Monday, July 18, 2011

Spoils of War officially ends the 2011 Lehigh Valley Art Wars live competition.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

The first ever Lehigh Valley Art Wars has drawn to a close with last night's auction at Connexions Gallery. All of the art created during the competition was auctioned off to a live audience and I was super proud to see multiple bidders interested in my work. Each of the artists received 50% from the sale of their art and the other half is going to fund next year's competition. The show will be on display at Connexions until the end of August.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

The competition started with 16 artists from all different parts of the Lehigh Valley. In the first round, we competed in groups of 4 using our own materials on an unknown canvas size and were presented with a theme only moments before we started. In each round, we had only 2 hours in which to create our masterpiece. Winners were determined by both a panel of judges and a crowd vote.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

I was one of 8 contestants that moved into the 2nd round, the semi-finals of the event. In this round, we would be provided with unknown art supplies with which to create, as well as a canvas of unknown material. (And again, a theme only moments before we started.) My group was presented with a canvas of sheet metal, and the other group received wood.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

I unfortunately did not make it into the finals but for the four who did, they were each given a $125 stipend with which to buy whatever materials they wanted to use to create their final masterpiece.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

The finals were to take place at a local festival called Mayfair, and while they started to create in front of a crowd of about 600, torrential rain, thunderstorms and monsoon like conditions drove away most of the crowd and created a delay for the participants. They would eventually finish with Alexander Clare's Gunslinger taking the $1000.00 grand prize.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

Would I do it again? Perhaps. But a part of me is looking beyond what I've already done and onto the next big thing- solo exhibits and gallery representation.

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

Lehigh Valley Art Wars "Spoils of War" art exhibit at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA

I am extra proud to announce that I myself am now the owner of my favorite piece in the competition- this piece below by the immensely talented Jessica Echevarria. Jess inspires me with her drive, determination and pure passion for her art. Seeing what she does makes me want to work even harder at what I do. I can't wait to hang it in my house. You can see more of Jess's work here.

Photo of Jess's round 1 painting by Elaine Zelker.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Saturday's Art Auction Upcoming Mandala Workshops and More


Happy Beautiful Summer Day Everyone!

Just wanted to make you aware of a few things happening soon....
  • This Saturday at Connexions Gallery in Easton PA there will be a live auction of all the art that was created during the first ever Lehigh Valley Art Wars - a live art competition I participated in this past spring. All of the art will be on display until August 31st but your only chance to own it will be this Saturday. See a short video about it here. Oh, and while you are in Easton, walk a block or two and be sure to see the other 4 pieces I have hanging at Suddenly Samantha Salon (In the Grand Eastonian Hotel) as part of the group exhibit, "The Girlie Show."
  • Additional opportunities to purchase my original art abound! I have a shop on Etsy, (Fee Bean Art) and just dropped a number of pieces off at Earth Rhythms in West Reading. (Be sure to tell the new owner that I sent you!) I will also be taking a selection of original pieces out to the Summer Rhythm Renewal at the end of this month. Limited edition fine art reproductions will soon be available for my 5 most popular images - stay tuned!
  • Speaking of Rhythm Renewal...  there will be two opportunities to take my workshop Mandala: An Artful Meditation, and I will also be available for one-on-one private sessions, consults, and or creative coaching. And should you see my friend Christine's tattoo, Yes. I am open to creating a piece of intuitive artwork for you as I did for her. (She tattooed it onto her back.) The private sessions cost $75 per hour and I do accept credit cards. You are welcome to contact me in advance of the RR to secure time with me.
  • I am also available for phone sessions - learn to let go and create... contact me if interested- also you are interested in having me teach a class to your group
  • October 15th - Save the Date! I will be teaching my Mandala Workshop at the Baum School of Art in Allentown, PA.  - Remember, no art experience is required - I'm teaching you to let go an create without judgement. Additional details to follow.
Wishing you a wonderful summer and I hope to see you soon!

Much love,
Stephanie Smith

I am all over the web! Feel free to be social with me -

My Blog: Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
Buy my art on Etsy: Fee Bean Art
My other Blog: Rhodia Drive
On Facebook: Stephanie Smith's Mandala Art
On YouTube: Biffybeans
On Tumblr: Small Bean Bites
On Flickr: Biffybeans Photostream
Follow me on Twitter: @biffybeans

Monday, July 11, 2011

This Saturday July 16th: Spoils of War Live Art Auction in Easton PA - Bid to Win My Art!

Piece created during 1st round of Art Wars at the Bethlehem Brew Works. Photo by Elaine Zelker

This Saturday night at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA a live auction will take place to offer up the Spoils of War - all 28 pieces of art created by each of the 16 participants from throughout the recent Lehigh Valley Art Wars live art competition.

This event will be a fundraiser to sustain the Lehigh Valley Art Wars for next year and also to give back to the artists who were involved in the competition. (Come bid to win my art, you know you want to!)

Live Auction Event Details:

Connexions Gallery presents: Spoils of War
A collection of work from the Lehigh Valley Art Wars
Saturday July 16th from 7 - 10 PM
213 Northampton St. Easton PA 610-250-7627

$5 Donation at the door, Food and drinks will be on hand, live entertainment from DJ Discreet. See the event on Facebook

The Spoils of War exhibit is currently on display if you wish to preview the art prior to Saturday's auction. The only way to purchase these works is by being present at Saturday's live auction. The art will remain on display at Connexions Gallery until 08/21.

To see more of my art in Easton PA, walk down the street & around the corner to see the 4 pieces I am currently showing as part of "The Girlie Show" exhibit at Suddenly Samantha Salon at 200 Northampton St. Easton, PA. Call for hours: 610-559-8590.

Piece created during 2nd Round - Semi Finals of Art Wars at Molly's Irish Grille

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Product Review: Rhodia Unlimited - Price corrected to $8

New Rhodia Unlimited book

I'm sure by now many of you know I work for Exaclair- the US distributor of Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, etc. I write the Rhodia Drive blog and one of the perks is that I get to play with all of the new toys like this new Rhodia Unlimited book.

New Rhodia Unlimited book

The Unlimited is a 3x1/2 x 5 1/2" pocket sized notebook. It contains 60 sheets (120 pages) of 80g white Rhodia paper in a graph format. They will be selling for around $8 each. (As of July 6th 2011, they are not yet in stock in the US - they will be here soon...) 

New Rhodia Unlimited book

The Unlimited comes with either a black or orange cover and is made of the same "Soft Touch" cover material as the new "R" Rhodia Premium Pads. (Which I will review soon) It includes a color coordinated elastic closure - a feature I value in any notebook. (The elastic itself, not the color coordinated part.)

Rhodia Unlimited

The strap is attached to the back cover by small grommets. There is a similar set up in the Clairefontaine Roadbook which I found obtrusive (princess and the pea syndrome) but for whatever reason, I found I was not bothered by it in the Unlimited. (Could be due to the thickness of the elastic band, cover materials, weight of the paper 80g versus 90g, who knows.)

New Rhodia Unlimited

Books with rounded corners are always welcome in my world. They do not get as ragged through constant handling and when writing to the bottom of the page they do not dig into the palm of your hand.

Rhodia Unlimited

Orange cover has a black interior and black one will have an orange interior.

New Rhodia Unlimited

The format of the paper is a grid with a lined header. Depending on the light, the ink lines appear either gray or brown. I'm not a big fan of graph paper (something about continuously crossing over all those lines) and I will always think the ink could be lighter. I wonder why the ink isn't the typical Rhodia violet? I've got to ask Karen about that.

New Rhodia Unlimited

The pages are perforated for easy removal and actually come in handy when you want the book to open flat. Most other Clairefontaine/Rhodia products are either sewn or stapled, but the Unlimited is glued. Since the pages are all perforated, they seem to open flatter - but note that this type of binding won't ever lie flat.

Rhodia Unlimited

When I think of using any kind of pocket sized book, I imagine writing "In Hand." Standing in a museum or gallery taking notes, writing down directions to the bagel shop, or copying down a phone number to give to a new friend. In my opinion, for a product to encourage writing, it should be as functional as possible to allow you to utilize as much of the writing surface as possible. When holding the book in one hand, this is as much as the binding will allow you to fold it over.

Rhodia Unlimited

This results in a loss of nearly 1/3 of a page... imagine a left handed writer holding the book in their right hand and writing over hand. Keep in mind how this might change depending on where you are in the book. (How many pages you will be flipping over.) Spiral books probably are the best for folding over and writing on the opposite side, but even they can lose some valuable real estate when writing near the spiral.

New Rhodia Unlimited and a Clairefontaine Life. Unplugged staplebound book.

Knowing that Clairefontaine/Rhodia make additional products of similar size, I thought I would compare the Unlimited to a few of them. 

The Clairefontaine Unplugged books are 3 1/2 x 5 1/2" (same as the Unlimited) and come in a 2 packs which  cost $7. They each contain 48 sheets (96 pages) of white 90g ruled paper. The covers are cardboard and they come in assorted colors.

New Rhodia Unlimited and a Clairefontaine Life. Unplugged staplebound book.

These are staplebound books with reinforced staples and IMHO are very difficult to keep closed unless you secure it with a rubber band. (Or maybe stuff it in a tight back pocket)

New Rhodia Unlimited and a small Rhodia Staplebound book

This side staplebound Rhodia notebook is 3 x 4.75" and contains 24 sheets (48 pages) of the 80g Rhodia graph paper. They come with orange and black covers and sell for $2.00. (They are also available in additional sizes but for the purpose of this review I am comparing the size closest to the Unlimited.)

New Rhodia Unlimited and a small Rhodia Webbie (Webnotebook)

The Unlimited is the same size as a small Webbie (Webnotebook) but the Webbies are full-featured with a hard cover, a pocket in the back, and a ribbon bookmark. They contain 96 sheets (192 pages) of off-white 90g Rhodia paper in blank, lined and dotGrid formats. They sell for $15.

New Rhodia Unlimited and a small Rhodia Webbie (Webnotebook)

Webbie & Unlimited hanging out on a sunny day.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

The Clairefontaine Roadbook is also 3 1/2 x 5 1/2" in size,  cost $8.00 each and has 64 sheets (128 pages) of 90g Clairefontaine paper. They come in assorted colors and have a cardboard cover.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

To me, the grommet on the Roadbook was a bit too noticeable when writing over top of it.  

Clairefontaine Roadbook

The pages in the Roadbook are not perforated and are stitched into tight signatures which somewhat hinder the book's ability to open flat. The binding does however, allow the book to lie somewhat flat.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

The binding and cover design on the Roadbook allow a better fold-over than on the Unlimited, but due to the tightness of the signatures, I'm not sure how the book would hold up over repeated use in this fashion.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

One feature I noticed about the Roadbook that would be useful on the Unlimited would be to score the cover...

Rhodia Unlimited

as folding open the Unlimited creates creasing on the cover.

Yes, yes... I hear you. I'm probably borderline annoying with all of the demands I place on a product. :o) But these aren't just any products. These products contain some of the best writing paper in the world - paper that makes you want to write and ditch your note taking apps forever and buy a number of expensive fountain pens and a plethora of colored inks to use in them. (Don't believe me? Go & visit the Fountain Pen Network and read the forums...) The papers used in the variety of books I've compared in this review are all manufactured in France by Clairefontaine. The paper quality is consistent book after book, pad after pad. It's the most famous paper for being fountain pen friendly  without feathering or bleed through of the water based inks. They also work super swell with pencils, ball points, gel pens... The paper is all acid free & ph neutral.

Over all, the Unlimited isn't a product I'd use. I want any book I use to open/lie flat & somewhat able to be held in one hand while writing with the other.  I'm sure with all the options available, one of these books will suit your needs.

* Note - I had initially incorrectly had the price listed for the Unplugged at $12 - my mistake, as they are only $8 - which puts them in line with the Roadbook.

Each of these books were provided to me by Exaclair for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Trying Hard to do Some Summer Reading

My new Kindle

I bought a Kindle e-reader close to a year ago because I was convinced it would be easier on my wrists- and while that part was true, I find the hardest part to owning a Kindle is actually buying the books. For years I had been procuring most of my books via used book shops, book sales, sites like or by buying used through Amazon and Ebay. Part of me wished I had known what the e-books cost before having taking the plunge on the reader. I guess I was somewhat naive in thinking that since there was no physical book, that costs cost of an e-book would be negligible. hahahahahahahahaha. While you can find loads of free classics and tons of .99 books, these are the same titles I usually ignore on the "Last Chance" discount tables at the Barnes and Noble.

Seeing now how most of the popular titles run anywhere from $6.99-$12.99 or more, (sometimes grrrrr even costing MORE than the paper version) it takes me FOREVER to pick a book for fear of not liking it and well, I can't trade digital books for credit at my favorite used bookstore. I mean what do you do when you don't like an electronic book? I bought that second Tattoo Girl book and couldn't get through the 1st few chapters, so now what? Bye-bye $7.99.

One thing that makes me feel a wee bit better about buying e-books is using any Amazon credits I have accumulated. The other day, I actually went on somewhat of a spending spree, telling myself to stop bantering about and just buy the books I've had on my wishlist forever and a day. And so I did. I actually bought ten books.

What did I buy?
Using Amazon credits makes me feel a lot better when I splurge like this especially knowing that my book brain will be well fed for quite a while. I do know that Kindle book lending options exist, but I'm the kind of person that renews their library books 3 times then still ends up paying late fees. I might gripe and complain about paying for these books but in the end, I am reading and there aren't piles of books all over the house silently mocking me for not having yet having cracked their covers.

Which book am I reading now? "Tis. And I absolutely love it. I'm probably the last person in the work to read Frank McCourt. I can't wait to read his other books.... 

PS: It is helpful to me if you click through one of my Amazon links whenever you want to buy anything from them. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small % of your purchases which helps keep me in books. :o)

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