Jul 20 2015

Painting in Color Workshop— MEXICO!!!

I am so excited about this opportunity to share my love of creating, explore Oaxaca, Mexico and spend time with like-minded people! Not to mention teach alongside the prolifically talented and fabulous Sunny Carvahlo (check out her work and her workshop post here)! We would LOVE to have you join us on this adventure!


Kathie Vezzani, also an artist, has been organizing culinary trips to Mexico with Culinary Adventures, Inc. and Marilyn Tausend for the past twenty years with chefs such as Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy, Susana Trilling (from Oaxaca), Roberto Santibanez, and the late Elaine Gonzalez. Additionally, she tested recipes for Tausend’s last three Mexican cookbooks. Kathie’s tours combine two of her passions, food and art.

Joining her as she has with Culinary Adventures’ tours, is Ane Elena Martinez, a pastry chef from Puebla who coordinates details in Mexico.

Together with their many friends and contacts in Oaxaca, they have planned a once in a lifetime experience for us!




Trip will include:

• Painting and creating with Sunny and myself all week!!!
• “Welcome” fiesta
• Cooking lesson at Seasons of My Heart Cooking School with Susanna Trilling
• Market Tour
• Visits to artisans- black pottery and alebrijes
• Visit to museum and paper making demonstration
• Art supplies
• Transportation within Oaxaca
• Time to explore Oaxaca and its many artful offerings
• Opportunity to sign up for massages and/or a temazcal
• And, best of all… a new ART TRIBE!!!

Click HERE for more information 🙂

Sep 19 2014

Whatever Camp Create – part 1

i don’t know if you remember, but a few years back i went down to Newton, KS to Meg Duerksen’s  Whatever Craft Weekend? it was a blast! so, when Meg asked me if i wanted to come down and teach at her newest endeavor  Camp Create, i was ALL OVER IT!

i mean really, who wouldn’t want to go to a place stocked so beautifully & creatively with arts & crafts supplies?

and where beds with vintage quilts like this welcomed you!

like last time, i had to get my hands on her giant chalkboard!

pretty sure this took me half the day. at some point i would love to take a hand-lettering workshop to learn tricks to make it look better and go quicker. i’m thinking i’ll give this one by mary kate mcdevitt  a go. many people have said great things about it. and she is crazy good!

we had mini devotional/thought provoking times working on our “god sized dream“,  led by the lovely, wise & oh-so-kind author holley gerth.

we went to a gigantic sunflower field. it was B E A U T I F U L !!! #duh (as stephanie ackerman would say)

sunflowers for days!

the sweet lady herself. her heart is so big. her intentions pure.

many special moments. friendships made. dreams shared.

and lots and LOTS of laughter!!! and i’m talking gut-hurting, face-cramping, eyes-watering laughter!

really, all this to say… i didn’t have much fun. 😉



Apr 29 2013

china flowers & crazy food

i am soooo tired, a LONG day at the factory, but i wanted to check in real quick and say “hi” and share a few pics.

china_flower_travellove the stamen on this pretty. it is “stamen”, correct?

allen_designs_whimsical_clocks_flowerthese colors are making me very happy!

food_in_china_travel_southernthis is actually a pretty decent round up.
tofu & green beans, corn, bread things that you fill with some sort of root/vegetable mixture, spicy fish (in the center there) and pork.

china_travel_small_lobster_seafood_soupand this… i’m not a big seafood buff. is there such thing as mini lobsters?
if so, this might be them.

well, i’m off to sleep.
thanks for peeking in on me!

Apr 27 2013

hello China!

yes, i’m here in China again.
at least twice a year.
i can’t believe this is my 10th year of coming here. am i really getting that old?!



i’m working on lots of new designs. pretty darned excited about them!
after 10 yrs., i still get completely blissed out in the development process.

seeing two dimensional art become three dimensional is just downright fun.

table setting: plastic wrapped dishes (that you still end up rinsing in boiling hot water), ashtray (ugh, so many smokers here in China!), toothpicks, tissues (instead of napkins. always) and peanuts (quite common appetizer).

fish soup.

i love the farmland here. small areas with lots of different crops, sustaining the areas nearby.

something new to me on this trip- riding a high speed train. 200 MPH!!!
a little nerve-wracking. glad i’m still here to write about it. 🙂

more china travels tomorrow. xoxo-m

Mar 6 2013

gathering of creatives

invited at the last minute.
i immediately said yes! a short bit later, had to fight myself from texting back with a big fat NO WAY.
i was utterly intimidated by this list of amazing women that would be in attendance.

IMG_3059intimidated not only by their individual successes, but also by their ability to communicate so well through words.

krr manzanita beach retreatfrom the left: kelly rae, leigh, myself, lacy, hannah, flora, mati, andrea, jessica and vivienne

seriously. SEE what i mean?

i had already committed, and there was a deep part of me that really wanted to go.
and be part.

to experience this community of women.

IMG_3092this lovely lady is the master orchestrator “connectress” of this special gathering.

radiate sessionsphoto by andrea scher
the setting was a small beach town on the oregon coast.
as you can see, the weather just happened to be PERFECT!

creative gathering oregon coast radiatehere’s the scene when we arrived.

creative artist gathering manzanita oregonarm photo by andrea scher
our time together consisted of all things lovely. sharing stories, making art, taking pictures, walking the beach,
giggling, eating delicious healthy food….  and mostly- encouraging & loving one another.

IMG_3117simple. but GOOD.
really good.

IMG_3083the word i chose to write on my arm was “vulnerable”.
i’ve spent too many years building walls.
brick by brick. hurt by hurt.
protecting myself from judgement, disappointment, failure, embarrassment- and the list goes on.
i want to be okay with who i am
and not worry so much about offending someone, having bad grammar or sounding stupid!

i have a voice and i don’t want to be afraid to use it!


this time has impacted and inspired me in ways i wouldn’t have imagined.
such, that i’m considering, with kelly rae’s encouragement, to do a small gathering of my own.
here’s a post she wrote up on how to go about it, in case this is something you might want to do.
you won’t regret it.
step out.
take a chance.
it will be amazing!

Nov 2 2012

china- hiking, sculpting, eating and art-ing

hiking in china is a new experience for me!

i absolutely LOVE doing things i haven’t done before.

on occasion, pushing through that edge of fear that tempts you to hold back and play it safe.
those are the times i feel so completely alive.

this hiking was a little different than i’m used to.
it involved a concrete & rock path for miles and miles.
climbing well over a 1000 stairs to the summit.
i can’t imagine how long it took them to hand build these trails!
no one can call the chinese a lazy group of people, that’s for sure!

the “hello” finished.

a new clock design in the making.

oh yes. lunch is served!

exciting new project i’m working on.

art journal pages in progress.

i’m currently sitting in the HK airport waiting for my flight home.
a good cup of coffee warms my belly.
i’m a happy girl.

Sep 13 2012

hello whatever craft weekend!

i’ve, once again, been away from this blog so long
that i really don’t know where to start.
i guess i’ll begin with the most exciting thing i’ve done since my last post.
and that would be- i went to kansas for meg duerksen’s craft weekend!!!

(some chalkboard art i did before the weekend began)

meg and i have been blogging/internet friends for years,
so when she started doing these craft weekends i knew i had to go!
her house is FULL of gorgeous creativity and color and what she’s doing is really cool.
i also totally wanted to meet up with her in person.

all the beds are adorned with beautiful vintage quilts that you totally want to dive right into.

so much eye candy that i probably spent over an hour just taking instagram shots.

several fun crafts and a trip to some antique shops and this crazy awesome barn filled with treasures.

oh, and let’s not forget the delicious food that the lovely kimberely made for us several times a day!!!

 i had an amazing time meeting new friends and making fun crafts!
if you want to see more pics check out my instagram (close2myart).
May 21 2012


things are finishing up here in the factory.
samples are completed.
pricing is agreed upon.
and home is on the horizon!

the flower i showed you previously- now completed.
these colors are so YUMMY, don’t you think?
the pendulum that accompanies it is super, super cute!
just wait till you see it!

stacks of molds.

the messy process.

i just couldn’t leave you today without a few last food pics.
at least they removed the eyeball on this guy.

scallops with garlic & noodles on top.
these are delish.

a pretty flower found on my jaunt to the farmer’s market.

well, off to catch a plane!
after 9 years of traveling here a few times a year, going home still makes me giddy.


May 20 2012


this is part two of the farmer’s market i encountered here in southern china.
it’s so interesting to see how different cultures exist & function.

the day was already quite warm (in the 80’s), as you can imagine, these next areas didn’t have the best of smells.

these are not pets.
they’re for eating.

same with these.
love all their different colors and markings.

an 80º day, these fish just sitting out on styrofoam boards…
ha! you would not find this in the usa.

grab a bowl and pick what you’d like.

are you getting hungry yet?

i’m sure after this photo you’re already running to the pantry for a bag of chips.
yes, these are fish heads and they are set out on display for sale.

there are also bins with live shrimp, turtles, fish and worms that you can choose from and they will clean and bag it right there for you.

i have so much respect for the way they live.
walking this market made me feel like such a prim.
in the usa we tend to like our food cleaned and packaged up all pretty-like.
perhaps this way is healthier. (minus, of course, the bouts of food poisoning!)
it certainly is fresher!

May 19 2012


today was a better food day!
i’m still guessing i will have lost a little weight from this journey.
although nothing like the 4-5lbs per trip i would lose in the early years of my traveling here!

i didn’t have to go into the factory till after lunch today so i had a little time to play in my art journal.
just messing around with pattern & color.
feels good.

there was also time to visit a farmers market down the road.
i only brought my 50mm fixed lens with me- which makes it hard to show you just how huge this market was.

i have a bunch more pictures to show you tomorrow as i’m running out of time.
some are pretty gross so if you have a timid stomach you may want to skip tomorrow’s post.
hope you’re having a lovely weekend.

May 18 2012


funny, i spoke too soon yesterday.
today’s meals left much to be desired!
i think these are sardines?
the taste wasn’t too bad but not something i’d order on my own.
octopus has never been a favorite of mine.

they tell me this is some sort of curdled blood or something.
i tried this sort of dish on a past trip… only because my 15 yr. old daughter tried it and i couldn’t let her show me up.
all i can say is- no thanks!
the lunch restaurant was in the owners home and ran by their family.
an interesting and kind of cool experience.
this was the view right outside the door.
have you ever seen a tree this mean???
painting is in process.
nothing makes me happier or more inspired than color!
May 17 2012


food, when i first started coming here 9 years ago, scared me.

not initially, because i never considered myself a picky eater
and although i didn’t love chinese food, it didn’t make me want to gag.
but a few meals in and i quickly began to dread each and every meal.
which let me tell you, is very unlike me!
between the beautifully disguised durian, fish eyes in the soup,
snake killed at the table in front of us and then turned into soup,
and much more that i can’t even bring to mind right now.
i decided i really hated the food here.

slowly over the years i’ve had a 180 degree change in my thinking.
and NOT because i now love durian, snake, or fish eyes!
but because i’ve, little by little, found an abundance of dishes that i love.
like the one above which is spicy fish with some sort of bean sprouts.

and tofu! the tofu here is UNBELIEVABLE!
made so many different ways.

one thing that took me by surprise when i first started traveling here… perhaps it was just my naivety.
but that all the food is chinese food!
which means no mexican, italian- you get my drift.
can you imagine?

this is some sort of vegetable noodle.

anyhoo-hoo, thanks for stopping by and joining me on my travels!

one last thing, have you seen wild china???

May 16 2012


the day consisted of more sculpting, mold making, sitting in traffic, eating and lots and lots of decisions.

i really wish i could show you all of my new designs.
unfortunately that will have to wait til july when we introduce them to market.
but, i will cheat and show you a few over the next several days cause i simply can’t help myself!
in every line i try to create at least one piece that i personally would put up in my house.
this piece is “the one” in this season’s line.
usually these pieces are the riskiest and have less broad appeal,
so i have to keep them to a minimum or i will go out of business.
sometimes they’ll surprise me and they’ll actually turn out to be a good seller. rarely.

a few pics from the road…
let me just say that this was a massively busy freeway intersection where cars were traveling close to 60mph or more.
these are some brave people. very brave.

and i complain about taking the trash out!

notice the side sitting gal, and the baby between the front couple.

tomorrow will have to be a food day.
fortunately for me, everything so far has been very edible and identifiable!
which probably makes it boring for you. ha!

May 15 2012


about 20 hours of travel time and i made it here safe and sound.
this is where i really wish i wasn’t such a chicken to take ambien!
i have this repeating vision that i’m going to pee my pants or freak out on the plane like a lunatic.
ohhhh, but it would be so nice to be knocked out cold for 8 of those 16 hours of flying time!

the first day was consumed with sculpting, revisions and mold making.
probably the most exciting part of this process for me.
seeing my two-dimensional art coming to life by someone else’s skilled hands.
i enjoy sculpting myself, and often do on small fun projects.
although, when i’m here, it’s so much quicker for me to just hand it over to the factories masterful sculptors.
not to mention that they’re always trying to shoo me out of their workspace!

some colorful crates outside the factory.

one of my favorites here… tofu!!!

2 days down, 7 to go. 🙂

Apr 10 2012

artfest silk screening workshop

the 2nd workshop i taught at artfest was silk screening.
once again, i was blessed with a very talented group of artisans.
these were my class samples.
and following, are the wonderful creations everyone came up with:

love the bold imagery of this piece by jolie!

each person came up with their own art then made screens of their images and then proceeded to silk screen onto fabric.

regina combined things her family enjoys for her piece.
kinda like a family crest?
she posted some more pictures of her finished creation here.

kate did her friends new baby’s name.
(we all decided she should be named the godmother after all the work that went into this!)

tracie did the awesome recycle sign which goes along with her biz- radical recycks
for the first time, i had the privilege of a sweet teenager (sophia) and a darling man (ben) taking my workshop.
both of them- super fun and cute!

the thing i love about silk screening is that you can use the art again and again.
and by changing up the fabric color and ink color it completely changes up the art.
not to mention, all the cool things you can print on. 🙂

looking at all these pics is making me yearn to do some silk screening myself!
ohhhh, i wish there was more time in a day!

**again, i somehow missed taking pictures of some of you and your beautiful pieces.
if you notice your missing and have a few pictures you could send me i’d love to add them to this post.**

Apr 8 2012

the finished dolls & dudes!

this class was SO MUCH FUN!!! (well, besides our toaster ovens kicking the breaker box 30 times)
it helped that everyone in the class were artists in their own right and had NO LACK of creativity!
i wanted to take them all home with me.

i loved how people’s personalities showed through in their creations.
and as you can see, we had an abundance of personality!

thank you to everyone who took my workshop!
you were amazing. each and every one of you! SERIOUSLY AMAZING.

and i’m really sorry to do it this way, but if i’m ever going to actually get this post up…
here is a list of blog/websites of some of the gals in the class where several of them have posted more pictures of their pieces and more details about their artfest experience.
please check them out…
kt40’s blog
stephanie schleicher
kaleidoscope lane
nicci battilana
jessie starling
jill berry
miss mindy
lori carey
danielle daniel
annie hooten
an li na designs

**i know that i am missing a few people’s pieces which i can’t quite figure out how that happened. 🙁
if you notice your missing and have a few pictures you could send me i’d love to add them to this post.**

Apr 3 2012

port townsend artfest post #1

sorry about the no post yesterday.
just too much work to catch up on.
let me just start by saying- artfest was once again, AWESOME!!!

one of the highlights for me this year… was a picture-taking-excursion with friends kate daniel

and janne robberstad.

port townsend, wa is such a lovely little town.
it was like one big treasure hunt!

i’ll be back tomorrow with more!