Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year!

'Fireworks'
Photo by Sherie Sloane

A day and a half are what's left of 2009. As the new year gets underway, we'll see fireworks and tunes of 'Auld Lang Syne' will be heard. New Year's celebration is the oldest of all holidays, dating back to 4000 years ago. But did you know that New Year's Day wasn't always celebrated on January 1st?

It used to be late March, which is the beginning of Spring. A logical time to start a year since it's the season of rebirth and blossoming. It was only in 153 B.C. when the Roman Senate declared January 1 as the beginning of a 'new year'.

Different countries celebrate New Year's with their own traditions. Some traditions I fondly remember while growing up are:

  • Lighting up fireworks to drive away bad spirits and bad luck. The louder it is, the better.
  • Jumping as high as you can soon as midnight strikes, to grow taller.
  • Wearing polka-dotted outfits for prosperity.
  • The house must be well-lit to invite good luck in every corner.
  • And of course, lots and lots of food. You should have twelve kinds of round fruits for luck.

I'm looking forward to share some of these traditions to our own kids when they're old enough. I'll have to make them understand though that practicing these traditions won't guarantee them a better life. But cheerful traditions and positive outlook are sure ways to jumpstart a year wih lots of hope and excitement.

I wish to thank all of you for another year of shared stories and memories. May you and your family have a wonderful and Blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Our little man with the Christmas Parol.

Wishing you all a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
Have a Happy Holidays!

Thank you for supporting and appreciating my art,
and for following 'The Morning Artist' Blog.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joolia Special Feature

Antoinette Scarflette is featured in the Front Page of Joolia.com,
UK's premiere online shopping website for unique clothing and accessories.
Check it out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Parol, More than an Ornament


'Parol'
Watercolor on Paper © 2009.

It's that time of the year again when I can't help but miss the cheerful lights and sounds of Christmas back home. There, streets are adorned with lights as early as September and taken down the day after Valentine's day. A long festive celebration indeed.

I miss seeing the Parol. I remember making those when we were growing up. 'Parols' are ornamental star-like Christmas lanterns from the Philippines. It is traditionally made of bamboo and paper and comes in various shapes, sizes and designs.

It symbolizes the Nativity star that guided the Magi to the manger, which for me is the very essence of Christmas - the birth of Jesus. It also represents the victory of light over darkness and the Filipinos' hope and goodwill during the Christmas season.

Painting this somehow makes me feel a little closer to home.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back on Paper



'I Got Your Back'
Watercolor on Paper (c) 2009.


'I Got Your Back'. Detail.

This morning I missed my sisters and out of the blue, I started drawing these two girls on my sketchbook.  Then it occurred to me that it's been a while since I painted watercolor on paper.   

For a year now, I've been painting on watercolor canvases.  Although canvas gives new dimension to watercolor painting, the thrill of successfully achieving transparency on paper is unsurpassed.  The 'touch and go' approach on paper still remains to be the purest form of watercolor mastery.

If papers could talk, I bet they're saying 'Welcome back, Sister!'.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rugby Stripes Are In

Available at UrArtist Shop. $39.

My laptop sleeves are gaining popularity. So far, over two hundred of these cozies has been shipped around the world since I started making it over a year ago. What once started as a personal quest to find a unique laptop sleeve for my then new laptop, became a sensation to savvy web surfers across the globe.

I've sent couple of these fibrous handmade caddies to all continents except Africa. The top five countries are USA, Germany, Canada, Asutralia and France.

Last week, I got a request from a New Yorker who loves to watch rugby football to make a 'rugby stripes' laptop sleeve in her favorite colors - medium pink and red. I'm always excited whenever I get such requests since the finished work is not just a product but a result of two collaborating individuals. The creation process becomes more enjoyable for both.

Maybe next time you watch your favorite game, you'll be inspired to have a laptop sleeve to match your team's color. Don't forget to tell me about it, I'm always open to try new ideas.

Happy web surfing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tangled up in the Studio

'Grey Skies are Turning Blue' Art Cowl

It's really getting cold here in Chicago. We already switched our summer clothes in our closets with fall and winter outfits. Ofcourse, these breezy weather calls for accessories to keep us warm.

At this time of the year, my studio morphs into a fibrous stead. Skeins and spools of yarns, threads and laces take over the canvases and paints. What once used to be a jar of brushes is now stuffed with knitting and crochet needles. 'It's that time of the year.', my husband would say. My sketchbook is getting filled with designs of scarves and other yarn projects.

So, pardon me if you haven't seen me writing much these days. It's because I've given in to that irrepressible calling to turn those yarns into something extraordinary, while wrapped up in my favorite cozy and sipping my favorite peach white tea.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Downpour


'Docked'
Fine Art Photograph by Sherie Sloane. (C) 2009

Has it really been over two months since my last post? If you've been following my blog, I apologize for the stretch of time I missed you.

So, what happened in the past months? You must be wondering. I was compelled to 'dock' and refuel myself, just like that 'tugboat' I photographed in Fort Walton, Florida. It was a much needed time to pause, reflect and plan. You know the old adage, "When it rains, it pours"? That's exactly what transpired in my life and in the lives of the people I love and care.

First, there was the happy news of another pregnancy. We can't believe our little man who just turned two will soon become a big brother. Then, there were the sad news from families back home. Last month, our beloved uncle passed away. He was that 'one' uncle we call our second dad. When dad passed away ten years ago, he took it to heart to look over us, providing the fatherly love we missed.

'Typhoon Ketsana'
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Two days after, typhoon Ketsana hit Manila and nearby towns in the Philippines, my home country. My sister's house, and most of their belongings were soaked in water seven feet high for days. Thankfully, she was working the day the typhoon hit. My mom was stranded in another town and wasn't able to get home for almost two days. My other sister was in her class when the water started rising outside their university. Thankfully, she was able to reach home safely.

But most were not as fortunate as my family. The highest rainfall in history, heavy flooding and landslides claimed hundreds of lives. Tears were streaming from my eyes watching the news. I knew a lot of friends in the most affected areas. The images of kids separated from parents and stranded in their schools were heartbreaking. I couldn't fathom what it must have been like for those families. Their loved ones, everything they owned and worked hard for, all gone in an instant.

It was a bitter reminder of what matters most - life itself. As we said our prayers from our comfy home here in Chicago, we realized even more how immensely blessed we are. We have each other and the meaning of 'modest living' has now become 'abundance'. The help we sent seemed meager compared to the magnitude of the disaster poeple there have experienced.

'My Boys'
Beasley Park Beach, Ft. Walton, Florida

I was plagued with those sad images for days. It didn't help that my morning sickness was reaching its height too, all these on top of raising our very active tooddler. Going to my studio to paint and create felt like a chore.

My husband who's been working so hard thought it will do us all good to take a little breather. We flew to the charming old town of Fort Walton, Florida to celebrate our son's birthday. He loved the sand and we all love the sugarsand beaches there. The quiet town was the perfect place for us to rest and reflect.

Watching my boys build their sand castle, I felt the first kick from the baby inside me. Perhaps telling me, 'Mom, it's time to put the worries away for now. The rains back home will soon stop and God will wipe their tears one at a time.'

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coconuts Breaking

'Coconuts'.  My First Oil Painting.  April 1999.

Everytime I'm interviewed about my art, one question always come up.  How did I became an artist?

Oftentimes I'm tempted to answer 'I was born as one'.  But that won't be a justified reply.  Although I believe my artistic talents have been bestowed since birth, it wasn't until a tragedy happened that I heeded to that artful calling.

'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.', is one of my favorite quotes from Picasso.  It hits home for me.  As much as I enjoyed creating with my hands as a child, I set aside my penchant for art to pursue a more financially rewarding college degree.   Dad said, if money isn't a problem, we'll have easier time pursuing other interests in life and even help others.

He was right on.   Except for one thing.  He missed the part that his sudden demise will leave such a gaping hole in our lives.  At age forty-nine, on a Wednesday morning, he died of heart attack.  We were supposed to go out that Sunday to celebrate Easter with my first paycheck from my first job.  Instead, Easter became a day of mourning as we laid him to his final rest.

Standing there, I was so numb from the sudden pain of loss, from the disbelief that he's gone.  No tears fell.   It was only after every one who expressed their sympathy has gone home, did I gave in to that unbearable grief.  I cried for days.

Life must go on, he would always urge us.  From challenges come opportunity, he'd say when things in school or at work get rough, or friendships sour.   

I took Mom out for a lunch date a week after, we talked about Dad and what he'd want us to do.  Be strong, she said.  'I don't know how to', was all I can say.  That's when a sign for a four-day art workshop at a local bookstore caught her eyes.  

'Why not give it a try, you've always been artistic', Mom said.  So I did.  Two weeks after Easter, I finished my first oil painting of coconuts.  After ten years and several more ambitious works of art, this one still hangs proudly in my mom's living room.  

Reminding us that life is what you make out of it.  Dad might have been gone, but his passing left me a gift that keeps on giving - To cherish life like never before.

So when life brings you hard coconuts to break, paint it.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Tag It

Custom Cardstock Jewelry Tag, 2 x 2 inches.

New tag I designed for Salty Cat Co., another indie jewelry online shop from North Carolina.  Hope you like it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Web Ads

Web ad I designed for Wood Pond Designs for CraftCult.

More and more people are logging on to the web to shop.  As an indie business owner, how do you spread the word about your shop or craft without breaking the bank?

The answer, Web Ad thumbnails.  These are the small-sized graphics or logos you see either on the side bars or banners of websites and blogs.  Sizes differ depending on the required dimensions from the website or blog owners where you'll be advertising.  Most common are 100 x 100 pixels for thumbnails and 150 x 700 for banners.

It can either be static (plain graphic without animation) or dynamic (animated graphic, you'll see flashing or rotating images and words).   Prices differ according to the complexity of your ad.  Simple, static ones are cheaper.

You can either make your own or hire a graphic designer to create one for you.   If you're at loss which website or blog you'll want to advertise in, I recommend doing a little research prior hand.

Search for sites that's related to your business or products you create and check their visitor statistics if it has good amount of traffic.  Lastly, see if the prices are affordable for you.  Keep in mind that the benefits of placing ads should outweigh the costs you put into it.

Good luck on your web ads!  Feel free to contact me if you need help making one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Haven Gets Tagged

Click image above to zoom.

Here's the latest jewelry tag I designed for Happy Haven, a popular artisan jewelry online store.  I used the logo the designer sent me and used fonts fitting to her business.  Purple is the highlight of her color scheme, but we both opted for the white background.

This is to allow different color and style of necklaces stand out when attached to the tag, making the tag more 'color and contrast' friendly.

Although the logo is pixelated, the graphic came out with smooth lines when printed with its final size of 2 x 5 inches.  

It's simple, classy and great way to brand your items.  

Ready to get tagged?  Click here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Follow and Be Followed

One of today's social media and cyber-networking most powerful tool is Twitter. 

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read each others' updates, known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to other users - known as followers - who have subscribed to them. (from Wikipedia).

It's a useful service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

But with millions of Tweeters out there, how do you stand out?  

The answer - Personalize your Twitter Page with Custom Backgrounds. If you're tweeting about your business, it's an effective way to brand your company and promote your service and products.


I've been privileged to design GoFetchGifts.com and PlainJaneandCo's Twitter Pages.  You can get your own custom twitter backgrounds here.

Remember though, that Twitter is a community.  Be mindful and respectful at all times by posting only relevant and informative tweets.  Follow the web adage, 'Thou shalt never spam.'

You're always welcome to follow me on Twitter.

Monday, June 22, 2009

To Remember

'O'er the Land of the Free'
Acrylic on Canvas by Sherie Sloane (c) 2009

I've been pondering on what to paint for the upcoming Fourth of July.  I wanted to make it simple, yet still portrays the spirit of patriotism.  

Both my husband and I came from military families.  Celebrating Independence Day is not just a day of merry-making for us, but a time to remember both our dads who served their countries.

I've been playing the Star Spangled Banner in my mind and the line "O'er the land of the free..." hits a chord in my heart.  

May this painting remind all of us to cherish the freedom we enjoy today and remember those who fought for it.

Dad, Thank You.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shadows of Summer

Shadows of Summer
Acrylic on Canvas. Painted today.

Capturing the elusive warmth of Summer in canvas.

Everyone around is asking 'Shouldn't it be in the 90's (degrees) already at this time of the year?'.  Should be, but the weatherman said this will be the coolest and rainiest Summer in history of Chicago.  

Got to make the most of it then, or else, Indian Summer will be what's left.  Then comes the bitter chill of winter.  

I'd rather have this than those.  At least for now.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Passport to the World

This weekend, bring the family to the Chicago Children's Museum for days of creative and fun-filled events.  

Travel eleven thousand miles to the Philippines in Southeast Asia and explore the country's colorful sights, sounds and arts.


Take the kids and kids-at-heart on Sunday, June 14 from 1:00-2:00 pm for an interactive, hands-on painting workshop and demo by yours truly.  

Your Passport is waiting.  See you there!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crafty Cooking

Chicken Pasta with Homemade Pesto

My craftiness has extended to the kitchen, and no one's complaining (thankfully).  In fact, everyone leaves the dining table smiling.  

Thanks to online recipes, I'm able to whip up meals that are healthy and tasty.  For lunch today, I made chicken pasta with homemade pesto.  Love the sound of 'home-made', reminds me of my own mom's home cooking.  

I got the basil pesto recipe from 'Simply Recipes'.  I used whole grain pasta and sauteed the chicken in olive oil with onions and bell peppers.  Then, I put about a cup and  a half of the pesto.  A little dash of salt and fresh ground black pepper and lunch is served.

Simple, fast, healthy and delicious. Oopps, gotta wipe that pesto from our little man's chin.

Bon appetit!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dad

A Father's Day Poem  by Sherie Sloane

Dad and our little man, watching the sunset.
One of my favorite random shot.

Because of you
I am steadfast and strong
Carrying on through the storm

Because of you
I knew right from wrong
Learning when to drift along

Because of you
I found courage in fear
Daring trepidation in tiers

Because of you
I stood up after a fall
Recognizing I never lost it all

Because of you
I triumphed after each loss
Applauding wisdom amidst the cost

Because of you
I am cherished and spirit's free
Living and loving in higher degree

Advance Happy Father's Day to all dads out there.  

I wrote this poem last year, thinking about my own Dad and all the years he stood by us through good times and tough ones.  

Dad, this is for you.  May our love reach you in heaven.  I miss you, we all do.

Feel free to copy the poem (please include author's name) and give it to the special men in your lives.
 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meet the Morning Artist

Oak Park Avenue by Sherie Sloane
Watercolor on Paper, 18 x 24 inches.

Mark your calendar.

On June 27, the Vogt Visual Arts Center in Tinley Park, Illinois will have its Inaugural Juried Art Show and Sale from 10 am to 3 pm.  

Bring the family to meet local artists and tour the  beautiful Oak Park Avenue.  

I'll be there, so stop by and say hello.  See you there!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Carpenters Sew Too

Oven Mitten with Today's Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
My first attempt at sewing.

I grew up in a home where creativity was highly encouraged.  Dad was always building something with his tools and mom sewed and made things for us.  There were no boys in the house (except for Dad), so I gravitated more on the 'tough' crafts like carpentry and painting furnitures.  It was inevitable for one of the girls to be Dad's handy assistant.  Luckily, it was me.

Some of my favorite memories was helping Dad build my (then) baby sister's nursery closet and her matching doll's closet.  Digging our first pond and crafting our vegetable garden's fences were so fun too.  Everything was built from scratch using manual tools.  While I was spending time with Dad, my other sisters were either drawing paper dolls or watching mom sew.

Big sis learned sewing quick, she was a natural.  Soon, she was making us tote bags, skirts and tops to match our dolls.  Back then, I thought sewing was difficult to learn.  Watching mom and sis pedal our old Singer sewing machine with so much ease seems to be a skill reserved for the 'crafty queens'.  That's when I decided I'd rather build, draw and doodle with paints.

An Artist's Oven Mitten.  Detail.

Fast forward to twenty years (wow, it was that long?),  I bought Mom her first electrical sewing machine for mother's day.  It's high time she retire the twenty-three year old Singer.  And it's my time to teach her how to use it.  But I haven't used one before.  

This is when technology comes handy.  We played the instructional DVD that came with it.  She was still intimidated, that the machine sat untouched for a whole week.  So, one morning I dared the (formerly) impossible task - sew.  

I needed a new mitten for baking (or should I say 'warming' up frozen stuff), perhaps that will be easy.  In carpentry, Dad would say 'Measure thrice, cut once'.  I learned that in sewing the hard way.  But aren't mistakes the best teachers?  

After five hours of often interrupted (with a little tot tugging every now and then) of cutting, pinning and sewing, I finally finished my first project. 

Just in time to pull out our baked (warmed up) quiche from Costco.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet Owyn


The little man exploring Owyn

This is Owyn.  Nope, he's not our boy.  But our boy loves it!  He can't take his eyes and hands of it, eversince  we got it.  

Waiting for Owyn was like waiting for the stork to bring home a baby.  We were filled with anticipation from day one.  We waited one weekend and four days, but it was all worth it.  I was excited to see how our little man will like it.

Owyn travelled more than two thousand miles from Los Angeles to Chicago.  Despite the long travel, it arrived in great shape.  It was superbly packed, cushioned with styrofoam to ensure it's comfy.  One can tell it was built and sent with much love and care.  How can it not be, it was made by a mom.   A mom who creates gorgeous mid-century children furniture from her old garage.


I love pieces that have stories behind it.  As a mom myself, I can just picture her sneaking into her garage during her kids' nap times and getting creative.   Someday when our little man asks me where we got Owyn, I'll tell him it came from a magical garage in a sunny place filled with love, made by a super mom.

Maybe I'll get lucky and hear him say, 'Just like you mom?'.

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