Monday, June 29, 2015

Joy and Sadness, Hand in Hand


During the Passover Seder, we eat charoset and horseradish together to remind us that in times of sorrow there is joy, and in times of happiness, there is often sadness too. 

I had the immediate experience of this on Friday.  Freddie came home from a week away.  We were all set for a celebration dinner at Mishmish cafe - our favorite place. The Supreme Court decision declaring that the Constitution protects gay marriage gave us an extra reason to celebrate, and we went to dinner feeling festive and full of joy.  Mishmish was the perfect place -- just look at these desserts!

As we were enjoying them, I got a call from my dad.  As soon as I picked up the phone and heard his voice, I could tell something was wrong. Turns out that my cousin Alan had suddenly passed the night before (heart attack),  just shy of his 65th birthday.  


In a moment, my whole being went from feeling giddy with festive delight, to heavy with deep loss. My heart broke for my cousin Penny and cousin Jonathon, his brothers and my cousins Mark and Paul, and for my Aunt Helen, his mom.  

It is hard enough to lose a child.  But my Aunt Helen, 87,  is also taking care of my Aunt Ruth, her identical twin, who has advanced Alzheimer's Disease.  How could she bear this?  

We had planned to attend the Gay Pride parade on Sunday, and celebrate love in a way that would be exuberant and joyful.  But the funeral service and burial were on Sunday (Jewish law says that you bury or cremate the body within 24 hours, or in 48 if the Sabbath intervenes, as in Alan's case).  In my sorrow, I thought of the joy and exuberance of the pride parade, where many of my friends were celebrating. It gave me comfort to be reminded of that happiness in the midst of my family's sadness. 

I came home and painted.  Starting with a small 6 x 6" square canvas board (I've been loving the square substrate lately) I stenciled with the Hearts, Flowers and more stencil, using the colors of the rainbow on a on a yellow background.


I created a mask with one of the girls from the Jump for Joy stencil.  I did this by stenciling her image onto card stock, and then fussy cutting it out around her outline.  Then I placed it on my canvas, and used a cosmetic sponge to wipe turquoise blue from the center of the mask out onto the canvas.  I continued shading her, until it looked as though she was jumping out of her grief.  It was also a commemoration of the Supreme Court decision - a rainbow figure jumping out of darkness.

Soar, Joy, Love: 6 x 6 acrylic on canvas board.  $35 + $7 for shipping and handling

I added the words Joy, Soar and Love from the Jump for Joy stencil, and from the Teapot and Teacups stencil, and Happy Birthday Icons stencil.  

  
Though my heart is heavy with the grief that comes from losing someone you love and feeling others' pain, I console myself knowing that tomorrow will be brighter.

I highly recommend the movie "Inside Out."  It is a beautiful depiction of how joy and sadness must co-exist, to give us the richest experience of this fragile thing called life.



Your comments mean the world to me and I will answer any questions as soon as I can.  Thanks so much for stopping by.  If you would like to purchase this painting, please let me know. 

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's Hip to be Square



It's been a busy time since I last posted.  Samy graduated.   Then it was Father's Day...

and end of year celebrations.







Last week, the Charleston tragedy happened.  I had a canvas sitting around with bits and pieces of collage, and it turned into this meditation on despair and hope. I used my Doors & Windows stencil for the windows to memorialize Mother Emanuel.
Meditation on Charleston; acrylic on 8 x 8" canvas board; $45 + $7 shipping and handling

The canvas was a square, and I enjoyed working on that shape so much, that I pulled out some other half finished squares, which I had previously collaged with gelli prints.  I used Traci Bautista's Deconstructed Floral Bouquet stencil and my Six Point Starry Night Stencil to embellish this piece, entitled "It's In the Bag."

It's In the Bag: acrylic on 8 x 8" canvas board; $45 + $7 shipping and handling

My Teapot and Teacups Stencil, and Garden Flowers and Leaves Outlined Stencil played together for this celebration of friendship over tea.

For the Love of Tea: acrylic on 6 x 6" canvas board; $35 + $7 shipping and handling

I created this piece using Traci's Deconstructed Bouquet stencil, and my Flowers, Pomegranates and Leaves Stencil.

Bloom Big; acrylic on 8 x 8" on watercolor paper mounted on canvas board; $45 + $7 shipping and handling
I've created an art gallery on my Facebook page, where all of these pieces will be available for purchase.  I hope you'll visit my page and give it a "like."

Or let me know in the comments below if you would like to purchase one of these pieces!

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Handmade Graduation Banners


For the past four years, my younger daughter Samy has been in a small, progressive, project based private school called the Montclair Co-op.  Yesterday was graduation from this magical, supportive place that enabled her to embrace the exuberant, caring, empathetic, inquisitive person she is.
I was head of the committee to decorate the gym.  Every year, the decor committee does something uniquely personal for that graduating class.  Inspired by the banners I've created for my home, the committee created a banner for each student...

and each of the upper school teachers, using print outs of symbols representing each one of them, fabric, and, of course, lots of Stencil Girl stencils and Rubbermoon Stamps!
Freddie and I wove twine in a crazy zig zag through the rafters, and suspended the banners with clothespins.  All of the students in grades 1 - 7 wrote messages on strips of fabric, which we attached to the banners.  Augmented by some store bought fiesta decorations and holiday lights, the gym was so festive.
The kids and teachers loved their personalized banners, and it was certainly a different take on graduation decor!

What do you think of our crazy graduation decorations?

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.


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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Doors Close and Doors Open



Welcome the closing of an old door, for it is then that a new door shall open.  Scottie Somers. 


I had the most amazing weekend.  It was the 40th anniversary of the High School of Performing Arts, class of 1975.  Though I graduated in '76, so many of the '75 class were close friends.  So I went to the reunion.

Ned Eisenberg and me in front of our former school.
If you've never heard of Performing Arts, or "P.A." as we called it, it is the magical place beautifully memorialized in the original "Fame" movie.  In fact, the character of Doris was an amalgam of various students in the school, one of which was me!  Like Doris, I sang at my audition even though the school did not have a singing department at the time.  (Unlike Doris, my mother was not present!)


Like Doris, I was a sheltered girl whose life and perspective were cracked open by this amazing place.  I had grown up relatively sheltered and affluent in a brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  At P.A., I made friends with people from every single background and neighborhood that NYC had to offer.  My best friends were a girl from a railroad apartment in Astoria, Queens, and a boy from East Harlem.  

  with Daryl Edwards, my brother from another mother.
My girl-friend's fire escape looked out over Ditmars Boulevard, where her friends hung out at at night at the Carvel across the street, and where there was a Woolworth Store - which was more exciting for me than a candy store!  Starting in my junior year (and continuing part way through college), I dated someone from the South Bronx, whose mother was a former Black Panther member and wouldn't let me in their apartment.  No matter - we were all united by our art.

P.A. has lots of famous graduates, including Ben Vereen and Priscilla Lopez, who were both there.



You can see my friends Daryl Edwards in Daredevil, among many other movies and commercials, and Ned Eisenberg on Law & Order, NCIS and on Broadway.  Scarlett De Bease is a successful image stylist; following stints on Broadway and film, Denise Woods is a vocal coach to the stars; Kenya Cagle is a film producer, and more.  The best thing about this get together was seeing the love that has lasted all these years.   Whether continuing in the performing arts or not, everyone is leading interesting lives, still full of creativity and sparkle.  I am 100% certain these people and my experience at this school completely changed my life.


I came home full of inspiration and energy, and completed an art journal page.  Here's how it started and the stages it went through.




Until it ended up like this.



Welcome the closing of an old door, for it is then that a new door shall open.  Scottie Somers.

Thank you Performing Arts and all of the wonderful people who crossed my path.  You opened more doors for me than you will ever know.

(Supplies used include Golden Fluid Acrylic Paints, and the Doors and Windows & Ganesh Stencils from Stencil Girl Products. )"

What experiences transformed your life?  

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Stencil Club at Stencil Girl Products


Today, I am over at Stencil Girl Talk with step out photos showing how this canvas came to be, using the June stencils from Stencil Club, designed by Cecilia Swatton.  


I hope you'll hop over and take a look!  I'm linking this piece to Art Journal Journey, where the theme this month is Masculine/Feminine.  


Also, today is the first day of a huge art sale I'm having on Facebook.   Click here to be taken to the group page.  Many paintings, stitched items, and altered art available for graduation presents and more!
Faceback.

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.


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Monday, May 18, 2015

We Are Stardust


Warning - wordy post below!

I recently returned home from a quick trip to Guatemala to visit the house we purchased in the beautiful town of Antigua.

It was my first trip there on my own, and the first time staying in our new house.  I was a little nervous about navigating it all with my limited Spanish.  But, dictionary in hand, off I went.
Of course, I had my travel case of art supplies with me - my travel journal, some fine tipped Sharpie pens, a small watercolor set, and a few water brushes.  On the way there, I doodled and painted some funky birds:


When I returned home - some of these birdies made it onto greeting cards...

We'll see if they fly anywhere - wink wink.

I had been a little worried that I might regret our house purchase.  After all, we only saw it in February, and purchased it through a representative in April.  It all happened so fast.

But, as soon as I arrived on our little street, and went into the house, my doubts flew away.

In addition to being a beautiful place to visit and hopefully retire to someday, it has already proved to be a lovely gathering place for our "From Houses to Homes" family.  And our godson got to take his first shower with warm water.  He thought the shower head was truly magic!





Shameless plug - The house is available to rent-- hint hint!  (The rental price shown is for a month - the weekly rate is $900 and it sleeps 8 - two bedrooms have full beds and one bedroom has two bunkbeds!)

I was supposed to fly home on Friday, May 8.  I have never, ever had a problem flying home from Guatemala.  This time, however, our plane sat for several hours on the runway as mechanics tried to fix a malfunction.  Then we deplaned and sat for several hours at the gate.  Ultimately, the flight was cancelled.  By then, there were no more flights out of Guatemala and 250 people had to be re-ticketed for the next day.

I had been seated next to an elderly gentleman, Señor Roca, who was traveling alone to Patterson, NJ.  He was a very old 78, frail and tremulous.  He had no teeth and was hard of hearing.  He was making the trip to see a doctor in the States for lesions and ulcers in his legs and feet, caused by diabetes.  When we had to leave the plane, he was very scared, but I told him I would stay with him and help him with the process.

With the help of the man sitting on the other side of Señor Roca, I was able to advocate for a wheelchair and for him to be re-ticketed ahead of everyone else, as he hadn't eaten in hours and was visibly shaking.  But first, we had to go to the baggage carousel and re-claim all of our luggage.  Then, it was three flights up to the ticket counter, which was a mess.  Imagine an entire plane-load of people in a non-air conditioned area, with only three ticketing agents trying to take care of all of them.  We had been sitting in a hot airplane for over 2 hours (because that was part of the malfunction), and then at the gate with no air-conditioning for another two hours (because the airport was officially closed).  People were sweating and frustrated, and tempers were running high.

Watercolor I did while sitting on the plane on the tarmac...
I might have gotten angry along with everyone else.  But because all of my attention was focused on Señor Roca, I was not thinking of myself and my own frustration and discomfort.  Instead, I was feeling generous and of use.  In this way, Señor Roca was my angel -- he helped me see myself as more than just my ego.  We were all in the same predicament after all ...  even the three hapless ticket agents, who were doing their best while fending off everyone's anger.

At some point, an airline employee brought several trays of sandwiches to the ticket counter, as well as sodas and cups.  Oddly, no one moved off the line to get something to eat or drink. I don't know if people thought they had to wait to get to the front of the line, or if they were afraid to lose their spots.  So while Señor Roca and I were waiting (the re-ticketing process was taking about 30 minutes a passenger as the flight still had not been "officially" cancelled so first all the passengers had to be "de-ticketed"), I took it upon myself to unwrap all the sandwich trays and distribute them and the sodas throughout the long line.  (My dad calls this my "take charge" gene, and swears I get it from my mom!) This gave me a good feeling of being useful and helpful.  People were grateful to me, but I was grateful to them for, again, helping me away from my ego.

United Airlines put us all up at a nearby Holiday Inn and gave us dinner, breakfast, and travel vouchers.  The next day, we embarked again.  This time, it all went without a hitch.  By then, Señor Roca and I were committed travel companions!











When I finally came home, I had a wonderful Mother's Day reunion with my husband and daughters.  


And... I finally was able to finish an art journal page I had started before I left.  This lady appeared in my journal before my trip, but I wasn't sure how to finish her.  

Here's how I had left my journal page.   No journaling, and a lonely outline from my Layered Peony stencil from Stencil Girl Products.  



I painted in the peony and added some words...

Then I scribble-journaled my experience with Señor Roca and our adventure traveling home from Guatemala.  I want to remember that if we can reach out and connect with the souls of other beings, anything is possible.  


After all, we are all made from the same stardust!


Update on Señor Roca - I spoke with him today and he is still at his daughter's house in Patterson.  We have plans to visit with each other in Guatemala, when I return there in December!

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

If you don't already, please sign-up for my newsletter HERE, and follow me on Facebook, PinterestBloglovin and YouTube, so that you never miss a giveaway, and always get the latest Jessica Sporn Designs News!  


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