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my dad has been collecting wasp’s nests for me for the past couple of years and i just happened upon them again a couple of weeks ago. you want to keep them in a plastic bag or glass jar for a good year or so after you “harvest” them, which is why i forgot about them (i didn’t do that with the first batch about three years ago and couldn’t figure out why there were wasps in my studio the following spring!). usually, nine times out of ten, i find perished wasps in the bottom of the baggies or jars after letting them sit.

anyway, these were ready and i decided to start a couple of pieces with them. this one is called “wasp’s gift”. click on any of the images to view enlarged versions, if desired.


at the top of this piece is an X. in the elder futhark, that rune is called gebo, which literally translates to “gift”. so, not a terribly creative name, really, but befitting none the less. (more specifically, gebo means gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. all matters in relation to exchanges.) the circles represent gestation and external growth.

the dots and markings on this piece are very textural and not just painted on. you can see peeks of vintage and antique book pages sticking through in a couple of places.


the wooden “frame” around the wasp nest protrudes from the wooden base. the first photo didn’t make that entirely obvious. it was intentionally cut and assembled roughly to give it a more ancient or primitive look.


here’s a little close-up of the crescent shaped wasp nest. i loved that nest the most out of my entire collection so was excited to use it here.

“in some african traditions, the wasp is a symbol of evolution, and control over our life circumstances.

some native american indian tribal myths indicate the wasp was the creator of the earth, and was a symbol of order, organization and productivity.

ancient european lore recognizes the wasp as big part of pollination. here the wasp is symbolic of fertility as this genre of earth-based believers honored the wasp for its role in continuation of certain plants and flowers.”

(Quote via What’s Your Sign)


this piece has been imbued with healing earth energy and the gift of protection for whomever’s home it ends up residing in.

the whole piece measures 10×10″. additional photos and information can be found here:

recently i’ve found myself a bit tired of portrait paintings so i’ve been going back to my “roots” of books, nature art, abstract and assemblage. i’m loving it! it’s not that i don’t enjoy painting faces because i do… i just don’t feel the direction in was going was entirely true to myself. i originally took a class to learn faces “right” so i could do them “wrong”, better and intentionally. things were getting a little too rigid for me, so i had to step back from myself a minute.

which brings me to my newest piece, “the only way out is through”. it measures 12×12 and is on gallery wrapped canvas.

acrylic, ink and diamond glaze

this piece is very textural as you will see in the detail images below. you can click on them to view enlarged versions.






the title of this piece was inspired by the line “the best way out is is always through,” written by robert frost in 1914 a servant to servants.

this piece can also be found here:

i though i was done with this, but now i’ve decided it’s a work in progress as i see a few things i’d like to add to. as artists, it’s always that way though, isn’t it?

this is my first huge painting 30″x30″. it is inspired by nature and shamanic transition or spirit blankets which i always see as patchwork pieces that tell stories in addition to serving their intended purpose.

(you can click on the images to view enlarged versions)

abstract patchwork shamanic transition blanket paiting, nature inspired abstract

after i painted and photographed this, i decided to try to find some photos that depicted my mental image and quiet inspiration.

green leaves against a blue sky…

abstract leaves

leaves in nature

tiny spring shoots sprouting up through rocks…

abstract sprouts growing through rocks

sprouts growing though rocks

autumn leaves floating in dark waters…

dark water abstract painting

leaf floating on the water

stacks of rocks (which always mesmerize me, large or small)…

abstract stack of rocks

rocks in the desert

abstract shadows and mist on a summer morning…

abstract shadows on grass

shadows and mist in the grass

it was lovely to be able to find so many photos that depicted my simple visions (thank goodness for free wallpaper websites, ha!).

i was going to list it for sale but think i’ll probably end up hanging it in my dining room (following some serious wall re-organization) as i haven’t the slightest idea how i’d package or ship such a large piece.❤

here is another nature-inspired piece i recently completed. it’s entitled “in the forest with the sidhe”. the forest is where i feel most at home, and love gazing at light of the full moon between the branches and boughs when i’m able to spend nights in the forest (soon that will be every night as our property hunt has now resumed — i’ll share about that soon as it’s quite exciting indeed!).


this piece measures 12″x24″ and is available, despite my sweet husby saying he wants us to keep it (apparently he hasn’t noticed how much art we already have adorning our walls — i can’t think of anywhere it’d fit other than perhaps inside our bedroom closet, the silly man). it’s made of vintage and antique papers collaged onto canvas, acrylic paint and both alcohol and india inks. it was painted up-side-down and was quite fun indeed. one of my fellow shamanic practitioner friends asked that i teach a class on how to paint a forest but i think i’ll just do a video. it’s really quite simple.

lastly, i think i’m going to create a secondary blog for just my shamanic inspired art and musings, and keep this space for assemblage, altered bits product announcements, zine stuff if i start that up again, etc. i’ll keep you posted. i know not all of you are interested in hearing about soul retrieval and energy healing, crystals and psychopomp work, power animal retrieval or past life discovery so i shall not force it upon you. xx

i forgot that i already scheduled a blog post for today so this is #2… ah well.

for those who know me, my deep adoration for poison bottles and specimen vials is pretty obvious. it’s a year-round, deep and passionate love, but during this time of year i think a lot more people share my penchant for such things. as such, i’ve just created and posted two new digital collage sheets for the altered bits site (click to enlarge):

poison and alchemy labels digital collage sheet

you can find these and 7 other new digital collage sheets here:

do you want to know how i create some of the aforementioned poison, alchemy and specimen labels i use in a lot of my assemblages and books? then read on!

free wax topped-poison and specimen bottle tutorial

this is an extremely easy process and it’s both fun and super cool looking. use them in a cabinet of curiosities or oddities assemblage or book, or just display them on a shelf. once my stupid over-priced epson printer is fixed (their warranty service is not my friend today — one would think for $2600 you’d get more than a year of coverage) i’ll be making lots more with the new labels i created. [cross your fingers my husband can fix printers — he’s super handy and has recently fixed a stove (twice), a washing machine, a toilet, a sink, a car bumper that decided to fall off, a rototiller, a few musical devices, a broken deadbolt and some other stuff — he’s pretty amazing so a printer should be a cake walk… but i digress…]

okay… to start, you will need this stuff or similar alternatives:

  • a bottle of any sort, filled with your specimen(s), or whatever you’re using (there are usually lots of little bottles on the Altered Bits site).
  • natural beeswax and something to melt it in
  • acrylic paint (burnt umber is used above)
  • a paintbrush
  • a baby wipe or other moist wiping device
  • some sort of scraper – can be a carving tool, a super-sharp pencil, a thick needle, an awl, etc.

once your bottle is filled and corked (or capped if that’s what you’d doing), melt some beeswax. when thoroughly melted, dip the top of your bottle into the wax to cover it, and let it cool. keep dipping the top into the wax and let it solidify between dips until you feel it’s built up enough. i typically dip about four or five times for small bottles, more for larger. Set aside and let it dry/harden for about ten minutes.

with your carving tool (or needle or whatever you’ve opted to use), carve some random scratch marks into the wax. pierce it, puncture it, and carve it to give it an old or aged look. remove all little waxy remnants.

now whip out your paint and paintbrush. paint it all over the wax, taking extra care to get it into the grooves and divots in the wax. now wipe the paint off of the smooth parts of wax –– the paint will stay “pooled” in the scratches, cracks and divots and look really quite cool.

you’re done!

(in the above specimen bottle i was going for a wormy-type effect but the green is a little NOT what i was going for. the strands that kinda look like gross tape worms are strands of hot glue i dried on parchment or wax paper and shoved inside — the green is natural food coloring but one of these days i’ll provide some way better coloring ideas. i made this about three… or five years ago and i’m smarter now.)❤

you can find a PDF tutorial of this here, complete with at least one typo (scroll to the bottom of the page):  i’ll actually be adding a couple more “waxen” tutorials (waxen book and waxen dolls) in the coming months as well as recipes for natural dyes, assemblage projects and other fun stuff.

i meant to post right after opening night of my show at radio room but i’ve been a busy bee. the night was fantastic! i had so much fun getting out, visiting with friends and yes, selling art. it was quite a success, at least to me, with six paintings sold plus eight prints. should i not be sharing that? i have no knowledge of what’s proper and what isn’t in this area so i’m sharing. i’m kinda proud of myself. until i haven’t been the “get our there” type and i’m really quite enjoying the transformations this year has brought.

i’m currently working on several larger pieces which is totally atypical for me, mostly 12×24 plus an 18×18 and 12×16 commission. in the spirit of october, i’ll share my “zombie girl with a brain balloon”. she’s still a work in progress but i’m certainly enjoying working on her! i’ve since fixed the balloon more so it doesn’t look so flat and made her eyes a little better (still slightly askew, of course! my favorite!). i’m loving how the string of the balloon turned out, all tangled in her hair. i’m considering doing a small zombie series — maybe three. sounds too fun not to do and if nothing else, my little zombie-loving-eleven-year-old would be thrilled to have them in his room.

zombie girl with a brain balloon, work in progress, by alicia caudle

another one i’m working on (that also isn’t done) is this… unnamed as of yet. i’m not sure if i’m going to list her or hang her in my bedroom (we’re in the process of painting and remolding it and i think she might look pretty fantastic in there).  like the zombie girl, she’s 12×24. she’ll have some ravens (or at least one) flying over head i think. i’ll share once she’s done either way.

blue pigtail girl, work in progress by alicia caudle

as for the show, one of my favorite paintings that will soon be off to her new home is entitled “with music and with song” (i took that title for the little piece of antique sheet music used in the piece). short story: i usually arrive about a half to full hour early pick my son up from school so i can walk around the park, get a little exercise and breathe some fresh air, enjoy the trees, etc. every day i see this stunningly gorgeous indian lady in her beautiful black scarf. she just radiates beauty and love! one day she was wearing a red scarf instead of the black one i’d always seen her in and i just had to paint her. one of my favorite gals from shaman class snatched her right up and i couldn’t be more thrilled.

with music and with song, by alicia caudle

another one that i sold, is one of five more abstract pieces i had in the show. sometimes i need a little break from faces, although they are still one of my artistic obsessions right now. this is called “breathing holes” and measures 12×24. it will be flying off to new york at the end of the month to live with its new owner. it’s funny — i only like painting portraits and specific things in the summer, but this kind of work i love to do year round. i always wonder why art is so cyclic for me (for example i pretty much only make books in the autumn and winter). hmm. something to ponder.

breathing holes, alicia caudle, sold

this is my super favorite piece in the show and it’s still available. she’s entitled “nothing really bothers her, she just wants to love herself” and is 16×30. i know i shared a partial photo of her before but here she is straight on. you know i love anatomical hearts and redheads so that’s why she’s my fave.

nothing really bothers her, she just wants to love herself -- by alicia caudle

over the next couple of weeks i’ll be posting the remaining pieces on my site… which brings me to more news. unless it’s made from the products i’m selling, i’m no longer putting my art (such as paintings) up on the altered bits site. i’m going to instead put it on my new art website (which i literally threw together in half a day and isn’t done yet so don’t judge): eventually the site will have all of my art, my shamanic and healing services, my farm blog and a gluten-free/non-gmo wholesome food blog ’cause that’s another one of my passions.

and i’m off… i have a bit commission to complete of a big painting with three girls in it. it’s for a friend who i used to do spiritual and light work with and cross-overs and such (i’ve probably never really shared that side of myself much, huh?). what are you working on today?

p.s. i’m having a one time only 25% off art sale from today through saturday for all remaining pieces from show. i have a sudden and unexpected car repair and outdoor school for my sweet boy all coming at once. i’ll be listing them on my site but in the meantime you can see photos (of not the highest quality) on the altered bits’ facebook page here.


november is art every day month.  you can read about this here and see all of the participants here.  please sign up if you feel you would like to — it’s such a great idea and i’m thankful to have heard about it before too much of the month got away from me.

i will be creating every single day of the month and will try to post at least every other day.  this of course doesn’t mean i’ll have a new project completed every day, but i will be getting lots of things created.

right now i’m working on a series of ghost pieces… or haunted pieces.  the first one i’ve completed is of a belly dancer (i’ve layered several vellum copies of her on top of one another, some wrinkled on purpose to give a more eerie appearance).


as you can see, i’m still quite obsessed with using these super cool old coin charms and tribal chain pieces.  love them and for this piece, they felt quite befitting.

bellydancer, ghost, assemblage, mixed media art
my second piece is in tribute to adella lineberry, 1885-1902, who died by getting trapped under ice while traveling with her husband and two small children.  of course i made up this story, but i’m sure things like this have happened a zillion times in the past.  i’ve always had a passion for memorial art, fact or fictitious (and i’ve done several custom pieces for people who have lost loved ones, which is some of my all-time favorite art — even though i don’t share it due to the sensitivity of it all).  adella is not quite done, but here is a peek:

memorial art, ghost, mixed media

i’m kind of digging how the crystals look like ice (and yes, i’ve used that tribal chain again!).  i’ll post more photos once it’s complete so you can see the silvery icy-looking cracks in the wooden substrate.  today i have to write her obituary which will be included in the piece and then it’s almost done.

i have several images ready to go for this series and i’ll share two (these are more “haunting” than “ghost-like”).  both of these images were taken on my new free phone’s camera and the camera sucks arse but it kind of adds to the effect, maybe.  you can click to enlarge if you’d like.

ghost picture, haunting, mixed media art

and next, two sets of twins, or at least two sets of sisters.  can you see the younger girls within the photo?  i am thinking that this piece may have to light up from behind because it gives a hugely different effect depending upon the light you’re viewing the image in.

ghost picture, haunting, mixed media art

anyway, you get the gist.  i will be posting each of these assemblages as i complete them, along with some of the other things i’m working on right now (the tallest handmade book in the world, some mini assemblage ornaments, and some new paintings).  i’m taking this “art every day of the month” thing seriously (not that i often go a day without creating, but sometimes i get in too big of a funk to do much at all).  i will not let my potential funks slow me down this time and with any luck this will give me more impetus to blog more often, too.


what a grand summer!  arting both alone and with the kids, camping, traveling to see properties (that we can’t buy — more on that another day), weeding my ass off in the garden.  it’s all around good times.

i’ve been spending a lot of time painting over the past couple of weeks while gearing up to break out piles of assemblage supplies (i like painting in the summer because it’s more portable — i can sit in the sun, or shade if i’m smart — i fry in the sun).  here is a peek at some recent girlies.  i call them my imaginary friends.  well, four of them at least.  the others are a bit standoffish.

paintings by alicia caudle

these are available in my shop, here:

the “tallest” handmade book in the world is slowly but surely coming to fruition and more resembling an actual book than a pile of gorgeous pages.  i’ve just added drawers to the back cover but no peeks yet!  i shall post some in the next week or three.  i don’t know what it is with me and drawers and secret places in books, but i like it.

in the meantime, i wanted to share some of the fun art some of the kiddos and i have been creating.  we’ve been trying to get together with a couple specific friends every friday for art, and have another couple of friends who come here on an irregular basis.  friday before last, we made collaged “special boxes”.  we thought we would make them so they can put other projects they’ve made into them to keep them save, along with other treasures.

finn (my 10 y/o son) reminds me of myself sometimes.  somehow a nude stamp got into the pile of goodies which i thought i had edited well, but i hadn’t.  his friend elie turned it up-side-down and diverted her eyes when she happened upon it, and finn snatched it up before a word could be said.  here is the top of his box with the nude stamp and some skull beads (AND i am the lucky recipient of this box!):


miss el started to create a box house for some of her tiny dolls.  i wish i would have gotten photos of the completed box house but i was too distracted.  they both had so much fun collaging, painting and finding random items to glue on.


here is the table — think i brought enough stuff for two kids to make boxes?  (this wasn’t even all of it!)

art table

after that, finn was quite inspired to surprise elie with a doll house the following friday, and look what he made, complete with popsicle stick hardwood flooring, wainscoting, etc.  i helped, but shhhh.  she loved it and we had super fun making it.  good times all around!  this is a bad angle — there are photos of birds on the walls on the lower level.


soon we’re going to be working on some sculpted covers for handmade books (i’ll probably bind them for them).  i love sculpting with the kids!  in fact, here are two bird dolls el made before summer.  these weren’t done when i took the photo, but you can tell she is an amazing talent!


here is a detail shot of their super cool heads:


anyway, having lots of creative fun both alone and with the kids, and loving every minute of it!  hope you’re having a creative summer too.

i am one damn lazy blogger!  after all these years this is only my 200th post!?  that astounds me.  i would have guessed at least 350.  hah.  but it is what it is… if i wasn’t so sleepy and side-tracked by my still-wet paint pallet i would do the math (i love math) to see what my average is.  meh.

recently, i was commissioned to do nude portrait but something quite unanticipated emerged, which i felt i must keep.  it’s the fault of these wonderful 20 minute paintings mentioned in my previous post.  if you paint and you haven’t tried it yet, please try it!  or do a 20 minute collage.  or a 20 minute assemblage (i’m not sure even i could do that, but still — timing yourself and forcing yourself not to touch it after your time is up is kind of spiritual in a way… and shitty in others, but humbling and fun and free).  i pseudo-timed myself on this one (after spending 4+ hours on many backgrounds and underpaintings.

meet “myselves”…

acrylic, collage, graphite, ink and white gel
8×10 on canvas


it doesn’t look like me and is muddy, but i felt really drawn to her for some reason (more from how it makes me feel than from how it looks).  so, she’s mine.  i think i want to paint over that eye now, looking at it here. but enough of that.

sooo…. i’m having a post memorial day sale starting this very moment, through friday.  $25 off select paintings.  PLUS, anyone who buys a painting will be automatically entered into a drawing for a free 20 minute painting from me.  you can pick male or female, nude or not nude.  i hope you don’t pick a nude male — i’ve never tried one before.  but i will if you do!  see my sale paintings here:  i’ve never put my art on sale, but shameless admission: i’m nearly out of paint and canvases and need some art supply funds.  is that bad to admit?  well, even if it is, i just did.

here are a couple/few of the paintings up for sale (these were NOT done in 20 minutes):

mixed media painting by alicia caudle

mixed media painting by alicia caudle

mixed media painting by alicia caudle

after i posted the second to the last one (the noseless gal with blacked out eyes), i got a commission to do a custom rendition of her in 30×30″.  this is going to be fun!  and my largest painting ever.

happy memorial day to all!

i have a new obsession: timed 20 minute paintings.  jane spakowsky (a.k.a. “gritty jane”) has an online art group called the trodden path which i am a part of.  within that group is a sub-group of 90-something people who have been been doing this.  it really is quite freeing but sometimes it’s very difficult to stop.  my eye twitches to see some of the outcomes, but i’m loving it none the less.

here are my first four, where i did not go over the 20 minute mark…

a memory
acrylic, ink, graphite
6×12 on watercolor paper

20 minute painting, alicia caudle

a guy i dreamed of
acrylic, ink, graphite
6×12 on watercolor paper


acrylic, ink, graphite
6×12 on watercolor paper


acrylic, ink, graphite
6×12 on watercolor paper


none of the above are available any longer, but i will be listing the one below for sale soon (along with several other new paintings and a few potential assemblages).

and for my fifth, timed 20 minute piece…

a guy i think i used to know
acrylic, ink, graphite
6×12 on canvas

i did a girl to accompany this fellow but i couldn’t stop at 20 minutes so will post her another time perhaps.

try it and let me know how it turns out.  are you able to stop in 20 minutes?  personally, i think i do better when i don’t think about it.  my brain really starts to get in the way sometimes.

and in other happy news, i’m going to be reviewing a MAGNIFICENT mixed media art book here very soon.  stay tuned!  you are going to love it!!

i’ve never been very creative in my naming of things, but there is typically a story behind all that i create.  there is emotion.  passion.  every single piece i make is a reflection of what i’m feeling at that particular moment in time…  i’m moody — and i think it shows.

i started this piece several weeks ago and kinda fell in love.  i wanted to hold onto it for awhile before posting it up for sale.  do you ever do that?  feel a connection with your art and along with it the need to hold onto it for a wee bit?  it’s the heart — i am a deep lover of all things anatomy, particularly hearts, and this one is pretty fantastic in my opinion.

french victorian anatomy, bleeding heart, anatomical heart, anatomical art

here is a detail shot of the heart:

anatomical heart, mixed media art

i typically work fairly small, but this piece measures 16″x20″ — i’ve been doing larger things lately and i’m liking it!

a really wonder what an art therapist would say.  i was looking at some photos of my most recently completed pieces and they all seem to have some line(s) of separation.  divided color and texture.  two totally different halves/portions.

and some up-close details of the texture/patterns:

texture and patterns

texture and color, marks

this piece is currently available here (along with additional photos):

next up: some movable, light-up pieces i’ve been working on the past couple of years.  or that’s the plan.  i always get distracted or discouraged with the “whoops, got the wrong kind of LED” and whatnot then put it off again for another few months.  we shall see how it goes.

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