Lisa's Musings

there's little i control

off they flew

hello there. first before i forget - thanks for being glad the documentary project is back and thanks for all the support on my print. i'm shocked at how quickly the stitched print sold out. it's really so nice! if i had known i would have made the stitched edition larger - as so many kind people have emailed saying they want a stitched one. because of that... i'm generating a list of folks who want to be the first to know when a stitched print launches again. i'm thinking it will be very very similar to the last print - just a different colorway. email me if you want on that list.

now... i'm very excited to announce that i'm part of a show at the little bird gallery where the proceeds benefit griffith park - which suffered greatly in the fire in LA a few months ago. i remember being in that park as a child actually......

what is really great is that wendy , gwen , alena , jessica , and ali are all in the show too. as well as mylissa - who runs the gallery, and her husband! it should be a really fun show. plus it's a good cause. each bird is $100.

my bird for off they flew

this is what i ended up doing to my bird. this was actually the piece i used to get back into studio mode from japan. i was cleaning the studio and going through all this yarn and i thought... hey.... let's wrap the bird. i thought about the idea of growth - rebirth after a fire - and so it's variegated green... with little buds of felt growth. i might have been channelling christo ... heh heh. but really i think a lot about wrapping and what it means. it's protective - it's decorative - it can be too tight.... you get the idea.

be sure and contact the gallery if you are interested in getting a bird and helping a good cause.

happy wednesday!

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hello friends. after a bit of hiatus, i'm happy to welcome back the documentary project that shari and i collaborate on.

shari actually chose this word a long long time ago. but we are just now getting to it. i dunno about shari - but i sure felt out of practice. i also simultaneously felt very glad to be working on this again. it's a reason to look around - a reason to take photos [something that has been sorely lacking in my life since returning from japan]. so with out further ado -

SHARI's response

circle 1


circle 3

circle 4

circle 5

i chose the word circle a long while back. at the time, i was thinking of life and how i used to feel it was more linear. high school, college, career, etc. etc. lately, i've been thinking of life more as a circle like a life cycle. the photos i took are from a walk at the eno and at the nc botanic gardens. the cyclical, circular aspect of life is always so much more evident in nature i think. therefore, i was drawn to the natural circles found in my everyday landscape.

circles: repetition, walking in circles, continuing, never ending. around and around we go!

MY response


when shari first said circle i couldn't help but think of circles as a primary shape. how they can be transformed and combined with other primaries to create new shapes. i also thought of the six feet under episode when claire is in art school and is complaining that one of her teachers i making her practice drawing the perfect circle. ha! i've never had that assignment - nor would i give it - but it makes me laugh.

circle :: two

circular tools [thanks gwen! ] on a polka dot fabric [the double circle]. i then thought about how i do love circles in art. how they can represent closure - a sense of "zen" - repeated they start to become something else - they go beyond their one-ness.

circle :: three

as i looked around me circles really popped up everywhere. they are just so handy - jars, buttons, clocks, candles, camera lens, plates, tomatoes, plums. it's funny how you know something, but don't SEE something until you concentrate [why i like this project]

cirlce :: four

i then started thinking about the duality of the circle. so it can symbolize a closed space - a family [circle of trust] or something eternal [like a wedding ring]. if you leave an end just a tad open it starts to represent something else - a means to escape or a way in - a dragon eating its own tail. it can mean eternity in a good way, but also in a bad way [running in circles - going round and round in an argument]. this fascinates me.

in my life and art things often seem circular. i return again and again to colors, shapes, ideas, thoughts, patterns.... i never seem to be totally finished with them.

circle :: five

lovely sunflowers w/ their deep brown center. planted for my by my husband! :D

where do you see circles in your life???

don't forget that shari also is hosting a week of elements in photos on her blog today. looks like a lot of fun. i'm going to try and participate at least one day. fingers crossed.



so.... thanks to my good friends at paper monkey press i am happy to announce my first ever edition print. it's letterpressed [all textural and lovely]

it's based on a drawing i did awhile ago for the sweet camilla

123 ... with hand stitching

there's a smaller edition of the prints that have hand stitching.

more info and where to buy

and.... the lovely lovely jan of poppytalk has posted a continued interview with me to mark the occasion. [i say continued because it all started when jan guest blogged on design sponge . thank you jan - so much!


hi there! just a quick note to remind you that the auction for eireann's mom starts today.

here's a link to the one in ten site

here's a link to my auction directly

there's really amazingly beautiful stuff for sale!!

happy sunday!


what's next

these are the colors for my next installation. i had to pick a title for my show today. nothing like pressure to force you make up your mind. "over the river and through the woods" had been rolling around for a couple of weeks and nothing better had whisked it away... and so there you have it.

i have been procrastinating coming up with my professional practices syllabus for weeks now. i am running out of time on that too. outline done. most readings chosen.... but now it's time to nuance. faculty meeting is next friday. classes start the week after that ! summer over already? wow.

CALLING ALL SINGLE MITTENS [AND GLOVES]. my dear friend wendy announced this plea [one of her current grad students] ::

Please mail your single mittens (lost their mate) to: Jean Pitman, 1541 B Palolo Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816.

They can be in any condition, any size and they can be gloves if that is all you have although I definitely prefer mittens. Include inside the lone mitten this information or a scrap of paper (if you do not do this, I will fabricate this information as part of the piece): 1.) the first name of the person who wore it. 2.) the town/city and country it is being mailed from and 3.) any brief story behind or date of loss (if you can remember). This information will be incorporated into the piece so please remain as anonymous as possible (I will not be using any last names).

If you want to see an image of the final piece/project/sculpture, please include your email address or mailing address, if you want a hard copy of the image.

Please forward this information to as many people as possible. Thank you for your participation. Jean Pitman in Honolulu, HI USA: and/or

now... since it doesn't get that cold here i'm afraid i can't help jean - but maybe some of you can? i hope so! it sounds like a cool project.

don't forget it's our last post on "magical thinking" by shari today on ship

OK - i'm on break. back to work for me..... i'm hoping to start posting some of the goodies i got in japan... and other inspiration. i'm looking for it right now. anywhere i can find it.

have a great weekend.

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hemlock bud

this little hemlock bud is going to be donated to eireann's auction :: one in ten . this is one of those moments where i'm proud to be part of a community that supports one another. you can read more about it on the one in ten site, but eireann's mom suffered an aneurysm - and is making a miraculous recovery. please please help. there are SO MANY gorgeous things that will be up for sale. [i have my eye on several things].

i am completely overwhelmed by your response to my show. thank you for being interested at all in what i do. it's really wonderful. in the comments a couple of people wanted to know more about the work. i think artists often don't really like to talk about their own work - and i'm no exception. but.... i tried to go into a bit more depth about both the pieces and what i am thinking about in making them. you'll find that in the comments of that last post.

so feeling kind of numbery around here.... i was tagged... by dandelion , kathleen , and initially by hannah for the 8 things about you meme. i'm not very good at these sorts of things, but i'll give it a try....

one «« much to the dismay of my dad, i have no interest in dancing. it's not that i don't appreciate the act of dancing - nor do i make fun of those who go out and cut a rug [in fact i think it's great to be so free]. but it's just not fun to me. the exception to make this rule was that i really liked dancing in obon festivals when i was a kid [i also liked my tap dancing class. a lot actually].

two «« sometimes i wish i was a singer in a band [too bad i can't write a song to save my life]

three «« sometimes i wish i had a trust fund

four «« i loathe exercising - the planned go to the gym kind. i love walking or swimming or any number of other activities - just don't ask to see me in a leotard.

five «« i used to have really really really long hair. to the middle of my back long. this seems so not me now - my hair hasn't touched my shoulders in over 15 years.

six «« sometimes i wish i was a florist. that all i did all day is play with flowers. and NOTHING else.

seven «« i am notorious for making stupid faces at cameras. i hate having my picture taken [it's a bit better if i take a self portrait]. there are countless pictures of me with my tongue sticking out, my nose scrunched, my hands over my face....

eight «« i am a minimalist stuck in a pack rat body. if i could just keep buying stuff and had limitless storage i would probably re-do my house over and over [and clear out a lot of stuff - just put it in rotation]. i love setting up still-lives or finding the perfect thing to balance out a collection. i also hate clutter [but make it and live with it]. ideally i'd have rooms with different flavors : the modern room, the euro cottage room, the bright palette room....

phew - i made it to eight!! i almost thought about just seeing if there were questions anyone wanted me to answer like blair just did. but then what if no one had any questions ?? i don't think there's anyone else to tag, but - if you want to divulge 8 things and haven't already - please use this as your excuse!

anyway - who knows - maybe i'll make it to two posts this week. i'm frantically trying to update my website in order to make an announcement. wish me luck.

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currently west :: poster

i'm not sure when i became a once a week blogger, but... seems like it's all i can manage these days. i feel like i have lot more to share - hmmm - hopefully next week will prove more possible.

so.... the show the show - the reason for my going to japan. 2 weeks of work [thank god we had help! i've never had/allowed someone to help me as much as i did for this show and let me tell you - a girl could get used to it]. all of the work [and i'm sorry i don't have pics of the other artist's work organized yet - i'll add them to my website in an installation section as soon as i can] in the show was labor intensive. what i was acutely aware of was how i was working on these projects that were to occupy a significant amount of space [several feet!] but i had to actually build and put them together in tiny little sections. one small action at a time. pin, repeat, paint, repeat [of course repeat ended up being a big theme for the whole trip, but i didn't know it yet].

me installing the tanks

the other thing that really sunk in this time was how intimate and also disconnected this process can be. countless hours spent literally 2 inches from a wall. occasionally bored to tears.... singing along with music... swapping stories with my helper.... and then - oh my god we're done. and then... oh my god i made that? the inevitable question - how did you do that? how does it feel to do that.... flustering in my answer - i'm not really sure. you just do it. and really i kind of forget the actual making part of it [otherwise i might never do it again].

synchrotanks :: argyle :: full shot

the tank installation complete. remember when i was pondering color combos? it was for this. this is the second tank install i've done. the first time i did an argyle pattern [other time was plaid].

from below

this is why this museum was so cool. shot from below. a little peek. sigh.

detail of marching tanks


in the paper

the tanks made it into the paper :) !

downstairs [thankfully far away from the tanks] i did a doily installation. the space was just so inspiring. for the first time i thought about having the piece "start" somewhere and sort of disperse. so i started in the corner. i thought about snow falling [there was still snow on the mountains that were in sight of the museum]. i also had a glass case to work with. granted normally people put things IN the case - but i had been wanting to work with glass/reflections and the doilies for quite some time and this was my chance. the shadows that ended up IN the case were beyond what i could have hoped for. these pieces are ridiculously stupid to try and photograph, so... well.... i have to let that go.

lily pond :: the whole thing

one story about this piece. while i was working on it.... staring at walls. futzing with the minute alterations in the placement of each doily the curator of the show came down and stood next to me. he turned to me and he said. this is so japanese. you are so japanese. the space here. the space is just as important as the objects themselves. [this was of course 1/2 understood by me and 1/2 translated to me - i didn't know the word for space]. i literally just stopped and smiled at him. i felt as though that was the biggest compliment someone could have given me. space is something that is so hard to talk about. and he just got it. the negative space.

lily pond :: right side

the right side - the way the walls interacted was just fantastic.

lily pond :: corner

of course i did the corner wrap around thing

lily pond :: the corner

this is the "start". i also really overlapped the doilies this time.... think i might have to try that again....

lily pond :: mass in the corner

detail of the mass

lily pond :: on glass

the glass

lily pond :: me painting on glass

me painting on the glass


here we are talking to hipster architecture students from tokyo :D

ok friends. i have to get to the studio. i have to try and finish a piece for my show announcement.... oh and make the work for that show. ha ha. [show at little bird gallery in october]

i also posted on ship today.

AND.... caterine has set up a very cool muslin tote swap . go sign up if you are so inclined!

have a great weekend!

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where oh where did the week go? i was sucked into a vortex of meetings, errands, plans, good intentions, and simply not enough hands or brain cells. i think part of it was also that poor little tonka had to have some major ear surgery and so i've been worried about him. he's doing fine [rocking a cloth blue e-collar - i'll spare him the embarrassment of showing you]

candy ferris wheel

{{this ferris wheel is in odaiba/tokyo teleport . there are 2 gigantic malls there - and a beach as it's along the bay.}}

i have been wracking my brain as to how to wrap up my trip to japan. it was such a good and long ride. i've slowly been uploading pics to flickr neighborhood by neighborhood trying to think about how to talk about the sites and sounds.

tokyo is like new york. there is no way to do everything you want to do - and there will always be something to see and do - no matter how many times you visit. it's also funny because it really is divided into "areas". you get your electronics in akihabura, you get your high end shopping in ginza... and talk about consumerist. no joke. there are so many stores, restaurants - shopping malls - it's like a sea of buy buy buy. i'm not even sure how everything stays in business?? [it is mostly packaged and presented very very nicely].

i think one thing that kept coming to mind [besides REPETITION] was how there is really a blending an meshing of old and new. almost to a degree contradiction. the traditional is embraced with such ferocity, and yet the new and technology are pushing forward. the only "old" buildings are really historical - or most likely owned by the same family/person for a long time. granted much was destroyed in WWII, but my friend said that when someone buy a building in tokyo they immediately tear it down an build a new one if they can. so there is this strange concrete landscape - and much of that actually isn't that engaging or interesting [not at all like the beautiful historical architecture of san francisco or new york].

in terms of art the mori art museum was one of the best contemporary spaces we saw. overall how the japanese hang a show/exhibition is so lovely. each object is given a respectful amount of space - and there are interactive elements that would never fly in the states [think climbing up into things - or no railings on high places]. there's sort of a belief that if you can't take care of yourself it's your problem and why should we deny an engaging activity to all for a few. it's rather refreshing.

ka-n, bi-n

we stayed in a neighborhood in chuo that was bit on the older side. very very close to ningyocho subway station. but it was also close to 4 subway lines. it was GREAT.

seasonal sweets

the neighborhood was filled with old style omiyage [gift] stores [gift giving is huge in japan. it's ritualized and formal and the gifts given often come wrapped elaborately] and kimono stores. above is a photo from the window of a store that specialized in tea ceremony sweets. sigh. our hotel overlooked a grenbelt with trees. this was SO unusual - while there are parks around there were very few wide streets that had such greenery. here are some caterpillars that were in the greenbelt:


it is so so true that things are just cuter in japan.....


this is the mascot of a drug company. you find these elephants in front of pharmacies.

pokeman swings at the first pitch

we went to a couple of baseball games. this was really fun. the japanese are SERIOUS about cheering. each team gets a section between the foul poles and when their team is up there is a constant loud cheer. each player has their own chant. when a team gets a hit or a score there's a whole ritual song/chant. they sell bento boxes at the games.... girls server beer from kegs on their backs. it's really different than games in the states [although the feeling of being a part of something is the same]. only in japan would a pokeman character be involved in the ceremonial first pitch - don't you think?

bbq fixings

i've also been trying to think about how to talk more about the food. above are the fixings from BBQ we had at our friends house. the food is really good [duh]. i had some of the best sushi i've ever had in my life. some of the tastiest snacks. and finding good things is really easy. even the corner am/pm [yes like the gas stations, no slushies or dried out hotdogs] stores have good onigiri [rice balls]. if you have never been to japan you HAVE to go to a basement of a department store. it's like food overload. we went to several different stores and experienced the high end and the low end versions. all good. if you can - get to a grocery store too - the quantity and quality of stuff will astound you. i was lucky enough to get some grapes [i loved japanese grapes as a kid. they are smaller - sweeter and the skin is sour. they really are different and so good].

we were also so lucky to be taken to a 10 course seafood meal by a family friend. 10 small courses - each presented on perfect plates - in perfect quantities, with flavors carefully balanced. a cold palette cleansing soup followed by some of the best ikura [salmon roe] i've ever had. i didn't take any pictures - but i have the experience roted in my mind.

drinks anyone?

there is just no limit in terms of drink choices :). my friend said they are constantly coming up with "new" ones - and some are retired from time to time. there are vending machines all over that sell every kind of drink you can think of. i had some that i never saw again anywhere. [and they are less sweet than drinks here. really good]


in harajuku - the trendy young neighborhood where you can also buy $2000 levi jeans. kiddieland was one of the best toy stores we visited.

airstream burgers

also in harajuku. how cute is this burger stand??

wooden wishes

a stones throw from all the trendy impossibly amazing stores and youngsters [who currently are imitating the 80's LA rocker look] is a big park and shrine. meiji is just beautiful. it's so quiet and serene. and it has some of the tallest tori gates. [you definitely have the pilgrimedge feeling here.]

craft books

ok crafty people. if you want to die and go to craft heaven in shinjuku is okadaya . 7 floors of craft supplies [only of the cute variety]. above is the top floor of JUST craft books. [i snuck a photo]. this is one part of it. the place isn't huge, but it's FULL. and across the way is 9 floors of fabric goodness. a very dangerous place.

also in shinjuku is the muji flagship store. um yeah. i don't think i need to say anything other than will they open one on the west coast please??

weathered gate

one of my absolute favorite neighborhoods was asakusa . that perfect blend of old and new - trinkets + really great crafts. 2 of the best tenugui shops i saw anywhere. we went when there was a chinese lantern festival . it seemed as though every grandma in toykyo had come out for the occasion. so cool.


detail of a lantern.

celedon phone

asakusa is a big area. surrounding the temples are lots of shops and "fun" places. a small amusement park, a sports park, a bowling - alley. above is a phone i wanted to steal from the bowling alley.

kappabashi dori

also in asakusa is the restaurant supply area. kappabashi dori . it was decorated with the above amazing streamers. this is the hood for knives, plates and that FAKE FOOD [yes we couldn't resist - something came home with us].

dry goods

my other absolute favorite place was tsukiji . it's where the famous fish market is. the market itself is amazing and not at all limited to fish. there are also some fantastic restaurants tucked between the stalls for vegetables and pickles and fish flakes and.... you can get everything you could possibly dream of to eat here. i would love to be able to do my daily shopping here. next time we go to japan i dream of staying in a place with a kitchen so we can shop and cook !

shopping bags

these are the traditional shopping "bags" that people were using in the market. i wanted to bring one home so badly, but couldn't think of how to get it on the plane [we were already at our carry-on limit].

blue baskets

the area is just bustling. there are walkers, scooters, men hauling carts and wagons, and these very odd 3 wheeled mighty cars . if you don't look where you are going you WILL get run over. and it's busiest and most exciting early in the morning [when i am least alert!]


this was the backside of some of the stalls. i loved the decay. if you go to tokyo and you love food. this is MUST.

well.... i think that's actually it. all the photos [divided into neighborhood] are here . if you have any questions about anything i'd be happy to answer.

next post i'll show the exhibition.... and then we'll get back to "normal" around here [what is that exactly?]. i have been tagged by several folks to do a meme - so that's on the way too.

if you have a minute - go check out ship of fools . we're having a really great discussion about the year of magical thinking....

have a GREAT weekend!


My Photo
Name: lisa s
Location: oakland, CA, United States

hello and welcome to my blog. i'm a mixed media artist living in oakland, CA with my husband, 2 dogs, 1 cat and my baby daughter. i try to post once a week about things that inspire me, what's going on in my studio, and little tidbits of my life. thanks for visiting, reading and commenting!

please please please :: i am happy to have you use an image of mine on your blog or somewhere else, but PLEASE just ask permission before you do. and please don't hot link. it really is important that we respect one another and the work we do. and if you are too shy or busy to ask, could you at least link back to me? thank you in advance!


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