Monday, August 18, 2014

new painting studio in august ♥

Photo:  contemplating a day of quiet gratitude

This year I have been totally consumed with building my new painting studio from scratch.  
When the studio passed its final county inspection just over a week ago, 
after a year of record-winter weather delays, local county inspection delays, 
delivery delays, and general custom construction hiccups,
I was deliriously happy, or maybe just plain delirious ...
and more than a little exhausted.
But also so grateful to have a space all my own.

Photo:  early morning after hanging the chandelier crystals

Although there are still things on order, like track lighting and the remaining window screens, 
I am so happy to share with you a few photos of the blissfully quiet and empty
mostly-finished studio -- before the storm of moving in my supplies.

Photo:  back wall of windows facing the forest

Yes, there are a lot of windows in this painting studio!
After raising 4 children during 27 household moves in and out of the US, 
and living in all kinds of houses and climates on several continents,
I knew I needed elegant simplicity, lots of light, and serene green views.

The bead board walls in the small bathroom are made from the same wood planks 
as the raised wood ceiling in the studio.  Before the ceiling was whitewashed and the 
bathroom painted white, the wood planks looked very much like a Finnish church and sauna.

Over the small back balcony that allows me to step out among the old trees
hangs a huge old brass lantern, now rewired, found in Phoenix.
Old theatre lights from Ohio were rewired to light up the entry landing.

The side entry stairs look like a runway with the county-mandated lighting on each step.

The 1920's Deco farmhouse sink sat in its shipping crate in the middle 
of the floor while it waited installation as my work sink.

To match the wide-plank white oak floor and keep the look from being too heavy,
the library nook has sturdy white oak shelving.

Finally the protective film and shipping labels were removed from the windows,
allowing the sunlight to shine through.

After months of delays, it was an all-out push to finish the studio by the end of July.
We didn't quite make the deadline, but here we were late into the night,
hanging crystals on the chandeliers that drift down the middle of the raised ceiling peak.
We figured out the formula, in case you want to try:
One studio chandelier, two hundred+ crystals, two people, two hours. :)

As my friends tell me, it will take its own good time to feel moved in.
The contractor will be back a few more times with back-ordered items.
I've been pushing and shoving my old green drawers and the drafting table 
and cupboards here and there to test what works.
Meanwhile, my middle son and his young family have been living with us
while he finishes his hospital rotations.
And my youngest son is getting married at the end of August, 
holding the ceremony at my oldest son's jazz bistro, The Beehive, in Boston.

So, let me know if you can rush right over and just visit
and share how wonderful the studio space feels before it get filled up.
Actually, I think I should have had the "studio opening" while it was still
completely empty, because I love it so much that way. :)
 However, the "studio opening" as such is not yet ready to be announced.
Plus, stay tuned for local classes and guest artists teaching in the studio soon.

And may you all have the blessing of a dream coming true!

Monday, June 23, 2014

eileen hull's mini-album die with sizzix

Although I still don't have access to my art supplies while my studio 
is in its last weeks of construction (the painters are re-scheduled for next week), 
I bit the bullet and went shopping for more . . . 
not too much more, though, since I do have stacks of stuff,
all of which I'll have to move!  :)   

But enough to start a really quick and really easy project,
using a few papers and scraps, some string, a knob,
and Eileen Hull's new 
Eileen's Scoreboards XL die will cut through matboard (or chipboard or leather) 
to make a nice sturdy cover.  
The die is also scored along the fold lines, allowing for several depths of spine.  
Plus it has an indented space on the front cover to insert a small magnetic die shape 
to cut a window in the cover, if you wish.

After die-cutting my cover from matboard, 
I cut a piece of wallpaper large enough to wrap the front of the cover, 
gluing the wallpaper around to the inside for finished edges.  
Wallpaper is a fun book cover because it is so pliable.  

For the end paper, I die-cut and trimmed down a piece of patterned card stock,
then glued it in place to secure (and hide) the wallpaper edges.  
The cover folds easily along the pre-scored lines.  
Since I wanted a thicker album, I folded on the two end score lines to make a deeper spine.

Next, using the same die and a collection of patterned papers and white bristol paper, 
I die-cut the pages for the mini-album.  
To do this, start with papers cut to measure 6x12",  then fold each one in half 
and place the fold along the appropriate score line on the die
(depending on the size spine you've chosen).  
Be careful to place it just to one side of the score line, so the fold stays uncut.  

For this album, I die-cut 16 papers for 8 signatures of 2 pages each.
For neatness, I die-cut an extra page the same size as the album,
folding it to match the spine, and used it to enclose the signatures.

To attach the die-cut signatures to the album cover, 
I threaded lengths of thick baker's twine through each signature 
and tied them along the spine.  So easy and colorful!
And I can still untie and rearrange the pages as I fill them.

To decorate the cover, I collaged a few scraps of paper, 
punched a hole with my Crop-a-Dile, and inserted a Tim Holtz knob.

The inside title page is white bristol paper on which I lightly gel-transferred
some blue sky in a couple wispy layers, yellow numbers to simulate the sun,
plus some random areas of type, 
all torn a bit haphazardly from some handy Time magazine pages,
then wrote the month, drew a little bird,
 and added my initial on a Dennison label.

During these last few weeks of studio construction,
I hope to fill the pages of my new mini-album with quotes of encouragement
and thoughts of patience,
as I anticipate building my creative "nest" in my new space.

Hope you are enjoying a lovely month of June!

This hot afternoon (25th) included some waiting time in the car, so I came prepared for a quick doodle in my new journal.  Here's my encouraging reminder for the rest of June, including a serendipitous water-drip emphasis from my Starbucks iced tea cup.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

studio restart button

Around here, the big news today is that I finally pushed the restart button on my "new studio" construction project.  The contractor has been fired (not a simple thing to do) and the head of the company, who remembers my original vision from almost a year ago, has taken over the endlessly-lingering schedule.  With grace and energy, he acknowledged the problems and has promised speedy solutions.  Finally, I can stop butting heads on every single design and materials decision!  It's been tough trying not to be pushed into a conformist square hole at every step, first by the county, then by the weather, and then by the exigencies of standard modern construction.

Until today, progress has been mostly one step forward and two steps back for months.  The contractor made several arbitrary decisions that couldn't afford to be undone.  Fortunately, others have been resolved.  For example, ugly lighting boxes built out from the wood ceiling have once again been recessed and hidden; boxy cladding has been removed from the beams; standard fake-wood molding has been removed from around the windows and the windows smoothed into the walls as originally requested.  The real-wood baseboard-molding battle has gone on for weeks as I insist on my simple but not standard stacking idea.

But I'm persevering with my thinking-in-three-dimensions exercise, even as I try to relax and unclench my jaw.  Maybe the "only-three-more-weeks" refrain I've heard since January will now be true.  Here's a little photo update:

Front south-facing wall with Palladian-style windows and west-side entry

Raised wooden ceiling (a little like a Finnish church) and exposed beams

Back north-facing wall of windows

Back wall opened to the spring forest

Another view of the forest from the back doors

Vintage deco sink for my painting work space

Books waiting to be transferred to my new space

Let's hope this is the end of being tied up by delays and steps backward.  If my studio is really finished and ready to start moving in by the promised three weeks, you'll be the first to know! 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

must life rhyme?

Like many others, I've been re-reading the remarkable poetry of  Maya Angelou. Like many others, I have a certain faith in the turgent power of poems.  Occasionally, I draft a poem myself.  When I started writing poetry, I used the long-hand, crossed-out, legal-pad approach.  Instead, here is today's quick-tap burst, posted quickly in a fit of foolish bravery, destined most likely for revision, rather jumbled like my life right now.  Heh.

Must life rhyme?
Does a shelf need book ends?
Or can our words tumble and climb
From unruly disorderly pens?

Must my story be true?
Do I need to check all the facts?
Or can my evolving point of view
Be elegant and still be relaxed?

Should we stay in lanes
For aligning the politically correct?
How uniformly far will the marching campaigns
Follow feather-plucked and hen-pecked?

Must we drive by on speed-pass?
Shall we take time out to ponder?
Or at day’s end, will I querulously ask
Where was my heart's hot wonder?

Friday, March 14, 2014

new design team with eileen hull

Shortly after Eileen Hull and I met in 2012 and realized we were almost neighbors, we quickly concocted the lovely idea of teaching several classes together with her fabulous 3-D dies that she designs for Sizzix.  Our first class showcased her Sizzix Pro house die, perfect for making a holiday house or village.  With my first class sample, I had such fun painting and lettering the house that I was totally hooked on using Eileen's magical dies to build things I could use as an alternative canvas.

Today, I'm excited to be a member of Eileen's new Design Team for Sizzix, happily "tasked" with finding more ways to incorporate my style with her new dies.  To introduce ourselves, we designers are sharing some of our previous projects and style approaches.  For me, it's appropriate to start with another class project taught with Eileen using her heart box die.  My class samples included a painted candy box (above) and another deeper box that I built up from the same die and covered like a suitcase with a hinged top (below).  It's pretty amazing to me how much you can manipulate her dies, changing materials and adjusting for many uses.  Oh, and the paper flowers on both boxes were made from another Eileen Hull die called flower layers w/heart petals.

Since I love to doodle and letter (including in my art journals), I'll be looking for more ways to do so on my Design Team projects for Eileen.  Below are samples from my doodling class "Doodle Ink" taught at Handmade U in Omaha (next semester is coming up), another sample from my lettering class "Doodle Amour" taught at French General in LA, followed by some doodled song lyrics.

More of my doodling efforts are included in Jenny Doh's Craft-a-Doodle book and in Amy Powers' many crafty Inspired Ideas ezines.  

Right now, but hopefully for not much longer, all of my painting and journaling and die-cutting supplies are stacked in teetering piles in my dining room while my new studio is being built.  It will be a dream made real for me to finally have a place to paint and create without stealing time and space, often running out of both.  And what fun to be on Eileen's Design Team to start things rolling, just in time for this long-awaited spring!

Journal page in progress

You, too, can share your favorite projects and join the monthly "Art with Heart" kickoff challenge hosted by Sizzix Designer Eileen Hull and Design Team coordinator Amy Bowerman.  Just link your blog post to Eileen's site for a chance to win!

Monday, February 24, 2014

studio windows in late february

Yesterday a few friends came over to walk around inside my studio in its current construction phase and to feel the possibilities of the space.  It felt great!

The windows still have their plastic protective coating on all the panes.  But sunlight still streamed in the front Palladian windows, and we opened the doors for a fine breeze and a long view of the forest out the back window wall, all welcome and hopeful signs of how the space will nurture me and my guests.  Sadly, today it is empty again, since none of the expected deliveries arrived and no one came to work.  It's another day of dreaming of what's to come.

If you are interested in being on my mailing list for classes hosted in my studio, 
taught by wonderful guest artists and me, too,
please send me your email address at pj (dot) keravuori (at) mac (dot) com, 
and please stay tuned. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

studio construction update

Just checking in to say there is progress, however slow, on construction of 
my new studio.
Besides battling the intemperate winter weather here,
we've been bearing the brunt of delivery delays all along the line.
Construction has already taken twice as long as predicted,
and we still have a ways to go.
My son is building his latest huge tall commercial building in Boston,
and it seems my small enterprise will take almost as long (only half joking).

But I'm finally able to get a sense of the space and atmosphere
that will soon be a reality.
Now that the scaffolding is removed from all but a short side section,
here's the front wall in the late afternoon wintry sun
after the rainstorm passed through.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

studio window progress

By late this afternoon, most of the studio windows have been delivered, 
just in time for the next snow storm that starts in this area tonight.
Progress, however slow.

In the morning came the skylights in the right number but in the wrong size.  
Because of the continuing cold weather,
the crew was here for the first time this week to install the skylights, 
but since they had to be returned, 
the crew braved the cold to work on the back stairs instead.

After noon came the tall center Palladian window and two sets of French doors 
by pick-up truck.  
Apparently, they were too tall or wide for the main delivery truck.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the main delivery truck lumbered down our driveway 
with the rest of the fun window shapes.  
Unfortunately, two of those Palladian windows are fixed instead of opening, 
so they will also be exchanged.

But in the remaining hours of daylight, 
our crew began installing the center window.
Below you can see the sequence.  

The window snapped into place sort of like a Lego window, 
except that it was very heavy and entailed a lot of hammering to secure.  
One down.

With the heavy snow expected here tonight, 
it may be next week before they can get back to work.  
That's the way it's been going.