Grab This Blog's Widget! < Amarettogirl
visual artist and writer marisol diaz

i am a self-defined Nuyorican creative (that is a Puerto Rican who is from both the isles of Manhattan, NYC and the Caribbean). I share daily in the joy of education and live in a cute port town in New York, in a 'teensy-weensy' apartment with my two dogs and canary named Valentino. Check out my Etsy shop for purchasable pieces. Please do not reproduce imagery off of this site without explicit credit and no derivatives may be made of my original imagery- Thank You.

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CRAFT: I'm a Crafter!
The Small Is Beautiful Manifesto

Inspiring Artist- Kiki Smith

I'm in Paris for my last night! Tomorrow we spend the last Parisian day absorbing the exquisite sites. There is an amazing Marie Antoinette exhibit that I am hoping to see, as well as, Jim Morrison's grave and a phenomenal Patisserie that I spotted earlier on the trip (providing there is no drama with the students - tomorrows block of free time should prove exceptionally appreciated and divine). Thus far, all of us are incredibly cold and exhausted, yet we have seen absolutely phenomenal things. This is my third time in Paris and each time feels deeply more moving. I'm afraid the weather in Berlin will be the death of us as far as weather! Next is Munich than Berlin. I wrote quite a few blog posts before I left anticipating having no internet access, so the following is one of those posts!

One of my favorite artist is Kiki Smith


photo by Nan Goldin

"Best known for provocative depictions of the female body — both in anatomical fragments and in full figure — Kiki Smith has explored a broad range of subjects, including religion, folklore, mythology, natural science, art history, and feminism. By turns intimate, universal, visceral, and fragile, Smith's art renders the figure in frank, nonheroic terms, expressing its dual aspects of vulnerability and strength. Smith uses a wide variety of media, seeking out equivalences between the body and materials of art — the fragility and imperfections of skin and handmade papers, for example, or the fleshy, organic volumes of wax and plaster. Organized in close collaboration with the artist, this full-scale survey of her 25-year career includes nearly 100 objects grouped into thematic clusters she refers to as "gatherings," with works in plaster, bronze, paper, glass, and ceramic, as well as installations, prints, drawings, and photographs."-SFMOMA WEBSITE


I saw Kiki Smith speak at some museum talk back when I was living in Baltimore and working on my MFA. She combines printmaking and varied mediums in her work which is often rich with female referents. She is fascinated with dissecting the myths around our sociological culture. I am in awe of her presence and mind. I think she is most definitely a phenomenal woman. Check out Kiki Smith and tell me what you think! Mind you the video is part of the Art:21 PBS series and is an excerpt of a longer piece. The snippet does come across as a bit morbid.

If you have never heard of Kiki Smith I really recommend clicking of the links I have provided since her work is more varied than what I could possibly offer here! I especially marvel at her Prints, Books & Things collection. This website is informative, interactive and elegantly designed- its a real treat. Furthermore, the Feminine Context theme is excellent, thought-provoking and stimulating for any artist with 'female sensiblities' at the core of what they do!


Whats in Your Bag?

While I was in Portland Oregon, I discovered this awesome book entitled Me in My Bag at the famous Powell's Bookstore (a megastore unlike any other bookstore I have ever step foot in - perhaps it would be better to call it a small planet!)


The book is in English and in Chinese. The author Yi Ying Wang is a graphic designer and she worked with fellow photographers, Hiromi Iguchi and Will Farrow to compile a major creative project, the bag book! This project is about photographing the contents of 100 Londoner's bags!!! In seeing the contents of one's bag you get to know a person quite a bit and it is a deeper reflection of who the person is, beyond that of a simple portrait. The book itself is designed like a bag with a plastic cover and handle straps!


A little bit fashion/design/Voyeurism and creative expression the book has a unique fold-out layout in which the bag owner's are first photographed and their image unfolds to reveal the photograph of the bag's contents. In addition, there was a number allotted to each participant and a form they got to fill out in anyway they liked.

The question on the form are:

  • Name: Amarettogirl
  • email:wwamazon@aol.com (in other words 'WonderWoman' was already taken!!)
  • Webadd/blog: You guys know this already! Just look at the address bar above!
  • What do you do? Visual Artist/Writer/ Art Educator (teacher).
  • What does your bag mean to you? Wow, well it means a lot because its an extension of how I express myself...plus if it weren't for that gift certificate I would have never been able to afford that TokiDoki Le Sportsac bag that all design world appreciators were pining over! But I'm working on not identifying so deeply with material objects...we'll see how that goes.
  • What's in your bag today? See for yourself! My laptop, my work folders, my mimobot usb, my ipod, oooh my camera is missing I had to use it to take the pic, but I never leave my house without my canon! My I'm-bored-with-this-mtg-so-i'll-crochet project, my coffee-cup change purse, hand purifier, my self-made accessory holder, my pencil case, sketchbook...yeah this bag can pack a punch!

Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, I want to be #101!!! So you think I'm crazy? Well guess what! It seems I'm not the only one! Apparently, there is a Flicker photogroup all over this What's in Your Bag -question! Click and check them out! I'm not a flicker member yet, but I may have to join to be a part of this pool! In addition, Instyle magazine also has a page dedicated to photos of what's inside people's bags!

I want you all to join me! Answer the questions and tell me what's special in your bag!! Is there anything in there that might surprise us about you??? Share!!!


Stained Bedroom Sheets


The ReCuentos Exhibit in San Antonio, Texas has come to a close and the work has returned home to me. I can't tell you how bizarre, yet intimate this body of work is to me since it was very experimental. I allowed myself the freedom to work in an unorthodoz manner, dripping and marking white sheets with stains with which to form imagery out of. I played with the literal and metaphorical meaning of life leaving stains, both in phyisical places as well as on our hearts.

In addition, this body of paintings is deeply representative of a connection I made with another artist, Nova Gutierrez. After viewing her paintings inspired by the tragically abbreviated life of her aunt Lisa, I responded with my stained bedsheets series. Lisa was killed by her husband 30 years ago and the scars of that crime run passionately and deep in Nova's family and life. Lisa's life has not been in vein and Nova responds to the beacon of educating young women on the perils of domestic violence and the relationship patterns and signs to be watchful over. Needless to say, I answer a similar calling in championing self-esteem in young women and being a column of support for survivors of CSA (Child Sexual Abuse). Nova's paintings made references to the elements: Fire, Earth, Air & Water. I inturned responded with my bedsheets stains in the same elemental vein.


To see all the pieces I made for this exhibit click on ReCuentos in my portfolios.

The sheets are now back home representing the extraordinary power of not only living to me, but of thriving as well.Let me know what you think of the work!


Guilty Pleasures (for the Crafty & the Non-crafty)

So I've been mulling the idea around to post some of my seasonal guilty pleasures. They're called guilty pleasures because they are those things that are so good you feel guilty just being privileged enough to live a life in which they are accessible. I say 'seasonal' because depending what I'm into at any given moment my guilty pleasures change (although there are always some constants). Mind you, this is different than an 'I'm thankful for' list...it really has to be a little guilty. For example, I know some people who have a shoe guilty pleasure, a handbag guilty pleasure, latest-electronic-gadget-of-the-month guilty pleasure and I know others who have all three of those gp's at once. It has to be that thing that either costs a little too much, or consumes a bit too much of your time, or distracts you from what you should be doing too often!

images-1.jpegThis Craft mag is pretty pricey but it ROCKS and fortunately it isn't in publication too often so it doesn't break the bank.

images-3.jpegThis is some sure fire decadent ice-cream. In fact it is so decadent you only get four or three in a box!!! Its definitely for those days you really need a "I had a hard day boost".

images-2.jpegI am addicted to Japanese Craft books and it is most certainly what I spend the most of my hard-earned cash on. The aesthetics and quality of the workmanship, as well as the imagery are spectacular. In fact these books and crafts are so good that you need not know how to read Japanese to learn how to make the objects featured, although I still wish I did. There is a fantastic Japanese Bookstore at the Palisade Mall in Rockland County and I frequent it once a month!

images-8.jpegJamba Juice Tagline 'Your body is the temple of your soul, so don't put trash in it' (or something like that) Need I say more?

images-7.jpegDancing With the Stars. I have to admit that as malignant as reality tv has become to the state of the theatrical arts I LOVE watching Dance shows!

images-4.jpegGregg and I have to say that our 'Just-Got-Paid-Feel-Good-Food' is Sushi and if you give us bean cakes and bubble tea with that we're in heaven!

images-9.jpegYoung Adult Fiction - Right now it's Twilight- but soon it will be something else like a graphic novel...actually the next book is Persepolis!

images-5.jpegPistachios -Not only are these babies pricey their high in fat too (but I think its the good fat - hopefully?Dying from the heat.

images-11.jpeg Project Runway - I cannot believe the season just ended - I'm going through withdrawal now...I think need some Haagen-Daz.

images-12.jpegLost - thank the heavens the writers strike is over because I really needed to be exasperated by more questions, confused by more story lines and racking my brain on the what-is-going-on theory! Still we can't stop watching!

images-10.jpegAll Things Oprah - I can't help it - I think she's brilliant.

images.jpegHere is another one of those pricey ($15) magazines that does come out more frequently than Craft, but Somerset is luscious for the anything-paper artist! They also have an entourage of other amazing titles under their belt like Art Doll (another one of my faves), Life Images and countless others.

images-6.jpegLargest guilty pleasure of them all, BLOGGING - man have I been procrastinating since I've started this!!

I have more gp's but I think I'll stop there for today since I just realized I've been indulging in a guilty pleasure for a while and my other GP's (the dogs) are needing some attention! So tell me YOUR GUILTY PLEASURES!! I'm dying to know!!!


Inspiring Artist- Candy Jernigan


Candy Jernigan

This is another one of my favorite artist's. Candy Jernigan collected memoribilia of her everyday life and experiences to manifest the idea of proof of life/ EVIDENCE of her existence. If you think about it, its a powerful concept to honor the mundane of your life, to be fully present and say "I Was Here".


These are object drawings, from a trip to Rome. It gives all new meaning to scrapbooking doesn't it?


This is a drawing of each Cheese Doodle that she ate. The drawing even comes with a clever map of the route the Cheese Doodle takes as it travels through her body!

Can tabs! Candy Jernigan collected both real and illustrated evidence of her life, unknowingly of the fact the she would die too young from liver cancer.

dustbasilica.jpgdustbasilicaII.jpg These images have dust from the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Grottoes, St. Peter's Basilica!!

Lately, I've been thinking about our collective consciousness and impressions, marks and stains that our life leaves - as residual impressions on people and space. I hope you enjoyed looking at Candy Jernigan's work and that it has given you (as it has me) a new way to be present in the world around you!


10 Things I NEVER Want to Forget

I was participating in this week's 3WW (ThreeWordWednesday) challenge, when I read this piece entitled, Distant Apology by blogger Myrtle Beach Ramblings. It was a very intense piece of writing on Alzheimer's and it got me thinking about things I never want to forget. I thought I could simply make a list of ten concisely, but I couldn't!
I think this is a great exercise even if you don't have Alzheimer's (along with a Tsunami) down as one of your greatest fears. Ahh... greatest fears...that is another blog for another day. Honestly I would prefer to forget nothing, so some categories are a bit longer than others...


So here goes:

1. The way I used to play space invaders with my Pomeranian under blanket tents and t.v. tables when I was little.

2. The day my father left. The first time I traveled with crayons and an American Airlines pin to see him in Puerto Rico alone (it was my first right of passage as an independent travelin' gal). My cousins showering (with soap) in rain storms, drinking juice from the center of red flowers and making lizard earrings. My father eating raw clams. My brothers and their fearless passion for life. Every tint and shade of the color green that exist in the universe blanketing Puerto Rico.

3. NYC East 92nd St., Central Park Carousel, my single mom working as a superintendent playing ironing with me and letting me use the baby powder as "starch spray". My Barbie hotel with elevator and our claw-foot bathtub in the kitchen.

4. School - Luis Armstrong (Junior High), walking down the hallway singing OHOH Here She Comes- She's a Man Eater!!(the Hall & Oates song) with Shireen and ???(oh, oh -its starting, I forgot the other girl's name).
High school A&D; being nominated one of the five best fictional writers for writing non-fiction, Attending Lehman college summer writing program with Randall and Scott. High-school friends that I cherish though we have become estranged...
Ahh college...I don't want to forget any part of my entire Ohio, Antiochian experience...even the breakdowns, dances, traveling to Europe, motorcycle rides or music gigs...especially not the painting, sculpting, performing and writing. Professor Pat Linn and her family. The day I met my housemates in Grad school- Baltimore MD, especially the one that turned out to be my husband. Eating sushi with fellow artist's Steve Fox and Ce Scott. The Visionary Museum & the Inner Harbour.

5. Glass-blowing in Maine and two phenomenal trips to Pilchuck in Seattle, the time Annie picked me up in a hot red convertible Fiat.

6. Being a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, intimately living among artistic mastery.

7. My grandmother. My grandmothers Upper East Side apartment (our family home), living there with her and Jaz.

8. My year-long courting. The blue/green of my husband's eyes and eyelashes. The most aesthetically beautiful day- my wedding. My most fantastical trip - my honeymoon.

9. Delivering Santa's custom letters through the fireplace flue to my niece Lindsay and my nephew Dylan.

10. My first home. My four-legged children: Maya's face, fur, paws, eyes, body weight and heart-wrenching howl. Chulo's hello-cry, his long lashes, the fan of his tail, his unquenchable love, attachment and stalker-like concern.

Ultimately, its the laughing, loving and living that becomes sacred and we hope indelible. What are your top 10 things you never want to forget? Try making more than one list - one for events, one for people, and one for sensual experiences - where your five senses were overwhelmed.


Inspiring Artist - Judith Schaechter


Judith Schaechter, Stained Glass, Snakes and Ladders 31"X30", 2003

The first time I ever saw Judith Schaechter's work I was doing our yearly NYC Chelsea gallery walk with our senior high-school class and it was quite a few years ago. I was floored by a stained glass artist using the medium in such a fresh/new, illustrative way. To me, she is the first artist that has therefore given a medium that I felt had been relegated to sun catchers, imitation Tiffany lamps, craft fairs and cathedral metaphors of 'enlightenment' a new face. Not everyone may appreciate Judith's work since it has a macabre, sombre often deathly glow about it. She enjoys investigating "...sex and death, with romance and violence the obvious runners up. I'm trying to be as cliche, sentimental, and decorative as possible--not as a strategy for ironic commentary about how stupid sentimentality and clichés are, but because this is the stuff, that time and time again, I am obsessed with, in love with, and that I have faith in."- Judith Schaecter

Grant it my husband and I, appreciate this kind of sensibility. We are after all huge Tim Burton fans! We each are collectors of Nightmare Before Christmas memorabilia before we met...he had all the Jack stuff and I had all the Sally. In fact, my husband's cousin Facundo Rabaudi worked as a model-maker on the set of that film (along with quite a few other phenomenal animations), and we were able to see some of the actual pieces used in Nightmare in real life! We love Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, and Tim Burton's book of poetry - The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy...so you see Judith Schaechter's work doesn't jar us in any negative way.

Technically, Judith's art is brilliant and painstaking work. She uses something called flash glass, a material that I am still looking into which she sand-blasts, etches and layers to get the color. I am still researching the areas that look so painterly.

My understanding is that Judth Schaecter uses the copper foil method, as do I. If this is true, it makes me happy to hear since I haven't had the opportunity to learn the lead came method and I always berate myself for it. So yes, I enjoy stained glass too. Here is a sample of one of my older stained glass pieces of a Phoenix.


My work pales in comparison to Judith Schaecter, but I am looking forward to the inspiration she serves me and my newest adventures in drawing on glass with powdered frit. Right now though I'm working on a series of oil paintings for the Herstory project and it will be while before I get to play with stained glass again.

Whether you work in glass, are a writer, illustrator or painter, seeing the work of other artists can inform your own discipline in countless ways. So check out new artists working around you and get inspired!


Celebrating Creativity @ The Oscars


This is a picture of a miniature model that I discovered while going out to dinner at a Spanish restaurant called EL CID in Paramus, New Jersey last weekend. The details in the model are incredible - Cheers to the artist or artists who continue to go unknown to me.

Behind all the fanfare and star-struck glitz of the Oscars (which many of us will be watching tonight) are the humble, model-makers, story-board artist's, art director's, musicians, costume designers, set-designers, writers, sculptors, prop-designers (along with countless other creatives...I can't seem to name this Sunday morning) that go unflanked by spotlights and paparazzi on the red carpet. So tonight, as you watch remember those who are instrumental in creating a genre of artistic expression that moves us regularly at box offices and in our DVD players. Good luck to phenomenal artist, designer extraordinaire, Elsa Mora and her Beau Bill the Hollywood Producer who will be attending the Oscar's tonight and the work he did on Lars and the Real Girl and The Kite Runner!

With all that said, let it be known that my favorite category is ...the ANIMATED FILM SHORTS!

We have some wonderful pieces being nominated tonight that are not big studio shorts and these are always my particular cup of tea. It takes a very special kind of artist to deal with making an animation; understanding how to create believable characters consistently and sequentially, pacing, composition, writing, sound, layering. I am in awe of the genre and hope to one day create something beyond my current youtube tests.

I have embedded part one of Moya lyubov (My Love) a Russian animated short that is one of the nominees tonight that I am particularly interested in, since it was done by painting onto glass!!! Check it out!!

To me this is an exemplary feat. It is the visual arts at its finest. This piece transcends translation, the way most universal works of genius do!

To see some of the other absolutely amazing nominated animated shorts go to TickleBooth who has done much of the online searching for us!


Here Comes the Snow & A Call to Live


All my students are at home hoping for a snow day tomorrow. This would make for our second long weekend (last weekend we celebrated President's Day), but you don't hear me complaining. I have so much painting to do, I could definitely use the time. My two four legged children are feeling the cold front too, check out my 14yr. old Maya and the new addition to the family, Chulo (8months) who has discovered a fetish for burrowing!

Last night the four of us (including my husband) ran outside around 10:30pm to frolic in the cold under the amber light of the lunar eclipse.


This really brings the concept of time passing, to the forefront for me. The next lunar eclipse will be three years from now. Which brings me to the point of today's blog. This blogging community has inspired me not to wait for New Years Eve or Birthdays to set my intentions into action. While I was out there in the blog world, I found SuperViva, great little site that encourages you to write down (list) your goals, dreams, desires for things you want to get done. I for one, have done this before in various journals. So why not just do this on paper? You may ask. Well, the cool thing is they encourage you to set timeline categories (like one of mine is 'Before I die' or 'In The Next Five Years'). You can connect with people who have the same goals and or, may have completed your goal and be able to assist you in getting your dream accomplished. I thought it was great fun! Try it!

Here are five of my top dreams to get accomplished:

1. Be a surrogate mother to chimpanzees (no, I am not joking)

2. Be able to walk or ride a bicycle to my daily grind

Right now, I commute a horrible 1hr&15 min. to work each way!

3. Write a graphic novel

4. Travel to Ireland, Africa and/or India

5. Adopt a child

So Share-- What are your top 5 (I know we all have more) things you would like to get done before you die?

To inspire you think of this:

One of my students, spent last weekend at an intense family gathering bidding farewell and celebrating a life past of his great Aunt Doris Willner. This was the quote on her refrigerator door, "Life's journey is not to arrive in a grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways shouting 'holy shit...what a ride'."


Loose the Plastic Bag...the Beautiful way!


These are my reusable shopping bags, that I bought In Portland, Oregon made by the BlueQ co. I love these bags so so so much, that I ordered more and now have a total of 5 awesome shoppers! Enough to go bonkers in the supermarket, carry clothes for an overnight slumber party and a bag to pack flat in a suitcase on my next trip!

So can we please stop taking plastic bags at the grocery store?? BYOB!!! And if you have already been so gracious to be doing so, can we now take this opportunity to self-define, be creative and make that Shopper BEEE--OOO-TEE--FFULL?

According to the NY times, it is estimated that the US uses over 100 billion plastic bags a year. That is sad. What are we doing with all those bags? Building houses? I would like to think that we as a country are beginning to take the steps necessary to stop using plastic bags (since the Europeans have been practicing the waste-not BYOB for years) and we're usually not that far behind. Yet, when I was in Portland this summer taking a 'glass class' at Bullseye, I was sideswipe with how eco-conscious Portland was, I mean NO STORE gave a bag without first asking! Yikes, I felt like we are slow to the mark back here in New Jersey. Grant it, around my parts the supermarkets have started selling those small reusable photo-sharp dollar bags, Yipee! And Whole foods has just made using reusable bags official. I have all the faith in the world that we here in the Garden State will indeed get there. When we do, there is another 'creative' side to the 'Plastic or Paper, Actually Neither-thing' and that is DESIGN.

First, we have to ask, "Now, What do I do with the 1000 plastic bags stuffed in my pantry?" You CRAFT them!! Here are some of the things I've been doing with my plastic bags:


What's that I heard? You don't sew, crochet or latch-hook? NO WORRIES!

DDIYers (Design and Do-It Yourselfers) are rising to the challenge and creating beautiful alternatives to the shopping bag for YOU! Like Etsy seller and designer Lima Bean who makes great re-usable canvas shoppers, and Monk Rock Creations makes eco-friendly shopping bags. Say you really want one of those awesome crochet out of plastic bags bag, go see My Recycled Bags by Cindy who creatively places recycling at the forefront of all her designing. Warning these are FABTASTIC crocheted bags and you may want to purchase more than one!

Whatever you do, self-define yourself and BYOB. Psychotic.