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Please keep up to date on Jean happenings over at heartjean.blogspot.com

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See you on the Cyberside,

Jean Fitz



So as soon as I heard that our very own Illinois Gov. Blagojevich was arrested this morning and was being held in a jail cell today, I thought of the card that I had made over the weekend.¬† Every time I make one of these cards, which is part of a deck that is grown to almost 50 (!), I share it with my card making group, and then I write a whole bunch about it the next day. Here are some kernels of wisdom this particular¬† card said to me…we always start with the “I am the one who…” phrase:

“I am the one who is inside a thick cushioned snowsuit-muting the outside world, paralyzing movement, getting fat and useless. I am the one who is a beat up car that’s most vital parts are rusting. I am the one whose parts are missing. I am the one who has painted over the same walls with 18 layers of old paint, glossing over history. I am the one who is a thick metal heavy door that hates to be opened and rarely ever does. I am grey matter that is quiet, muted, underground and with no new ideas.”

Man, this card’s a total drag. And it’s been overcast and sleeting all day. I’m sure it’s as sunny outside as it is in Rod Blagojevich’s jail cell today. Now is the Chicago winter of our discontent.

I sent out an email to help ward off the creative block I was in a few weeks ago…

“here’s how it works:
i give you 3 abstract words and 3 concrete words and you make me a piece of art on a postcard size card and mail it to me. you interpret the words however you see fit and with me in mind. you do the same, send me 3 abstract words and 3 concrete words, and your snail mail address!!!, and i’ll mail YOU a postcard with my interpretation of your words and with you in mind.
you don’t have to be good at making art. in fact, i love bad art. yeah, send me bad art.”
…and so now the art is rolling in! and here’s what a sample of my postcards looked like before i sent them out.


I found an old drawing I did while rummaging through old piles of paper. I forgot all about it! I said to myself, like someone coming out of a long coma: “Oh, right, I draw cartoons!”

I used to sit in front of the television and draw the talk show hosts’ and newscasters’ caricatures. TV is not my favorite sport but it does make me doodle. Youtube has statistically not had the same effects on my doodling. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m busy clicking away with my mouse and I don’t have idle doodling hands. Can anyone figure out what faces these are? I don’t think the one in the upper left corner is a famous person.100_0834

I used to have this great fear of the wood shop in college. I also hated walking into lumber yards. They still have that “good ole boys” feel to them that makes me and my gender feel small. However much it has been in my head, I’ve had to learn how to overcome it because, frankly, I needed to use the tools to build my painting surfaces. I realized I still had some power tool anxiety when this fellow artist dude at my last art exhibit commented on the construction of my frames. (I build the backings to all my paintings.)He said that the miter saw would give me more accurate cuts. I chatted with him how I make them with my little jigsaw and make the best of it. He then says: “But, um, I guess your wood cuts have a certain charm.”

Translation: You saw like a girl.

I grinned and nodded and then vowed that no good ole boy was going to be able to say that to me again. Take back the power in your power tools, my friends!

Enter Jean’s very own miter saw. I am playing with my new great tool: the mighty miter saw. Forty-five degree angles are so sweet. I don’t know why it took so long for me to get myself this machine. It’s a new day for me and the miter saw. Stay tuned for some out of this world wood construction! 000_0030

100_08331Quick, send ideas! I’m in a creative block! Just. Plain. Stuck. Help me get over the bridge.

If you read the title differently…I could also be living on a creative block in the city right now…but it’s getting cold and I think everyone walks their dog and then goes inside to watch TV. It’s just feeling like November in Chicago. Sigh. Nope, not in a city block of creativity. My brain is blank.

In the meantime, I will look at the pretty yellow leaves while they’re still there.


This past summer I made a homemade press using a car bottlejack, assembling some pieces of wood and metal–not without spending hours walking in circles in the black hole that can be Home Depot–and expending a little sawing sweat. I’m very proud of this DIY project (care of an article in the intermittantly useful magazine Readymade.) I’ve done a couple basic linoleum prints just trying it out but I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and really start squishing things. I’ve contemplated all things around my home that could be pressed…a soda can, apples into cider!, grapes into wine!…well, that’s a stretch), handbound books pressed together,…or the mother of all printing adventures…old school letterpress.

I took a mini 2-day workshop in the Letterpress studio at Columbia College recently. Their presses are probably from the 1920’s and were manufactured by a company named Vandercook. I learned such cute terms as quoin and quoin keys and composing sticks and arranging furniture around your type. I knew I was in the right place when someone went to the trouble of making a rubbing of Vandercook’s grave in a nearyby cemetery and then displaying it on the studio wall. Letterpress and Gravestones: my passions collide!

This relatively new process (to me) was invented (at least in the West) by good ole Gutenburg in the 1500s using a wine press similar to the one I have. Long live the freedom of the press! Sweet sweet mass produced prints for the masses. So if you see some antique letterpress equipment in a local store or you’re trying to get it off your hands, let me help you! Calling all letterpress equipment!

I am slowly acquiring my own letterpress equipment in my own space and I’ll keep you updated on this crazy project!