Monday, July 10, 2017

Art Journal - Tougher than you may think

I mentioned in a previous post that I was looking into Art Journaling. I've been trying it out and I have to say that it is definitely harder than I thought it would be. 

When I sit down to blog the words just flow. I just sit and type. I don't worry about spelling or punctuation, I just get the words down. Then I go and search for images that I want to use in the post. I then read and re-read and make corrections. But the words, they do just flow! I often have to delete a bunch of stuff I wrote because I can be a tad wordy.

When I paint with Acrylics, I usually find an image or a tutorial that I want to paint and paint it. I find that predictable and easy to do.

But with mixed media art journals, you are supposed to let your creative juices flow and just do what comes naturally. Experiment, using different tools, think outside the box. Yeah...I'm not really an "outside the box" kinda girl. In grade school I always colored within the lines and then boldly outlined the lines!

But I'm trying...so I wanted to share some pages I've done. This is the first page I did. I've been dating them and this one was done on 6/18/2017.



The background was done using Oil Pastels which I rubbed on with my fingers. I loved blending these. The paint brushes I sketched myself and then painted them using Acrylic Paints. The Believe is a chipboard that I rubbed with purple oil pastels, the flowers and dots on the left are Gemstone stickers that self-glue to the page. then I added splashes of white again using acrylic paint. I used 4 different mediums. I was pretty happy with this one.

Now that I look at it, I see things I want to add or change, but my inner dominatrix that makes rules for me has already told me that once I date something, it's done...no changes. Poo!



This next one I was also pretty happy with and thought to myself, "Girl...you are one heck of an Art Journalist!" On this one I did the background using Dylusions Ink Sprays in Turquoise and Crushed Grape. I loved using this product and plan to start purchasing several other colors. 

I know that because I do the Iwanna Wednesday posts now and again, ya'll think I just run around willy-nilly buying myself whatever I want. But actually I'm pretty frugal and what I have I buy one at a time using the 40% off coupon from Michaels which means that I stop by  Michaels on my way home almost every day and buy only one thing, but you would be surprised how quickly things add up. (I also buy tons of things at the dollar stores!)




I also used Liquitex Modeling Paste and a Folkart Dot Stencil to create some dot textures. The dots reminded me of flowers so I added petals to them and the butterfly looks like he's flying through a field of flowers.

I was pretty proud of the butterfly too. I printed a butterfly on regular printer paper and then I took Washi tape and taped strips on the butterfly in a random design overlapping the edge of the butterfly and then just cut around the edges and Voila! Added a coat of Modge Podge to seal the top and it gave it a bit of a sheen. I did this one on 6/24/17. The little "Just Be" wording is actually the packaging on a pair of earrings that my mom purchased somewhere and the "Believe in Your Dreams" is a stamp from Michaels from their dollar bins when you are standing in line to pay.


So there's several mediums going on here, ink spray, modeling paste, stencils, stamps, marker pens, washi tape, Modge Podge. I can't even begin to count.


This next one was actually just me practicing along with a video tutorial on how to paint roses using water colors. First I prepared the page as I always do using white acrylic gesso. Then using modge podge I randomly glued some recycled cardboard packaging and gessoed over that to make it the same color as the background. 

then I tried to do a watercolor drip technique which didn't work well for me so I just water-colored the whole thing and then used this background to practice the water color roses, which came out more red than I wanted them to be so I tried to lighten them up with white acrylic paint and then finally just painted on some gold acrylic glitter paint. 



I added stems and leaves and then outlined the recycled cardboard with a graphite pencil and used my fingers to blur it to look like shading and added the black stamp on the side. I love the black stamp!

This next one I really don't like...yet... so I haven't put the date on it because I want to fix it, but don't know quite how.

I used a beautiful paper napkin from several that I bought at the Dollar Store. I modge podged it on to the paper in strips of what I liked. Strips of the musical notes, the butterflies and the roses, and I left the right side of the page white, intending to do a quote or something. I don't know why I didn't do the quote because now that I look at it I can see the quote there. 



Instead I took some Paper Mate Ink Joy pens and doodled circles, which I had hoped looked like roses...I don't like them. I think I will just gesso over them and then I'll add a coat of unbleached titanium acrylic paint to cover the ink over and then I'll add a quote. I think that will make me happier. I'll also remove the stickers that say Blossoms and Bloomin'. I didn't like those either, too small. I'll probably have to add some more butterflies as I outlined the stickers in a black markers.

I have a couple more I want to share, but as usual this is getting wordy, so I'll stop for now and try to do another post over the weekend. I just want to say that trying to think outside the box is kicking my butt, but I think in a good way.













Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reign of Terror

Last night I spent a most miserable night during the annual Reign of Terror. I liken it to the terror all the children from the age of 12 to 18 and their parents faced in the book and movie The Hunger Games.

My little girl just looked at me with sheer terror in her beautiful little eyes and my heart broke and there was nothing I could do because it was out of my hands, the terror that was taking place. I could hold her as close as possible but I still could not save her.  I felt like those parents in The Hunger Game.

I’m talking about Chorizo. My daughter’s Shih-Poo dog that I’m taking care of for the time being. 


Fireworks are what were terrifying her. It’s been ongoing since July 1st when they open up the “Safe and Sane” fireworks stands. Sane? I almost lost my sanity myself; I can’t even imagine Chorizo’s mental state!

Every single night from about 5pm to midnight you hear the popping and crackling of legal and illegal fireworks. 
Our small town celebrates with a fireworks display on July 3rd at the football field about 2 miles from my house. That night was bad but nothing compared to last night!

Last night was a true Reign of Terror. She wouldn’t eat or sleep, I would take her outside to do her business and she would just claw at my leg to try to climb up into my arms. I would have loved it if she had calmed down once she was in my arms but instead she trembled and shook uncontrollably with her tongue hanging out and her eyes almost bugging out of her head. Nothing would pacify or soothe her…nothing!



I hate this holiday, I truly do.

Update*** While listening to the news this morning I heard that Kern County Animal Shelter took in 119 lost animals that are not only traumatized from the noise and chaos of the past 5 days but now are homeless and missing their families. Last year they took in 179. It's just madness!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Iwanna Wednesday - Art Journals


Welcome to another Iwanna Wednesday post! 

Now that I've started my Art Journey I am realizing how many amazing forms of art there are out in the world and artists that can turn almost anything into Art!

So far I've done some sketching and painting using Acrylic paints on canvas board and canvas and a mixed media art book. My favorite so far is the Canson Mix Media notebook. It's very inexpensive, bought this one at Walmart for under $8! The pages are thick enough that they don't curl and the paint doesn't soak in and damage the other pages below.



Recently I've started learning about Art Journals and really didn't understand the purpose of them. Why do a beautiful piece of art in a journal that you can't frame or give away.

So I started reading blog posts from artists that love to Art Journal. One of them is Marta Lapkowska from the blog Artistycrafty and she also has a YouTube Channel under the name of Maremi Small Art. She's in a word Amazing!

Here's some pages out of her art journals. This one she made into a tutorial on YouTube, Toilet Paper Roll Abstract. Yes...she used toilet paper rolls and I love her message. Be Kind. In this tutorial she was trying to show us also that you can be creative without spending a ton of money. She used inexpensive paints and toilet paper rolls!


Photo Credit - Marta Lapkowska

Here's another one that seems very romantic and almost Victorian to me. Plus she used a Butterfly which I love! I couldn't find a tutorial for this one, but I'm sure it's on there somewhere.


Photo Credit - Marta Lapkowska


But that's what I love best about her is that she is so creative. She has tutorials on creating art with baby wipes, q-tips, watercolors, hot glue, teas, tea bags, coffee, coffee grounds, Styrofoam, straws...the list is endless.


This next one for instance...just wow!


Photo Credit - Marta Lapkowska

The green part you see underneath that she added all these items to is actually a piece of an old television. The two hearts represent herself and her daughter. Two hearts connected, here on her artwork by wire. I just love it!

The reason I'm not just finishing this post and beginning my art journal journey is that I'm not quite sure yet what the purpose is and if it's a journal, how do you keep a piece of artwork like the last one in a journal? Obviously it's big and bulky right?

And here comes the Iwanna part of me. When I watch her create I see her using so many cool tools, markers, watercolor pens, stencils, art mediums, stickers, flowers. I'm really worried that the Iwanna in me would go crazy just collecting items for creating these beautiful pieces. 

I want the Mica Powders and the Jane Davenport watercolors. Colored Markers, Glitter Glue, Modeling Paste. I want Gels and Gelato markers....I just wanna everything and where will I store them??? Hmmm, seems like I really need that art studio right?

For now I will continue to watch her videos and learn and we'll see where that takes us. The funny thing is yesterday I was walking the dog in the park and I saw some beautiful leaves that would make great imprints on a page for journaling...so I don't know, maybe the beginning of my journey is closer than I think.











Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Iwanna Wednesday - Yes....it's back!!!


Those of you that know what an Iwanna Wednesday is are jumping for joy right? Those of you that don't, well hang on to your hats cause I'm about to rock your world! Ha! Well, maybe not exactly, but hopefully you will enjoy this post.

First...what is Iwanna Wednesday? Glad you asked! Iwanna Wednesday began back on December 3, 2008 and there have been 123 Iwanna Wednesday posts since. I bet most of you don't even own 123 items let alone lust after 123 random items...but I do.

My mom and sister started calling me Iwanna back in 2008 because it seems that I want everything I see! I can walk into any store and see an item and say, "Oh, I've always wanted one of these!" I can even drive by a random house on the street and say, "Oh, I always wanted a fish pond like that" or "I always wanted big rocks like that in the middle of the yard." What can I say, obviously something is lacking in my life!

My cousin Stella especially enjoys my Iwanna Wednesday posts. So much so that she found a pair of earrings attached to a sticker that said Iwanna and I told her I would make that my Iwanna Wednesday logo, which is why it's above, thanks Stella!

Recently I've found a new hobby...Art! I especially love painting in Acrylics. Love it! I feel like I've found my home! My calling, my special purpose in life. Not saying you're going to be seeing any of my artwork in the Louvre or the Met, but it soothes my soul and helps me to relieve stress.

I've always thrown myself fully into all projects and interests that I've found in my life. I always want to have all the gadgets and doohickeys that go along with said project and interest. So of course, when I started painting I had to have all the doohickeys. One doohickey that I don't have but Iwanna so bad is an art studio. A little spot in the world with lots of natural light so I can just paint to my little hearts content.

So for my first Iwanna Wednesday in a long, long time...Iwanna show you some of the Art Studios I have been lusting after! C'mon...walk with me, talk with me...

In my heart I am imagining a backyard art studio built just for me. With lots of space and light and flowers surrounding it. 


Photo Credit - The Owner Builder Network

But even an Iwanna has to be realistic. That beauty above is way beyond my price range, but it's so beautiful! *sigh*

My first art set up was like this. Just an art desk in one corner of my bedroom, but by the time I get home and have time to paint it's nighttime and there is hardly any light at all, even if I turn on every lamp in the room. I tried buying a nice desk lap but the light still didn't work for me. I'm not saying my eyes are getting worse as I get older...but you know how it goes!



So I ended up lugging everything into the kitchen where there was much better lighting and I used one end of the kitchen table. It was so much work getting up to go get a different tube of paint that I made this funky little set up in the kitchen. It's not pretty, but it works...for now. See all my tubes of paint hanging off of S-hooks?



But as an Iwanna I am never satisfied and while I know I will never have that beautiful art studio in the first picture, Iwanna something better than my funky little kitchen set up. Probably something that I can set up in a spare bedroom. Something like these two.


Photo Credit - My Home Decor

Photo Credit - My Home Decor

Just look at all that amazing natural light! And I love the simplicity of plain white walls. I've never been a lover of color on my walls. In my home right now every single wall is a bright, beautiful, cheerful white!

I absolutely love this next Art Space. This is a brand new space for Artist Kristie Moore who is one of the members of my art group on Facebook. It's a great group of artists from beginners to experts and I am learning so much and feeling so inspired from such a great group. Thanks Kristie for sharing this beautiful space and I wish you happiness and love on your art journey!



She also shared this beautiful picture of her blooming Magnolia tree. Who wouldn't be inspired by this view. I have to admit I am green with envy!



I would also love a space where I can hang artwork, whether it be mine or someone else's, just to find inspiration. A space with lots of wall space like this!

Photo Credit - Bella Daze Blog

So for now I will continue working at my little corner of the kitchen table, but someday...someday....

Because Iwanna it!









Thursday, June 1, 2017

Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon

Meme Credit - quickmeme.com
Short and sweet today...well as short as I can make it as I tend to be wordy.

So yesterday an itsy bitsy spider came down from the ceiling right onto the keyboard on my computer at work. He was the size of a gnat, just a little guy.

I took a piece of paper and scooped him up and carried him into the big area outside my office where there is no furniture nothing, just a big empty room and I blew him into the rest of his life to safety. No need to kill him, he did me no wrong, he wasn't a Brown Recluse Spider or a Black Widow, so why not let him live right?

My co-worker saw and said "Oh, you're one of those people"! 

I told him, "Hey, I need all the good Karma I can get and he did me no harm so why would I hurt him"? A big conversation ensued between him an another co-worker about how they always kill spiders and blah, blah, blah.

Today I had to deal with one of my VIP clients. A client that has no time for dilly-dallying, this is what he wants and he wants it yesterday. You know the type, the world is his oyster and I'm simply a little grain of sand in his oyster that turns it into a perfect pearl for him!

Anyway, he wanted something backdated to 2 months ago and he had his attorney on conference call with me to explain it all to me. I was pretty sure it could not be done, but told him I would do my best.

I was in the process of talking to a supervisor trying to "do my best" when a co-worker told me the attorney was on the other line and saying "never mind". So I put the supervisor on hold, took the call from the attorney who told me she got it taken care of with the bank and thank you so much. 

I came back to the supervisor I had on hold and explained the situation and how now we didn't have to worry about it and she said "See, you must have done something nice cause Karma smiled upon you"! Wow! So I told her my spider story and we had a good laugh and then we both hung up and went on to live the rest of our lives.

But yeah, saving little creatures who do us no harm saved me from a big creature today! Gotta love Karma (and itsy bitsy spiders)!

Do some good in the world today!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Thrift Store Art Supplies and The Lisa Mermaid

I am a lover of thrift stores! There's just something about hunting for hidden treasure that I love. I get this from my mother who has always loved thrift stores. She and I can spend hours on a Saturday morning on the hunt for something special. 

About a year ago, I found one of those treasures, canvases for 99 cents each! There were probably 50 of them, I bought 10. The canvas was covered with a piece of faux brown suede. People tell me that they were probably used in a sound studio to muffle noise. It is a 16 x 20 inch canvas which is a nice size.



I took the fake suede cover off  and found that underneath was some thin green foam, about 1/4 inch in thickness. Here's the foam after I removed it. 



Unfortunately they had glued down the foam in certain places and the foam did not want to come off!



I tried everything, a knife, a razor blade, acetone, sanding paper. I was able to get almost all the foam off but that glue must have been made from the stuff they glued the Apollo 13 with, because nothing I did even made a dent. I had several big blobs of glue!

I was taking an acrylic art class at the time, so I took it to class to get some advice from my art teacher, Alex. Alex said, "Well, if you can't remove it, make it part of your painting. Try some mixed media. Paint the glue blobs to be 3-D rocks." Brilliant Alex....just brilliant! Why didn't I think of that.

I happened upon a YouTube video on how to use tissue paper to create art. The video below is from Amy Pearce at Her Art from the Attic. It's amazing and now that I've watched it again I think I am going to try this one today.



I figured that the tissue paper would give the canvas enough texture that you wouldn't notice the lumps where the glue was so I added the tissue paper and again showed it to Alex who said that it looked like waves in the ocean and I should try doing an ocean painting! Brilliant! So I painted it like this to start with. 



If you look closely you can see the lumps where the glue was.



I set this aside for several weeks and one day I happened upon another YouTube video done by Angela Anderson at Angela Anderson Fine Art. It was a tutorial on how to paint an Ocean Coral Reef and lo and behold, I already had the basics of it done!



Following along with Angela, I was able to come up with the painting below. I knew I wanted to add a mermaid but because of the ridges in the texture the tissue paper, I was scared to try it. I usually draw my subject in with white kids chalk and the ridges didn't allow for smooth drawing. By now the art class was over so I didn't even have Alex for ideas!

One night I held a paint night for myself, my sister Lisa and our friend Lupe. We try to get together every few months to paint, de-stress and just spend time together. Lupe had found a picture online that she wanted to try to paint and when she saw the ocean reef painting she insisted that I take the mermaid picture and use it. I loved it, it was perfect. Thank you Lupe!

The great thing is that the mermaid is not facing me, so I didn't have to deal with trying to draw a face with all those ridges. So instead of doing a drawing first I just went for it and painted her in.

So here she is, my finished painting which I am gifting to my sister Lisa because she is a true mermaid, a lover of the sea, the ocean, the beaches and anything oceany!

I give you The Lisa Mermaid!



Here's a close up of the mermaid herself. I used some glitter paint in silver and white for her tail. You can't really see it here but her tail glistens with glitter. I also used a glitter paint that dries clearly on her skin, so her skin glistens. She's absolutely beautiful.


Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the other 9 canvases that are covered with suede! Yikes! Any ideas?









Saturday, May 13, 2017

Born with Talent? Happy Mother's Day

Mothers are Artists, for anything they touch turns to Art.
Kishor Bansal


I've always known that my mom was my super hero. The one person that could accomplish anything. The one that could and would also supply whatever I needed and many times just what my little heart desired.

But I want you to know why my mom is so darned fabulous and a born genius!

Recently my mom has gotten into bead work. Mom has always been crafty. She can sew, quilt, embroider, crochet, paint, and she was always the brains behind my dads brawn! Together they were invincible, but that is another story.

As I was saying, mom is doing bead work. She started working again on making Rosary Bracelets using Memory Wire.


This is a wire that is made to remember always to conform to a circle. Sure, if you wanted to you could take pliers to it and form it into a long string of V's, but why would you want to?

Mom can take this wire and any beads and create this! I call this my Sand Dollar Bracelet as the shape and color of the beads brings to mind the sand dollars one finds on the beach.


It's four complete circles of the memory wire. The beads are from an old necklace I had that I never wore and gave to mom to use, she broke it down and created this and I love it, goes with everything I wear!

I mentioned above that mom is making Rosary Bracelets, the one above is just a regular bracelet, but here's a Rosary Bracelet she made me as a Christmas gift.


She follows the design of the actual rosary which is the crucifix where you say The Apostles' Creed, then 1 bead for the prayer The Our Father, then 3 beads in a row where you recite the Hail Mary for each bead, then 1 single bead again where you say The Glory Be. 

Then you have 10 beads in a row which is called the first Decade and you recite the Hail Mary for each bead, then 1 bead for the Glory Be and the Our Father, then you have 4 more sets of Decades where you pray the same Hail Mary and Glory Be and Our Father and you complete the rosary. Since it is in a bracelet format you can wear it and recite the rosary any time that you choose.

It was a beautiful gift for Christmas, she gave one to my sister and my two sister in laws as well, each designed in their favorite color. Here's mine again, I tried to spread it out a bit so you can see how the memory wire works. My favorite color is green and you can see how mom worked that color into the bracelet making it perfect for me.


Here are a few others that she has made for me. I love the color of this one and the shape of the beads, they remind me of little teeth, except for the fact that they are a turquoise/baby blue color.


I call this one my Golden Beauty. I love the beads on this one and it can make any outfit I wear seem much more elegant.


I mentioned to mom that it sure would be nice to have a matching pair of earrings when she makes me a bracelet so she surprised me with these two custom made bracelet and earring sets.

I mean who doesn't feel happier wearing something like this with butterflies and beautiful pink beads? And I love the way she did the earrings, I love dangly earrings! She also went to the trouble to find earring hooks that are Nickel-free since I am allergic to almost all metals except Gold. She's amazing right?


So in love with this one! It goes great with a grey sweater that I wear a lot! Love the butterflies....yes, I'm a great lover of the butterfly. The special thing about mom is that she notices things like that. Of course I have about a gazillion butterfly things around the house, so it's hard to miss!


On this Mother's Day, I want my mom to know how much I love her and how proud I am of all her accomplishments. She's the best mother I could have ever hoped for and I am in awe of her intelligence and artistry and I hope that one is born with talent for I would love to think that I got a little bit of that talent from her.

Happy Mother's Day mom, love you forever!




Sunday, May 7, 2017

My Art Journey - Rainbow Unicorns

So I'm sure you are all dying to know how my art journal is going right?

Well it's going great, I'm still in love with acrylic painting and I know I am getting better and better every day. 

My latest and greatest was painting a very special painting using a tutorial from Cinnamon Cooney, The Art Sherpa! 

You know that big craze that was going around a couple of weeks ago? Starbucks came out with the Unicorn Frappuccino? This is what it looks like.


Pretty right? So bright and sparkly and cheerful! I really wanted to try one, but the carb count is pretty high on this one. I like to stick to 20 to 30 carbs per day, this one drink is 67 carbs!!!

So I was thrilled when the Art Sherpa did a tutorial showing us how to paint this! I give you my carb-free version of the Unicorn Rainbow Frappuccino! 


Kinda cute right? I just love the bright colors, I'm a sucker for bright pretty colors.

I took it to work to display in my office. It adds a lot of color and it just makes me happy to see it every day.


If you would like to watch The Art Sherpa create this just follow THIS LINK. Even if you just want to watch her, she's adorable!

Did any of you try this drink? What did you think of it?It's gotten very mixed reviews by the people I've asked. 


Thursday, March 16, 2017

He Will Haunt My Memory - 3rd and Final Part

For those of you who have been following along, this is the 3rd and Final Part of my jury duty story...at least I hope it will be the final part as I do tend to be a titch wordy!

Part One HERE and Part Two HERE, so go read and get caught up or refresh your memory of the details! Here we go...

I was surprised that Mr. Chriss intended to take the stand but had secretly hoped that he would do so. There is nothing better than hearing the story straight from the horses mouth right?

Mr. Chriss took the stand and his attorney had opportunity to question him first. He asked him the standard questions, name, age, where he resided and then he asked him if he thought that he had Schizophrenia. Mr. Chriss adamantly and loudly said he did not! At this point I was a little apprehensive because the court reporter was sitting right in front of him. If he had wanted to he could have reached right over the microphone in front of him and put her into a choke hold. I was not the only one that was wary of Mr. Chriss because the guard that was sent to accompany him, arose from his seat to stand beside and within reach of Mr. Chriss.

Attorney Kendall asked him only a few questions. He asked about his job. Mr. Chriss said that he was a janitor and that he was allowed to do his job at his convenience. He said that he only had a mop and a bucket and a few cleaning supplies but that it was enough for him to get his job done and most of the time he did it at night when everyone was asleep so he didn't have to deal with "those people". He was asked that he meant by "those people". He said the other patients were "low functioning people".

He was asked about his education and he said that he didn't have much of an education. When he was a kid it wasn't a law that you had to go to school and your parents wouldn't get in trouble if you didn't go, so most of the time he didn't, and his mother couldn't make him go. He said when he did go it was because he was bored and even then he had to go to the "retard class". My heart broke listening to him, imagining him as a child.

He said that when he was done with school, he got several jobs but he didn't much like working, so he bummed around and somehow found out that the government would give him money for free if he pretended to have a mental illness. So he applied for disability and that is where everything went wrong because they truly believed he did have a mental illness, but he was just pretending. This is where he turned to his right to face the jury and he put his hands out imploring us to understand. He said, "If you could get money for free from the government, wouldn't you do the same thing?"

He claimed that he never got any money but by then he was in the system and then he was sent to Coalinga, but that it was all a big mistake. His attorney asked him why he didn't attend the therapy sessions, he said it was because they were not court ordered and if the court felt he needed them, why wasn't he ordered to go? He was asked why he refused to take part in the social activities at Coalinga and he said that again they were not court ordered and he WAS NOT A CHILD! He did not need to take part in coloring with crayons and playing kids games, he was a grown man! Again, his demeanor when replying was very aggressive, making us all uncomfortable.

He was asked why he refused medical treatment and medications at Coalinga and he said he was not gay and he wasn't going to let some man put his fingers up his ass! When he was asked why he did not let dental treatment be done on him he said it was because "they are all against me and just want to yank out all my teeth"! He refused to follow the rules that required them to have their vitals checked daily. He said he didn't need to do that because it was again...not court ordered.

I must say that I was very surprised by the questioning of Attorney Kendall. It felt to me that he was making Attorney Caves job very easy as he was making us all feel that Mr. Chriss truly did have a mental disorder. Mr. Chriss was very aggressive and angry and you could see that following rules was against his nature. 

Then it was Attorney Caves turn to question him. He touched on many of the same questions that Mr. Chriss had already answered and it was obvious that Mr. Chriss felt that Attorney Caves was the enemy. He was abrupt in his responses and many times would roll his eyes to imply "I've already answered that question stupid!"

Caves asked him about his son and his statement that he had a son that could be two places at once. Mr. Chriss said that yes, his son could be two places at once. "Can you explain that?" said Caves. Mr. Chriss held up both arms at his side and then brought his right hand to his heart and said "my son will always be in my heart" and he raised his right hand to the sky and said "and my son will always be in Heaven". Again...my heart broke. 

Attorney Caves said, "I'm so sorry that you lost your son, how did he die?" Mr. Chriss yelled out "Who said that he died? My son is not dead!" "But you just told us that your son is in Heaven? How can he be in Heaven if he is not dead?" said Caves. Mr. Chriss yelled out loudly, "I don't know where my son is, I don't know if he's dead, he probably is because I haven't seen him in years so I think he's dead, but I don't want to talk about this anymore!"

Caves then asked him about the rest of his family and why he had said they would be better off if he was not released. He said he didn't know why he said that, but that he didn't have any family anymore anyway and he didn't know where any of them were but they probably would be better off if he never saw them again.

Caves asked him about his religion and his implying that he is God. Mr. Chriss said "How do you know I'm not God? How do I know I'm not God? How do I know you're not God? My religion is taken partly from the Bible and partly from things God tells me and it's not of this world and I doubt you or any of the people here would understand my religion, it is above your comprehension." 

Caves asked him about the chanting in his room and he yelled loudly "it is not chanting, don't call it that, I don't like that!" Caves said "If it's not chanting what is it?" "Praying, it is praying!", said Mr. Chriss. Caves asked him about his beating himself up and Mr. Chriss said that was part of his religion and he had to do those things and that yes, sometimes it left bruises on his body but he wasn't gay, he was a man and strong and it didn't hurt for long.

He was asked about a recent altercation with another patient. He said that patient went by his room and spit on his window and he simply came out to ask why he had done that and it turned into a fight and yes a nurse got hurt but it was not done intentionally. He had not meant for the nurse to get hurt. So Caves asked him if he meant for the other patient to get hurt and he said no but you can't spit on a man's window and not expect to get hurt, he was asking for it.

Attorney Caves finally said that he was finished and Attorney Kendall had a chance to again question Mr. Chriss and try to explain away some of the damage done by Attorney Caves questions. Unfortunately he didn't seem to try too hard. The only thing he touched on was Mr. Chriss' son and whether or not he loved his son and wanted to see him. He said yes, he loved his son and would like to see him. He touched on Mr. Chriss' job and how well he did it and did he think that when he got out of Coalinga he would be able to get a job somewhere as a janitor. Mr. Chriss said that he had done many jobs in his life and he was sure that he would be able to find something. He was asked if he had any friends or family that would be willing to help him if he was released, he said he had no one. It was almost as though his very own attorney was either not very good at his job or didn't believe that Mr. Chriss should be released.

Finally the case was given to the jurors and we were led to the back of the courtroom to a small room with a conference table, bathrooms and a coffee pot. We sat around the table, uncomfortable with each other and decided first we needed to choose a Jury Foreperson. So we did that and then we decided to just take an initial vote to see how much work we had to do. So the Foreperson read the first question:

1. Did the respondent have a Severe Mental Disorder? - This was unanimous. We all felt that he did indeed have a severe mental disorder, everyone raised their hand

2. Is the Mental Disorder in remission or able to be kept in remission with further treatment? - Every hand again went up in agreement that he did indeed need further treatment.

3. Is the individual a danger to the general public? - We expected it to be unanimous again, but this time there were two young men that did not put their hands up.

The Foreperson suggested that we go around the table and each person state why they felt the individual was a danger to the general public. We all had basically the same answer. The fact that he obviously did have a mental disorder and he refused to accept that and receive the help he needed. If he would not receive treatment then he was a danger, not only to the public but also to himself. 

In Coalinga he was strictly monitored and watched. He had a place to live, food to eat, and a job that provided him enough of a monthly salary that he could purchase the items he needed for his daily life. What would happen to him on the streets? Would he eventually get angry again and perhaps hurt someone that spit on him or yelled at him for chanting?

Finally it was the turn of the two young men to explain why they did not feel he was a danger to the general public. The first one said that after listening to the rest of us he realized that we were correct so he changed his vote.

The other young man said that he felt that Mr. Chriss was a danger to the general public, but he could not in his heart send him back to Coalinga, wasn't there someplace else? Couldn't we talk to the judge and perhaps have him sent to a better hospital or to a nursing home where he could still receive his treatments and medications? 

I wanted to hug this young man because he had such a good heart, but I had to tell him that unfortunately in a jury situation such as this the judge had instructed us to go based on the facts and testimony given and answer only those three questions. We could not go back with our own advice on what to do with Mr. Chriss. He said he understood this, but that he still thought we needed to do something.

Then the Foreperson asked him if he would feel safe leaving this building tonight and running into Mr. Chriss in the parking lot. He said of course he would! He then asked him if he would feel safe if any of the other jurors, especially the women were to run into him in the parking lot. He again said he would. So he asked him if he would feel safe if the person in the parking lot running into Mr. Chriss was his mother? His sister? His girlfriend? He couldn't answer for a bit and then finally said, "No, I would not feel safe, I don't think he should be put out into society, I just feel sorry for him, but he is where he needs to be."

So we took the vote again on all three questions and this time the vote was unanimous. Mr. Chriss would not be leaving out the same door that we jurors were going to leave out of. He would be heading back to the bus with his guard, back to Lerdo Jail where they were holding him during the trial and then eventually back to Coalinga State Mental Hospital.

We walked back into the courtroom and the verdict was read by the court clerk. I watched Mr. Chriss to see how he would react and he didn't. He didn't flinch, he didn't cry, his eyes didn't flash with anger, he again just sat there, doing that sucking thing with his mouth, his head bowed down looking at the table. He didn't even look up when the judge dismissed the jury or while we quietly filed out.

That night when I went to bed I had a hard time falling asleep. Not because I felt guilty or because I felt I had made a mistake. No...the reason I had a hard time sleeping is because I imagined Mr. Chriss laying in a bunk at Lerdo Jail, not truly understanding what had happened or how he could have avoided it and it angered me. It angered me that human beings suffer with mental illnesses. It angered me that the best we can do is lock them up or medicate them. 

I know that Mr. Chriss is someone that I won't soon forget. I do wish the best for him. I hope that he realizes that he has a problem and that he seeks help for it. I hope that he's safe in Coalinga and that while it may not be the ideal place that any of us would want to be, I hope that he can find moments of happiness and peace. He will haunt my memory.

Alicia