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Irish Rose Art - Art, Music, Photos and Musings on Nature, Beauty, Things I See and Enjoy

All Photos and Art Work Copyright Sharon Gunn McMahon

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Fairy Project Final

So - after much soul searching and locale-exploring I was at the library.  They had a lovely art show going on in the gallery.  I enjoyed the art and then was struck by a sudden urge - a feeling that this was the place to leave the 88th book from the 100 Books Project. 

I set the book on a bench, took a couple of pictures, and left hoping and praying that the "right Person" would be along shortly.  Hopefully we will hear something soon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Birthday Bouquet
Petunias growing on the deck

branching out

I haven't posted in a while - partly because I've been busy attempting different types of art. Both sketches and watercolor have occupied my time as I have been going through "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" again. I have realized that when I am doing "right sided" activities, I either do not feel pain as much, or else I do not recognize it as much. I am not sure why - I kind of think it is still there, but my left-brain articulation is preoccupied and I don't notice it as much.

I have been to my first quilt show now - I was blown away. There were magnificent works of art there. Only one quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted. The detail work was amazing. In fact, the stitches were so straight and even that I was looking at it and believing it to be machine quilted until I read the notation about it. It was amazing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Learning Curve

Totally enjoying Kim's stay-cation and learning SO MUCH!  I am a little slower than I want to be, but I think I am absorbing more this way - at least I hope so!

I now have a flickr page and have learned to upload to it.  I have seen SO much inspiration!  Even though photography as an art form has never been my thing, I am getting inspired to get some sort of Photo Shop and learn it!  The photos in the flickr pool are amazing!

Also seeing so many amazing "how-to's" I just can't get them all done at once - but I am totally loving it!

My inspiration has taken a different form today:
no matter what you try to use to bury what is in you,
it will not go away
it may not choose to be born in a hostile environment
that would kill it –
but like a wildflower seed waiting for a rainy spring
it will wait,
hold itself in readiness, and then when it is time –
it will burst forth with all the power and energy
that has been building
and it WILL be as it was meant to BE
at this point you cannot hold it back any more
it comes as a baby that must be BORN!
Sharon Gunn McMahon 8/5/2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Staycation - Thank you Kim, for hosting this!!

Ok, lost the last one, so I'll start again.  I started out as the most PASSIONATE artist.  I planned to BE an artist - to get the degree and have a studio and actually earn a living with ART!!!  Then I had a back-up plan - to teach if my art wasn't quite enough.  So much for plans. I was young and foolish then ;-) but I DID know what I wanted.  I just didn't stick with it... I went to college 1 year and then became a mom and did various other things, but didn't do art.  Later I went to college again and learned CADD and did that... but eventually my body said WHOA - and I couldn't work any more.  So - to maintain my sanity I stayed home, ran kids around to their various appointments and events, and began to create.  First just a little crochet, a little faux painting, then I learned to REALLY knit - not just make placemats ;-) and then I started painting again.  This time I was trying to learn acrylics and watercolors in order to avoid the smell of oils.  My really cool hubby encouraged me to keep going.  After a few fits and starts, I finally decided this summer that I will try challenges and shows and a blog and see what happens.  So far I have had one piece in a special exhibit - which to me is exciting and validates me as a "REAL" artist!

My favorite blogs from my site are:
2. and the video to #2
My favorite blogs that I follow, other than Mrs. Klassen, of course are:

I loved Connie's video and am off to make some journal pages and then figure out how to flickr.  I am so excited about being able to participate in this experience!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Fairy Project

After I left the book, we had a family picnic.  We met at a park and had supper.

As we loaded up and headed for home, I began to have raindrops on the windshield.  I had left the book 2 hours ago, but the brown paper would not protect it from the rain.  On the way home, I stopped and asked Younger Daughter to dash up the trail in her young fast way and check on the book.  (I also asked her to see if Mr. Bluebird was still hanging out, and to take a picture of him if she could - he had been too fast for me.)

She went up the steep hill and disappeared.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Younger Daughter is tall and slim and extremely quick-moving.  Not hyper (unless on Pepsi), just quick.

So I began to wonder - did she walk home?  Was she thinking I was just dropping her off and would see her back at the house... then as I was entering her name to text her, I saw her moseying - yes, moseying slowly back down the trail, talking on her phone, holding the camera in her hand, and - with the book tucked under her arm.  Good thing we checked!

She got in the car and we looked it over.  A couple of raindrops had smeared the wording a TINY bit, and someone had actually torn the edge of the wrapping enough to peek inside and see that it was a Book... and they had left it!

I felt deflated and sad- this book had been left for them but they missed their chance... Now I will have to find another day, another serendipitous moment, and another Auspicious Location for the book... my tenure as Book Fairy continues.


I am a Book Fairy!

I follow and enjoy a blog (well, several, but this is one of my favorite) by Christine Mason Miller.  She wrote a book called "Ordinary Sparkling Moments" and has created the job of "Book Fairy" in which people are given a book and go about the job of leaving them in various places all over the world.  She calls this the "100 Book Project" because she is giving away 100 books... well, anyway, the book is wrapped in a brown paper bag and then the front has written on it "this is a gift for you - Yes, You."  The person who finds this book (hopefully) is the person who "needs" it at the moment.  It is quite serendipitous and actually quite exciting in my mind.  I am just really jazzed about doing this.

I got the book a while ago and tried to leave it in one of MY most inspiring places.  There is a trail that goes behind our street.  On this trail there are some areas with benches for "resting" or "viewing" as I prefer to call it ;-).  Actually the trail is very steep in some points, so I do a lot of "viewing" while panting/catching my breath.  This one viewing area has an almost-360-degree-view and is a great source of inspiration for me.  I have done quite a lot of thinking there! I have never been disturbed while "viewing" and thinking, but I have seen many people on the trail, so I thought it would be a perfect spot to leave the "Gift" - and I thought another thinker would come and think and see the book, take it and be totally thrilled with it... I felt inspired.  I needed to do it "now - today" and so off I went...

Touched by Angels

So as I finished up Magpies, I knew in the back of my head that the Hoffman-Sulky Challenge deadline was coming up.  I knew that both the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival and the Hoffman Challenge had due dates of July 23. I KNEW this... and yet... and yet I couldn't seem to set Magpies aside to start on the Hoffman project.

I had the fabric - I had ordered it online months ago (tho so late that local quilt shops were out of it already).  I had been looking at it, imagining the project complete, and thinking about the important "rule" that the quilts submitted could be of ANY shape...any Shape...Any SHAPE... that seemed important and the shape had been in my head from the instant I saw the fabric and read that one rule... and yet I did not start.

Last Tuesday I finished Magpies.  That was July 20th.  I really didn't want to see another pink flower for a while, and I was really excited about my color palette for my next project.  I was totally aware that I only had a few days - 3 to be exact - to GET it there.  But then I wasn't even sure where THERE was, either.  This is the first year I've done ANY quilt attempts (other than, I know, Older Daughter's quilt still on the frame these past years... well, year and a few months on the frame).  This is also the first time I've ever entered any shows of any kind.

I went to the Piecing Partners Quilting Guild meeting (my second month as a member) and that is when I figured out that "Magpies" could be turned in at a local quilting shop on August 7th.  That meant, now that I was done with it, that It didn't have to go anywhere for a while.  So, on July 21 I came home inspired and started making "Touched by Angels."

What if it doesn't come out right?  What if it isn't what I imagined? What if? what if? what if...

Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival entry

The Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival is coming up, so I made a small art quilt called "Magpies" to enter in it. There is a nest of Magpies at the Sonic here at the mall.  This spring the crabapple trees were GORgeous and I took pictures of the trees and the nest.  Later I decided it would make a good picture to turn into a quilt. 

I appliqued most of the pieces by hand, and then I added some flowers that are not sewed down.  They just have a button holding them to the quilt.  I hope they will add a more realistic effect to the piece.  I also "made" a nest out of fabric pieces and strips.  I rolled some pieces of fabric to resemble twigs and sticks as well.  I learned that magpies will collect just about anything and they are attracted to bright and shiny things.  I wrote this poem to go on the quilt.  Did you know that some magpie nests have been found with several pieces of tableware in them?  I didn't!  I added a spoon to the nest just to make it more real!!  These magpies are adding details to their nest as they await the hatching time.  The eggs are 3-d made of fabric and stuffed.

Sunflower IV

This was a picture in my head as I remembered the last time the kids and I grew sunflowers - the flower heads are SO textural.  I got a high texture paint and had so much FUN making all the seeds and even giving the petals their own petal texture.  This entire series is encaustic coated.

Sunflower III

This is Sunflower III.  The longer multicolored petals are paper beads.  The centers of the small flowers are copper-colored beads.  I had a lot of fun making the paper beads - and I got very sticky :-b!  I'm usually a mess in some way or other, though, and part of making art is cleaning up..

(Sunflower II was posted in July 1 in case you missed it)

Sunflower Series I

This is my first in the sunflower series - it is a watercolor and encaustic collage.  I just love Sunflowers!! They are so bright and cheerful all the time ;-)!  The encaustic gives the work a sheen which I also love.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot Air Balloon

This morning I dropped my son off at work and then turned around and came back home.  The sky was perfectly blue and the wind was so low it was almost  breathless.  As I came up the long hill to my last turn-off, I saw a couple of hot air balloons.  One seemed to be descending.  And it seemed to be descending right near the house. 

I pulled into the garage and ran upstairs, grabbed my camera and stepped out on the deck.  This is what greeted my eyes!

 This floating illusion of Oz was landing just across the street!  How beautiful! I would love to go for a ride in one.  It must be a lot like a sailboat - motion without sound - a totally ethereal feeling, but above everything instead of just above the water...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4th

With a Big Thank You to all who worked, fought, lived, and died for our independence.

We went to America The Beautiful Park and celebrated with highly creative art displays, music, watermelon - and other food, and beautiful panoramic views.  Nothing better!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Music From Garden of the Gods

gluten free treasures

I was at the Chapel Hills Mall the other day and found a Delicious gluten free treat!  They have a new shop called "Wholly Crepes" (I didn't get the pun for a few hours).  They make a gluten free crepe on a gluten free crepe iron and they are AWESOME!!  The first time, I had the "Popeye" which has egg and spinach and their lovely "cream" - which is like sour cream but better - and it was luscious!  It was so good that I dreamed about it that night!  I dreamed I was getting another one.  They have two categories - savory and sweet.  The "Popeye" is in the savory category and indeed it is!

Then last Sunday we were at the mall again, and of course my first stop was "Wholly Crepes" - I got another "Popeye" followed by the most sinful apple-pie-like crepe topped with caramel and ice cream.  To die for!  They also have chocolate topped crepes and a creme brulee that I can't wait to try!

didn't win, but learned a lot!

I didn't win the Bernina Stitch It To Win It challenge, but I learned to make cloth paper. I learned that there are MILLIONS of techniques out there that I haven't tried! I would never have imagined putting copper sheets into a quilt!

I also took time out from quilting and started collage, including encaustic collage. This is really fun, and I set it up out on the deck out back. This way it is cooler and I can enjoy the birds nesting and feeding their babies, as well as the view of the eastern plains.

This is the 2nd in my sunflower series. So far I have 4. I really have enjoyed the sunniness of it and it was quite fun gathering things to put in it. The most unusual thing is an old VIN from a pre-70s vehicle that I found on the ground! How many collages actually have a VIN? :-)

I also will be opening my Etsy Shop "Irish Rose Needle Arts very soon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Artist!

This weekend I went to Castle Rock and met Jeanne Oliver from! It was such fun and she signed my Artful Blogging Magazine, too! She is featured in the summer issue.

It is as if you can feel the creativity when you meet another artist! This convince me that I need to do it more!!

Check out Jeanne (pronounced Jean)'s website - you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Taxi Mom

Well, I entered another challenge! I now have a piece in the Bernina Stitch It To Win It challenge. It is a swan with her 3 cygnets on her back. They are crossing the pond while the 3 "kids" fuss in the back - but she is able to keep one eye on the "road" and one eye on the "kids" because, well, swans can do that.

I have had some lovely positive comments and have received some votes, but I need SO Many more votes :-/ !! The highest number of votes is over 140, so I hope lots more people vote!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


My Bonnie Lass quilt is now in Groton, NY awaiting the K9 Exhibition! This is my first art piece to be exhibited in a gallery and I am so EXCITED!!

Amazing Experience

Pp gog shot
I was walking through Garden of the Gods taking pictures when I heard a sound. At first I thought it was the wind blowing between narrow cracks in the rock formations. As I walked, I could tell I was getting closer to the source. Then I rounded a bend in the trail and circled around a rock formation to find a man playing a didgeridoo.
The haunting vibrations were perfect in the rock-walled environment, giving me goosebumps all over. I can never get enough of soaking up the sounds and sensations of living in the presence of such grace and beauty - and this experience just deepened it exponentially! If anyone wants to hear it, I can email the file. Couldn't figure out how to post the mpeg.

And Then There are the Rainbows


Always a welcome sight after the thunderstorms and hail!!



I miss rain. Of course, I love snow! but by the end of winter I am craving that patter on the window, the swish of windshield wipers, and the cool humidity only a rainy day can bring. Snow is so silent, but rain is moody - like me! sometimes loud and boisterous with huge pelting drops and thunder and lightening accentuating the emotional roller-coaster - other times soft and misty, just barely expressing itself. Today has included the soft misty sort and the pattering softly on the window sort, and it has been lovely! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting misted on and pattered on and splashing through puddles in my comings and goings. It has been a totally lovely rainy day!

Sometimes when it rains I look east to the plains and even though the sky is dark and dreary, the earth seems to be sponging up the wet and turning it into lush green-ness that exudes through the mists. Tonight the baseball field lights up the drops like tiny diamonds sparkling their individual worlds back to us. Each drop is lit as if from within.

I love wetting paper and then dripping the grays and blues across it, tilting it until they blend like so many rain showers blitzing across the paper. Some days that is all I need to do to make "art" that matches my mood.


What a wonderful word when you hear it - or read it!!

I just got my letter of acceptance from The Main Street Gallery in Groton, NY. I am going to have a piece in a gallery for my first time! I am so excited!! They are having a K9 Exhibition and they want me to send my art quilt of Bonnie Lass, my daughter's Boxer mix. This is machine pieced and reverse appliqued. I chose the orange check to represent the light shade of Bonnie's red/brown coat, then took the shading from there. The border is a paw-print cotton that I just loved for finishing it off. Bonnie Lass

On Being Mama

Quilt in Process Dau 1
So much for posting yesterday - the celebrations took me in different directions than I'd planned. But all directions are good and I enjoyed every minute from the roses and lotions to the piano serenade to the Iron Man II movie with the boys... (I didn't remember movies being so LOUD!!)

I've been Mama for a long time. So long that its hard to remember not being Mama. I had 2 kids, one at a time. I have 3 more kids now that I got all at once. I have loved being Mama and I treasure having that "title." The mistakes I've made make me cringe, but the kids make me smile. I love them all and I sometimes forget I didn't give birth to them all. Mamas do anything they can for their kids, but they cant change the mistakes they made. I wish I could. I would take away the hurtful things that happened and the wrong decisions. I would put bandaids on all wounds - physical, mental, and emotional.

My friend has 7 kids. She got them all one at a time, but the last two came as a pair. Sometimes I watch her knee and hip deep in kids, her whole kitchen full of them (and a couple of them aren't even in there) and I wonder how she does it! I wonder if she even has time to know and contemplate that no one else has her title "Mommy" in that family. "Mommy" typed in as a player name on her Wii game - it is simple, but so significant to every one of those kids. The only "Mommy" they will ever know.

As kids, we never think about our moms or their influence - why we do and think the way we do, but a lot of it has to do with our moms, how they raised us, and the fact that they would do anything they could for us.

Some moms continue this to the next generation - like when my grandmother made 4 of us girls quilts for our weddings - and we got married in rapid succession! Three of us in the same year and 1 shortly after. She made them in the Dutch Doll pattern. She made them from the fabric we gave her and the colors we selected. Some may have fared better than mine. The muslin gave way to the polyester thread - which I have now learned is normal. (The reason I don't use polyester thread on cotton fabric). The dutch dolls, which she called Sunbonnet Sue are all intact. Some are made of polyester knit - probably will never deteriorate. The scraps are probably still intact in some land fill this 30+ years later. The quilt is a mess, but it is treasured and stored in my cedar chest. It is too worn to use, but I still love it.

And knowing that us moms will do anything for our kids, when my older daughter asked me to make a quilt for her wedding, of course I said yes. Never mind that I had only made one quilt in my life! It was about 3 feet by 4 feet, a 9-patch I learned how to do in 4th grade. I stitched it on the machine until it came to the quilting. Then I gave up and tied it. Don't know where it is now, but my mother had it for a long time.

So in the spring of 2008 she says "So, could you make me a quilt for my wedding?" and I say "yes" and here I am. I have a 100" quilt frame strung across our tiny living room with a quilt on it. I started machine piecing the quilt starting in the summer, tossed the whole thing and started a wedding ring quilt by hand. My machine is just not capable of stitching straight seams (or is it me?). The piecing was finished fairly quickly. That's when I realized it would be too big for me to machine quilt. Not that my machine could do it... We set up the frame around March 2009. It took the hubby and the 3 kids still at home to get it all lined up and rolled onto the frame. And I've been quilting it ever since. I chose a much-tighter-than-necessary quilting design that I pulled out of my head, and it is taking a long time. But that's ok, because we have time. (well, I do). Older daughter is impatient, Younger daughter wants it out of the living room, the boys are tired of tripping over it, but all 5 kids know that as soon as it is done, the next quilt is started for Older son. Then Middle son, Younger daughter and Youngest son. Everybody gets one, because that's just the way moms are - and Mama is especially that way.

I never tire of watching the light and shadows play on the surfaces of the mountain. The clouds and angles of sunlight change minute by minute, and they are gorgeous!
Well, since I clearly do not know what I am doing, this is going to be interesting. Rose

This is a watercolor I did last year. I took the picture and then painted from that.

Later, I put this picture in an art quilt.

I am trying to enter as many contests and challenges as I can this year, in order to get my work out there, get it evaluated, and see what response there might be. Until last year, I had not really painted much since High School - and that was a long time ago. Waiting for the results for these shows and challenges is nerve racking for me, since so far I have not heard ANYthing!

I am also working on some collage, other paintings and quilts, and whatever creative itch needs to be scratched on a particular day. Anyone know how to break porcelain dishes in half? Can you saw them? Well if you have any thoughts let me know. I am currently working on "Who's Washing the Dishes?" and need to glue some dishes to the piece.

My website is - it is limping a long because I have not learned how to upload my own photos, but my son does it for me. Problem is, I have to email the pics to him and then he uploads them when he has time. If I email too many, it backs up his mailbox... you can figure this one out.

Anyway, I love art. I love making art and I love looking at it. My favorite era of art history is the Impressionist era. Monet's water lily paintings are my all time favorites. I recently bought a print from Betty Carlson called "Evening Showers" - it shows a rain shower over Castle Rock as the sun sets. It speaks to me in an impressionistic way and I totally love having a piece of Colorado art. The light on the mountain enthralls me and the kids are so used to having me stop to take a picture of the way the clouds and light are playing on Pikes Peak. They are also used to having me shove my phone or camera into their hands while driving, and I point - they pretty well know what to shoot from there.

Aren't Kids Awesome?

I have really enjoyed many blogs about art, especially those published in Somerset Studios' Artful Blogging May issue. They were so inspiring and I feel really at a loss beginning here. See I totally relate to Terri's depths of darkness and I can breathe underwater, too. Then there's - what a beautiful friendship created over kids and art - I so relate! and the photographs on both of these are incredible!!! so totally artistic... what am I doing trying to create an art blog?? Check out Christy's blog at - beautiful beautiful art, photos, and thinking! These are just a few, but they each refer to others in their blogs about being published, so you can find them all from here. Such amazing creativity and so many of them manage to create with all of their children at home, while traveling the world, and other things going on in their lives that would just bowl me over if I had to do it.

I guess that is why we all create from our own individual spaces :-) in life.

Tomorrow is Mother's day and I will be posting another art piece and thoughts about being a mom.