Monday, December 20, 2010

Introducing... My Art Assistant Carmela

I would like you to meet my new art assistant, Carmela. I wasn't even looking to fill such a position at this point in my career, but she just won't take no for an answer!

She's definitely a self starter. For example, here she is warming up my paper, and I didn't even ask her!

She also decided to take inventory of my art supplies one day, all on her own.

Sometimes I have to put my foot down. Over the weekend she tried to convince me that large canvases were a good place to lean up against to take a bath, so we agreed to disagree. She works for free though, so I can't really fire her :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Giving Back

In the spirit of giving this holiday season, I decided to get a bird feeder! As the birds in my yard have provided unlimited inspiration for my art, I decided to help out the family of cardinals the stick around through the winter!

I have since learned that there are many more birds around this winter than just a family of cardinals and, although our yard is starting to resemble an Alfred Hitchcock movie, it's always good to give back!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Mini Collages!

I fell in love with these mini easels and canvases as soon as I saw them! It was fun to make these little works of art, and they would make a great holiday gift too!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Cerulean Blue Warbler

My latest collage, titled "Nothing Happens Alone,"features a Cerulean Blue Warbler, a small bird of the deciduous forest treetops. This bird has been in the news a lot lately: it is our fastest declining neotropical migrant songbird, and is currently on the Audobon watch list and under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The text is this collage that reads "Nothing happens alone in nature, for change begets change" comes from a vintage 1960's book about environmental conservation. I thought this sentence captures the essence of the piece pretty well, that even seemingly small decisions we make everyday have a greater impact on ourselves, our wildlife, the environment, and the planet.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Won A Vacation!

In August, I actually won a vacation in an internet contest!!! My husband and I just spent 5 nights in a gorgeous 2 story ocean front villa last week in Kiawah, South Carolina!!!

Almost as surprising as winning were other people's reactions. Most people assumed there was a "catch," that we would be spending a day in a time share presentation, or something equally horrid as a result of our winning a vacation. I enter contests all the time, and I figure most of them are legit. I mean, some one has to win, why not me?!

Anyway, we simply just won! Maybe the sponsor had an ultimate ulterior motive that we'll never know about besides general promotion of their properties, but upon arriving we received a huge gift basket and had our photos taken. Otherwise, we were completely left alone :)

If you have never been to Kiawah (or heard of it,) it is a beautiful island about 30 minutes outside of Charleston South Carolina. It is known for being relatively undeveloped, so nature abounds, as well as golf (which my husband thoroughly took advantage of!)

I am a beach girl myself, so I spent most of my time by the ocean. There were so many interesting birds, but what surprised me the most were the large number of crows on the beach. As I feature crows in my artwork quite a bit, I felt a strong connection to them. There were also butterflies everywhere you turned - even outside the supermarket! Taking the ramp to the beach it was not unusual to have about 10 gorgeous butterflies cross your path.

So I would definitely recommend a visit to Kiawah Island, SC! And that, in of itself, may have been the whole point the contest promoters giving away a vacation, I suppose :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Selling Out ( Or Not ...)

Actually, I don't think it would be possible for me to "sell out" - I have found that if I make a piece that doesn't have some meaning to it (at least for me) I am very unhappy with it. However, I do want to be successful!

I recently completed 2 new original mixed media collages (pictured above) called "Birds As Souls" and "Woodland Creatures." Prior to making them, I tried to follow some of the trends for fall I had read about in Etsy's September Merchandising Report. Some topics I tried to keep in mind were: woodland creatures, natural colors/earth tones, muted greens, mustard, and cranberry. I am pretty happy with the finished results. The bird silhouette featured is a Hermit Thrush.

Also, as Etsy is always encouraging their sellers to take interesting photos, I captured my new collages sitting on top of a pile of rocks! Although I was skeptical, I think the photos look pretty good! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Only Don't Know...

Last summer, I bought a new guided meditation recording. At the end of the meditation, the listener was instructed to "go straight, and only don't know." As I understood it, going straight referred to the Buddhist idea of dharma and following the Right Path. But "Only don't know?" This phrase perplexed me. What in the world did it mean?! Was it even grammatically correct? Well, that's what Google is for, I suppose.

I learned that "Only Don't Know" is the title of a book of correspondences between Zen Master Seung Sahn and his devotees. In this book of letters, all sorts of people write to him with questions ranging from work and relationships, to the meaning of Zen. I most letters, he counsels "Only don't know."

Hmmm. I am far from a Zen Master (nor do I desire to be one,) but this notion has really struck a chord with me. What if we let go of all that we profess to "know." The future, the past, our limitations. All that defines "us" as "us." Because, really, what do we know? My life has been one continual surprise after another, and the times I have been the least happy are when I have clung to ideas about how I think things "should be."

So, I've adopted this phrase as a kind of mantra. As my life unfolds, I try to stay on the path that has been clearly laid out for me, and "only don't know." Because I've found, when I let go of what I think I know, the sky's the limit!

Monday, August 16, 2010 new website!

For a while now, I have felt having my own website, aside from my etsy shop, would be a good idea. Not only for promotional reasons, but also to have all my links in one place. Between etsy, facebook, twitter, flickr, etc (and who knows what's next!) it's overwhelming for me, let alone someone trying to view all my work.

Originally I had hired a web designer, but, after 6 weeks in, he quit. Of course I was disappointed, but, after reviewing all the options, I decided to design it myself! Well, actually my husband set the whole thing up for me...but I did all the layouts!

So, I am proud to announce! Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Junk Mail Challenge

I often see wonderful craft challenges on blogs and think I'd really like to participate. But somehow, I never do. I miss the deadline or am not inspired by the subject matter. So, I decided to create my own challenge, with just me participating! You've got to start somewhere, right?!

Last month I wrote a blog post about how I like to incorporate recycled materials into my collages. You can see it here!

Well, I thought, what if I make a collage where the only source of paper is junk mail!I made the junk mail rules pretty tight for myself: No magazines, or paper I had picked up elsewhere. Each paper source I used had to come into my home through the mail and while I included catalogs, I decided magazines were not allowed (too easy!) I already had some great wooden blocks I had found at store going out of business sale (used for merchandising displays) so I felt this challenge would be a perfect use for them!

As this has been one long hot summer, I settled on the subject matter of leaves (think Fall!) to be the focus of my junk mail challenge. I decided to make a series of 3 leaf mixed media collages using the upcycled wooden blocks, 100% junk mail, acrylic paint, and ink.

I am pretty happy with the way they turned out and find it hard to believe they were once "Junk Mail" that would have wound up in our recycle bin (a noble place, yes, but it's always nice to bring a little beauty into the world!)

If anyone is inspired to try this challenge for themselves, I would be happy to run another series. Just comment below if you would like to participate and I will post some details.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A little bird told me...

So, if you are familiar with my artwork, you will have noticed that much of my inspiration comes from birds. I really only became interested in birds a few years ago, and it was because I was creating collages of them not knowing exactly why!

I am now familiar with the birds living in my yard that I see on a regular basis (our backyard seems to be a birdie hub of activity!) Cardinals, robins, grackles, sparrows, mourning doves, and the occasional blue jay to name a few! And I am much more aware of the types of birds I see when away from home too.

In addition to studying different species of birds, I am so inspired by what they represent. Of course, I am not alone: birds had powerful symbolic meaning in ancient cultures and have inspired art for centuries. The beauty of their song, the ability to fly, the amazing variety in the patterns and colors of their markings. To me, they are also a reminder to view life as if from a "bird's eye view," being able to see the big picture of how things work out the way they are meant to, vs. getting bogged down with mundane details that cloud our vision.

Above is my latest collage, a tribute to the power and mystery of the bird. It's called "Unseen Cosmic Forces."
The text in the upper right reads : "The reverence paid to animals in most primitive cultures had to do with a perception that they are more in touch with unseen cosmic forces"

I think that this might be true :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why 111?

About 3 or 4 years ago (it was summer I believe) I started seeing the numbers 1111 everywhere! When I glanced at a digital clock, on store receipts, and once, my stopwatch went haywire (granted I was in a sauna) and stopped on this very number!

Out of curiosity, I googled "numerology and 1111." One of the first listings that came up asked"Are you someone who has been seeing 11:11 everywhere?" To say I was unnerved would be an understatement! I am much more open to things unseen at this point in my life, but at the time this sort of phenomena was very new to me.

Here is a bit from what I read

Whenever you see the sequence 111 or 1111 show up, it is a great sign of a golden opportunity. Both sequences mean that a "doorway" has opened up in which your intentions and goals will manifest extremely quickly. The Angels have taught me to focus my thoughts and intentions whenever I see 111 or 1111, almost like making a wish when a cake with candles is presented to you - Doreen Virtue

I still see this number combination all the time. In fact, if you look at the time stamp of my very first blog entry back in April, it reads 11:11 (this was a total coincidence, not planned!)

So this is where the title of my Etsy shop 111 Collage Design comes from. Make a wish!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A few words about materials...

"Every master knows that the material teaches the artist"

Even though I have only been making collages for a few years, I inexplicably have been saving potential materials for much longer than that. I guess the "collage artist" part of me was busy preparing, even before I knew this was the path I would be taking.

Although many of my collages are made with more than one medium (making them "mixed media" pieces), my heart lies with paper. I can't really draw, and paint scares me ( I am trying to work on this,) but I have always loved to cut things out of paper!

In this way, everyday objects become my palette. Old calendars, maps, magazines, tissue boxes, greeting cards, and food cartons all have the potential to be featured in my next collage!

Since I am an avid recycler, I'm glad my art utilizes repurposed items. One of my more exciting recent finds were these wooden blocks at a store going out of business sale (the kind where everything is going, even the fixtures.) I believe they were used to prop up displays, but for me they are perfect canvases!

Here is the first collage I made using one of these repurposed wooden blocks.

If you look closely, you can also see a repurposed map in the background. The seahorse is also partially created out of recycled gift wrap.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Butterflies and Dragonflies

My newest collage is called Butterflies and Dragonflies/Free at Last. This piece was made on a warm summer day, and was, in part, inspired by the love I have for this time of year. I have always loved the heat and the stillness of summer. And what could be more delightful than wandering through a field of butterflies!

There is also a deeper meaning to this piece, which I feel reflects where I am on my journey as an artist and also in my life. A lot of my earlier artwork reflects searching: for meaning, for balance, for acceptance, and for integration. This collage represents the idea of a more complete transformation: the ability to let go of the past and live in the present moment. Like a butterfly released from it's cocoon: free at last!

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Birthday Trip

For my 41st birthday on Friday (how did that happen?!,) my husband and I took a day trip to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Although I grew up very close by, in Lawrenceville, I had never been there before.

Recently, I have been reviewing The Artist's Way program by Julia Cameron, and one theme that runs throughout is the idea that your artist is a child who loves to be nurtured and to play! It is important to revisit what inspired you as a child and to try to recapture the joy and wonder you felt when everything was new. I am very lucky I had a childhood rich in art, literature, and music, and draw on these images all the time while creating my own art.

I felt my visit to Grounds for Sculpture was like stepping into a fairytale! Even the restaurant there (which was amazing by the way) is inspired by a children's book, The Wind In the Willows. At 35 acres, everywhere you turned were gorgeous works of art, secret passage ways, gardens, and trails that led to magical surprises.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise for me personally, was looking for a place to get a drink and running into a family of Peacocks! Moms, Dads, and babies strolling around!

I couldn't help but recall my favorite childhood birthday memory. I had just turned 5 and we took a birthday party trip to a petting zoo where I saw a Peacock. The peacock opened his feathers that day, and I truly believed it was just for me! So hanging out with a peacock, feathers wide open, on my 41st birthday, was incredibly symbolic.

My "artist child" couldn't have been happier!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Help the Gulf Coast on Etsy

I have been very pained recently, along with a great many other people, about the ramifications of the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Among the most seriously affected by this catastrophe are the creatures and wildlife who rely on this area for their livelihood. Seeing images on television and the internet of birds and other creatures covered in oil is, for me, almost unbearable.

So, although this problem seems completely overwhelming for one person to try to make a difference, in times like these I recall the famous words of Burmese activist and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi If you're feeling helpless help someone

I decided a few days ago I would find some way, albeit tiny , to aid the relief efforts in the Gulf. That very night I came across this wonderful Etsy shop called Help the Gulf Coast started by an Etsy seller named Kate from Flapperdoodle. This shop is a collective of items donated by Etsy sellers; 100% of the proceeds go to relief efforts in the Gulf- 50% to Oxfam, 50% to the National Audubon Society (pending approval)

Of course I donated something right away! I choose the above giclee print of an original bird collage called White Mountain Bird because I think he looks wistful.

Please check out this wonderful shop here
xxoo Abby

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where I Work

Here is my current "studio". It's really an extra bedroom, but I am glad to have the space to create and store all my stuff. I try in my life to be not too attached to "things" and limit the clutter in my living space, but as a collage artist, every piece of paper I come across (including but not limited to: junk mail, birthday cards, and old tissue boxes) take on new life as potential art materials. I am planning to spend some quality time in this space today - hope I am productive!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spread Your Wings

Here is my latest collage titled Spread Your Wings. The bird is an Anhinga. When my parents went to Florida for the winter this past year, everyday on the phone my Mom mentioned an Anhinga that lived on the property ( yes, I talk to my Mom everyday!) So, I made this collage as a birthday present for her this past weekend.

According to animal totem mythology, one of the things the Anhinga teaches are ways to spread your wings of possibilities, so that is where the message/title comes from.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Power Of Letting Go

A few years ago I took a poetry class. I had never really written poetry before, but felt it was something I wanted to learn more about. I found that poetry is something I really enjoy as a hobby and love the idea of illustrating poetry I have written with my artwork.

Here's a poem I wrote called "Healing"
I’ve been thinking lately
about alchemy;
the art of
base metal into gold.

How to alter my chemistry
to find the right remedy?
then reconnect the whole.

A caterpillar must liquefy
before becoming a butterfly.
so change can occur.

Perhaps just by letting go,
I may find wings will grow.
more beautiful than before

- A.S.

And here is the collage illustration that was born out of this poem. This work is titled "The Power of Letting Go"

A giclee print of this collage is available for sale on my etsy shop "The Power Of Letting Go"

xxoo Abby

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where I am

When looking back, where I was living at the time completely shapes the memories I have of different periods in my life.

The 2 story Colonial where I grew up in Lawrenceville, NJ is front and center of my childhood memories.

Me and my brother circa 1974 at our home in Lawrenceville, NJ

My recollections of college are largely defined by a dilapidated off campus house that was sliding down a hill.

And I will always fondly recall the rented carriage house (formerly "servants quarters") with the huge deck where my husband proposed almost exactly 11 years ago.

For the last 8 years I have been living in a 1950's ranch house in Suburban Philadelphia. I have some wonderful memories here, and some difficult ones too. But it is time to move on and create new memories. We have decided to put our house on the market and move into townhome a little further West of the city.

Although we don't know exactly where we will be living yet, I am really excited to start a new chapter in my life!

xxoo Abby

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Who I am

Since I became ill in 2003, spirituality has become a much bigger part of my life. It happened slowly, but the more I explored alternative healing modalities, such as meditation, the more I found comfort in realizing that we are all part of something much greater that our "selves."

I try to do something everyday to make sure I stay connected to this idea, usually some type of meditation or Qi Gong. Of course, I don't actually do this everyday (I am human!) but most days I do.

The type of Qi Gong I do is called Kuan Yin Standing. Kuan Yin, in layman's terms, is the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion. The closing movement in the series one is instructed to envision themselves as a white crane in the snow surrounded by light.

The second collage I made while taking The Artist's Way class was inspired by this idea.

It is titled "Recovering What Was Lost"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who am I?

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell

Who am I? is a very loaded question that most of us have thought about at one point in our lives. Often we define ourselves by the career we have chosen. But what happens when that definition no longer fits?

10 years ago, I never would have imagined considering calling myself an Artist. In fact, I have a Master's degree in something completely unrelated!

So, how did I start creating art? Well, in 2003 I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, and found myself no longer able to work in my profession (I was a Speech Language Pathologist working with stroke and brain injured patients)

To get out of the house, I took a course called The Artist's Way, the book/program by Julia Cameron. For fun I made a bird collage of a cardinal and brought it into the class for "show and tell." I am not sure why I choose a bird, it just popped into my head.

Anyway, things took off from there! That was about 3 years ago. Since then I've had commissions, my work in stores, and even an art show!

So, my health issues currently dictate that I live my life at a slower pace then sometimes I would like, but finding the artist within has been a true gift born out of difficult situation.

xxoo Abby

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Welcome to my new blog 111 collage design! I am very excited to be blogging again. I am planning to focus primarily on art, creativity, and living life to the fullest no matter what challenges life brings. After all, isn't that why were here - to overcome challenges?! I am excited to see how this blog evolves