Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wrapping and a Rug

Instead of tagging the boys' gifts, this year I color coded.  I'm sure a lot of twin moms do this when their twins are infants, it helps keep pacifiers in the right mouths and is a courtesy to those who can't tell the babies apart.  Reese was red-baby, Connor was blue-baby.  So this year it looked like Christmas in July under the tree.

While I fell miserably short of my 52 canvases for the year, I took on this last painting project today.  I was tired of looking at the bare concrete, so I painted a rug onto my studio floor.  It's just acrylic and graphite.  It was a fun project, but man my knees are killing me.  I now have the urge to sing the theme from Aladdin every time I walk in there.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Georgia Snowmen

If you got the most recent Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, maybe you have been itching to try your hand at Sue Pelletier's snowmen too.  I finally gave in and broke out the mica flakes. Using only what I had rattling around the studio (and emptying out some syrup bottles) here's my bunch.  If I can stand to part with any of them they may end up being hostess gifts.  I got about 8 snow ball heads out of one little package of Delight paper clay.

The one with the green wings is made from a shot gun shell. It's mounted on the lid of an ammo can.  That one's for Mark.

Now I want some hot chocolate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last Call, Aunt Sandy

Well, our lucky winner hasn't contacted me with her mailing address yet.  If I don't hear from Sandy soon I will be forced to draw an new winner for an autographed copy of Mixed Mania.  

Today, a new Beazlebot for ya.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lucky Winners Announced!

Sandy alias Aunt Sandy - you won the drawing for an autographed copy of mine and Debbi's Mixed Mania!

Julie has won Cate Prato's MM Self Portraits!

Please email me your addresses so I can ship your books out to you!
You can send it to c.prater[at]

Congratulations and have fun media mixing!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Prato, Prater, Repartee (not a Latin verb conjugation)

Update: Leave a comment to enter a random drawing for a copy of Cate's Book!

Today I am interviewing Cate Coulacos Prato, aka Vintage Cate, author of Mixed Media Self Portraits, a wonderful compilation of art, techniques and inspiration featuring me, Cheryl Prater, and lots of other great artists you may know.

Is it true that you have the same initials and a similar sounding name as I, Cheryl (Karounos) Prater, co-author of Mixed Mania, now available at all major book stores and online booksellers? 

Yes, Cheryl Karounos Prater and Cate Coulacos Prato, are similar names but that's not really surprising considering we are Siamese twins connected at the Acropolis.  

How much fun was it working with me, Cheryl Prater, for your book?

It was wonderful working with you, as always, especially when I could get you to focus on MY book, Mixed-Media Self-Portraits, instead of your book with Debbi Crane, Mixed Mania, which you were producing at the same time. I especially enjoyed the part where I had to threaten to send Photoshopped pictures of you with Bill Clinton to Mark to get you to meet the deadline.

Cate, why is it that you didn't go with the title I suggested: “Cheryl Prater and also a bunch of her Mixed Media Friends Make Self Portraits and Stuff"?

I was tempted. Really. But aside from Debbi Crane who is also featured, the 21 other artists in the book are not your friends.

Many popular films have been based on books, for example, The Secret Life of Bees is out right now, who do you think will play me, Cheryl Prater, in the movie version of your book? 

Michael Chiklis.

Aside from me, Cheryl Prater, who are your influences?

Cheryl Praton, Sherry Prado, Cherry Potato, and Edith Wharton.


Why do you love and admire me so much?  Because we share a Greek heritage? Because I'm so funny and talented? Because I'm co-author of Mixed Mania with Debbi Crane? (I know it's difficult, but due to space constraints keep your comments brief.  Limit 50,000 characters.)

Um. Okay.

Finally, what response do you have to the rumors that your youngest daughter is promised to one of the Prater boys?

I would say, save the date: May 23, 2018. Zeus and the Olympians have already been booked for the reception.

Well, enough about you Cate, let's talk about me for a change.

Sure. Buy Mixed Mania by Cheryl Prater and Debbi Crane. You'll find it at and, ranked right below the best-selling book in the category, Mixed-Media Self-Portraits by Cate Coulacos Prato.

Thanks Cate.  As always, it's been a pleasure talking with me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Hang Up!

You know how you have a friend that you think about all the time.  You plan to call or email them everyday but for some reason you don't.  And then inertia sets in and so much time passes since you've contacted them that you're kinda embarrassed to even call?  

Um, yeah.  Hi!  It's me!  I have a really good reason for not checking in sooner but you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm better. I'm fine.  And no, for those of you speculating, I was not forcibly institutionalized, but thanks for your confidence.

Now that THAT awkwardness is out of the way: This is my 200th post.  So in honor of that nearly missed occasion and the upcoming release of Mixed Mania here's the deal:

Leave a comment to:
  1. Tell me you didn't notice I was missing
  2. Enter a random drawing to win an autographed copy of our book
  3. Prove that I still have readership (besides you, Dad, and no you can't win the drawing)
While alienating and ignoring all of my old friends, I made a new one. You know, just in case you all moved on without me.  Heather wasn't my friend until she reviewed our book, but that's not why I like her.  I like her because she gave us a good review. You can hear all about it as well as listen to Heather's other engaging podcasts here.  

Under the "close encounters with great artists" heading, I barged into Dan Essig's studio in Asheville on Sunday, forcing him to meet me. I had to.  Debbi has been talking about Dan and his influence on her own bookbinding since I've known her. He was busy and as I told Debbi, I was polite and brief and subdued and generally unlike my usual self so as not to embarrass her. 

The shop at Grovewood Gallery has a couple of Dan's exquisite books that they generously let us handle and admire.  These books are beautiful, like ancient reliquaries. The one Mark is holding in the picture below is a dosey-doe.

Finally, the boys turned 13 yesterday.  An unplanned part of the weekend-long celebration was their buddy John breaking his arm at the skating rink --  three hours away from his parents.  The radiologist said that they called this particular fracture of both the ulna and radius the "dinner fork."  Wanna know why?

So that's about it.  Three months away and that's the best I can do.  Oh, and I'm on FaceBook now for those of you who partake.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Flip through the pages

Last year, Debbi made me a gorgeous book for my birthday. It took me until last week to get the guts up to make a mark in it. Now I can't stop.

This is the doodle on which I based my lino cut.

Then I started practicing my drawing techniques from "Right Side" and drew and watercolored this topiary that sits on my mantle.

Then some doodles and faces and other things, including a cat that looks like the kind of creature Katie Kendrick might draw.

These faces are sort of androgynous, but lean toward the masculine to my eye. These were freehand with a reference.

I have always admired Judy Wise's paintings and tried my hand using one of hers as a reference. Nowhere near the level that Judy works, but it was fun to do. On 6x6 canvas.

This last one is a painting over a collage based on one of the sketches above. I really enjoyed this method. The marks were made with a General Pencil, the kind that writes on glass, drawn over acrylic and caran d'ache on a 6x6 canvas.

Next post: 200

Pix from our trip to Florida

We were all packed, the dog was wet and smelling up the car, kids were in the backseat fighting. We even rolled out on time: 7am on the dot. First time ever.

Didn’t even get out of the neighborhood when I discovered the boys forgot the books I told them to bring 47 billion times. Back to the house, unlock the door, get books, pile in again.

Mark: Wha—hey, the key won’t turn.

Cheryl: What?

Mark: The. Key. Won't. Turn.

{Insert fifteen minutes of jiggling the key, shimmying the steering wheel, rocking the car, stomping the brake, wiggling the gear shift, pounding head against dashboard, swearing, praying.)

Cheryl: Let me try my key.

No dice. The laws of physics did not change despite my getting into the driver’s seat.

A quick bit of Google research uncovered that it’s likely the ignition lock. We'll probably need a new key lock, key lock housing and possibly a new park lock cable assembly.

Needless to say, Lucy and Desi won’t be going to Florida and the Yukon has gone to the shop.

Note skid marks from the truck being forcibly dragged onto the flat bed.

Bye! Thanks for scraping the foot of the driveway!
See you in about $500.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Eavesdropping on the Praters

Mark: You know, Atlanta just isn't freakin' hot enough in July. Isn't there a way we can get closer to the equator without leaving the contiguous US?

Cheryl: Hey! I know! Let's visit my folks in South Florida. We can pack up the boys and the dog and burn about $400 in gas by driving 20+ hours round trip! Oooh....maybe Trumpet will vomit!

Mark: Great idea, but I'm worried about gaining weight while we're at your folks'.

Cheryl: Yeah, my Mom's a great cook.

Mark: True, but it's not that. I'm concerned about the empty calories in all the beer I'll have to drink to get through the visit.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Looking at your reference upside down is the next exercise in "Drawing Right." I admired Juliana Coles' self-portrait the current CPS pictured below. That cowgirl's got skills, y'all. See more in her etsy store.

I followed it loosely and this is my result.

Not a great facsimile, I gave mine curly hair and made a couple other edits - some intentional. On the whole, it doesn't stink. I think my portrait looks a little like Linda Hamilton in T2, you know, when she had the killer biceps?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Didn't know I'd been drawing on the wrong side, but I have. I am packing up and moving out of the left side of my noodle in an effort to improve my drawing skills.

I have reached a point in my art where I want to express things that I don't have the ability to accomplish, so I've decided to take a drawing class. The class starts in September and is for Intermediate to Advanced drawers. I have never taken drawing, so I tapped Betsy and asked her what I should do to prepare. She suggested Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.

I got the book last night and am very impressed with the approach, now over forty years old, but it's new to me. Here are two before and after self portraits of students of Betty's -- the before completed before instruction (5 day intensive, 8 hours a day) and the after on the end of the fifth day. Remarkable. Even better than a Proactive ad.

See more gallery pictures here.

The book recommends that you complete three drawings before beginning the study to benchmark your current skills: your hand (non dominant as model), a self portrait, and a person from memory - no visual reference. I have completed two of the three and have posted them here. I hope to see the dramatic results the two students above accomplished. We'll see.

I've never really tried a self-portrait and was a little surprised that this one came out as well as it did. I am pretty happy with the nose. The eyes are too big, the irises too. I look like one of the victims of that plague in the X Files movie, or like this baby, only grown up.

Reese and I went to APS for orientation today. So exciting! More on that later.

For those of you keeping count, only 5 more posts till the bicentennial blowout.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Extra! Extra! Get your Embellishments!

If you aren't a subscriber to Cloth Paper Scissors' free e-newsletter, you can sign up for Embellishments here.

Today's mailing is of particular interest, pasted below for your viewing pleasure, as well as my own self-serving purposes.

Pre-order now & Save!
Mixed-Media Self-Portraits and Mixed Mania

We're publishing two new mixed-media books this fall, and you're invited to preview them and pre-order now at a special savings. We're publishing two new mixed-media books this fall, and you're invited to preview them and pre-order now at a special savings.

Mixed-Media Self-PortraitsInspiration & Techniques
By Cate Coulacos Prato

Filled to the brim with a wealth of inspiration, creative prompts, techniques and compelling artwork, from many of your favorite artists, this book is an artistic guide to representing the self creatively in mixed-media, featuring a range from art quilts and assemblage to art dolls and collage. Makers of all skill levels and media--collage, mixed media, art quilt, paper craft, and book arts--will enjoy the focus on this very popular art form.

Click here to pre-order Cate's book.

Mixed Mania: Recipes for Delicious Mixed Media Creations
By Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater

Frequent Cloth Paper Scissors contributors Debbi Crane and Cheryl Prater have whipped up this book featuring 20-plus smart and sassy projects divided like a cookbook into appetizers, main courses, and sweet treats for a fresh perspective on creating mixed-media projects. From artist books to assemblage, art quilts to art dolls, it's all here, plus how-to instructions on a variety of mixed-media, collage, and surface design techniques.

Click here to pre-order our book. Click it, you know you want to.

The Quilting Arts Book
by Patricia Bolton

This is Art Quilting 101 in a book! Patricia Bolton, founder and editor-in-chief of Quilting Arts Magazine, has assembled some of the most popular topics, articles, and artists from past issues of Quilting Arts Magazine--plus innovative new techniques offered by today's most respected contemporary quilt artists--in this definitive art-quilting technique and inspiration book.

Click here to pre-order Pokey's new book.

I am rapidly closing in on 200 posts. The prize? An autographed copy of.....wait for it.......Mixed Mania! Signed by BOTH authors. OoooooOoooooooooo.

Get ready to stop lurking and start commenting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And you thought a pasta machine was weird?

Susan Rostow and William Jung, the creators of Akua ink, used a steamroller. Really. Just think of the size of the ravioli you could get with that thing.

Check out the slide show, even their son Jarrett got in on this collaborative print - with his skateboard.

Pasta Prints

I am still experimenting making lino cut prints on my pasta machine. I am getting the hang of carving the lino and really having fun doing it. The Akua is awesome. The pasta machine is proving to be heck on the carvings, though.

Linos are a bit tricky to ink up. It's easy to over ink or under ink the block, so I have to do a lot of pulls to get a few decent prints with my make-shift printer. The problem is that after about 20 or 30 pulls, the lino is breaking down.

Because the pasta machine only opens so wide, I can't put in a kind of "printing bed" that would keep the block flat as I crank it through and as a result I think there's too much torque on the block. (Or maybe my lino is just too al dente?) The samples below were all printed on different types of paper, which accounts for some of the differences, but take a look at what I mean:

This is an early pull. A proof to see if the block needed more cutting and if I liked the border I left as a frame. I knew I wanted to clean up the carving around the cloud and thought that the lino may feed more easily if the border were removed.

Ok, this second example is mostly over inked and a patch under inked on the far right. This print is showing the stress fractures I was talking about. Look at the base of the ear on the right, the wrinkles around either eye, the X on his sweater is starting to crack. Bummer. I really liked this carving, too.

Here's the final example in our forensic study. The hairline (hare-line?) cracks are much more pronounced. I have some ghosting in the cloud from where the paper probably shifted mid-print. Back to the drawing board.

Possible solutions I am toying with:
  • Using a different kind of lino? The kind I'm using is softer than the traditional battleship gray variety.
  • Printing on Japanese paper and using a baren instead of a noodle maker.
  • Buying a scratch-off lotto ticket, winning millions and purchasing a press
  • Joining the APS.
There are a lot of talented printmakers who work at the Atlanta Printmakers Studio that I would love to ink up next to. Check out Laura Bell's lovely, lovely work as well as Marie Weaver's gorgeous prints. I want to party with those chicks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the Menu: Intaglio with Akua

No, Itaglio is not a fancy noodle and Akua is not some exotic fish, but if you are interested in trying your hand at printmaking (and who isn't, I mean that's what Mixed Media is about, right? We do it because we have short attentions spans and like new new new!) Here's the recipe for setting up your own little print shop at home.

First you'll need a press, they're pricey and take up a lot of space, but a pasta machine is an inexpensive way to dip your toe in the ink. You can print acrylic drypoint etchings and lino cuts about the size of an ATC very easily on a cheapie-Charlie noodle maker.

Now you need ink, right? Oil based is the standard among printmakers. But Cher, you say, I'm lazy and messy and afraid of solvents. Me too, but check it, baby:

Last week, I was having so much fun mixing colors and printing at Arrowmont, it made me want to experiment with printmaking at home. "Why can't someone make a water based ink?" I lamented aloud. (Shocking, as usually I don't say what's on my mind.)

"Someone does." said Diane Fine, my printmaking instructor. She told me about Akua water based inks, but they sounded too good to be true. I had to try them as soon as I got home. I googled Akua and Susan, of Rostow and Jung fame, hooked me up! Thanks, Susan! I received my box of goodies and got to carvin lino.

The colors are deep and gorgeous, clean up is a breeze, and best of all, they are virtually odorless which is great news if you get headaches from prolonged exposure to solvent based inks (Debbi). The inks are so smooth and rich. You can't believe they aren't oil based until you go to wash up.

You can buy Akua here.

I printed this bird in two colors, Red Oxide and the Phthalo Blue. And if mine look this good, imagine what a really great carving would look like. Now go order some Akua and get cooking!

ps Here's my weekly art. A Blue Beazle Bunny. Who cares, I'd rather be printing. : )

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dead Bird Knitting

If you've been reading my blog or Debbi's for the last few days, you may be curious about some of the comments and allusions to dead birds. I'll let you all in on the inspiration for this as well as those remarks. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in some cases inducement for waking up screaming in the middle of the night, so here you go:

While at Arrowmont, one of the instructors showed a slide of an installation by an artist that had inspired her. It was the above: "Boarders at Rest (Le Repos des pensionnaires), 1971-72. Taxidermized birds and wool, each approximately 4 3/4 x 4 x 1 1/4 inches" by French artist Annette Messager. View more fodder for your nightmares here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Back to real life after a wonderful week with Debbi and Lori at Arrowmont. In addition to checking myself in to self-imposed food rehab (we were spoiled with homemade hummus, farm fresh tomatoes and various fabulous baked goods and desserts including Chocolate Macaroons! Y'all know how I feel about macaroons) I have to get back in the habit of doing things like going to work and wearing a bra and making eye contact with my kids.

I borrowed these pix of the campus from Lynette Andreasen, a lovely young woman who is blogging about her experiences at our favorite oasis in the Smokies. Above you see the Red Barn, we stayed in what used to be the hayloft.

Here's the Staff House where we took our fantastic meals, made all the better because I didn't have to plan them, cook them or do the dishes. Did I mention the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake? Oh yeah, and we made artsy stuff in between feasts.

Our instructor and world-class storyteller, Diane Fine, led us in collaborative printmaking and bookbinding. The "opus magnum" was our Roy G Biv Accordion Book. There were four of us in the class and each was assigned a part of the color spectrum. We printed a whole bunch of monotypes in various shades of our color and then swapped them with each other so each of us had a rainbow of prints when the book was unfurled.

I had the reds.

Debbi had Orange/Yellow.

Jane had Greens.

Emma had Blue/Violet.

So after the swap, I had four of each to put in my book. Aren't they beautiful?

Here's a detail of a completed book.

You can open these accordion books and arrange them into sculptures.

We also made collaborative pamphlet books with the linos we cut.

Jill Greene, photog extraordinaire, was kind enough to take our picture for The Book, which reminds me, you can look inside and get the flavor of Mixed Mania due out Nov 2008 here. Look, there are the authors now! Unretouched photo, we're really that adorable. Debbi is wearing a glass pendant necklace she purchased at Arrowcraft.

Be sure to virtually check out Vintage Cate's book too, Mixed Media Self Portraits.

And finally, here's my weekly art

Dead Bird in Blue Sweater
It's a long story.