Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm in France having an enchanting time.

There is so much to see, do, and eat!

This is the first internet connection I have had since arriving and it is terribly expensive so I won't be able to write all that I wanted to. I have been keeping a log in my computer notebook that I will try to download.

Here are some photo's, enjoy!

France Day 2

I am in France! I am in a brassiere in Chignon called Café Des Artes early in the evening writing without an internet connection. The rest of the world isn’t quite as connected as we are in the States yet. There are special places you can go to purchase some on-line time but not in this little town. I will just have to transfer all the data latThis very moment I am sitting at the foot of a large hill in a small medieval town, looming above me is a beautiful fortress where Joan of Arc came to ask king Charles for armies in 1429. I actually stood in the same tower where she lived and prayed while she was here. I climbed the same steps that kings and knights took everyday , I stood over the Loire and gazed out at the forest and the river and tried to imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago…it was breathtaking.

I also made a visit to the chapel of St.Michel at the Abby Fonteveroux where I lit a candle for Stevie under a beautiful statue of Mary. France is interesting but a little sleepy off-season. It is cold and windy but the sun breaks through every now and then and you can get a peak at how beautiful it must be in full spring and summer. The Loire is green and the Chignon sits right in front of it where people must have washed clothes and passed through in small boat.
It's almost dinner time but I had such a late and heavy lunch I can’t imagine eating again, in real life you would never hear me say such a thing. I love to eat and I love food but France has taken me to a whole new gastronomic level; I can’t imagine going back home and eating the same way again. I feel like I have not stopped eating since I boarded the plane and the food has been unlike anything I have ever experienced. What should be fresh is very fresh, the bread is light and crunchy, the soups are hot and creamy, even my little sandwich was simple but divine; a baguette filled with butter and Swiss cheese. Everything I have eaten has been delicious.

I arrived yesterday in the afternoon. I had to take a train to Tours to rent a car. It was a little confusing and the “Fast train” was a little disappointing, it seems they are trying to modernize the rail system so the train is going at regular speed at the moment. So far I have been able to cruise without any French, I am understanding a little more than I thought I would especially if it is in writing . Finding the Hertz rental car was a little difficult, it was hiding on a crooked street about a half mile from the train station.

I spent the night in a small hotel Le Moulin Fleuri in Veigne - Mont Bazon where dinner came with the room. I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a feast of many courses each even more wonderful than the next. The first thing that arrived at the table was a creamy carrot soup topped with light whipped butter and chives. Then there was a larger soup that was dark and hearty loaded with sweet onions, a thick slice of toast and cheese. Because I am a vegetatarian the chef made me a special plate that was a work of art; roasted parsnips, broccoli, tomato, carrots and arugula. I was about to burst at this point but they kept bringing more courses. Next was a salad with a cheese assortment. The cheese tray was wheeled to the table where you chose five of your favorites of goat or milk cheese. They were pungent and tasted like heaven mixed with the salad greens. After all of that wonderful dinner came desert which started with a plate full of tiny tarts, cookies, and chocolates and ended with a tall beautiful mint green pistachio soufflé.

I went to bed bursting and blissful. The room was basic, no frills a little stinky because smoking still happens in public places here. Outside my window was a very large pond with a crumbling stone bridge that crossed over to a small forest. The park in front of the property was littered with tiny stone benches and bulbs that were beginning to open.

I can’t seem to call home on my cell even though the phone company promised it wouldn’t be a problem, texting seems to work and receiving calls isn’t a problem which leads me to believe it is operator error, the operator being me. I’ll figure it out.

Noah sent me off with a tearful good--bye and his oldest toy “Max” who happens to be a pretty hunky action figure who has lost his shoes and pants over the years but has kept his muscles and thick hair. I have been taking photos of max in silly locations and sending them to Steve’s Palm for Noah. I miss my little guy already, I am too far away from him.

Tomorrow I will rise early and find a nice breakfast and hopefully have a little more time to write then off to explore more of the Loire Valley and maybe head south to Provance before heading back to Paris for the rest of my stay here.

Oh I almost forgot I met a lovely shop owner who has her own version of Tangerine. She sells art supplies and loves paper from the States. She knows who Tim Holts is! She said that mixed media collage is just making it’s way here and she is very excited. I showed her some photo’s of my shop that were saved on my camera and she loved them. I bought a paint brush and small bottles of ink from her.

It has been a long day but a good one.

France Day 3

Not sure where to go but I think we are going to explore. Sarah would like to go to Burgundy…this is wine country. We will be traveling all day by car but it should be worth it. Our idea was to travel to the southern most part of France but it is over 980 more miles by car and the weather is cold and rainy. The coast will be even colder so we are going to check out the country where wine is made. Sarah loves wine, I love small villages so it should be fine.

I still haven’t made any purchases for the store but I am hoping to stop at shops and maybe find some outdoor markets on the way back to Paris.

am tired this morning, I think my body is still adjusting to the time difference. In real life it would be about three in the morning, here now it is ten am and I have just stuffed myself full of bread and hot chocolate. Sarah went for an early morning run and is in the process of showering and getting pretty.

I am downstairs in the Brassiere, our tiny hotel room is upstairs, it is sherbet colored with low beds covered in brown blankets. The coolest part of the room is the big windows that open up over the shops downstairs. We can see the boucherie and the Arts de la Table. The woman who owns the shop is very cute with cropped salt and pepper hair, and thick black framed glasses. She wears dark blue jeans and sweaters, she is very French, adorable.

There are teenagers in the bar this morning, they got up early to drink beer, smoke and be loud and silly. The girls are dressed in short, short skirts and black tights. They are wearing high shoes, sorry but I think they look silly, a little post 80’s mixed up. The boys have messy vampire hair (twilight). They seem happy, and they are having a good time, ahhhh to be that young and in France.

I have all kinds of wonderful idea’s for the shop. The wonderful thing is that my shop is very close to what is going on here, eclectic and colorful. I think I could use less clutter, the ribbon wall must come down I may wrap all the ribbon on tag shaped chip board and hang them in bunches on the mannequin. I think I need more stationary and a few more art supplies that are a bit unusual. My gut instinct is to phase out some of the children’s art supplies and gift packs to make room for a bit more ephemera and hand made gifts.

Ingrid taught me how to say “Butter, Butter, and more Butter “ before I left to France. I figured I had to find a way to connect, I was so sure they would kick me out for not eating meat, drinking wine or liking goat cheese. So far they seem to appreciate my love of butter, bread, milk cheese and chocolate, not a bad way to live.


Sarah and I drove to Veselay in Burgundy. It was a four hour drive but beautiful all the way. This is farm country, specifically grapes. It was green for as far as the eye can see, neat planted stands of trees, where ever a tree was cut down a new one was planted and the most organized wood piles stood next to houses waiting to be burned for heat. There are some modern houses but for the most part the houses are old and made from stone. Every house is shuttered no matter what age it is. There are no window or door screens and every window has a box full of flowers, mostly pansies and rosemary this time of year.

The roads are long and winding and when you least expect it a hamlet or small village will pop up on both sides of the road, each has an old church, a patisserie, and the prerequisite old men with red noses who walk slow carrying a bag (with what else?)a baguette poking out from it. I was told that men in France love older women and I have figured out the reason , it is because they are almost hundred themselves. I haven’t seem many young men nor many attractive men. It is off season so only the locals are around and they are pretty friendly but they are mostly older.
We have had to stop many people to ask for directions and so far they have all been helpful. Almost everyone speaks at least a little English which is great because I still don’t speak any French accept for the occasional Bon Jour and Pardon….sigh I am a lousy American oops I mean Canadian...

I am wondering what it ‘s going to be like in Paris away from all these farm houses and ruins…Will it be overwhelming? Oh I hope I love it.. Tonight I feel a little home-sick. I miss Noah so much. I know Aly is glad to have me out of her hair but I miss her too. I miss Stevie the most. I know she is always with me but I am far away from her bed, her clothes, the house that I spent so much of her life with her at. This is probably good for me but it doesn’t feel good, it feels sad.
I am going into a great big cathedral at sunrise tomorrow morning. I’ll bring my journal and some art supplies. I want to sit and be alone with all that history and all my history. I feel a connection to this place, it feels very familiar. I look like many people here even though my heritage is not French. I could live here easily, I bet everyone who visits thinks that…It doesn’t feel foreign to me it feels like I have lived here before, it isn’t an overwhelming feeling just an easy comfort.

Tonight I had dinner in a small restraunt owned by a husband and wife. It was a tiny place nestled in a big stone building. It had cream colored walls, windows with big fat wooden sashes that opened out to the street. The lamps that hung from the ceiling looked like tiffany and gave off the prettiest amber glow. The floors were tile and all the tables were simple and made from dark wood. It was elegant but comfortable.

The meal for me was vegetarian I started with bread and butter, then had the official Onion Soup. They brought me a plate of steamed vegetables that sat on a puddle of sauce that was made with cream and herbs. My cheese selection was milk cheese as usual, just the smell of the goat cheese trolley was sending me over the edge. I nibbled the cheese and felt guilty for wasting artisan cheese but I just can’t seem to appreciate aromatic cheese on it’s own. My desert was the yummiest slice of cake, it was bitter chocolate, dense, and warm. It was topped with a small scoop of freshly made pistachio ice-cream and a delicate chocolate lace. Sprinkled all around the plate was cardamom and candied pistachio. I ate every last itty bitty crumb to make up for the cheese.

Now I am back in my room which is on the very top floor of an old château. This place is hundreds of years old and made of stone and huge wooden beams that must weigh thousands of pounds. My room has one tiny shuttered window that has a view of the village below and the cathedral. The cielings are vaulted and uplit, there is a small loft over the beds where beams intersect. The floors are made of thick wood planks that smell like linseed oil. The wall by the window has been plastered and is painted a pretty aqua. The rest of the walls are exposed stone.

This room feels like a writer once lived here, I can’t explain it but I can see him sitting at an old desk by the window. He has long thin hair tied back, he is wearing a thick white shirt that is hand-sewn. His hands are ink stained and he has his meals up here. He has lived in France his whole life so the beautiful scene outside the window is too familiar to him , he has dreams of other places that he has never seen but can imagine clearly. Maybe he is writing about a woman who sits in a bed in this very room, who comes from far away and is writing about this place.

This trip is almost perfect but I am missing my best person.

Well it is very late and I am getting sleepy, I had a nice hot bath tonight in a great big tub in our room, I am sure that tub wasn’t here a hundred years ago but I am sure glad it is here now. The wind is blowing outside and I can hear the rain coming down…tomorrow another new adventure, we will visit a small town and abbey where they filmed Chocolat.

Bon nuit

Another day in France...

I got up early and spoke to Paul or Host and asked him about our chambre. He told me that a famouse french writer once lived there a very long time ago. Cool.

I spent the morning in the Bascillica in Verasay. I was there until my toes and bottom got cold and numb. The place is an architectual wonder. I wrote in my journal, prayed and lit a candle for Stevie.

Sarah and I headed out to explore more of Burgundy. The green country side, and the winding road are dreamy. We did all the site seeing our book told us to do and we also took some back roads to explore, feed ponies and see things many people don't.

We ended the day in Semur an ancient town. Our room is very modern and very different from the other places we have stayed at so far. There are big fat douvets on the beds, a giant bathtub, class tiles and Ikea-esque reading lamps, very strange because I can see an ancient crumbling keep from my window.

Dinner tonight was a salad made with lettuce, tomato, smoked salmon, and a dijon dressing. we had a huge basket of bread and Crepes with chocolate sauce. We stayed late talking and drinking fruity wine. Our bill was shocking...everything is yummy here but the price tag can be shocking.

Still no goodies for Tangerine, we keep missing the open air market days. I am not leaving here without old paper, trim, and trinkets!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


It is a wonderful day, there is a big St.Patricks day parade right outside Tangerine at this very moment. It is an annual event for Dublin and one of the sweetest parades I have ever been to. The whole town is outside sitting in lawn chairs, wrapped in fuzzy blankets while old model T's and fancy convertibles drive slowly by carrying the Mayor and the Citizen of the year. The sound of marching band always makes me cry, it is silly really but it is just so beautiful.

Mike Jennings is giving his Dynamic digital collage workshop today. This is a much anticipated class for those who really want to learn how to rock Photoshop. This is a one day intensive and Mike is a pro. He is the perfect combination of artist and Geek, a Geekist or a is a long class but it is well worth it. There will be Thai lunch break mid-way then back to work.

If you want to check out some really cool and unusual supplies you have to visit Shoshanna Jenning's Hannah-Grey, a superb online shop with a little bit of everything for the Mixed-media artist. Mike and Shoshanna were here with me when Tangerine was just being born, they were a wealth of support and they are idea machines.

Lisa Guerin will be here next week from Southern California. She is honoring us with three whole days of workshops! Gypsy Junk Jewelry and Character Construction Paper dolls. Her classes started filling up the day the news leaked. Lisa has agreed to let me add a few more people to the class so as of today there are two more openings, if you want a space you will need to call soon!

Iva's private workshop was a hit! Lana Kloch arranged for a class with a group of her closest and dearest here at Tangerine and Iva Wilcox taught a beautiful paper theatre inspired by her good friend and fellow instructor Ulla Millbrath. Ulla has been a creative inspiration to so many artists. The ladies enjoyed tea, juice, fresh baked cakes and pastry while the cut, clued, assembled and had a really sweet day.

If you are interested in having a private class please give Tangerine a call or drop me an email. It is a great way to celebrate a special day with people who make you happy. I'd be glad to arrange an instructor and a unique project.


I have decided to get bloggy-with-it...

That means give-aways! There will be a chance to win here at the blog-site and in the store. I'll post a photo of the give away and what you have to do to get a little Tangerine Happy! Sign up to get blog updates for more information or come on in and drop your digits in the bowl for a chance to win.

OOOOh how much fun is this going to be?!

April will be a paper cake give-away. All you have to do is come by the store or drop me a comment here at the blog and tell me what two art products you could not be without if you were stranded on a desert island (yes there will be electricity for you glue-gun!) At the end of the month I will pull three names out of a magic hat, actually (Noah will pull the names out of his baseball hat).

Ahhh and now the really big NEWS!!!

The details aren't all ironed out yet but it looks like we will be having the King of Assemblage and all things Altered here at Tangerine for three whole days in November! I am over the moon and I will have more details for you in April. I promise this will be a workshop you will not want to miss. I am so sure that I will be opening registration for the class in Late April. I am way too excited about this!

I will be running off to Paris for two weeks so Tangerine will be on auto-pilot from March 24th- April 8th. For regular customers who have a buying emergency Sawsan will be here to ring you up.

I can't wait for the coming months, there are so many surprises, classes, and groovy art supplies.

Make Art=Be Happy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Copy cats and bad cookies, the long post.

I was just told by a little bird that this blog is actually being accessed. Hip-hip-hooray! It has been a month full of computer and computer related woes. The computer is now good as new, the website is finally repaired (they called it bad cookies, is there any such thing?) and the links for the blogs seem to be working. If you are still getting a jumbled Tangerine it is most likely due to your browser not supporting the fonts I originally used. If things are still a little goofy I apologize, there might be a few glitches in the matrix that need sorting.

Tangerine continues to amaze me. It is like a person; it grows, changes and it surprises. I've met so many wonderful people and all that great energy has an effect, a real good and positive one. Classes are filling up easily and in April the new workshop schedule will be full of new opportunities. It will also be full of treasures from France! I have decided to bring back as much as I can cram into my extra suitcase.

Now that the technical issues seem to be solved (oh happy day) I have something I want to address that I feel conflicted about. I would like to share my thoughts because there has been much buzz and some hurt feelings.

Copy Cats...

I come from a fine art background. In art school you learn very quickly to grow a thick skin and find your own voice. Morning critiques can be brutal and it is very easy to be overly influenced by other students and your instructors. Hedi Earnst and Viola Frey convinced me that I wanted to be a large scale ceramic artist not with words but by blowing me away with the power of their work. Arthur Gonzalez made me want to create work from ash and tears. Then there were the "Sad Kitty Ranch" girls who really paved the way for what art you see on Etsy.

It is very hard not to dwell within a community of artist and not absorb them. The challenge is to take the inspiration and use it as a tool for growth rather that a detour from it. How do you do it? Well, in art school you are told not to when you are, and it bites. You are also helped along the way, to see what it is you are trying to capture and bring into your work, or why you feel stuck and using energy that belongs to someone else. It is a process you just have to move through.

When I first started selling art in the 8o's I created a series of small bears made out of polymer clay. This was when Sculpy and Fimo were hard to find and came in one color. I painted my bears with shoe polish because it stained them perfectly and gave them the right amount of gloss without a second step.

These bears were purchased from me by the dozens, by the same person. At that time I was just happy to have the extra money until they showed up in gift shops. There was nothing I could do. They were molded and mass produced in resin by a well know company. It broke my heart. It would have flattered me but I was consumed with my idea being swiped, It felt like a pirate ship came in and cleaned me out.

As artists we have to decide for ourselves how our moral compass will work.

I decided to let go of the bear anger and go to art school. I wanted to know what it is that makes us want to create, and some of us live to create. I needed to feel legitimate and to find out if this was my path.

When I am stuck or bored I seem to absorb what I see and read and it shows up in what I make. When I am focused I am my own person the work flows. I don't feel good when I am not making my own art, and I feel on top of the world when I am.

I never teach anything that I don't willingly want to share and let go. It isn't fair to you or your students to say here are these tools and techniques, let me give you something wonderful but don't go out and use it.

If you look back to the history of art there was one person who filled his mouth with berry juice and used his hand as a stencil. He wanted to let someone know he was there. Many followed, then there were some who started using sticks, juice and soot to create crude drawings to document a history we can never imagine. We are not doing anything different. We are all just humans using what we have to leave a mark of our own.

The mark you leave will tell the story of who you are. You may be a collector, or a person who is inspired by the beauty of another artists work and you want to use their work as a "Start Here" place. Maybe you are one of the people who creates a new tools or techniques. What each of us brings is important. We are all made out of the same matter and we create with the same matter, the combinations we find and what they mean to us are what makes it our own.

Making art has a flow you have to step into it and move with it. We don't make art just for ourselves, we make it to share.

Make Art = Be Happy, that was the education ten years of student loans bought me and it was worth every penny.

If you have the time to worry it to pieces, judge what others are doing, get angry and frustrated by what is being made around you, then you need to be making more art and eating good cookies.