Friday, December 30, 2011

Running Into the Wind

Here's one of my practice pieces for my upcoming Pastel-a-Day adventure. See progress from start to finish on my Facebook page. More to come here, too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Following My Pastel-A-Day Progress...

I've been doing exercises to get in shape! Read more here on this blog, follow me on Twitter (@electrikolor), and also on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Pastel a Day

Dear Edna,

You have the opportunity to enhance your artistic skills in a unique way during the month of January. Come rain, snow, sleet, or (apparently) 40-degree dry days, you are hereby challenged to create one pastel painting every day of the month.

You can choose the size of the painting, and whether it will be a soft pastel or an oil pastel composition -- or even a mixed media composition that uses pastel in a non-traditional manner.

You are encouraged to prepare well in advance for this adventure, or, in this case, make the decision just a few days before embarking.

You have been chosen for this activity because you are known to have supplies sufficient to take you through a month (or a year) of paintings, the desire to try new things, and the need to express yourself on paper and step away from the computer when you're not processing your digital photographs.

You are encouraged to attempt some plein air painting (perhaps from wind-protected insides of a car) and choose topics that you do not naturally gravitate towards (such as still life, for which you claim to have a certain distaste, but not an inability).

Since you have chosen to accept this challenge, be sure to do your warm up exercises for the next several days. We do not want you straining any creative part along the way.

Most of all, remember to enjoy, learn, and share your results.


Your right brain

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Letters to the Editor: Fostering A Safe Place to Recall Walker

Once upon a time, letters to the editor were published in newspapers when they represented a sincere opinion that affected the community. These days, of course, they have to meet the needs of editorial policy. Sometimes I agree with those policies, other times I don't. In this instance, I feel that not publishing something by a local business owner because she is running for a county office is not really a great policy.

On the other hand, this is MY blog, and I do not have the same editorial policy. Therefore, the letter below, originally sent to the Verona Press for publication, is being circulated here and on other blogs to illuminate why the shop is also allowing Recall Walker petitions to be circulated. Simply put, Erika Hotchksis believes in social justice...

Since the beginning of the recall effort in Verona I have received many messages and phone calls both in support and in opposition to Tuvalu’s participation in the recall effort. I would like to take a moment to clarify why I have made the decision to involve my local business in this issue.

Tuvalu Coffeehouse & Gallery has, since it’s opening, been all about social justice. Everything I do I do with the thought of how it will affect our community, our children, and quite honestly our world. I have set out to make a place in Verona that educates consumers and offers a family friendly environment and a socially conscious choice within our community.

I feel strongly that what is happening to the people of our state and the divisiveness that we see at the Capitol is, at its core, a social justice issue. I have, therefore, provided the recall Walker organizers in Verona a place to collect signatures where they can sit out of the cold at a table in the corner and be safe, and the people who want to sign the recall petition can sign it knowing that they are signing in a place where they and their signatures are also safe. The recall group has been very respectful of our business and our customers. They sit quietly at a table with their petitions waiting for people to come to them if they so choose.

As a customer recently wrote to me “Some might think that putting politics into your business is risky… Sometimes, separating the two is the least authentic choice. We must all go to bed at night knowing we are measured by the positions we take on a daily basis. I applaud the transparency and I know you sleep well.”

No matter the outcome, I wouldn’t change a thing. As a longtime resident of Verona, a mother to three wonderful kids, and a small business owner I have to make the best choices I am able to every day. I love that we have a safe place in Verona for people to sign. I love that I am able to stand up for what’s right with integrity and feel empowered and supported by this wonderful community! I have never been silent when I see injustice and misuse of power no matter the risk. I truly would walk away from anything where I was not able to be authentic to who I am and what I believe. This is what Tuvalu is at its core… it’s more than just a place to get a great cup of coffee.

Thank you all and Happy Holidays!

Erika Hotchkiss

Yes, I have signed the recall petitions for both Walker and Kleefish. I did it over at Tuvalu. Tuvalu has been the only place in Verona that literally reached out to me as a local artist and Verona resident to ever get involved in anything, which, in my world makes not only the business unique, but Erika's vision for the community something that I strongly support. I only wish more places in Verona would be more accepting and supportive of their respective beliefs.

It is because of who Erika is and what she believes in that I volunteered to help her campaign for Dane County Board Supervisor. Am I biased in my opinion? Yes, I am, and proud of it!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Festival - Glacier Edge - Sat Dec 3 - 7 am till noon

Pancakes, books, and crafts! Saturday, December 3. 7 am to noon.

Glacier Edge Elementary School (800 Kimball Lane, Verona, WI, essentially down the street from Gray's Tied House) is hosting their Second Annual Winter Festival on Saturday, December 3rd from 7 am to noon.

Come and shop a huge Scholastic Book Fair, see and purchase crafts from local vendors and learn more about product lines available through small businesses.

A kid's craft and movie area will be staffed with adults so you can shop for the holidays. I'll be there with some goodies suitable as teacher gifts!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

7th Annual Holiday Sale - Saturday November 12 only - 11 am to 4 pm

You’re invited to the Seventh Annual Holiday Sale, a new event for me. This one-day event takes place next Saturday, November 12 from 11 am to 4 pm at the Stark Realty building, located at the corner of High Point and Old Sauk Roads, Madison. Join us and enjoy complimentary coffee, wine, hot cider, appetizers and sweet treats while you shop in a relaxing atmosphere for family and friends (or find something wonderful just for yourself).

Here’s what our artistic gang has to share at this event, with most items priced under $25:

Jennifer Blassing Hand woven scarves, belts & bags in gorgeous jewel colors.

Rose Halik Texile designs that include quilted fabric bowls in batik fabrics, sling purses & bracelets.

Gail Gladding-Pullara Wonderful jams & chocolate hazelnut Kahlua sauce plus tiny bird cottages covered with seed for your feathered friends.

Linnea Phillips Naystalgia” is whimsical pieces made with flea market finds; bird feeders from old ash trays, mittens from recycled sweaters, candles in antique tea cups & decoupage switch plate covers.

Narra Smith Cox Versatile & beautiful pottery vases, platters, bowls & wine coasters with unusual glazes.

Debby Royston-Statz Earrings, one-of-a-kind beaded table runners, holiday table decorations.

Amy Statz Cheerful and beautifully crafted all occasion greeting cards and gift enclosures.

Edna Kunkel Pastels and enhanced digital photography compositions on blank cards, hand-dyed marble coasters and trivets, gift boxes, sticky-note packs & more.

Bonnie Wanta Bonnie’s Cottage Boutique’s pretty & practical placemats, potholders, wine cozies, aprons, baby blankets and more, all with artists touches and gorgeous fabrics.

Kathleen Ward Aunty K crochets Guyz, whimsical & colorful yarn creatures with big personalities: googly eyes, freckles, kinky curls & hand-painted eyes, so they’re all unique.

Ray Weigand Blockhead solid wood bowls, candle sticks, coasters and trays are lovingly crafted from many unusual woods such as catalpa and exotic cherry, in linear and even basket patterns.

Kris Woestman Unique crocheted women’s hats, fingerless gloves, neckwarmers, children’s hats & more. She also makes a line of hand-made soaps, lotion bars, lip balms & scented body butter.

Heidi Miller Hand woven on an old sock loom, warm children’s to adults size socks in colorful designs.

Jennifer Zarrinnam Twinkle Toes” handmade hair lovelies, jewelry fashioned from vintage collections.

Ed Lanerud Hand crafted rustic reindeer, bears & lamps.

Bonnie Lubet Our Three Arts” Paoli, exquisite semi-precious stone jewelry.

Giving Back to the Community

We are hosting a “Share Your Strength Bake/Nut Sale” all proceeds going to provide meals for hungry children in our area. In the spirit of the holidays and good will, we would greatly appreciate if you can donate a non-perishable food item to the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.

More Info

The street address is 702 North High Point Road, Madison, WI 53717 (see Google Map) and has FREE parking in the back of the building. This event features a single check-out process that accepts cash and checks only.


I will not be at the From Our House to Yours event this year as a vendor, but have a number of friends there, so let me know if you need details about the event (occurs the weekend after this one). The next event notices you will see from me will take place in December in the Verona area.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If you think government should run like business...

...what kind of business should it run like?

Generally, businesses are bipartisan. There may be some turnover when a person in a leadership position moves on, but usually the goal is to minimize disruption.

In many ways, government already runs like business. Albeit one that doesn't gross a 50% margin on everything. Think about how much more people would bitch if their taxes were proportional to the business worth of services that they received.

Some folks think that things would be more efficient and less prone to error. I've held jobs in the academic sector (private and state universities), in large multi-national companies, in family-owned businesses, in retail organizations, in banking-related industries, for myself, and a few more scenarios. What I've learned is that each organization has both strengths and weaknesses...not unlike each coworker I've known. Further, each person's motivation is individualized: they work for economic stability and for economic freedom, they work to keep their families together or their traveling lifestyle, they work to keep from being bored and they work to learn new things, they work because they need to be a part of a something big and noble or small and efficient, they work to create something that's never been done before or build a better mousetrap, they work to be the best or they work to be their best.

Company cultures vary as much as the individuals and groups that comprise them. Excellence, consistency, teamwork, individuality, hierarchical, egalitarian, top-down, bottom-up, and so many more business cultures thrive. And fail. Let's not forget that businesses fail. They're especially vulnerable when they have to undergo rapid change.

I'm sure at least some of you watch professional sports or have been on some kind of team before. Sometimes the combination of people turns into a stellar example of the sum of the whole is well worth more than the sum of the individual parts. Granted, this is what most companies who tout their team atmosphere want all of us to believe. But we all know that there are, have been, and will be teams that are successful because of the exquisite skills of just one or two people, and because the rest of the team is uniquely qualified to support them or because the stars would be successful regardless of whether they're partnered with a nincompoop or a genius.

Yes, the business of government has issues, but who is willing to pay someone to evaluate what works and what doesn't? You know, people with expertise at revamping business, not just the regular person standing in front of you with an opinion...

Opinions are most definitely way to easy to give...and those that are spewed out without data are the worst kind, at least in my opinion.
: )

I used to NOT express my opinion, primarily because it represented just my viewpoint. Over the years, of course, I've learned that my opinion is valuable, often because it's based more on logic and facts than on emotion and history. However, this doesn't make it any more valuable than anyone else's opinion.

So, think again about how exactly you think the government can be streamlined, identify the services that you believe can be eliminated, and then find some random person on the street and see if their opinion is a carbon-copy match for yours. We all have ideas of how things could be better, but in a good business, brainstorming is only the first part of the business process...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's defund the arts, they say...

No one needs the "frivolousness" of the arts, they say.

Do "they" believe that the arts are not a part of their lives? Do "they" not read? Do "they" not watch movies or TV? Do "they" not listen to music?

Are there NOT private and public businesses generating revenue from the arts?

"Oh, no," they say, "we value the arts, just we see no value in anything that's associated with our country or state that uses tax money."

"It's no big deal," they say, "private organizations and foundations have more than enough money to keeps the arts going."

"I could easily live without all this art stuff," they say.

"Oh, really?" I say with a raised brow. "Let's do it. Let's make the arts disappear. Poof! No more arts."

"They" applaud, and I sadly walk away.

The next day, all cameras disappear, in that images are art and art is frivolous. No longer can "they" celebrate their weddings with photographic memories, and they seem surprised that their cell phones no longer transmit images. As "they" browse the internet, images begin to disappear and there are boxes with big red "Xs" everywhere.

The day after, all their touch-screen devices lose the frivolous illustrated icons that help them identify the apps that they want to use. They go home and turn on their TV. Although the screen is black as now all moving images have disappearred, they can still hear the sounds.

Their phones all sound off with the same ringtone, but try as they might, they cannot find a single musical ringtone. They check their music device and are shocked when they see no files. This truly becomes the day that music died, but no one seems to remember the classic lyrics to the song that once was.

They enter the office and boot up their computer and are greeted by an eerie green screen with a c:>> prompt repeatedly mocking them to do something that they had once (or never) knew. They walk around the building to commiserate with their coworkers, but all are frantically trying to prepare for the critical meetings coming up in a few minutes and have no idea how to make a presentation without PowerPoint.

No worries, the clients for whom the presentation was intended, have gotten lost as their GPS unit can no longer guide them to their destination without map images. The clients eventually arrive so close to lunchtime, that everyone decides to change the meeting into a lunch discussion, knowing that the good food that they've ordered should make everyone feel more at ease.

The only problem is that the caterer lost all frivolously creative recipes last night, and all they could do was stop at the grocers for supplies, which they unloaded and left in the office kitchen hours ago. The group grazed some of the raw veggies and fruit, but weren't the least bit sated.

The workers pulled a verbal presentation together, but without the ability to diagram out the complexities of the concept, the clients left unimpressed and pulled the contract for the job.

They go home, dejected, to a house where kids literally have "nothing to do" except run around, play word games, or read . You know, in books or on the internet. There is no TV, TiVO or cable, video games, music, or even books with pictures in them. Of course, there is no homework, because along with those frivolous arts go all those unnecessary textbooks and overeducated teachers.

Ah, yes, the benefits of a world without arts.

Public funding for the arts offers opportunities that are valuable to all. Just because "they" don't realize the full ramifications is no reason to go toward an unnecessarily austere lifestyle...any loss of the arts affects lives in more ways than conservative politicians can fathom.
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