A Day
Give (inexpensive) beads a chance! Oh, the variety you can find at the craft store! Jewelry Making
Where do you create your jewelry and other crafts? Show, tell, and look at some great craft spaced created by other designers.

Art Bead Scene
Art beads don't have to be round, they can be toggles too!

Barbe Saint John
Putting out the call for Steampunk art!

Beading Arts
Cyndi has just finished up a floral necklace that features fabric!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi is photographing the jeweled decolletage on paintings in Paris again!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Cindy's personal history finds its way into her work.

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie mixes shell pearls from Rings and Things with metallic hardware motifs to create a softer industial look .

Katie's Beading Blog
Share your ideas about beading trends and be entered to win a copy of Jean Campbell's new book, Steampunk Style Jewelry.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Dig out your button collection, because wonderful Keepsake jewelry can be made from it, and Lorelei shows some examples!

Snap Out of It, Jean! There's Beading to be Done!
Join the fun and become a fan of the lovely jewelry design magazine, Australian Beading Magazine!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew teams up with Cathy Collison of Glass Garden Beads for this week's Thursday Giveaway. You could win a set of three hip bottle-cap beads!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Coventry Inn...

coventry inn indiana pa restaurant flanNestled in the heart of Indiana, PA, in an authentic English Tudor building there's a great little restaurant (open Thursdays through Sundays) called The Coventry Inn. Think dark exposed beams, warm candlelight and English Delft tiles; the ambiance is intimate and cozy. From the looks alone, you'd think you were transported magically to England! But don't let the looks deceive you, The Coventry Inn is more than just any old ordinary pub. The menu boasts an eclectic array of fine dining cuisine and an impressive beer and wine selection. (Yes, the Guinness is on tap and fish and chips are on the menu for the hardcore tavern enthusiasts!) While soaking in the environment and enjoying the menu, you'll see that the waitstaff is friendly, attentive and courteous. But if you're not interested in the full-on dining experience, not to worry! Enjoy Happy Hour at the bar with appetizers (my favorite was the hot crab dip with toasted pita bread and baguette slices) and dollar draft Yuengling.

Also noteworthy and definitely not to be missed is the Cuban flan. This silky smooth custard is drizzled in a rich caramel sauce and garnished with a candy-crunch bite of melted sugar. Even my mama, who makes the best flan, would be impressed.

So the next time you're in town, make The Coventry Inn a dining destination. (Can't make it to Indiana, PA? Join the Facebook Fan Page or follow them on Twitter for the latest special events information and menu updates.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Self-Portrait Friday...

I had intended to post this earlier, but there have been some heavy storms here and the internet was out all day.

Andrew Thornton painting collage self-portrait
It's funny, because I waited all day to write this... but I don't really have the words. I thought about writing about Northern European vanitas paintings, Jolly Rogers, the goddess Kali's necklaces, Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skulls, Mesoamerican crystal skulls or even my Skull Shop... but the words just aren't there tonight.

This small-scale self-portrait with a skull necklace was painted in the faux fresco style on collage mounted on board. I had originally left the collage completely unobscured in the background, but the patterns were too dominant and distracting and gave it a distinctively "urban tribal" flare that I wasn't digging. So, I muted the background with a few washes of paint.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Little Rewards...

steak potato dinner andrew thorntonI got so much done on my list that I decided to make a nice dinner as a reward. I still have mountains to do, but I feel good about the progress that was made. For dinner I made bacon-wrapped fillet mignon, broiled brussels sprouts, sauteed portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, and roasted rosemary baby potatoes. It's more extravagant than what I generally make. When you're on a budget, usually "creativity" is the most important ingredient. You find all kinds of ways to doctor up inexpensive cuts of meat and jazz up leftovers. The seemingly random and disparate contents of your cabinets can be boiled, mashed, and contorted into the semblance of a fine meal. But every once in awhile, it's nice to just splurge and treat yourself with the most expensive piece of meat in the display case, the fancy mushrooms, and "baby" potatoes, even though the regular ones cost half as much for twice as many.

The Space Between Us...

I participated in an Art House Co-op group show called, The Space Between Us. To the left is my submission. I'll be in Denver, but you should drop by the show on April 23rd, 2010 at the Brooklyn Art Library (201 Richards Street #16). It's one of those voting things, so if you like my little painting on collage, then vote for it. It's not flashy and LOOK-AT-ME, but I like it and am proud of what I sent. I might not win, but I'm just pleased that I was able to participate.


When you're on the road as much as I am, things tend to pile up. Today is dedicated to clearing away much that has accumulated on my to-do list. For instance buy printer ink cartridges, go to the post office, try and track down some nice book ends (I'm thinking 1950's metal office ones), hang shelves, do laundry, go grocery shopping, and do (a few loads of) laundry. Oh and when all that is finished, work on some designs for a few magazines, try to finish up some really cool components, and pack up all the recycling. OH! And work on my self-portrait for tomorrow. Can't forget that! OH! And order business cards. Busy day ahead, better put on another pot of coffee.

Thursday Giveaway...

This week's art bead giveaway comes courtesy of Cathy Collison of Glass Garden Beads in Northfield, MN. One winner will receive a set of three domed and soldered bottle cap beads. I love that these lightweight beads are made out of recycled materials. Not only are these beads "green" but they're also charmingly stylish. Very hip!

To enter to win this set of beads, all you have to do is a leave a comment on this post. A winner will be randomly selected from the comment section on Monday (April 19th) at midnight EST. Do make sure to leave your name if it doesn't already appear next to your comment.

Note: Two of the three bottle caps come from alcoholic beverages. In some public schools, a Zero Tolerance policy is in effect that prevents any "alcohol-related paraphernalia" to be on school grounds, with the potential of suspension or even expulsion. By winning these beads, the winner accepts all responsibility for the usage of the materials and acknowledges that they were clearly warned that these beads are best suited for adults over the age of 18 and will not hold this blog, Glass Garden Beads, or related affiliates responsible for any possible or actual repercussions resulting from the prize materials.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Simple Dinner...

Mushrooms sauteed in butter are tossed with Farfalle pasta dressed in olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. The mixture is sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and a pinch of dill. This is so quick and easy!

Thursday Giveaway Winner...

The winner for this past week's Thursday Giveaway is quiltingjewel39. Please email me with your contact information and I'll put your prize in the post. Be sure to be on the look out on Thursday for another chance to win!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Visit With Margot Potter...

My talented friend, Margot Potter and her husband, invited me out to stay at their beautiful former-schoolhouse home in Amish country after BeadFest Wire. I've been trying to make it out there for years, but something always came up. I'm happy that this time things finally came together and the visit manifested into reality. You might know Margot from QVC as an on-air personality or from one of her many craft books, like The Impatient Beader, The Impatient Beader Gets Inspired!: A Crafty Chick's Guide to Instant Inspiration, or Sparkletastic: 50 Dazzling Jewelry and Fashion Projects for the Discriminating Diva. She also worked on a book with Katie Hacker and Fernando DaSilva called, Bead And Wire Jewelry Exposed: 50 Designer Projects Featuring Beadalon And Swarovski. Margot also just came out with a book called, Beyond The Bead: Making Jewelry With Unexpected Finds. Her forthcoming title, which will be released in August (and I'm in!) is called, Bead Chic: 36 Stylish Jewelry Projects & Inspired Variations. It's available for pre-order now!

I adore Margot! She's so vivacious and full of life! She has brilliant stories and always has the gears turning – thinking up new and different ways of doing things. She's incredibly generous with her time, energy and effort and is truly a delightful person.

When I came in, they treated me to a lovely fresh salad and a tasty pasta dish. I picked up a cheesecake and a bottle of sparkling grape-juice (I forgot you couldn't buy wine in Pennsylvania unless you're at a restaurant). Drew and Margot were absolutely fantastic and I had a great time talking with them and getting to know them both better.

Above (from left to right) is a shot of Margot in her tricked out studio, her converted Amish schoolhouse home, and one of her pet pigs and chickens.

They have such a beautiful home in a picturesque landscape. I felt as though I had stepped into an Andrew Wyeth painting with a splash of sparkle, color, vintage ephemera and fair trade sculptures and furniture! It was such an awesome time and I am deeply grateful for their generosity and for hosting me!

If you too are interested in spending a little time with Margot Potter and picking her crafty brain, there is ample opportunity! She'll be hitting the City in June, in Busy As A Bead. In New York, Margot will share her top secret shopping sources and participants will get to enjoy site-seeing as well as a Broadway show. Then she'll be heading out with Style Network celebrity, Brini Maxwell in September on a cruise called Crafty Cabaret Caribbean. Both of them sound like amazing trips!