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



Monday, March 13, 2017

Driver-less Cars? I'm ready for mine!

Driver-less cars can’t come soon enough for me!

Photo Credit - Vulcan Post

I came to this realization this weekend after taking a one day car trip from Bakersfield to Woodland Hills. Just a short little 2 hour trip that felt like a tour of duty as a Navy Seal. Not that I would know what that is like at all, but I imagine it’s just as harrowing as driving on the I-5 and the 405 Freeway!

And it wasn’t me…I love to drive, I don’t freak out in traffic, but this was just unbelievable, crazy traffic! And it was on a Sunday! Weren’t all these people supposed to be in church?

I get so irritated by all the “mergers”! The ones that have to move in and out of lanes so they can get somewhere a half a second sooner than they would have if they had just stayed in one lane. 

You have no idea how many people I saw merging into the same lane, one from the right lane and one from the left! It was just sheer dumb luck that they didn’t collide and have me run into them.

It amazes me…the stupidity of people when they get behind the wheel! People just dashing in and out and in front of 18-wheelers. Some of them didn’t even bother with using their signal lights. 

Then there were those that had to change lanes and they would just slow down to 15 miles per hour until someone let them merge, not caring that behind them people were slamming on their brakes. God forbid they miss their exit and have to get off at the next one. Oh no…much better to just leave a trail of debris and broken bodies than to miss getting to their precious little Wal-Mart shopping trip! Grrrr!

Once we all have driver-less cars then it won’t be left to the stupidity, vapidness and ignorance of the human being! I know a lot of you don’t like technology, don’t like computers, don’t like things being taken out of the hands of humans, but I think in a situation like driving it just makes common sense.

So yeah car companies, get to working harder on those driverless cars and make them at least as functional as seat warmers. I love seat warmers!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

He Will Haunt My Memory - Part Two

This is the 2nd Part of my Jury Duty story. Part one can be found HERE...

Then it was time for Caves to present his case and prove to us that Mr. Chriss had a severe mental disorder that was not in remission and could not be kept in remission without further treatment and why he posed a threat and a danger to the public.

He called to the stand his only witness, a Forensic Psychologist who analyzed the medical records of Mr. Chriss. A Forensic Psychologist will often study and analyze research or records from other professionals as well as conduct their own research and examinations. The doctor was a large imposing man who was well spoken and confident. He proceeded to tell us his expert opinion of Mr. Chriss and his mental disorder. The diagnosis for Mr. Chriss was Schizophrenia



First off it was made quite plain to us that the psychologist had not personally interviewed Mr. Chriss. The offer was made to meet, but Mr. Chriss refused. Score one for Attorney Caves. The psychologist said that normally individuals that are interested in being released are willing to meet with him to show that they have progressed and are now stable and  mentally healthier due to therapy and drugs. 

He then proceeded to tell us; being prompted by questions from Attorney Caves, that he had studied the notes of 10 or so doctors and multiple therapists and health personnel at the facility that had made notes of events and behaviors of Mr. Chriss. He said that the files that he studied easily measured a foot and half in height. 

He told us that Mr. Chriss refused to partake in any of the therapy classes that were available and offered to him. The only thing he did do at times would be to go to Bingo Night or Movie Night. Mainly Mr. Chriss would keep to himself in his room when he wasn't at his job as a janitor. While in his room it was noted several times that Mr. Chriss would talk loudly, yelling at times and screaming and chanting. He would beat himself up and he would become agitated by others on the unit. He had gotten physical with another patient and a nurse. 

He told us the Mr. Chriss refused medical treatment, he refused to have his vitals checked, he refused his medication, he refused to go to group meetings. He would yell obscenities at nurses, doctors and other patients. I watched Mr. Chriss closely while the doctor was testifying to gauge his reactions and it was like he wasn't even there. He didn't react, he didn't look at the doctor, he didn't try to engage any of the jurors. I thought how I would react if that were me and I would definitely be trying to talk to my attorney to get him to explain things. I would have glared at the doctor, I would have made eye contact with the jurors. He just looked down and shrugged his shoulders now and then and continued to do that sucking thing with his mouth.

The doctor also told us that it was disconcerting that Mr. Chriss had made several odd statements to the staff and other doctors, statements like "I have a son that can be in two places at one time" and "My family is better off if I'm not released". He also said that several times Mr. Chriss insinuated that he was God and that he followed a religion that was beyond what humans could understand.

Then it was Attorney Kendall's turn (Mr. Chriss' attorney) to ask his questions of the doctor. He didn't really question or try to explain all the refusals of treatment and/or meds, he basically just wanted the doctor to confirm that Mr. Chriss had a job as a janitor and that he did his job and that he obviously wasn't dangerous because he was given cleaning supplies and chemicals and mops and things that he could injure people with and he didn't. He also tried to make it clear that the chanting and yelling was Mr. Chriss practicing his religion. He also made one clear error that I saw in that he asked the doctor if he had physically ever met or examined Mr. Chriss personally or did he base all his thoughts and testimony simply on things written by multiple people through the years that could or could not have been true. This is where the psychologist plainly said, "No, I never personally examined or met Mr. Chriss but it was because of his refusal to do so." Strike Two!

Finally the doctor was done and he was allowed to leave. It was surprising to me that he just left, he didn't know how this was going to turn out and he had no personal stake in this, he was just doing his job. But he had testified that he did these examinations all the time, he wasn't paid extra if the person was found to still have a mental disorder, he was just being clinical and giving his expert opinion without prejudice. That resounded loudly with me. He wasn't lying, he wasn't interested in punishing Mr. Chriss...he was just doing his job. 

Then it was Attorney Kendall's turn to present his case and he said that he had not expected for Mr. Chriss to take the witness stand because it was not their job to prove anything and he felt that we should all realize after listening to the doctor that Mr. Chriss did not have a mental disorder, but that Mr. Chriss decided he did want to take the stand and state his side of the story...

Again, this is getting long, so I will end here and proceed with Part Three which I hope will be the last part. To be continued...


Monday, February 20, 2017

Georgia O'Keeffe Inspired Red Poppy

I'm thinking maybe flowers are my forte when it comes to painting them. I'm really having good luck with them!

I'm going to be keeping this post short and sweet, but I am just dying to share the Georgia O'Keeffe inspired Poppy painting that I did this weekend!

Here's the original painted in 1927 by the artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

Photo Credit - WikiArt

Stunning isn't it? I love the colors and the blending and shading.

I had help with this of course, because I am very much a beginner. Using a Youtube tutorial by Angela Anderson I was able to paint my own poppy.

Before I show you mine, let me show you the reference photo from Pixabay that Angela Anderson used for her tutorial.

Photo Credit - Pixabay

Compare this photo to the painting by Georgia O'Keeffe! Wow right? The realism in O'Keeffe's painting!

Well I don't want to brag but I'm going to because I'm so darned proud of what I was able to paint thanks to Angela Anderson and her wonderful teaching manner and great tutorials!

Here's my version.


Not bad right?

Can you see why I am over the moon happy about this? This was my second attempt. The first one I botched royally and was so upset with it that I shredded it in the paper shredder before the paint was even dry! I sure hope my shredder doesn't get all gummed up!

For the second attempt I just followed Angela faithfully and listened carefully to her tips and suggestions and watched every one of her brush strokes... and I did this folks! I'm thrilled beyond belief and hope that you love it as much as I do!






Friday, February 17, 2017

He Will Haunt My Memory - Part One

When I walked into the court room he was the last person I noticed. In fact, until the judge introduced him to us I didn’t even know he was there. He was a slender man seated at the table next to his attorney, his hair was cropped short and he wore a dingy white dress shirt, his skin almost the same color as his shirt. His eyes were sunken deeply into the eye sockets and he kept pursing his mouth into a pout, sort of like he was sucking on a piece of hard candy. He looked hard, like someone that had suffered in his life and instead of time and life having mellowed him, they had hardened him and his features.

You wouldn’t think that someone so nondescript would stay on your mind for so long. Maybe it wasn’t him, instead it was the reason for meeting him and his story. Regardless, his memory haunts me…this is the story of Mr. Chriss.

Last week I was called in for jury duty. The last time I went was in 2008, you can read about that trial here…it was a doozy! Once I finished with that trial and I wrote that post I was over and done with it and never gave it a second thought…this one won’t be so easy to forget.





This one was unique. Not a criminal trial, not a civil trail, instead this one was a civil commitment hearing for an individual who is considered a Mentally Disordered Offender or MDO. We 60 individals, had been called into the courtroom to go through the process of choosing a jury to decide three things:
1. Did the respondent have a Severe Mental Disorder?
2. Is the Mental Disorder in remission or able to be kept in remission with further treatment?
3. Is the individual a danger to the general public?

It was our job to make those decisions and they had to be unanimous, either all true or all false. We could not say numbers 1 and 2 were true but not number 3. All or nothing!

If you’ve never been to jury duty I strongly urge you to go next time you are called. It’s such a great learning experience. It’s not easy to know you hold the future of someone in your hands, but it’s such a privilege to know that no matter what you do, in our country you will have your day in court and you will be able to tell your side of the story.

I had hoped to not be chosen for the jury only because there was so much going on at work and I felt guilty dropping it into the lap of my coworker. But it’s not as easy to get out of being on a jury as it used to be. I had no real hardship. The company I worked for respects our duty to complete jury duty so they pay us our regular pay. 

After two days of voir dire (a preliminary examination of juror by judge and counsel) I was chosen as juror number 6. That was Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was the day the attorneys had a chance to give their opening statements, to call witnesses and to present their case.

Unlike a civil or criminal case where you have a plaintiff and a defendant, in this case you had the petitioner which was The People of The State of California, represented by Attorney Caves and the respondent, Mr. Chriss who was represented by his counsel, Attorney Kendall. The burden of proof was on the State of California, who had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the three questions above were all true as regards Mr. Chriss.

Caves gave his opening statement first. A very handsome young man, very soft spoken. I would have been happier if he had looked us in the eye more and spoken with more authority. He also introduced Mr. Chriss to us and explained to us what the judge had already told us multiple times, that we had to base our decision only on the evidence and the evidence is only what was said by the person on the stand. He said he would provide a witness that would give us the medical facts that we would need to come to the agreement that all three of the questions that we were to deliberate would and could only be answered as true.

Then Kendall gave his opening statement in which he also told us what we had to base our decision on and he informed us that Mr. Chriss had no burden of proof, it was not up to him and Mr. Chriss to prove to us that any of the three questions were either true or false, that was the job of Mr. Caves. He proceeded to tell us a little bit about Mr. Chriss.

Mr. Chriss had been sent to prison for physical assault on an individual. It was never made clear to us if he did his time in prison and then was committed or if he was committed after a second physical assault on an individual, but for the past nine years he had lived quietly in his unit at the Coalinga State Mental Hospital. He had a job at the hospital as a janitor and lived his life quietly, causing no further problems.

Part two to follow...(this was just getting too long)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Confessions From My Inner Artist

So I've continued to Art.

A few things have not turned out as I hoped, but I learned something from them anyway.

Some things have turned out so tremendously well that I honestly can't believe that I painted that.

Take my new header above. This was my first venture into using palette knives!



I have to confess that I was scared to try this. I don't know why, it's not like the Art Police are going to come to my house and claim my first born if I paint something that is crappy right? 

It's not like the canvas I am painting on has cost me thousands of dollars and is stretched on the frame using the unblemished skin of a billion butterfly wings...it's just canvas from Michaels, bought with a 40% off coupon. Hardly breaking the bank right?

Is is the fear of failing? Of not being good enough? 

Now that I type that I realize that's probably more the reason I get scared than anything else. It's failing that scares me. 

I haven't failed that many times in my life and I'm not used to it. But maybe the reason I haven't failed very often is that I haven't pushed myself to try things that I can fail at.

It's easy to never fail if you never try!

So I'll keep going and trying, painting some things that I love and learning from the things I totally mess up!


In the meantime I am having the time of my life painting. I wish that I had found this years and years ago. But then again maybe it was my time to find Art.


Or maybe Art found me...