About Laurie

Laurie Mika is a mixed-media artist with a passion for combining and overlapping a variety of mediums creating an original style of mixed-media mosaics using handmade polymer clay tile. Laurie's background in painting is evident in her mixed-media works influenced by medieval and Renaissance art. The gilded devotional panels of the past become secular icons imbued with personal narratives. Art and folk traditions referenced in her work derive from her travels and experiences of living abroad, (East Africa). The highly embellished surfaces, including segments of text, form sumptuous tapestries of traditional and modern materials. Like a modern-day alchemist tinkering with the ancient art of mosaics, Laurie finds magic in combining disparate elements. Laurie shares her distinct style teaching at national and internationally recognized art retreats like ArtFest, Art Unraveled, Art and Soul, Raevn's Nest and Hacienda Mosaico in Mexico. She recently taught a workshop in Reims, France. Laurie is often on the move also teaching at venues across the States. Closer to home, Laurie participates in juried shows, teaches workshops and has her work in local galleries.

Art Unraveled and other summer travels….

Yes, I have been very remiss in not posting about Art Unraveled sooner…..it was a scant 7 weeks ago!! But better late than never, so they say!

We began our trek to Phoenix for Art Unraveled about a week before it started because we had our French friends, Pascale (an artist friend who organized a workshop for me in Reims, France many years ago) and her husband, Patrick Chevallier visiting and wanted to show them a few sights. We started off in Vegas

Beautiful gardens at Bellagio

Beautiful gardens at Bellagio

and from there went to the Hoover Dam. Yes, boiling hot!

Mes amis, Patrick and Pascale!

Mes amis, Patrick and Pascale!

From there we headed to Prescott, Arizona and stayed with my art buddy Kat Kirby and her husband, Bill for a few days. They are such great hosts and Kat’s studio is absolutely amazing. (I taught there last February!)

IMG_5830Prescott is a great place to visit and is a fairly short drive to the Grand Canyon. Patrick and Pascale were impressed! Patrick, being the adventurer, climbed to each outcropping making Pascale more than a bit nervous! IMG_5861

Patrick is on that ledge somewhere!

Patrick is on that ledge, furthest right!

Our next stop was Phoenix and we drove through some crazy weather to get there….very exciting rain storms with flash flood warnings!IMG_5739But we made it!! My first stop was for happy hour at the Embassy suites where Art Unraveled is held. They have a great, FREE happy hour where many of the attendees can be found everyday after class!IMG_6012IMG_8537

a serious looking discussion with Michael de Meng, David, Leslie and Jennifer England!

A serious looking discussion with Michael de Meng, David, Leslie and Jennifer England!

My first official day at Art Unraveled was for the vendor show, it is always a super fun event with incredible art and supplies being sold.IMG_8440My space ended up being in the middle between Katherine England and Helen Shafer Garcia…..and ironically, we three will all be in San Miguel de Allende next month teaching at our Tesoro Del Corazon retreat. The vendor show is also a great place to see other fellow instructors and friends!

Karen O'Brien and her wonderful paintings!

Karen O’Brien and her wonderful paintings!

Karen drawing in my journal!

Karen drawing in my journal!

Pascale with Lisa Pavelka

Pascale with Lisa Pavelka (and Anne Mitchell photo bombing!)

Helen's booth

Helen’s booth

Katherine's booth

Katherine’s booth

The vendor show was followed by the Saturday evening gala…..IMG_8486

Chuck checking on all the noise coming from our table!

Chuck checking on all the noise coming from our table!

The next day was actually my first day of teaching and I started off with a bang….a 9 hour class called Journey to Jerusalem where students used a tin box as a substrate and created some beautiful, jeweled looking boxes.IMG_8515IMG_8508IMG_8497IMG_8500

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I was blown away at how beautiful these book boxes turned out…….

My next class was a new class called Artful Objects where students used millions of my molds (well, not quite millions!) and made beautiful objects using polymer clay. I was thrilled with how they turned out and so were the students!IMG_8529

Jen Cushman and Barb Solem joined me!

Jen Cushman and Barb Solem joined me!

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Sorry, by the time we took the picture at the very end of the day, half the class was gone!  And I don’t know what happened on the last day but my picture-taking really went downhill!  My last class was called Crowned Icons and we used wood substrates that I had custom made that include the pointed detail, crown shape at the top. Likewise, these icons were just stunning!IMG_8542IMG_8540IMG_8538IMG_8544

It was another fabulous event with many thanks to Linda and Chuck Young who organize the entire thing….no easy feat! Many thanks to everyone who came and took classes or shopped with me at the vendor show! Hope to see you next year!

 

 

 

 

East Coast Travels…..

My husband, David, (aka sherpa#1)  and I just recently returned from a teaching trip to the East Coast and had such a great time. We stayed in Arlington, Virginia with our niece, Tavia and her husband, Matt, who just happened to be celebrating his big 30th birthday! (and of course, I have to mention their dog, Rodeo! We got off to a rough start but sorted everything out in no time!IMG_2523

Rodeo!

Rodeo!

The first stop on my teaching schedule was a return visit to The Queen’s Ink in Savage, Maryland. The ever wonderful Patti Euler is the Queen/owner! IMG_4327IMG_8073

Patti getting things set up

Patti getting things set up

There are MANY things to love about the Queen’s Ink…..just the name of her store alone hooked me! Patti has a love of all things involving Queens and Crowns….sound familiar!? No wonder I love teaching here….in addition to the fact that she has a shop filled to the brim with fabulous stamps, art supplies, papers, etc. Patti also joined our Tesoro group in San Miguel last year and will be joining us again this year along with our buddy, Laura!  You can see Patti’s santos on display in her store….it looked great!

Patti, Laura and I

Patti, Laura and I

IMG_8047IMG_8069IMG_8070IMG_8071The first class that I taught was Handmade Hearts and Hamsas and though it was a large class, many students had joined me two years previously when I taught there and they were masters at the art of polymer clay!!! IMG_8040IMG_4326IMG_4325They created a plethora of beautifully embedded and bejeweled hearts and hands! Each one a wonderful and unique reflection of the person who created it!

super cool octopus tendrils out of clay!!

super cool octopus tendrils out of clay!!

Our wonderful class !

Our wonderful class !

Here is just a sampling of the incredible work that was created in class that day…..

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The next day I taught, Coloring on Clay. This is more of a process class rather than a project class, though students leave with a variety of hand painted tiles that they can use in mosaics or other projects. Again, I had so many returning students from the last time that I had taught there that it really warmed my heart….. Patti really has an incredible core group of people who have been attending classes there for nearly 16 years. Quite a loyal (and royal) following.

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What I enjoy about this class is that students can go at their own pace…and whether they leave class with one tile or ten is up to each individual.IMG_8048IMG_8068
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The tiles that were created were magnificent….especially when viewed all together! They would have made an outrageous mosaic if pieced together!!!!IMG_8067IMG_8060IMG_8063I truly loved seeing all my old friends at the Queen’s Ink! And hopefully I will be returning once again in 2018! Thank you one and all who once again joined me in Savage! Loved seeing you…..

After teaching at the Queen’s Ink, we had five days in DC to sightsee and take in a few museums. I always enjoy sharing art when I travel and this trip was no exception. Our first museum stop was at The Renwick…..(thanks to Linda Slayen for mentioning it!) We loved it….they had a special exhibition called Wonder currently on exhibit.IMG_4379IMG_8074

And you have to LOVE a museum that has signs that read:IMG_4383Here are a few highlights of the fabulous installations:

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this was made from a 3D printer!

this was made from a 3D printer!

The next day we visited The Phillips Collection and saw more great art!IMG_4496IMG_4494IMG_4513 (1)And while the Appel exhibit allowed photography, the William Merritt Chase exhibit did not…so no pics from this really comprehensive exhibit about a painter and a teacher that I knew little about but who was extremely influential in the impressionist movement.

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They had a concurrent exhibition with works from all of the people whom he had taught, many of them more famous than he! (Georgia O’Keefe, Joseph Stella and Marsden Hartley to name a few) They also had a series of pages from his journal and class notes that were highlighted…..I loved his writings about art.

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The following weekend I had the pleasure of teaching at Artful Dimensions Gallery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was the first time that we had been to Fredericksburg and Tavia and Matt joined along for the adventure which included staying in a carriage house B & B!

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It was Elizabeth Woodford who contacted me and organized my teaching engagement in this wonderfully creative space that is comprised of more than a dozen working artist studios and a huge gallery space.IMG_4573

Elizabeth and I

Elizabeth and I

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Elizabeth in her beautiful fiber studio.

Elizabeth in her beautiful fiber studio.

Fredericksburg is a charming, historical town with many civil war sights to see. The colonial architecture and main street ooze quaintness! We found our favorite little coffee spot that started my mornings before teaching!IMG_4566

The first class of the weekend was Embedded Heart Shrines where students created a shadowbox shrine that housed a wearable heart pendant. I have to give my husband credit for coming up with this idea….and it truly is brilliant for when you are not wearing your heart pendant, it becomes the centerpiece of your shrine! (and you will always know right where it is!) Many thanks to Janet Moss, (on the right in the picture below) for organizing a reunion of sorts with our Maverick Mosaics group from two years ago! So nice to meet up again!IMG_8145IMG_8147IMG_8148IMG_8146IMG_8153Here are a few samples of the beautiful creations that came out of Saturday’s class……we didn’t quite get done but most students were well on their way!

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The second and final class at Artful Dimensions Gallery was, Triptychs Crafted By Hand and the work that was created was phenomenal! Loved seeing the different takes on one of my favorite formats, hinged panels! The picture below shows the lovely space where we worked amidst the art…ever inspiring!IMG_8172IMG_8167IMG_8171IMG_8166IMG_8169IMG_8168Time for show and tell:IMG_4651IMG_4653A glimpse of some of the gorgeous triptychs…..IMG_2548IMG_8176IMG_2549IMG_2553

It was another fantastic weekend of classes with a talented and super nice group of gals. Thank you East Coasters so much for joining me and for making my job so enjoyable!!! I really appreciate each and everyone of you….

Finally it was time to say goodbye…..and even Rodeo was sorry to see us go! IMG_8187

 

 

Miscellanea

IMG_3251The spring has been busy indeed! After the SAMA conference ended, the next gig was Artwalk in Little Italy. I hadn’t done this show in quite a few years but it reminded me how much fun it is do do a street show! Loved meeting new people and seeing old friends who dropped by!

Deb Denton and I

Deb Denton and I

I also managed to squeeze in our annual girl’s trip to Santa Fe. IMG_7381This is one of my favorite things to do and since I was unable to go last year, I was really looking forward to this get away. I missed the first few days because of Artwalk and found there was much catching up to do in the way of shopping, eating and soaking in all of the art.IMG_7401

This was a fun gallery in town called Pop. They carried a lot of wonderful work….including the work below by artist, Daniel Martin Diaz, that I fell in love with. His imagery reminds me of all the things that inspire me and that I use in my own work….sacred hearts, crowns, Latin text, etc…Always so nice to come across work that really resonates with me.IMG_7395IMG_7398IMG_7397IMG_7396

We also celebrated my sister’s birthday with a much anticipated visit to Meowwolf. It is hard to describe what this is!IMG_7409IMG_7406

It is an interactive art installation housed in an old bowling alley. It is part mystery theater where you try and uncover the story of the death of a family member. There’s over 200 hours of reading material there if you are willing to spend days there! (maybe that is why it is called the House of Eternal Return!!!)
IMG_7412There were some great Alice in Wonderland type passage ways….I particularly liked disappearing through the fireplace….and the fridge!IMG_7424IMG_7417

It was a fun way to spend the afternoon….a true visual delight! (and between the 4 of us, we got pretty far along in solving the mystery! That was my favorite part.)

Afterwards while over in the Railyard area, we stopped in to the new location of one of my favorite shops, Curiosa that used to be on Canyon Road.IMG_7442

They have such beautiful displays and lovely gifts of a curious sort!IMG_7443

On Canyon Road, the flowers were in full array.IMG_7450One of our first stops is always Karen Melfi Collection, she has a wonderful collection of jewelry and I was surprised and delighted to see my online buddy, Lorena Angulo’s work in there! We have been communicating for the past few years and she even sent me a few of her rubber stamp designs to work with! She works with metal clays and creates some of the most amazing and beautiful Mexican folk art inspired jewelry. One day……..IMG_7452We never tire of strolling up and down Canyon and from year to year so many things change, that there are always new galleries springing up.IMG_7454IMG_7488IMG_7473IMG_7489IMG_7486IMG_7484

A cabinet of crowns! Be still my heart!

A cabinet of crowns! Be still my heart!

Another favorite jewelry store is Bittersweet Designs….again the displays are fantastic and the jewelry designs are right up my alley! Lynn’s too….she went home with a gorgeous piece!

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Every year we are in Santa Fe, I take dozens of pictures of this store….I just love it! Laurie Lenfestey, the owner and designer has a similar love of crowns with a royal-inspired, shabby-chic aesthetic (I think that might sum it up!)….and her jewelry designs are simple and beautifully elegant. Enjoy this tour of her wonderful shop.

Custom fitting and design for Lynn! Awesome!

Custom fitting and design for Lynn! Awesome!

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Another favorite spot (especially for Lynn) is Kelly Moore’s Dark Bird Studio on Canyon Rd. Lynn has quite the growing collection of his work and it took mountains of willpower not to succumb this time….especially when we also saw him at the Tesuque Reservation flea market! (are you getting the feeling that I shop vicariously through Lynn! LOL, I do…through both she and Karen and Leslie for that matter too!))

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Aside from shopping, strolling and immersing ourselves in art, we do find time to eat!IMG_7499This year on our last night, we celebrated Leslie’s birthday by treating her to a cooking class! It was so fun and delicious too….we made a New Mexican dinner feast with celebrated chef Johnny Vee. It was another wonderful year in Santa Fe, thanks to Karen!!! I may miss next year once again due to a teaching gig at Blue Moon Winery on Vancouver Island!~(more on that later!)

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IMG_7548Speaking of wineries, upon returning from Santa Fe, I had the chance to go to the Bernardo Winery Art Show on Mother’s day. IMG_3315 (1)I really wanted to go to see a new friend, Teresa Green’s Icarus Studio at the winery. She and her creative partner, painter, Robert Caldwell, share a lovely space at this beautiful winery in Rancho Bernardo, Ca. I recently met Teresa at the SAMA conference in Sharra Frank’s class. Teresa was assisting Sharra and I was taking the class…anyway it was fun seeing her fabulous studio and work!!IMG_7587IMG_3316IMG_7597IMG_7592

Love this sign!

Love this sign!

I want this fountain!

I want this fountain!

I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Cleveland to appear on a new PBS television show called Make it Artsy that will begin airing on September 29th! IMG_2492

It was a whirlwind trip where I flew to Cleveland on a Sunday, filmed three segments on Monday and flew home on Tuesday so that I could start getting ready for our son’s wedding on Saturday up in Lake Arrowhead! Definitely crazy timing, but I had no control over that! The host of the show Julie Fei-Fan Balzer changed the schedule so I could shoot on the first day so that worked out great. Thanks Julie!

Getting stuff together

Getting stuff together

Packing up....

Packing up….

In the studio getting set up

In the studio getting set up

On the set

On the set

 

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Goofing around!

Goofing around!

 

On the screen!

On the screen!

Fellow artist’s, Rebekah Meier and Mary Hettsmanberger were also there filming their segments too.IMG_7637IMG_2493

It actually was a lot of fun and I can’t wait for the series to begin airing!

And four days later our son married the love of his life!IMG_1731

Happily Ever After.....

Happily Ever After…..

 

 

 

SAMA San Diego!

Before I post the news from the SAMA ( Society of American Mosaic Artist) conference, I am excited to invite you to my first annual “boutique” workshop:

boutique workshop collage

Hello friends!
After much delay, I am finally ready to host my first annual “boutique” home/studio two-day workshop called Transformation: Tin and Polymer Shrines. 
 WHERE: Laurie Mika’s Home-Encinitas, CA 
WHEN: October 8&9, 2016
HOURS: 9:30-4:30
INCLUDED: All supplies (including tin shrine and clay) except personal doo-dads to make it your own. 
Coffee in the morning, lunch, and wine, beer or margaritas after class!
A studio/home tour 
COST: $395.00-small group setting: limited to 10 people.
RSVP: Please email me (Laurie@mikaarts.com) as soon as possible and I will send further info about sending a check to hold your space! (first come-first serve!)
Ok…and now onto SAMA!
The conference was held at the Hyatt Mission Bay and the MAI (Mosaic Arts International) exhibition was held at the Women’s Museum in Liberty Station. So nice to have the event close to home.

Dropping my piece, Portals, off at the Museum.

Dropping my piece, Portals, off at the Museum.

IMG_2690This was the crew getting ready to hang the show at the Women’s Museum of California. So many beautiful mosaics had arrived and were just waiting to be hung! There was a reception before the show officially opened and it was fun to see everything hanging. It will run through most of May and I would encourage you to check it out!IMG_2736IMG_2732IMG_2733

I started off the week teaching two workshops called Mosaic Mandalas. It was the first time that I had taught this class and I was so amazed by the beautiful mandalas that students created. Being a mosaic conference, I had a lot of people new to clay in my classes which is always fun.

 

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The proof is in the pudding!

Love them all together!

Love them all together!

A terrific group!

A terrific group!

The second day I taught the same class but had a smaller group and that was fun!IMG_5998IMG_6001

On the third day I took a class with Sharra Frank….my mosaic buddy from Minneapolis! Love her work and was excited to learn some techniques for creating small, lightweight substrates.
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It was also nice meeting her assistant, Theresa Green, a mosaic artist from Rancho Bernardo who co-owns Icarus Creative Arts. I will definitely have to visit there one of these days!IMG_6039IMG_6035

Wish I had taken some pictures of the wonderful substrates that were created….if you get the chance to sign up for this class, you should!

The next two days were devoted to presentations and panel discussions. (My buddy, Katherine England led a panel discussion about pricing mosaics and gave a presentation about school kids creating mosaics.) Way to go Katherine! This was the educational portion of the conference and it is always so enlightening, even if I am not a traditional mosaic artist! The vendor show is always a treat too!

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The keynote speaker for this year’s conference was Bernice Steinbaum, a well-known New York gallery owner and dealer who is an advocate for women and minority artists. A film called “Bernice” was made about her life working with these artists, most of whom went on to achieve a great deal of success as artists. This film was shared during her keynote address and I was lucky enough to be able to chat with her afterwards!

The wonderful and styling, Bernice!

The wonderful and styling, Bernice!

 

Always time to have a yummy dinner with artist friends like Judy Davis, Jeannie Houston-Antes, Tim Stassines and Sharra Frank.

Grabbed a quick bite of Mexican food for the out of towners! And a couple of small margaritas!

Grabbed a quick bite of Mexican food for the out of towners! And a couple of small margaritas!

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On the last night, everyone visited the Women’s Museum to view the exhibition and Casa Valencia next door that hosted the Mosaic Master’s Invitational. The lovely Aida Valencia who is known for promoting cross-border arts and artists opened her gallery Friday night so that we could see some of these amazing pieces on display.

Irina Charny

Irina Charny

 

Niki de St. Phalle

Niki de St. Phalle

 

Irina Charny

Irina Charny

 

Jeanann Dabb

Jeanann Dabb

 

Lynne Chinn

Lynne Chinn

Liberty Station has so many wonderful art studios and a few of us went with Laura Becker Downey to see the Bravo School of Art that she operates. It is a wonderful space to take a variety of classes!IMG_6067

Jeannie and Lauren

Jeannie and Lauren

At the end of the night we all met up at Stone Brewing to have our closing night party. It was a wonderful way to conclude another successful SAMA conference. Thanks to the many people like Dawnmarie and Chris who spent countless hours making it happen!

Jeannie and Erin

Jeannie and Erin

 

IMG_6069                                       Dancing the night away! 

 

Katherine England’s studio!

Last weekend I once again had the pleasure of teaching a two-day workshop at Katherine England’s studio in Fullerton, Ca. Katherine is a world-wind of creative energy and a lot of that energy has been passed on to her many devoted students who joined me in class to create Jeweled Tin Boxes.

Katherine in her garage/studio

Katherine in her garage/studio

Right off the bat, inspiration abounds with the many mosaics that adorn the walls of her garage. Most are her own pieces but there is also student work that is amazing and a few other pieces she has collected from various artists.IMG_7031

Katherine's latest mosaic after taking Mireille Swinnen's smalti portraiture class.

Katherine’s latest mosaic after taking Mireille Swinnen’s smalti portraiture class.

Myra's cool dog mosaic which sold over the weekend to a lucky new owner!

Myra’s cool dog mosaic which sold over the weekend to a lucky new owner!

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Another new cool mosaic by Katherine! The eyeball moves!

Another new cool mosaic by Katherine! The eyeball moves!

 

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Katherine with an incredible bear/deer made by students...love this piece...it is all beaded!

Katherine with an incredible bear/deer made by students…love this piece…it is all beaded!

IMG_7035Here you can see a close-up of the beading that covers this giant head! Katherine will be joining us this year at our Tesoro del Corazon art retreat in San Miguel de Allende as our guest artist and she will be teaching this beaded technique. It will be wonderful to have her join us!

Katherine’s house is covered with fabulous artwork and she is well known in Fullerton and Anaheim for the many public art installations she has done or helped facilitate. Here is one huge mural that was sitting on her front porch waiting to be installed!IMG_7038

After an hour or so of setting up and admiring all the artwork, students began arriving. It was a terrific group of gals and they did some beautiful tin boxes.IMG_7036IMG_7041

Each day I was treated to a very yummy lunch! The first day students brought an amazing array of food and we had a perfect potluck that helped refuel us for the second half of the day!IMG_7042

Here is the class and a few samples of their beautiful jeweled boxes!IMG_7050IMG_7045IMG_7046IMG_7053

After class we headed to downtown Fullerton. First stop as usual was to my favorite store  called Gilding the Lily. Nancy Jamar was nice enough to stay open late on Sunday so we could swing by! The shop is jammed packed with beautiful findings, jewelry, notions and ephemera……and beautifully displayed as well.

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IMG_7054After a little shopping, we walked over to see a few of the gorgeous hearts that are part of a fundraising event for local schools that Katherine organizes. The hearts that line the main street are huge and the efforts by all who donated their time to create them is beyond admirable! Congrats!

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Katherine's sister, Jennifer's heart...talent runs in the family!

Katherine’s sister, Jennifer’s heart…talent runs in the family!

Student's work! Wow! Each student made an eye! Love it....

Student’s work! Wow! Each student made an eye! Love it….

 

This was a small one that was in a shop...and it was wonderful as well!

This was a small one that was in a shop…and it was wonderful as well!

It was a super fun weekend in the OC! Many thanks to Katherine for hosting me and special thanks to the super nice group that took my workshop! Hope to see y’all again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portland’s Art and Soul!

I just recently returned from a week long trip to Portland where I taught four classes at Art and Soul.IMG_6850IMG_6791

I taught the first two days and then had two days off and then taught the last two days! It was a great schedule that allowed my sister Sherpa, Leslie and I to explore Portland and go to some of my favorite haunts.IMG_6825

My first class at Art and Soul was Day of the Dead Heads! It was the first time I had taught this class and it was so much fun to see student’s interpretations of this theme. The project requires a lot of painting and students rose to the occasion creating some incredible masterpieces. IMG_6676IMG_6668IMG_6673IMG_6678IMG_6667IMG_6666IMG_6671IMG_6672

Many of the students had never worked with clay which makes these Day of the Dead shrines all the more impressive!IMG_6658IMG_6659IMG_6660IMG_6661IMG_6664

I loved watching these brightly painted and embellished skulls come to life!

The next class that I taught was Heraldic Clay Banners. I love banners and these little clay beauties are a unique twist on a very old (Medieval) tradition.IMG_2357 (1)IMG_6685

Katie who joined me in all four classes!!! Yay!

Katie who joined me in all four classes!!! Yay!

This is a great class where each banner explores different techniques…..and for another class of newbies, they really had a full plate with lots to get done!!!IMG_6687IMG_6688IMG_6690IMG_6693IMG_6691

Being in Portland  for a week allowed us plenty of time to see some old friends….and my fellow teacher and friend, Helen Shafer Garcia was teaching there too!IMG_6679But we also had an evening out with a very old, dear friend who lives in the area.IMG_6695

For our first day off after teaching, Leslie and I took the Max train (so convenient!) into downtown Portland. Fortunately the retreat hotel is right next to the airport which makes it super easy to jump on the train at the airport. Our first stop was at the Portland Art Museum….I had read that they had a temporary exhibit there with a collection of Colonial paintings from the Andes……and I had to see them since I am very much inspired by this genre of painting.IMG_6703IMG_6702IMG_6704IMG_6707IMG_6716

We also ran through the early European gallery where I found a painting from an artist I love, Bronzino….well it actually said this piece was from someone from the school of Bronzino. I use a lot of his female images in my own art work.IMG_6739

Our next stop was for a little yummy food and brew at Hair of the Dog Brewery.IMG_6772

The BEST brisket ever!

The BEST brisket ever!

And the really great part is that the brewery is right next door to one of my favorite stores in Portland, Cargo! They moved out of the Pearl a few years ago and even though it is much more organized (not the flea market look it used to have) I still love just looking at the unique displays. If you love beautiful folk art and treasures from around the world, this is the shop for you!IMG_6776IMG_6777IMG_6779IMG_6780IMG_6781

Even the outside is super cool!IMG_6785

Across the street from Cargo

Across the street from Cargo

Our next stop by Uber was a huge wherehouse of antiques and collectibles for a quick spin….IMG_6787Our next day in Portland, we met up with another very old family friend at the incredible Portland City Grille on the 30th floor of a highrise. Wow, the views were unbelievable! It was fun to catch up over a delicious lunch and a perfect view!IMG_2318Next stop was 23rd street….we had never known about this area or street before…it is like Portland’s version of Melrose….a long street with trendy shops, cute boutiques and plenty of great restaurants…..we did find that Portland is a great city for eating!IMG_6800

Outrageous ice cream and a Portland hot spot!

Outrageous ice cream and a Portland hot spot!

After strolling up and down 23rd street….we walked many a blocks to a store that we had passed on the way that I wanted to go back to, Scrap. IMG_6801

I have been to a similar store in San Francisco with the same name,Scrap and even though the name is the same and the contents are the same, the folks who worked there said it wasn’t related!  It is filled to the brim with old, recycled art materials and some true junk which is always fun to peruse through! I found a few, super cheap goodies so that was fun. It was nice walking throughout Portland….

our first day out...sunny skies! Every other day it rained!

our first day out…sunny skies! Every other day it rained!

As night fell we made our way back to the Max and back to the Sheraton to get ready for the next day’s class.

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My third class, Mainframe, was the largest one I taught with 20 students. Fortunately most students had some clay experience which helped the class hum along. In this class, students focus on creating a centerpiece that can stand alone or be used as the beginning of a larger mosaic. So many beautiful “mainframes’ were created in this class. Here they are for your inspiration!IMG_6811IMG_6820IMG_6810IMG_2364IMG_6819

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Teresa who joined me for three classes created this super cool hinged piece!

Teresa who joined me for three classes created this super cool hinged piece!

After class on Saturday was the vendor show and this was lots of fun to attend. A great time to see old friends and meet new ones!IMG_6823

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My new art buddy!

My new art buddy!

My last class on Sunday was Embedded Sacred Tin Hearts. We used tin hearts that I hauled back from San Miguel de Allende as the base for these gorgeous creations!IMG_6840IMG_6832

Our San Miguel buddies...mom and daughter!

Our San Miguel buddies…mom and daughter!

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My sherpa trying to get a little work done herself!

My sherpa trying to get a little work done herself!

It was a truly wonderful week in a city I adore! Thanks so much to everyone who came and took a class with me! Your work was so inspiring. It was fun seeing so many familiar faces and making new friends….thanks again for joining me!

 

 


 

 

On the trail in Tucson and Prescott…..

IMG_6433Just returned from a teaching trip to Arizona. We drove our RV out to Tucson once again for Art Retreat in the Desert.

IMG_6332It was crisp and cold in the morning and even woke up one day to ice in the fountain which is so strange when you are surrounded by cactus! What is fabulous is that this RV Park is less than two miles away from where the event was held, so an easy commute to “work” each day.IMG_6454

IMG_6331Art Retreat in the Desert is a wonderful event hosted by the ever-gracious Barb Solem and her lovely daughter, Erin, who make up Vivi Magoo…named after Barb’s grandchildren!IMG_6326IMG_6431

I started off the week teaching a class called Grateful Hearts to a small group of Vets….this was a free event for military vets from the surrounding community. Barb’s idea to support these folks who serve our country was a wonderful, philanthropic way to Give Back and Pay it Forward. It sounds like this will become an annual event at Art Retreat in the Desert and I am sure it will grow year after year.

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It was really fun because most of these folks had never worked with polymer clay before. I always love turing people onto the magic that is polymer clay and they made some unique and beautiful clay hearts!IMG_1683IMG_1686IMG_1688

 

My first official class kicked off on Monday with Divine Shrines. This was a full day class that ran from 10:00am until 9:00 pm with a three hour break in the middle! We needed every moment to finish these beauties!IMG_6334IMG_6336

Here are a few samples of what was created this first day.IMG_6429IMG_6427IMG_6425IMG_6420IMG_6418IMG_6413IMG_6419

My buddy Kat Kirby and her cousin-in-law, Priscilla holding their awesome shrines!

My buddy Kat Kirby and her cousin-in-law, Priscilla holding their awesome shrines!

There is always time for a little happy hour in the evening after class, always a nice time to catch up with people like fellow instructor, Robert Dancik. Hubby had fun learning about some of the materials that Robert uses to create his unique pieces. Fellow teachers, Debby Anderson and John Creighton Petersen also joined in!

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The next day’s class was called Make Your Case where we had fun creating lots of tiles with which to adorn cell phone cases!IMG_6434IMG_6435IMG_6436IMG_6438IMG_6441IMG_6440

My last class of the retreat ended up being a private lesson in box making! IMG_6442IMG_6445IMG_6444

 

After class on this day, I hit the famed Tucson Gem and Bead show and managed to do a little damage!! I love that Barb plans her art retreat during the run of this crazy, huge event where all of Tucson is transformed into a jewelry shopping bonanza!IMG_6448IMG_6446

I always have fun seeing folks like Becky Nunn of Nunn Design at the event, To Bead True Blue at the Doubletree Hotel. Becky has a wonderfully artistic aesthetic and sells a quality line of jewelry findings.IMG_6449IMG_6451

On our last day in Tucson, we decided to spend the day at Saguaro National Park. It was a beautiful clear day and we loved it! Next time we will have to spend some time hiking there.

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After leaving Tucson, the ol RV headed up to Prescott…..IMG_1778 where I was scheduled to teach at Kat Kirby’s fabulous studio. Couldn’t believe she actually had an RV pad ready to go!
IMG_6464IMG_1772IMG_1854Kat’s studio was a converted 10 car garage that now includes not only Kat’s studio, but her husband Bill’s incredible guitar making studio but also a guest suite for visiting artists! Heavenly!IMG_1836

Bill showing us his studio

Bill showing us his studio

Kat’s studio was large enough to accommodate the 18 students that were taking my two day class called Mixed Media Mosaic Shrines.

Kat and I in her studio

Kat and I in her studio

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I really liked this wall plaque in Kat’s studio and it kind of depicted our fun group, a gathering of lots of creative, like-minded women who created great energy for our weekend together.

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Our gathering of "wild women" minus my buddy Pam Gemin who had to leave early!

Our gathering of “wild women” minus my buddy Pam Gemin who had to leave early!

Here are some examples of work in progress:

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a happy teacher standing next to a lot of beautiful house shrines!

a happy teacher standing next to a lot of beautiful house shrines!

 

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On Saturday night we ventured into Prescott and had a nice dinner together.IMG_1780

While we spent two days creating these beautiful pieces, David went off exploring in Kat’s FJ.

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This beautiful place called The Dells is a location I will have to see on my next trip to Prescott!IMG_1839IMG_1797It was a fabulous weekend that came to a close all too quickly…..and we were sorry to say bye to my fabulous group of wild women, and my hosts, Kat, Bill and of course, Ripley! (sorry Peaches, no pics of you!)IMG_6494

David, the dog whisperer

David, the dog whisperer

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Thanks so much to all who spent this lovely weekend with me and many, many thanks to Kat for hosting me!

The next day we pointed the RV home and made our way through the desert with yours truly at the helm!! (well just for an hour or two!)IMG_1885

 

Odd-sortments!

Happy New Year! This post is comprised of an odd assortment of art related activities that I was engaged in over the holidays which is typically a “down” time of year for my art business. Of course, we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with our grand baby over the holidays. What a precious gift!IMG_0891

It was fun to rediscover the magic of the season as seen through the eyes of a one-year old! She loved looking at all of the holiday lights….and continually said “ooohhhh” while staring at the lights. I did carve out a few minutes to make a few holiday gifts for family members! Wish I had time to hand make something for everyone!IMG_0859IMG_0858

I also did two holiday shows, The Talmadge Art Show and Carmel Valley artists. It is always so nice seeing folks that I haven’t seen all year and it reminds me how much fun it is to do shows and see my artist buddies who are also vending.IMG_0670Last month I stopped by my friend and fellow mosaic artist, Monica Agnew’s house to meet Mireille Swinnen, a fabulous mosaic artist from Belgium who was teaching a workshop at Monica’s beautiful studio.

Obviously a mosaic artist lives here!

Obviously a mosaic artist lives here!

Mireille and I...

Mireille and I…

Monica’s studio is lovely with a beautiful view to the Pacific! A great space to create in!IMG_6007

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Monica sitting amidst the smalti! (funny that autocorrected as smelt!)

Monica sitting amidst the smalti! (funny that autocorrected as smelt!)

I always love visiting artist’s studios and Monica’s was no exception! Speaking about studio spaces, my friend and art buddy, Lisa Guerin recently moved to Florida but before she left she had a huge sale of most of her studio belongings….and this was good stuff!

Lisa and her garage of treasures!

Lisa and her garage of treasures!

I ended up going to her house two days in a row to load things into our car, including another set of architectural flat files!  Couldn’t pass them up….and they have been the impetus to clean up my studio to make room for them.IMG_0766

 

One load ready to go!

One load ready to go!

Scavenging....

Scavenging….

IMG_6021Lisa is a truly kind and generous soul and I will miss having her in So Cal ….we used to go to Stampington and the Carson Rubber Stamp Show together….and I am grateful for her friendship…..and for inspiring me to get my studio organized too!

Beginning the clean-up

Beginning the clean-up

My studio isn’t quite where I want it to be but I got too impatient and wanted/needed to start working on some artwork !! But I will come back to it…when I have a few more weeks to spare!IMG_0765We just recently returned from Texas where we spent two weeks at my in-laws home. Hard to believe they are 91! Truly inspirational….IMG_1307

They have a house full of things that I love so I decided to buy some Amazing Mold Putty while there and cast a few of their bronzes…..one can never have enough face molds!IMG_6190IMG_6187

When I returned home, I couldn’t wait to try them out with polymer clay…..and they turned out great!IMG_6272IMG_1576

 

I also spent some time painting over some of my collage sheets….this was so fun to do and I loved making the faces my own…..it was pretty addictive!IMG_2321IMG_6173IMG_1350So now I can turn those paint-overs into additional collage sheets to use in my work and they will be truly unique! Can’t wait to have some extra time to do a few more…..time seems to be a theme here! 2016 seems like it is already zooming by!

I just updated my Etsy shop…finally…..mycollage

and I  am heading out on the teaching trail once again with plenty of dates and locations to take a workshop! Check out my website to see where I will be!

Lastly I wanted to mention that we just released information about this year’s Tesoro del Corazon art retreat in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. I am pleased to announce that Katherine England will be joining us this year as our guest instructor…..her creative energy and mosaic magic will add a perfect touch to this year’s project, Casas del Corazon:

Casas del Corazon

Casas del Corazon

Again, wishing you all a very happy, healthy and super creative New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Miguel, Part 2

IMG_9121 I wanted to start off Part 2 with the primary reason we were actually in San Miguel….to create art!!! Our collaborative project this year was called El Santo Real, The Royal Saint/Santos. We had three areas at Casa de la Noche that were transformed into classrooms. There were 4 workshop days and we needed every minute of everyday to complete this very complex project!

In my class we worked on creating the base for our sculpture using polymer clay.IMG_5580IMG_5666

Lynn taught sculpting with paper clay and students made amazing heads for their santos.

Heads drying!

Heads drying!

In Helen’s class, students created the center torso/box with a book on it, of course! That’s Helen’s motto, “put a book on it”!  In Elitia’s class, participants learned the art of pewter embossing and made beautiful crowns and wings for their santos.

Each day lunch was provided in the courtyard of Casa de la Noche and Barbara, our hostess, could not have been more accommodating. The lunches were delicious!

Leslie, Barbara and I

Leslie, Barbara and I

Pozole lunch day!

Pozole lunch day!

On the final day of the retreat we had a student showcase and reception. It was so amazing to see the fruits of everyone’s labor with their incredible Santos. Each one was so different, unique and full of personality! It was so rewarding as teachers to see the amazing creativity and skill. Here are just a few of the 30 Royal Santos that were created!

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The other reason we were in San Miguel was to be a part of the celebrations for Dia de los Muertos. It is a magical time of year to be in San Miguel…..altars spring up all over town, front doors are decorated with flowers and this town that is already as colorful as can be, just about bursts at the seams with a riot of color and pageantry.

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My sister and I were just lucky enough to happen upon the Monarch Parade as it went by!IMG_5604IMG_5599On the afternoon of November 1st, we visited the Guadalupe Cemetery for what is always a very powerful experience. It is a time of year when families freshen up the graves of their loved ones and bring replicas of things they loved. They sell a variety of small sugar skulls and Day of the Dead miniature food, drinks, etc.IMG_9260

Families gather at the gravesite and often mariachi bands play music. There is laughing and crying and it is a very moving thing to witness and be a part of. IMG_5586IMG_9244IMG_5592Later that day we began the preparations for the evening’s activities which included parades and performances up at the Jardin. Many students had their faces painted in the traditional “calaca” or skeleton style and others dressed the part! (this was actually on Halloween night)IMG_5545IMG_5539IMG_5547

But on the evening of the First, we had an artist come to the home where we teachers were staying and he did a great job painting my husband’s face, Lynn’s face and the Ashley’s faces….IMG_9275IMG_9295

When the painting was completed (it took about 45 minutes per person, so I didn’t paint my face, rather I became the paparazzi who followed these guys around town as they joined in the parade!)IMG_9402

Throughout the evening we met up with groups of students, friends and complete strangers who immediately bonded with our merry band of Calacas! IMG_9323IMG_9528IMG_9461IMG_9198It was an amazingly wild and crazy night made all the more fun by joining in with painted faces. We had talked about doing this for years so it was fun to finally make it a reality and I am sure it will become a longstanding tradition now! IMG_9305IMG_9560

As our retreat came to a close a few days later, we celebrated with a final, farewell dinner at one of our favorite places, Mi Casa, with a beautiful view of the night-lit Parroquia. It was a truly special evening with music, margaritas, yummy food and new friendships that were forged.

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Thank you so much to all who joined us this year and made it such a memorable trip……hasta lluego….until we meet again! Muchas Smooches!IMG_9750IMG_9753 (1)



 

 

 

Stenciled Goody Bags and San Miguel (part 1)

For the past year, our group known as Tesoro del Corazon has been preparing for our fifth annual art retreat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Each year we bring our students handmade goody bags. This year we used muslin bags and had a spray painting party at Helen’s house using Stencil Girl stencils to create our bright, folk-art designs. Stencil Girl Talk is doing a blogpost today about our painted bags….so hop on over and take a look!!! They have an amazing selection of artist-created stencils, so check those out too and Today Only (November 13th), Stencil Girls is offering 10% off my border stencil sets! (code MIKA10)!!!IMG_4410IMG_4411We had 40 bags to decorate and had a blast using a variety of colors and stencils.


IMG_4416 (1)We were also able to use a few of my border stencils so that was fun too as I had never tried them with spray paint before.IMG_4422

 

We just recently returned from our retreat and I wanted to share a few pictures from the first few days. We shot so many pictures that I need to break up this post into two parts. The second half will feature pictures from class, our Santo project and the Day of the Dead celebrations…..where my husband, David, and others dressed up and actually joined in the parade this year! (need I say more? So stay tuned for Part 2!)

Anyway, the first morning the students arrived we had our orientation breakfast in the beautiful courtyard of Casa de la Noche, our retreat venue, where we passed out the goody bags, much to the delight of the participants!IMG_8975 We were so happy to see that EVERYONE had arrived because hurricane Patricia had just blown through Mexico the day before. But everyone made it and was ready to start enjoying this magical town.

The instructors, Helen, myself, Leslie (my sister) who is also our coordinator, Lynn and our first guest instructor, Elitia pictured below:

Our Tesoro group standing behind our altar that participants added to throughout the week.

Our Tesoro group standing behind our altar that participants added to throughout the week.

By the end of the week, David was referred to as both Señor Gato (think herding cats) and Saint David. (And he shares the Virgin of Guadalupe's birthday!)

By the end of the week, David was referred to as both Señor Gato (think herding cats) and Saint David. (And he shares the Virgin of Guadalupe’s birthday!)

and my husband and trusty sherpa, David, arrived in town a few days before the rest of our group to start setting everything up. There is always plenty to do….but we always seem to find time to shop too!

My sis and I....ready to fill our bags!

My sis and I….ready to fill our bags!

I have to say that the shopping in San Miguel is better than just about any place on earth! I love almost everything I see! First stop was to get my boots polished in the Jardin (the main square) with a beautiful view to the iconic Parroquia (church) behind me.

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I love the Artisan’s Market and surrounding shops and could spend hours wandering from stall to stall.IMG_8832

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Metal heaven!

Metal heaven!

IMG_8825Yes, Lynn ended up with this huge Tree of Life metal piece that she had shipped home. She is my shopping idol and guru….there isn’t anything that is too large or impossible to ship home!!! Last year she shipped two hand-painted, gorgeous, full-size doors home!

Entrance to the amazing home of Anado and Richard

Entrance to the amazing home of Anado and Richard

The first official day of the retreat began with a visit to Anado and Richard’s mosaic house/studio and Chapel of Jimmy Ray. We decided that we wanted to kick off the retreat this year with a full dose of color inspiration and no other place is better for this than Anado’s. The following pictures are just a small glimpse into the creative minds at work here!

Richard and Anado

Richard and Anado


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Casa de Caca (the outhouse!)

Casa de Caca (the outhouse!)

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The inside of their home and studio is equally fabulous with every surface adorned with paint, tesserae and found objects.

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We were also treated to a studio tour!

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So how is that for a way to begin a mixed media art retreat?! Everyone left inspired and ready to start classes the next day! I am going to end here for now and will return next week for Part 2 of San Miguel…….adios….remember to run on over to Stencil Girl to take a look!