Monday, December 29, 2008



It has been such a long time since I posted that it's taken me a few minutes to get it all back. The holidays are so hard for me. Tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of my husband's death. I just want it to all go away: Christmas, THE anniversary, New Year's; with Thanksgiving, his birthday and our wedding anniversary before that. From late August through New Year's I feel as if I am under siege from the memories. Add to that the economic decline,  the state of my job, the country's erratic weather patterns lately and the wackos out there gunning down their families and it's a wonder I've made it through so far. I did have a few meltdowns, one on Christmas morning and another the day after. Luckily I had good friends nearby who helped me through the crisis. I think I just needed a good cry to get me past part of it.

So this all brings me to the word I have chosen for 2009 to inspire me: CHOICE. Every day I have so many choices to make. Some days it is very clear what the outcome will be. Other days it is exceedingly difficult. Do I spend hours working on my blog, networking and learning new things to add to the blog or do I practice guitar and work on my songs? It's a very hard choice for me to make and when I first started blogging the  choice was clear and the guitar took a back seat. After about two weeks of blogging however I began to feel slighted in the music department. I missed my songs, my calluses were getting soft and my blogging fervor was declining. 

So here I am back again for a new post but I feel ambivalent about the whole thing. It takes so much time to blog. Time that is taken away from other more pro active activities like making art, making music, seeing friends, cooking and organizing my studio and apartment. I could go on and on but you get the picture. I really don't know how I will sort this all out. My boyfriend Tom says do one thing this day and the next thing another day and in theory this does work, except that I tend to get caught up in new things in a big way and everything else falls to the side. 

It all comes down to making better choices, using my time more wisely, letting go of the things that really don't matter in my life. It's an ongoing process that I'm sure will evolve as I do. I would like to credit Christine Kane's blog for the insight about choosing one word to guide us through the New Year instead of making New Year's resolutions (that usually don't work). I discovered Christine's blog through Lisa Call's blog and I got that through Paula's self taught artist blog! See how much time it takes. Unfortunately I don't know how to link those sites in this post but hope to learn that soon. More time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

About Me Photo

Fairyland Shoes

I stepped outside this morning to a cold wet rain with no hood and no umbrella. Sasha and I were not happy. Yesterday it was almost sixty degrees here in NYC. Beautiful but a little freaky for this time of year. Now I sit here trying to do a new post and my computer is acting up again. Makes me want to throw the damn thing against the wall but where would that get me? I guess it's time to head to the Apple store for a check up 'cause this is really frustrating!

The topic for today is my About Me Photo. Several people, friends included, have mentioned that I look a little somber, even nun like, in said photo. A few have politely mentioned the object in the background looking like a cross, which I guess it does, but most definitely is not! It's this charming little piece I did several years ago called "Fairyland Shoes". Of course it's so small that you can hardly see the details at all so I thought I'd set the record straight and prove how uncross like it really is. SEE!!!!!

So the question is should the photo stay or go? Should it be an arty photo without me in it or another attempt at me trying to look arty? I will consider all comments carefully and make my decision later this week. Thanks for your input.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hello, it's been awhile...


Good morning crazy world. I'm trying hard to stay optimistic in light of all the wild things that are going on around me. Obama troubles, money woes, business crash and burns, foreclosures and bankruptcies abound! What's next in these troubled times? How many of us will go down and who will survive? What will we do to reinvent ourselves, our country, our world? 

What place and future does art have in all of this madness? How are artist's to make a living? Talk about selling our souls..... I have to stay positive and know that my soul will stay intact and make it through to keep creating. For what is my life without my art? 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Look, it's a studio!

Yes indeed folks, there is hope for me after all. On Saturday you couldn't even see the top of this table! You can't imagine how happy I am to have workable space once again. In uncovering some found gems I made several new pieces:

Star Bright

and found this partly finished piece "Who's there?"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Unearthing a studio

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day moving things out of the room in my apartment that I used to call my studio. I had to move stuff out in order to be able to move things around and make the space workable again. In the process I came across lots of work I'd done in the past two years at my former studio on East 10th Street in Greenwich Village. Below is a mixed media collage that incorporates gesso with washes of acrylic paint, fabric scraps, braided trim, masking tape and small pieces of smashed bubble wrap, watercolor crayon and a "nest" of vintage brass metallic cord. 
I was forced to give up my studio in late August because both my apartment rent and studio rent had gone up and I just couldn't afford a separate space any longer. I knew I had to make a decision about this but kept putting it off until I finally said I just have to do this. I spent several months junking stuff and had a few breakdowns in the process. It's hard to give up stuff you've collected and loved for years. I had to close my eyes and open the black bag and toss it in and not look back. A few things got taken out but most of it stayed put and got dragged down four flights of steep stairs to be carted out to the curb. Several weeks before the actual move date I had to start packing everything else in boxes because I couldn't make decisions any longer. It was too hard. I figured I'd do it at the other end, meaning my apartment. What a mistake that was. As the movers brought in box after box of art supplies, found objects, furniture and books I realized there was not enough space in my 450 square foot apartment to house all these treasures, let alone have space to make art. 

Fast forward several months, four to be exact, and I am still surrounded by towering boxes in my bedroom, piled high books in the living room and myriad piles of other stuff everywhere I look. Can you say packrat! I collect stuff and have for years and now it threatens to overwhelm me and swallow me up. I even considered not making art any more (or just miniatures) so I could get rid of everything and live like a normal person, whatever that is. I have been going through things and throwing stuff out and organizing all along. The problem is I have so much stuff that it's a daunting task. And the days that I work I come home exhausted and get nothing done at night. Until I started blogging! Bear with me, I'm almost done........

I have renewed energy and optimism and have finally gone into the room I once called my studio, and has since become the junk room, and unearthed a long table with lots of work waiting to be finished, supplies I'd forgotten about and artwork I haven't seen in months. I still have lots to do and I am happy to report that I started four new pieces from things I found in my cleanup crusade. Wish me luck! 

Saturday, December 6, 2008


This morning I watched the sun rise on the eastern shore of Manhattan. It is a beautiful, crisp, clear morning with no wind and only the dog walkers and runners out this early. Sasha led me to the park instead of our usual walk around several blocks. As we came on to the promenade along the East River I watched the light play on the clouds over Queens and Roosevelt Island and decided this was the perfect time to enjoy the serenity and beauty of a sunrise. 

I've lived here for 30 years and don't remember the last time I stood and watched the whole event. My body ached for stretching so I complied. Sasha nudged me for affection so my hand soothed his massive head. I nodded hellos and good mornings to fellow early risers and stood my ground. 

The light playing on the edges of the clouds changed from soft to bright white. Gradually tones of yellow, pink, peach and rose fought for attention while seagulls squawked their breakfast overhead. The chill of morning and Sasha's restlessness almost did me in but I was determined to stay and see my goal of that bright orange ball cresting the top of the clouds. Patiently, patiently we waited and were rewarded with a blinding light show. I felt the energy course through me, preparing me for a mighty day of cleaning and organizing my studio and apartment in preparation for making art and living well.  

Friday, December 5, 2008

Evolution of Dragonfly

The piece in the foreground is called Dragonfly. I thought it would be interesting to show the evolution of that piece over the course of several months. I ended up creating three good pieces from all this playing around. Sorry for the distracting backgrounds.

The round object with the wires coming out of it, below, became the second finished piece. 
I posted this a few days ago with several glass sculptures.

Dragonfly's head and wings, below

Dragonfly's body across the top, below. The bottom part with the wheel became a piece called Coming and Going. I'll have to search for a picture and post it later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


The title of this piece is Flow and go with the flow is how I feel today and most days. To continue yesterday's post, I am often conflicted as to which task I should try to accomplish on any given day. Often I am too tired at the end of the work day to do much in the evening. Come home after working all day, lately running around to different sites in the city, taking a train then a bus for one hour or more, walking the dog, feeding the animals then myself. I hate to whine but by then I am exhausted and usually don't have much energy left for the things I really want to do like make art, sing and play guitar, write songs, talk to friends or family that I haven't been in touch with for too long, if they are even speaking to me at this point!

I have accomplished a lot in my life as an artist. I've had numerous one person shows, have sold lots of work and have several collectors. I have so much work that I don't have space to store that I recently gave work to my family when I had to move out of my studio. I even thought of not making art anymore because I haven't had any shows for almost two years and can't bear the thought of making more stuff that will take up space that I don't have. But now I have this new show to plan and make art for and I'm actually looking forward to it. The trick is clearing a path to the studio in my apartment that has become the junk room and getting in there and creating new work that inspires me to go on and feel good about life. Because I would really be nothing without making art. It's who I am, what I breathe, my  soul...... my flow...........

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A few things on my mind

It's been a busy week, as always, and I am always torn between work obligations-$$$- and all my personal interests. How do I choose between making art, teaching, writing songs, playing music, practicing guitar, designing and making jewelry and all my other interests? Clearly something has to go or give, as they say. The problem is I don't want to give anything up. So it's a precarious balancing act that is sure to do me in one of these days. Top all this off with doing housework, yuck!, cooking, walking the dog and staying in touch with friends and family.

So the question is, how do I make this all work? I seem to just go with the flow and work on whatever appeals to me at the moment while trying to take care of things that need to get done in a timely fashion. I guess this is a good strategy but I feel as if something always falls short, like me! I have the power to focus on one thing when something important has to get done, like preparing for a show, but everything else in my life falls to the side or is ignored (mostly housework), and I'm left picking up the pieces months later when my life gets back to so called normal.
I am having a show in June 2009 with a photographer named Don Sichler and the current dilemma is what do I show? I've focused on making sculpture from found objects for the past five years or so (several pieces are shown here) and even though I love doing these pieces, I feel a change coming on. Since I've been teaching my mixed media collage class for the past year and a half I've been working more in, what else, mixed media collage! I always do new work for a new show, which is a challenge, but it keeps me fresh and exploring new mediums and ideas. I wouldn't want it any other way but I always go through this gestation period where I torture myself with "what if's".
I have several new ideas that I'd like to try out for this show but don't want to talk about them yet. As things become clear to me I will post them and keep you, and me, up to date.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Patterned Paper Tutorial

Set aside a few hours, get your supplies organized and prepare to have a lot of fun. Making patterned papers is a fair amount of work but the results are worth it. The finished papers can be used in collage, if you can bear to cut them, or to cover books, journals, frames, make cards.

Supplies: 24 lb. or heavier paper, including card stock, in colors, white or cream; acrylic paint: I like the 2 0z. bottles from Michaels, they are cheap (50 cents each, come in lots of colors and are the right consistency), I also use FolkArt and other brands of metallics; rubber stamps, either wood backed or clear acrylic backed are fine; make your own craft foam stamps (lots of fun to make and you choose the imagery but this only works for bigger shapes); stencils; and cosmetic sponges from the drug store (foam brushes work as well).

Choose your paper and tone it first with a wash of acrylic paint and a cosmetic sponge. You may want to thin the paint slightly with a few drops of water. You can skip this step but it adds a richness to the finished paper. Depending on how much paint you use to cover, you will get a bit of the paper color glowing through. Stroke the sponge in the same direction to get even coverage. As an alternative, dab the paint on with the sponge to give a faux sponged look (scroll down to the last example, gold on black paper). Since acrylic paint dries so fast you can move right on to the next step and don't have to wait for the paint to dry. It may be a little tacky but that's OK.

Dab paint on your stamp evenly in preparation to stamp on paper. The stamp should have an even covering of paint but not too thick. Place your stamp on the paper, face down, in the desired position and press firmly all over the back of the stamp. Remove stamp and re-dab with paint. I do this each time I stamp on the paper because I want the paint application to look even. This is very labor intensive but the results are worth it. Stamping the paper a second time without re-dabbing gives a ghost image. Experiment and see what you like. 

For this pattern I had to reverse the stamp to get the second half of the circle. Continue to cover the entire sheet of paper. Depending on the size of the stamp, the pattern may not fit the paper precisely so adjust your stamping accordingly.

I added a layer of stenciling to this paper and stenciled with the sponge using a dabbing motion. You could also use a stencil brush but the sponge works fine. I reversed the stencil every row so that the pattern would fit nicely on the paper. I also used the edge of the stencil to fill in open areas near both short edges of the paper.

The finished paper. I love this one. I was tempted to add another layer of pattern but decided not to. I'll have to do another to see what I can get.

This pattern started with a foam stamp done in red on orange paper. I only got four repeats of the pattern (two full and two partial). Next I stamped with a wood backed stamp that has letters on it, which can be seen better in the close-up below.

The third stamp used was a small star burst stamped in the center of the fleur de lis flower shape (it's hard to see in the photo but it's under the final layer of paint). Finally, I used an intricate stencil and a metallic paint to bring the image all together and give a wonderful glow to the finished paper. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Two trips to Michael's

I spent yesterday morning at Michael's on Long Island cruising up and down the aisles looking for bargains and craft supplies to use for my patterned papers. I bought more craft foam and pre-cut shapes to make a dozen more stamps and went right home to work on the papers. Today I head out to the Michael's in Queens to buy wood backed rubber stamps that are 50% off! I tend to get obsessed with things when first starting out. That's a good thing, right? 

I plan to take photos of the step by step process of making the patterned paper so I can share it with everyone. I'll upload those pics on Monday. I'm still playing around with my blog setup, font colors, etc. If anyone has any tips or tricks I'd love to hear about them. This is all new to me and I am totally amazed that I have been able to do as much as I have so far being a blogging neophyte. One of the problems I have is spacing text when writing a new post. I can't seem to get a space line between paragraphs of text. Does anyone know how to accomplish this?  I'd appreciate any and all help.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Patterned paper

I made these patterned papers and foam stamps after taking a class with Ann Kronenberg in NYC. Ann is an incredibly talented teacher whose knowledge, generous samples and artwork are truly inspiring. I in turn taught the technique to my two collage classes and they loved it as well. Now, will I be able to cut them up to use in collage? They are so rich and beautiful as is that I hate to cut them apart but eventually I will. Over the holiday weekend I plan to make some more and possibly work a few into some artwork. I'll post pictures soon.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and have a safe trip if you are traveling.
All art work copyright 2008 Liz Curtin and may not be copied or used without the artist's permission. Thank you.

Three mixed media collages

These three mixed media collages were started as examples of three different techniques shown in an ongoing collage class that I teach. I finished them in my studio and am often surprised at the results. I work very fast and intuitively during these demos and never know how something will turn out but I am often pleased with the results.
My students are endlessly inspiring to me and it is always a challenge to come up with new techniques and ideas that will keep them thinking, growing and creating wonderful new work.
All art work copyright 2008 Liz Curtin and may not be used without the artist's permission.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A few of my art pieces

Top to bottom: Circular Evidence, Sweetie Pie, Self Portrait
So I finally figured out how to download images from my computer but can't do it all of the time. I may have to get some help from my nephews or the Apple store.
I recently made some very cool patterned paper in a class and want to share the technique with you but first I need to take pictures. I'll do that tonight and upload them tomorrow. Til then.....
All art work copyright Liz Curtin 2008. Images may not be used without my permission.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just the beginning....

Welcome to my new blog where I will post all things collage and mixed media related with a bit of found object sculpture thrown in occasionally. I've been wanting to do this for a while now but not too sure how to get started. This morning I got an email from Lisa Vollrath saying she was looking for new artists for her design team but they must have a blog or website where images of work can be viewed. This was all the push I needed. Lisa even recommended blogger to get started, so here I am with my first post.

Bear with me as I figure out how to upload photos from my computer, post a photo of myself (one that I actually like), customize the site, etc. etc. Hope to have more later today. Thanks for stopping by and please leave your comments.