Art Break Wednesday: Making Impressions with Printmaking


Earlier this year, I had the most wonderful surprise in my mailbox.  It included this card from Jama Rattigan, handmade by her sister-in-law, Alison.

lovely orignal handmade card by Alison

lovely orignal handmade card by Alison


Jama is an author, kidlit and food connoisseur, and blogger extraordinaire.  (If you don’t know her blog, Alphabet Soup, get thee there post-haste after reading this post!)  She has excellent taste in, well, everything – and she’s generous with her time and talent.

Back to my mailbox!  Jama is also from Hawaii.  On a trip there over the holidays, she was browsing in what looks like an incredible book and gift shop, Native Books in Honolulu, and found something she said made her think of me.  (How lovely is that?!) It was a pack of four hand printed note cards, with each block print representing something Hawaiin:  the Hawaiian hawksbill turtle, ‘ulu (a type of breadfruit tree), hula implements, and coral.

Palapala DESIGNS group of cards 579 X 384

The cards were made by Palapala Designs.  Here’s what you’ll learn on the website:

“Founded by artist Palapala (Barbara) Chung, Palapala Designs is a small company based in Maui, Hawaii. Barbara designs and carves original blockprints of Hawaiian motifs and subjects, combining them with contemporary form and function.”

I’ve loved browsing her beautiful designs! Palapala DESIGNS info card 2013 03 20

And I really love that I popped into Jama’s mind as she looked at them, too.  Thank you again, Jama (and Alison – for that colorful, cheerful card which makes me smile.)


One more printmaking gem I wanted to share was this video, ALL ABOUT PRINTS:

Click for more info.

Click for more info.

This 2009 54-minute DVD from  Steriopticon Pictures™ was produced and directed by Christopher Noey and “explores the collaborative nature of printmaking, the democratic character of multiples, and the deep-rooted traditions of the art form.”

It’s a guided journey through Western printmaking, with long stops in the 19th century (saying hello to Whistler and Homer) and even longer stops in the 20th.  Edward  Hopper’s influence is noted, and I really enjoyed the section about the influence of muralists from Mexico after the revolution there and through the 1930s.  Also fascinating was the role of the WPA in hiring artists as part of the Federal Art Project.    The last few decades are examined, too – the print “boom” of the 1960s and looks at what contemporary artists are creating now.  The documentary explores different kinds of Western printmaking available throughout history from the creation side as well as the collecting and curating sides.

I found this on the sale shelf (online!) of NorthLight Books, a dangerous destination for folks like me.  I don’t see it there now, but the producer has a terrific website, which includes a list of interviewed artists and experts, clips from the film, and purchasing info/links.

Thank you for coming by, and go make an impression!

Art Break Wednesday: Connections and Combinations


Greetings!  I’m not exactly sure where the past week went, but between travelling, enjoying the last bit of spring break with Morgan, and a couple of work things, it slipped through my fingers!  Oops.

Happy to be back and eager to share art and inspiration this spring.

Today I’m thankful not only to have been a creator but a recipient in the Pocket Change  Artist Trading Card project.  Folks participated from all over the world:  the US, Canada, Italy, Australia, India, Mexico, and New Zealand! Beth mailed out my own cards to keep (or share) a couple of weeks ago, and they have been brightening my days:


Images © the artists

Images © the artists

The “Flowers of Time” card from Nancy is particularly special because she put the date on the back – and it was created my birthday, January 30!  Its collaged text reads:

The truth, that painter, bard, and sage,

Even in Earth’s cold and changeful


Plant for their deathless heritage

The fruits and flowers of time.


Isn’t that beautiful?  I was cheered by the other cards as well – Leslie’s lively hot pink and ink drawing, Fiona’s happy Friendship card, and the colorful collage from.. Spain? Well, it has Spanish postage stamps.  I love knowing that the creators put not only their imaginations into these delightful pieces, but their hearts as well.  Thank you!

For more about the project, here’s a post on 6 Degrees of Creativity with links to other blog posts by participants.

In other news… customers often have the best ideas.  I was recently asked about putting together a combination package of note cards from my Etsy shop, an idea which I’ve been stirring on the back burner and whose time has come.  After sending off her custom package, I decided to offer a couple of themed packs as well as a “Your Choice” option for those who can’t decide.  Finally got them posted today:

Literary Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Literary Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Literary Combo Pack






Animal Combo Pack  (Click for Link)

Animal Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Animal Combo Pack

Custom Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Custom Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Custom Combo Pack

The price per pack is slightly higher than my same-design packs, simply because there is a little more time involved in assembling them.

Thank you, Dear Customer who spurred me on, and I hope other folks will enjoy these options as well.

Now, I’ve got some new projects coming up with the daffodils – what are your artistic plans for Spring?

Art Break Wednesday: Just My Type

typewriting manual woodstock typewriter

My wonderful friend and author Kim Siegelson left this intriguing note on my artsyletters Facebook page last month:  “I found the coolest addition to your artsyletters set up today.”  Curiousity was killing this cat!  You see, in addition to sharing the writing life, Kim is the one I’ve turned to in past months for Etsy advice.  She has a lively vintage Etsy shop (two actually), and I love seeing what new items show up in Perfect Patina.  On my author blog in November, I shared another special gift she found for me and my appreciation for our vintage hunting adventures.

We finally met up at our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta this past weekend, and Kim gave me my new surprise.  (Drumroll….)

typewriting manualThe Complete Second Edition of  20th Century Typewriting          

by D. D. Lessenberry and E. A. Jevon, published by South-Western Publishing Company in 1933.

I love typewriting manuals!  I have a couple others I’ve picked up in antique shops, but what makes this one stand out are the amazing illustrations of typewriters inside. (I couldn’t find a credit for these.)  Here are some more samples:

typewriter manual interior 1typewriting manual interior 2

Aren’t these great?







At art shows, one thing I’ve loved to offer is my old Underwood typewriter available for attendees to try out.  Especially kids – most have never used one before!  I make them type enough of a line to hear the magic bell…

Jessica and Wyatt try out my old typewriter, as my daughter and “assistant shopkeeper” Morgan looks on.

One of the first products I wanted to offer in my new art business last fall was some typewriter notecardstypewriter card RHB

This image was drawn with pen and ink (and some colored pencil and other media worked in as well) on paper I had painted to suggest a parchment effect.


In the mixed media department, I was delighted to find on Etsy a dealer from Great Britain who had parts from an old Remington typewriter for sale.  I’ve used these in a few pieces, and still have some left for future projects.  This collage I made and sold on Etsy incorporated some of these metal parts, my own typewriter image above, a vintage flash card, some vintage metal letters, and a line of exercises from another old typewriting manual that reads:

You typewriter - write it on your heart RHB

Write it on your heart that every day is the very best day in the year.”

I was delighted when a customer purchased this collage with the following note:

My husband is a “collector” of typewriters and we both love to live with our hearts so I cannot imagine anything much more appropriate for him than this framed piece.

Even more delighted when she kindly sent me a follow-up note as well:

Just wanted to tell you how much my husband LOVES the framed artwork and note cards. He opened it today and it is now placed happily on our piano. We can hardly believe how perfect the message and collage of unique items come together to match our lives.

Let me tell you, words like that fill my own heart and soul. I’ve been blessed to realize that beyond making items to sell, starting an art business has given me connections I treasure.  These might be the happy thought that my work has made someone else smile, or the special knowledge that a friend would pick up a vintage typewriter manual with dynamic black illustrations of old typewriters, and she would think of me!

Thank you, Kim.

Anyone else have fond memories of clacking away on a heavy metal typewriter (or those sleek electric ones that slid into the market)?  Do tell!


Art Break Wednesday: the Makers Summit


photo 3 makers summit MAKE

On Saturday, I tooled up the road a couple of hours to Greenville, SC, for the first-ever Makers Summit sponsored by Indie Craft Parade, held at a great elegant/industrial meeting space called Zen.   It was a day full of sessions and networking for artist-business owners.

photo 2 makers summit crop

Greenville is a special town to me, as my husband and I met at Furman University there and married a couple of weeks after graduation.  Our daughter is a student there now!  But back in the day, downtown was not exactly the destination spot it is today, with so many vibrant shops, restaurants, and a glorious park at the falls.  It’s the perfect location for a workshop such as the Makers Summit.

photo name badge

As you can imagine, it was a talented group of attendees enjoying some very savvy, talented speakers.  In fact, a little Googling online will take you to some professionally shot photos of the day by several who were there.  But maybe these pictures from my phone will whet your appetite to sign up when they do it again!

Speakers included Stephen Fraser from  Spoonflower, Grace Kang of Retail Recipes, designer  Justin Gammon, author  Amy Flurry, artist-entrepreneur and author Barb Blair of Knack Studios, Mail Chimp’s Amy Ellis, and Etsy’s own Kimm Alfonso, with a few other experts on hand to offer additional business advice.  Topics in the general sessions included branding and product lines, online selling, and expanding markets.

Kimm Alfonso from Etsy speaks about "Doing Business Intentionally."

Kimm Alfonso from Etsy speaks about “Doing Business Intentionally.”

One of the perks of the day was meeting fellow artists and craftspeople making a business out of their creative passions.  I had connected, through an Etsy blog, with Karen Sims Deady before the big day.

robyn and karen 1 makers summit

Robyn with Karen Sims Deady of KSDLuxe

It was fun to meet her in person and chat between sessions.  She has a gorgeous Etsy shop,  KSDLuxe, with contemporary artisan jewelry.  She’s also from Georgia, not terribly far from my neck of the woods.

I also had a 10-minute review of my Etsy shop with Etsy Support representative Nicole Bogatitus.  It was helpful to have professional feedback, since running an indie art business is at times like navigating without a map.  (And I found her comments encouraging for my first few months out in the big online world!)

Gatherings like this definitely help artist-entrepreneurs along the way, however.  Navigating by the stars is more adventuresome anyway, don’t you think?

Oh – and there were goodie bags to swoon for.  Just look at all this fun stuff:

goodie bag makers summit

When I finish playing with it all, I have to get back to business – the business of selling my art!  I’m thankful to have some new strategies to ponder and new peers to keep up with.


I’ll definitely sign up for the Makers Summit when it comes around again.  My guess is, we should all sign up early.

Art Break Wednesday: The Magic of Doors

altered book door collage 1-2013  RHB reduced with cSo, today is my birthday.

One of those milestone ones.  Others in my family are having them, too: my daughter turned 21 this month, and my son will turn 18 this spring.  (Last year, my hubby got a head start on the milestone I’m hitting today.)

This past year has been particularly full of struggles and joys, losses and new adventures.  Maybe that’s the reason for my current obsession:  doors.  The poet in me is all about the metaphor, for myself and for each person in my family.   Doors closing (some slamming painfully shut; others slowly creaking closed until you realize you’re in a different place) and others opening (new experiences and things to learn, new art to make, new poems to write, new endeavors to launch, new friends to meet…).

The artist in me is all about a visual description of that metaphor – books as doors!  What better than a book to transport us to new worlds, open up new ways of thinking and dreaming and wondering?

Hence, my newest artistic adventures.  Vintage books-as-doors collages!  (With poetry inside, too.)

door ajar with c







For this piece, I hollowed out a vintage book, embellished it, and tucked in this Emily Dickinson poem from another vintage book:

door collage emily dickinson interior with c


Precious Words

He ate and drank the precious words

His spirit grew robust;

He knew no more that he was poor,

Nor that his frame was dust.

He danced along the dingy days,

And this bequest of wings

Was but a book.  What liberty

A loosened spirit brings!


The door is adorned with a round filigree find from an antique shop, and a vintage jewelry part I bought from a European dealer on Etsy.  The door knocker (also purchased on Etsy) is a vintage brass doll house door knocker. I’m stashing all kinds of fun vintage bits of hardware for these.

Surrounding the door, with sidelights and a fanlight, is relief print I carved.   It’s a simplified version of a doorway in Dublin, the kind I got to see in person when my father-in-law took our whole family to Ireland when our kids were little bitty.

This collage is 9 X 12, in a cradled wood panel painted glossy black. I’m excited about making these collages in different sizes and with different details. When I took this to show my art critique group this month, seeking their feedback, one of the members bought it!  That was pretty encouraging feedback.

(More coming soon for sale in my Etsy shop!  I’m making them now.  Really – working on them right now!)

Do you remember any particular doors from your past?  I remember the wrought iron gates to the small courtyard in the house I grew up in in Florida. I remember walking through the gi-normous jaws of an alligator to enter Gatorland there, too.  And the imposing entrance to the Haunted Mansion at Disney World!  How about you?  How about now?

Perhaps you’re facing big transitions soon – as we’ll be adjusting to our youngest leaving the nest over here.  Or perhaps your journey will be less jarring.  Whatever doors you walk through this year, I wish you blessings as you come and go, and joy and adventure on the other side.

Art Break Wednesday: English Book Illustration 1800-1900


Last week I mentioned a few fun creative swaps I’ve been participating in.  One of those was a poetry swap, and I was lucky to have its organizer, Tabatha Yeatts, as my swap partner.  (Here’s my post about it on my author blog.)

In addition to a wonderful poem, Tabatha sent me some fine hand-crafted teas (from an Etsy vendor!) and – be still my heart – a lovely old book.

 english book illustration cover

ENGLISH BOOK ILLUSTRATION 1800-1900 by Philip James is a delightful, slim volume chock-full of creative greats of the 19th century.  The book was published in 1947 by The KING PENGUIN Books (London and New York.)  You’ll likely see it here again, because there’s too much goodness in it to share in one post.

english book illustration inside red

Tabatha couldn’t have bestowed this gift on a more appreciative recipient – I’m lapping it up like a kitten at a saucer of milk.  On my only trip (thus far!) to New York, while my daughter and friends went to the top of the Rockefeller, I snuck away to the (Pierpont) Morgan Library & Museum (okay, that’s another post, too, because a talented young architect who is the niece of my good friend Peggy was involved in its recent renovation). The point of this side journey here is just to mention that I spent all of my souvenir money on one thing – a delicious hardback book documenting an exhibit they’d hosted previously.  BE MERRY AND WISE, Origins of Children’s Book Publishing in England, 1650-1850 by Brian Alderson and Felix de Marez Oyens is huge, heavy, and brimming with history and exquisite illustrations.  I left the $115 price tag on its back.

So I am a very grateful nerd to have Tabatha’s gift to add to my shelf, which also includes such nerdy titles as A HISTORY OF THE BOOK IN AMERICA (Amory and Hall, eds.), THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE (2005), THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD (by Donna Norton, 1983, bought when I was in college or thereabouts and just because I wanted it), and THE ARBUTHNOT ANTHOLOGY OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE (late 1950s?), which I’ve had on extended loan from my mother-in-law, and several volumes about reading and writing in 17th Century America.

clennel after t shothard

ENGLISH BOOK ILLUSTRATION 1800-1900 features many representative black and white illustrations as well as color plates in the back.  These include woodcuts, wood engravings, copper-plate etchings and engravings, aquatints, mezzotints and hand-colored lithographs.  The century opens with Thomas Bewick and William Blake and moves on to the work of  Constable, Turner, Cruikshank, Crane, Carroll, Tenniel, Whistler, Beardsley, Caldecott, and Greenaway, just to name a few!


I am enjoying gems of commentary, such as:

Illustration is like décor in the ballet, one of several arts planned by a team of artists.  Dance, drama, music and design together make a spectacle in which each has its share.  Similarly, type, paper, binding and illustrations must all contribute to the art of the book. (p. 8)

Looking at illustration against the backdrop of a swiftly changing world, James writes:

With the surge of industrial development that followed the railways, sheer stark ugliness prevailed everywhere, but at all times there were book artists who displayed a widely varying mixture of these three typical characteristics, the love of Nature, a literary bias and the romantic temper; and in so doing they maintained the English tradition. (p. 13)

He lauds Bewick:

bewick horse

Bewick was the first British wood-engraver to earn and deserve a continental reputation. … Chief among his innovations was a new conception of the black and white picture.  He did not think of it as a white space on which black outlines and solids made a linear design printed in relief, the background having been cut away to a lower level, as in the woodcuts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries… . Instead he began with a black void out of whch the subject appears in a varying range of grey tones with pure white for the lightest parts. (p.18)

And, in describing a particular image on the second plate in the back, James presents painter J. M. W. Turner’s contributions to illustration in these words:

turner A Wake

They almost seem to have been breathed on the page; each subject melts away in an airy perspective on the dead white surface of the paper. (p. 26)

Isn’t that poetic?

Finally, a sentence that seems as applicable today as it was 60-plus years ago:

But in time every new technique is assimilated by the artist and the fluctuating struggle between the crafts and the machine becomes not a battle for extinction but a source of vitality. (p. 14)

I hope so.  I’ll never lose my bias, however, for a good old-fashioned, deckled-edge, well-crafted book!

Thanks for taking this detour back with me – there will be more, I’m sure.  Do you have a favorite artist from the past who inspires you today?

Art Break Wednesday: Pick a Card!


YAY Images

Any card!

Okay, not THAT kind of card.

This week I signed on to participate in an exchange of Artists Trading Cards (ATCs).  The deadline was last night and I think I squealed in just before cut-off.

I’ve seen them around and in the art magazines for a long time – these amazing little gems of art shared between creators and often sent to other parts of the country or world.  They’re about the size of playing cards, or sports trading cards, etc., and just about anything goes media-wise.

My amazingly generous and talented friend Beth Rommel has volunteered to help with this current project, which she blogged about here and here.  (Click over to see some lovely examples of her ATC’s.)  It’s fun to think of these colorful wonders not only arriving in someone’s mailbox, but perhaps left somewhere to brighten a stranger’s day, guerilla-style!

You might see the acronym ACEO as well – this stands for “Art Cards, Editions, and Originals.”  Artists often sell these at shows and online.  (On Etsy, for instance!  A search of ACEO, or ATC, will yield thousands upon thousands of results.)

One reason I jumped in for this project is that I’ve recently enjoyed receiving creative surprises in the mail.  I had the good fortune to participate in a Poetry Swap in December, organized by the also-generous-and-talented Tabatha Yeatts. My blog post about her gift to me is here.  And her post about my gift to her is here.

Another poetry friend Laura Shovan is blogging about a postcard project she’s got going on this month and next, celebrating her 44th birthday in February. (She’s documenting these one by one in current posts!)  I recently received my postcard (with an original poem of hers on the back) and blogged about it, too, here.

I look forward to creating my own Artist Trading Cards in the next couple of weeks and sending them off.  I’ll post a picture or two.

How about you?  Have you participated in any fun, creative swaps yielding a bit of wonder in your mailbox?


Art Break Wednesday: Registration is Open for SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators Day!


Interested in Children’s Book Illustration?  Whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned pro, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Southern Breeze Region is hopping with talent, resources, and folks to get to know.  Led by Illustrator Coordinator Elizabeth Dulemba, with assistance from Kathleen Bradshaw, the region offers ways to develop your craft and network with industry professionals throughout the year.  (Click here for the Southern Breeze Illustrators Corner.)

One of the most ambitious events is always Illustrators’ Day, jam-packed with talks from leaders in the field as well as feedback on artwork.

Robyn Hood Black, Jo Kittinger, special guest Greg Christie, Elizabeth Dulemba, special guest Peter Brown, and Kristen Applebee enjoy the SCBWI Southern Breeze 2012 Illustrators’ Day in Atlanta.

Held previously in September, the event is moving to the Friday just before the Southern Breeze Springmingle conference in Atlanta, the last weekend in February.

(Note:  I will actually be in the building but involved in the other Friday option that day – a verse novels intensive with Nikki Grimes!  But I look forward to meeting some of our Illustrators’ Day guests and taking a look at portfolios, etc.)

Here’s the scoop on the 2013 Illustrators’ Day:

Friday, February 22nd, from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Century Center Marriott (the same location as Springmingle).

Cost: $65 per person for SCBWI members, $70 for SCAD or AIA students, and $85 for non-members. Audit options will be available to regristrants after the first 30 slots are filled.

Organizers are looking forward to the new date and digs.

“We hope that with this new change, our illustrators will want to stick around to enjoy the advantages of the entire conference weekend, although it’s not required,” says Elizabeth Dulemba. “We will also be overlapping some of our speakers.”

Binders Art Supply will host a Portfolio Viewing Cocktail Party from 4:00pm to 6:00pm for local Art Directors, gallery owners, instructors, etc. to drop by and view attendees’ work. (In other words, you’ll want to stay later, says Elizabeth! Please include take-aways with your portfolio – business cards, postcards, bookmarks, tear sheets, etc.)

“We will also have a display table just for book dummies along with the portfolios,” adds Elizabeth.  “We’re offering amazing new opportunities for our illustrators to learn more about the business of children’s books and perhaps get some good leads for freelance work.”

The  incredible line-up of speakers and mentors includes  Chad Beckerman, Creative Director for Abrams (Abrams Appleseed, Abrams Books for Young Readers, and Amulet Books) Dianne Hess, Executive Editor at Scholastic and Blue Sky Press,and Will Terry, illustrator and innovator.

Illustrator Mark Braught will mentor the first 12 registrees (first-come, first-served) with an assigned project before the workshop. The goal:  to create a finished piece ready to show on Illustrators’ Day during the Portfolio Reviews.

Portfolio Reviews: The first 30 registrees will display their work and receive feedback from this illustrious faculty in a public overview manner (timed – no more than 2 minutes).   (Attendees should follow the Portfolio Guidelines on the Southern Breeze site.)

NEW! Dummy Display: This year a designated table in the portfolio viewing area will be dedicated to the display of picture book dummies.

Registration is now open!
For more information, for links to all these great speakers, and to sign up, click here.
For questions, contact  Elizabeth O. Dulemba: elizabeth at dulemba dot com.

Art Break Wednesday – Happy New Year, and Painting with Pencil?


Happy New Year!

I hope 2013 brings you lots of creative inspiration.

I’ve enjoyed reading other folks’ resolutions and plans for the coming year.  I have lots of projects up my sleeve, but at the risk of expending energy in the wrong place (talking about them) rather than the right place (um, doing the work), I’ll keep most of mine close to the vest.  I know myself too well.

Stumbled upon this great quote this week:

    Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)  (G.K. Chesterton quotes are the best.)

I’m already starting the year off a wee bit behind, as I’m getting today’s post up in the afternoon, rather than having ready to go just after midnight each week, which is what I try to do.  But, life isn’t perfect and neither am I;  may as well get all that out of the way early in this New Year.  (Confession:  I still have to take down our Christmas decorations and deliver a couple of “Christmas Eve” gifts… .)

In the spirit of drawing the line somewhere, though, I decided to take a break today from the “urgent” and spend a few minutes actually sketching in my journal.  (One of my goals for this year is to do more of that – sketching.)  AND, I decided to break open a fun new product I ordered in the fall – Pam Carriker’s “Liquid Pencil” Sketching Ink by Derivan.

Step One:  Find my sketch journal. (Yes, I had to look for it.)

Step Two:  Find a suitable subject.  I started out with the tiny young Chihuahua we rescued over Thanksgiving.  She was an eager subject but way too active.  I then settled on a wonderful small red vintage oil lamp that I bought on Etsy a month or so ago.  It has a lovely shape and a variety of textures with its metal base and glass globe.

Step Three:  Jump in.

I was a little skeptical about this pencil-in-a-bottle – what’s wrong with drawing with an actual pencil?  But I tried it on a brush and even a dip pen, and I must admit – it’s fun.

You get that lovely graphite look and feel, but with loose strokes and washes, and concentrated darks for contrast.  I simply used varied amounts of water here and there to thin the solution before dipping in.  A tortillon worked great for blending, and I tried a kneaded eraser in a spot or two with good results as well.

I give Liquid Pencil two smudged thumbs up!  (And don’t let the small size of the bottle fool you… this is potent stuff, so a little goes a long way.)  Be sure to check out the video with application examples at the link above.  I just played before watching, but the video might give you even more ideas.

I look forward to experimenting and “playing” creatively throughout the New Year.  How about you?  Can you “begin where you are” and let loose your Muse?  Thanks for visiting, and please share any thoughts about creativity below.

(And I do hope you’ll drop by each Wednesday.  Let’s see what we come up with this year!)

Art Break Wednesday: Remembering Angels


Yay Images

Just a short post today, remembering those whose lives were lost or forever changed in last Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I had left the house Friday morning for a short school event for my high school senior, when news reports were sketchy, indicating there had been some kind of shooting and possibly one death. I recognized the name of the town as the place where my best friend from college had grown up.

On the way home, I passed one of our town’s elementary schools.  It happened to be the day our local public high school football team was heading to the Georgia Dome for the state championship (which they won).  The elementary kids were all lining the street with exuberant expressions on their painted faces – waving signs, cheering in anticipation of what I assumed was a forthcoming parade of the team.  My daughter was already home from college, and, as an elementary/early childhood major, she LOVES kids.  I couldn’t wait to tell her about how cute all those kids looked lining the road, decked out in red and white, herded by their watchful teachers.

When I walked into the house and looked at the TV, the horrific truth of the massacre at Sandy Hook was emerging.  I raced to the sink, needing to retch.  Needless to say, like the rest of the nation, my daughter and I cried through the unfolding story and many times since.  No words are adequate, of course.

I stumbled upon this feature story of some kids in Ohio making art to send to Sandy Hook.  During their Christmas program yesterday (Tuesday) morning, they also raised more than $600 in donations for victims and families.  These are children from St. Michael’s Catholic School in northeast Ohio. For their creative project, designed by art teacher Cathy Bravis, each student is lending a fingerprint to make up a bouquet of flowers on a poster.  The bouquet will be in a vase with the students’ signatures.  Plans are for a parent to deliver the poster and gifts when traveling to the area over Christmas break.

You can read more here.

And, if like me you like to send cards, the US Post Office has set up a special post office box to receive messages of condolence.  Here’s the link, and the address is:

P O Box 3700, Newtown, Connecticut 06470

I know I’ll be hugging my own family members a little tighter this year and will be thankful for the beauty and power of art to express emotion and help heal.

(If you know of other artistic projects benefitting Sandy Hook, please feel free to share a link below.)

Wishing you and yours peace this holiday.