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ANOTHER CHANGE April 25 2019, 0 Comments

 

I've always been intrigued with shape shifters, in nature and at cocktail parties. The natural world has given us some remarkable creatures who can disappear and emerge as 'an other' right in front of our eyes.

 

     
                CHAMALEONIDAE                        Truman Capote          black Australian harlequin opal

CHAMELEONS    This quick change artist has reasons other than camouflage to change colour:  to reflect their moods. These changes not only send social signals to other chameleons, they also to indicate temperature, health, communication, and light. Entirely like like our need to send signals

If a chameleon wore a black Australian harlequin opal ring, we wouldn't know it.

 

 

    

acraga coa                            Cendrillon                              Cerura vinual                            

BUTTERFLY     The Cinderella story is a loved fairytale about transformation and is a dream for many. But we can marvel at the exquisite pre-transformation-beauty of the acraga coa catepillar and the cerura vinula catepillar before they put on their ball gowns.

 

 

  

                                 TURRITOPSIS DOHRNII                              DRACULA - Andy Warhol 

JELLY FISH     The Earth's only immortal species is a tiny transparent jellyfish. It's the only known animal capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature stage after having reached maturity. Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely, effectively rendering the jellyfish biologically immortal.

The obsessive quest for immortality has followed us through time. It expresses itself in literature and in the movies. Immortality might be achieved, but there's a price to be paid--ask Dracula.

 

   

      THAUMOCTOPUS MIMICUS                        Alec Baldwin                    HYMENOPUS CORONATUS

MIMIC OCTOPUS  and the ORCHID MANTIS  are two of my favourite shape shifters.

The mimic octopus is considered the most intelligent octopus in the world and the ultimate master of disguise because it can imitate many other species. The genius mimicry of the orchid mantis is so complete it is sometimes impossible to distinguish the mantis them its orchid perch.

Many of the best stand-up comics have perfected the art of mimicry. Mimicry expresses itself not only at a party to make'm laugh, but also as a powerful political tool thrown at the White House, where they aren't laughing.

Inspired by these shape shifters, I've used a butterfly as a starting point for a new series of four images, utilizing my own shape shifting tools. They are available as prints and home decor on Society 6.  

Hasta luego amigos,

Val

 


I'M BACK AT THE MOVIES December 18 2018, 0 Comments

After last week's post, I just can't stop with these movie quotes. Here are three more of my favourites. They're available on Society6.


I LOST AND FOUND MYSELF AT THE MOVIES December 11 2018, 0 Comments

   

Casablanca

The movies offer many creative ways to occupy time: escapism, complexity, humour, mystery, connection, inspiration. Great movies transport us to a different time and place.

Why should I care what happens to fictional characters? Because I identify with them, I see the characters as versions of myself, their fates matter to me, and I get wrapped in their stories.

    

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_of_the_Jedi 

When I want the luxury of escapism, the right movie can transport me to a time and place I've never been--like Alice going through the looking glass into a fantastical world.

The theme of cinematic voyerism appeals to my curious nature, and in the movies, I experience voyerism from the comfort of my armchair. How I interpret what I see is up to me. And I'm inspired to try new things.

  

Some Like It Hot

Great movies comfort me and make me laugh. The world is knowable, and I feel safe. Especially when I'm viewing Some Like it Hot, for the twentieth time. It's a great movie, and it stands the test of time: all great movies do. I believe that there are movie fans somewhere out there like me, who laugh like me. I'm connected to strangers. 

  

Toy Story


Great movies create a powerful sense of emotion and engagement. I'm inspired to become a bigger better version of myself.

Great movies inspire memorable quotations. Just a word or two or three and we know the movie source, and memories begin. A few words can instantly transport us to Casablanca or Paris, to Infinity and Beyond with the toys, singe our funny bones with Some Like It Hot, and know the power of a little furball.

I've created some home decor items which display quotations from the movies. They're available on Society 6.

ESCAPISM amigos, is ultimately why I started going to the movies. Discovering somethings about myself is why I'll always return.

Hasta luego,

Val

 


SHADOW LIFE - THE OTHER BENEATH October 24 2018, 0 Comments

 

In my continued investigations into duality, I've found myself exploring the concept of the shadow.

The shadow is a unique form of sculptural art. There are many creative expressions of shadows out there which are exciting, exquisite, highly individualistic, playful, sublime, exciting, and provocative.

On another plane, the shadow exists within us...the shadow is an "other" of us.

                          

Olafur Eliasson

The Icelandic artist Olfur Eliasson employs the use of light, wind, waves to explore the workings of human perception, as seen in the exhibition "Your Chance Encounter".

 

Herbert Baglione

The artist Herbert Baglione's creative renditions of shadows in abandoned buildings add a narrative to the architecture and the souls who once inhabited those spaces.

      
                                         
Kumi Yamashita

 

                             
Rashad Alakbarov                Funny Funda            
These shadow art pieces here show just how creative artists can be when light and shadow are their medium. 

 

The use of shadows as a creative expressive form is ancient. Shadow Play, also known as Shadow Puppetry, believed to have originated in Central Asia-China or in India in the 1st millennium BCE, is still enacted today. It's the prelude to cinematography.

                               
Chinese shadow theater figures          Chinese puppet theater

We're In Our Other World

Carl Jung formulated the concept of the shadow, that part of our life that is relegated to the darkness of the unconscious.  The article: Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Hidden Power of our Dark Side on the Academy of Ideas website, offers insight into the power of the shadow. 

In Robert Louis Stevenson's book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde we are immersed in the shadowy overpowering dualism of a man. It's a dark one-way journey into a nightmare.

Peter Pan is one of the most famous shadows in literature, having lost his shadow when it was locked away in a drawer. He'll have to talk with Carl about how he needs his shadow to become fully human.

Further investigation into the role of the shadow and duality is presented by Gregg Henriques in his two-part blog which asks  the question: Can you see your Shadow? 

 

Hasta luego amigos. I'm off to find a flashlight.

Val

 

 
 


AM I SEEING THINGS? August 07 2018, 0 Comments

 Earthquakes and Other Surprises in Mexico City

  

Mexico City aftermath                                                             Second Tower of Arcos Bosques Mexico City

The Mexican people live with the reality of earthquakes, too often. And they are brave. My explorations have shown me that although this catastrophic and destabilizing event destroys edifices, a surprising number of buildings in Mexico City seem designed to echo some of the effects of earthquakes. These bold and daring architectural creations exist in many cities in Mexico.

      

Cineteca Nacional  Mexico City                                                     Roberto Cantoral Cultural Center  Mexico City

A common feature of urban Mexico is a circle called punto de reunión - meeting point - which appears on sidewalks in the city. Each circle marks a predesignated evacuation point for a nearby building.

   

 

Their usefulness is debatable. I wonder if this symbol is an attempt to give people a sense of safety and control in the middle of a crisis. They need it.

 

       

       

I like serendipity, and it finds me sometimes just walking down the street. An afternoon's meander has taken me past rooftop guardians, through the grounds of a modern art museum with its giant ant installation, past an auto parts store with velvet sofa, and delivered me to a tranquil garden with a sculpture shouldering its tiny burden.

 

When you visit Mexico, you must stroll through these parks. You'll be delighted with what will find you.

Bosque de Chapultepec
This sprawling city park is nearly 1,700 acres and features many attractions.

Parque Hundito

Low-key city park set below street level featuring walking paths & an off-leash dog area.

Alameda Central
Alameda Central is a public urban park in downtown Mexico City. Created in 1592, the Alameda Central is the oldest public park in the Americas.

Parque México 
The Parque México, also known as the Parque San Martín, is a large urban park located in Colonia Hipódromo in the Condesa area of Mexico City.

Desierto de los Leones
Desierto de los Leones National Park is located entirely within the limits of the Federal District; it stretches between Cuajimalpa and Álvaro Obregón boroughs.

Until next time

Hasta luego

Val


  


 


Art of the Paper Cut - Papel Picado August 01 2018, 0 Comments

 

Papel picados are elaborate decorative cut paper designs found all over Mexico. Although commonly on display during secular and religious occasions, papel picados are seen in abundance during the Day of the Dead ceremonies. The history of this art form, as with all of Mexico's artistic past, is very interesting. Mesoamerican cultures such as the Otomi and the Aztec created images in their designs for use in rituals to combat disease, misfortune, dangerous spirits, and for protection.

     

                          Joanna Koerten, Amsterdam                                     Vtynanky, Ukraine

Cut paper artistry is found in countries world-wide:  China's long tradition with this artistic form began in the sixth century. Since the 16th century in Germany it's been called scherenschnitte.  In Amsterdam during the 1650s the artist Joanna Koerten created landscapes using this artistic style. And in the Ukraine the art of vytynanky began in the fifteenth century and became an integral part of the country's decorative arts during the 19th century.

 

   

During the  final decade of his life, Henri Mattise created many wonderful works of art using cut-out paper designs. 

                            Peter Calleson                                                         Lisa Rodden

The art of paper cutting is not confined to the past. Today, contemporary artists continue to create exquisite elaborate works of art using cut paper. The article by SA Rogers "15 of the World’s Most Creative Papercraft Artists" tells us that the art of cutting paper is still a vibrant form of artistic expression. In Hannah Shaffer's article "A Cut Above: 10 Incredible Papercut Artists, we see a remarkable range of imaginative creative works when artists are most experimental with simple tools: paper and blade.

 

 

Some of the colourful Mexican papel picado designs can be seen on my Society 6 webpage. They're exuberant and fun to have around. Hope you enjoy them.

If you liked sugar skull designs, there's more to come...

Hasta luego

Val

 


 

 


Amo México - Walking in Colour July 11 2018, 0 Comments

I’m inspired to create by what I see around me, and what's inside me. Exciting colours and complex patterns motivate me to explore. Artists, past and contemporary, influence my creations. I don't feel alone when I’m in unknown territory.

I see a lot while I'm walking though Mexican cities and villages. A spiraling Mexican cactus at the side of the road and colourful paper cutouts overhead in the mercado stay in my memory sketch book.

An ancient gold Aztec lip plug in the shape of a serpent's head offers the opportunity to explore mystery and the dark side. I believe that ancient creations have inspired many modern jewellery creations.

 

Rambling through the bohemian quarter in Condesa in Mexico City with all the  colourful casas simply makes me happy and playful. And I like to recreate those feelings in my own creations.

 
You'll find some of my creations on Society6. There's a colourful skull to tell you the time and a pillow to help you dream. And there's more....

While you here, you can visit my website to see some new card designs.

Hasta luego amigos,

Val


Amo México May 28 2018, 0 Comments

Just back from Mexico. I love Mexico: Mexican art, Mexican colours, Mexican customs and celebrations, Mexican food. I've visited the country many times and each time I get to see something new, and see some of the same things in a different way. Mexico always surprises and delights me.

 

    

During my visit to Mexico City in May this year, two unique events were taking place at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)the exhibition: HYBRIDS the Body as Imaginary and a performance by the American composer Phillip Glass.

The Palacio de Bellas Artes is a prominent cultural center in Mexico City. It has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. The palace is a mixture of two architectural styles: an Art Nouveau exterior, and an Art Deco interior. And I was pleased to find out that there many Art Deco buildings and Art Nouveau buildings in Mexico City.

HYBRIDS The Body as Imaginary

This exhibition included incredible images across time from ancient Egypt to contemporary artistic works. Some of the artists included were Victor Brauner, Prune Nourry, Pieter Brueghel, and Mathew Barney.

The hybrid beings created by the diverse cultures that have inhabited the planet throughout history and their role within the western imaginary of the 19th and 20th centuries are some of the topics that the temporary exhibition Hybrids addresses: the body as imaginary.


 

Victor Brauner (1903-1966)Estereofigura (Steréofigure), 1959 
Prune Nourry (b. 1985) Squatting Holy Daughter, 2010.
Pieter Brueghel, el Joven (1564-1637) La tentación de San Antonio, ca.1625

 

On May 12th I saw Philip Glass perform with Mexican musicians Daniel Medina de la Rosa Raweri (Violin Wixarika), and  Erasmo Medina Medina ,  Kanari (Guitarra Wixárika), the work Hikuri (The Sacred Cactus).

Phillip Glass loves to experiment with many types of musicians. My Mexican friend Luis was very proud to be experiencing this moment. This inspiring performance was followed by the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.

 And this was just the beginning of my ongoing explorations in Mexico City....

Hasta luego,

Val


THANK YOU: Say It With a Card April 27 2018, 0 Comments

 

 

I have many people to thank, and I thank people often. Never underestimate the value of saying thank you. Showing gratitude and appreciation, giving credit when credit is due, and recognizing the kind and thoughtful actions of another, are all great reasons to give thanks. Whether it's in the workplace, within your community, family, or circle of friends, "thank you" goes a long way.

 When we say thank you and show gratitude it makes a person happier and healthier, and increases our sense of connection with others. Receiving recognition increases our sense of self-worth and belonging, and reinforces the value of doing good things. 

For these reasons I've created some thank you cards. They're great for sending to a colleague for a job well done, a family member you recently visited, a neighbour who helped you out, or a friend who was there when you needed them most.

There are six cards to choose from: You Helped Me, Your Kindness, From the Bottom of My Heart, Much Love, I'll Never Forget, and It Was Wonderful. You can get them all here.

As a thank you to you, my reader, and in celebration of International Jazz Day on April 30th, here is Lonnie Smith's version of I Want to Thank You.

Hasta leugo,

Val


*New* Baby Cards April 03 2018, 0 Comments

Spring's the time to begin anew, and there's nothing newer than a new baby. To celebrate spring's promise of new parenthood, I now offer six celebratory cards welcoming babies into the world. Get these new baby cards individually or in a pack of six here.

Hasta luego

Val

 

 


A Newsletter Offering Just For You March 23 2018, 0 Comments

What a year it's been so far...lots of new cards and blog posts and activity on social media. I'm getting feedback that some people would prefer to receive news updates and special offers via email. As a reminder, this option is available. You can either add your name at the bottom of my homepage or send me an email directly. Either way you'll get a confirmation email and begin enjoying a quarterly newsletter which features new designs and interesting stories and dates for sending cards, as well as special offers.

 

Hasta leugo!

Val

 


New Friends and Identity Activate as February Begins February 03 2018, 0 Comments



What's in a name? A rose is a rose but would Oscar be as much of a grouch if he was Oscar the Friendly? We invest so much in our names, their etymology, and sometimes derive personality from it. Is Beatrix as fun to be around as Sasha? Is Bruce as smart as Norm? We sometimes make assumptions about others based on their name. This can lead to personality traits that are either shy or very open. Are there baby names more commonly used for babies born in the summer than in the winter? That's something to think about while watching the snow.

It certainly has been winter lately. It's cold. We close in. This is a good time to challenge yourself to break out and make connections, to make new friends, to consider who we are no matter what our name. Here are three special days in February prompting us to do just that.

 February 11 - Make a Friend Day

Friendships matter. Whether five or eighty-five, we are social being and our survival depends upon our connection with others.

Spending time with friends improves our well being. It reinforces our place in the world and our sense of belonging and self worth. Isolation can result in poor physical and mental health. It’s not easy for everybody to make a new friend. Sometimes you just feel like a square peg in a round hole. So today's the day to find some square pegs like you.

We can start by going to new places, doing new things, and by not limiting opportunities by avoiding people who do not have the same life experiences or background as we do. When we step out of our comfort zone, we learn something new. That’s exciting. That's connecting. That’s what friends do.

 

February 13 - Get a Different Name Day

You'd be surprised at the people you know who have changed their names. Confucius: Kong Qiu, Catherine the Great: Sophie Frederike August von Anhalt-Zerbst in Stettin, Bob Dylan: Robert Zimmerman, to name a few.

Why are some people eager to change their names, while others would never consider it. It’s a matter of identity. People change their names for different reasons, such as religious conversion, transgender name changes, stage names for entertainers.  This article gives ten reasons why people have changed their names.

Countries change their names too, for political or nationalistic reasons, or to reflect ideologies of the government in power. The history of these three name changes is fascinating: ancient Constantinople changed to Istanbul,  Zaire became Democratic Republic of the Congo, Persia changed to Iran.

Fruits and vegetables also have name changes, usually for marketing reasons:  alligator pears are now called avocados, the Patagonian tooth fish is now the Chilean sea bass, prunes became dried plums, and the Chinese goose berry is now called kiwi.

 

February 16 - Do a Grouch a Favor Day

This is the day to do something nice for someone, and for ourselves.  That grouchy face you see would love and laugh and sing and dance. That usually takes two. Here are some ways to celebrate this day:

  • If you see someone who is grumpy, do something nice for them. A smile can lift the heart. 
  • If you know of someone who is having a difficult time, take them to dinner, eat lots of ice cream with Cointreau.
  • Sit and listen to them instead of forcing cheer on them, sit with them with their feelings and let them talk.

Fruits and vegetables change their names too...usually for marketing purposes: 

Avocado were once called alligator pears, the Patagonian tooth fish was renamed Chilean sea bass, Chinese goose berry became the kiwi, and prunes are now fashionably called dried plumbs.

 

Here are some funny new greeting cards ..... to celebrate those special February name days.

Until next time amigos.

Hasta luego.

Val

 

 

 


January Days, Connections & Puzzles January 18 2018, 0 Comments

 

January can be a tough month for many people...myself included. In the North, we are challenged with bad weather, trapped inside, lack of sunshine, feeling confined and isolated. This wet and cold can impact our mental health and well being.  To cope, we find ways of cheering ourselves up by connecting with others, staying warm, doing activities that make us feel happy. What better way to do this than to create special calendar days to get us out and active. Special theme days, in the second half of January, connect to the human condition: intimacy, friendship, emotions, opposites, and puzzles.


January 21 - National Hug Day
This warm day in January coaxes us to show our emotions. The mental and physical benefits of connecting with hugs are infinite. Do you know that animals love hugs, with each other and fellow humans.


January 23 - National Handwriting Day
This day encourages use to pick up a pen or pencil, a piece of paper, and a greeting card.

Writing with a pen positively affects the brain by increasing neural activity, it sharpens the brain and helps us to learn, and forces us to slow down and enjoy the moment. 

There are many reasons why the art of the handwritten letter enhances the lives of the sender and the receiver, such as creating memories, making us feel good, and sparking creativity, unplugging us from the screen.


January 24 - National Compliment Day

A compliment has a powerful effect, on both the receiver and the giver. It’s a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day. A genuine compliment tells the receiver that they matter, they are unique, and that the giver is sincere.  There's a scientific explanation why people perform better after receiving a compliment. We can enrich someone’s life by sending a special card with a special compliment. It'll make their day.

In his unique way, Mark Twain expressed his feelings about receiving a compliment:




January 25 - National Opposite Day
This is a day to have fun by saying and doing the opposite of what you want to say or mean to do. As comical as it might appear, this opposite activity can have a profound effect on our thinking. We are encouraged to be experimental, to break habits, to be brave. Cake for breakfast with chop sticks…that can’t be wrong!  

Puzzles typically necessitate trials and errors. We might find solutions to familiar frustrating questions by considering the the opposite answer. The solution might be just outside the box, or under it.  Consider the words of wisdom contained in this story.


 

January 27 - National Chocolate Cake Day
One day? One day only? For some of us, any day is chocolate cake day. Having a good day or a bad day: chocolate cake! Alone or in a crowd: chocolate cake. Hungry or not hungry: chocolate cake. Fork or fingers: chocolate cake. Having difficulty solving a puzzle: chocolate cake will help find the solution.  There are many recipes for chocolate cake. This one sounds delicious.

 


January 29 - National Puzzle Day
Puzzles stimulate the brain, keeping it active. When we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain and improve memory, cognitive function and problem-solving skills. Crossword puzzles increase our vocabulary and language skills. Solving puzzles significantly assists our brains in the production of dopamine and accelerates ingenuity. Here are some more benefits of solving puzzles, however big or small.


Spending time with a friend, working on a jigsaw puzzle, is a fun way to connect, having some chocolate cake, and a hug. What a great way to get rid of the winter blahhhhhhs.

Until next time.

Hasta lego,

Val


 


 


All Love Is Good Love January 09 2018, 0 Comments

 

I’ve asked myself, ‘If love is so ancient, why is it always new?’. If love makes us act silly, how can it also move mountains? If love hurts, why do we need love’s balm? And why so many sappy love songs? It’s a mystery! — and undeniable… And if we’re lucky, then smart enough, that mystery will call us…and when we answer, it can be the beginning of something magical.


But before we get into magic words, modern psychology has broken this human condition into seven types of love. Gary Chapman has also had great success in sharing his book, The Five Languages of Love. But is that how we experience it?

The kind of love that asks us to send Valentine’s cards is romantic love. It is the love of great novels. It has inspired music, dance, poetry and theatre. It is, at the same time, the ailment and the elixir. It is the cause and the cure of great heartache. There are many great verses through time’s line which capture the essence of love which transcends gender, race, religion. Here is one I love.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."


Witchery sometime claims to do what wisdom cannot. Here’s a great link from Huffington Post from a few years ago which outlines the five easy ways to creating love spells.


What better way to create your own love spell this Valentine’s Day than by sending a beautiful card. There are eleven new cards for you to share. Order now to get them out on time for Valentine's day.


Hasta luego,
Val

 

 

 

 


Time is Flying December 13 2017, 0 Comments

How to stop time from flying forward? Time travel back to childhood. Begin by celebrating National Ice Cream Day on December 13th. Save some of that ice cream and add it to a cup cake on December 15th  National Lemon Cupcake Day.

There's a new card on the website waiting for you.

 


Back to Black: 3 New Cards October 25 2017, 0 Comments



Two ancient celebration days are approaching: Halloween and the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). In keeping with the mood cast by these events, I've added three cards to the website which reflect the dark celebratory mood: a black cat, a black mask, a purple moon. Follow these links to order your cards today! 

 

 
Halloween has ancient origins dating back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.


Photo by Roberta Garza

The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is an ancient celebration with origins in Aztec traditions honouring the dead.  In Mexico it is a day to celebrate, remember and prepare special foods in honour of those who have departed. It is believed that the spirit of the dead visit their families on October 31 and leave on November 2.    

Wishing a spooky Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.

Hasta luego!

Val