The Grand Intimate

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Happy New Year!

A new years resolution for this mama is to get rid of clutter. In my house I am the biggest pile creating offender, but I do have help. My kids make a lot of drawings. Together they average about a dozen sheets of paper daily. I LOVE their drawings, but there are heaps of them. Since most of the drawings are made in the kitchen, I have a portfolio in my pantry for the keepers. When A&M first started putting pencil to paper I held on to every single doodle, but about a year ago I sorted my collection into three piles – 1) Back in the portfolio for safe keeping 2) Use the backside for future masterpieces and 3) Parrot cage liner (which eventually gets downgraded to kindling for the fire pit. So what can you do with drawings that are not necessarily portfolio worthy, but not yet destined for the cage?  

Paper Diorama Jam-mas!    



While visiting family in the Midwest, Atticus made several drawings with his road trip markers. He had drawn a friend’s trampoline, a couple cars, a swing set, a fort and a rainbow. He started to cut out some of the drawings, which gave me an idea – Paper Diorama Jam-mas! I initiated the process by taping the rainbow to a plain sheet of paper that would serve as the ground plane and leaned the rainbow up against a wall. The plain sheet was on the kitchen floor. I gave him the tape and he set up the rest. He added trees, the sun and a body of water for his creation. He extended the ground to the right because he wanted to add a racetrack with a tape bridge/tunnel. He then added toy cars and we made a short stop-motion video with the IMotion HD app, here it is…    




Watching Atticus get so into this project made me think about paper art and dioramas that I LOVE. Since being introduced to Yuken Teruya’s delicate paper cuts of trees using fast food packaging ( and going crazy for Lori Nix’s amazing work ( I have had diorama aspirations of my own. This past fall, I was in complete awe standing in front of Red Grooms’ “Loft on 26th Street” on view at the Face Value exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC until January 11, 2015. If you are in the DC area that piece alone is worth the trip!  

red grooms 26th

“Loft on 26th Street” (1965) by Red Grooms  

I have started planning my own diorama, which might take a lifetime to complete. Until then, I will help my kids give their drawings a second life…

All the best for 2015!      

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Halloween is just around the corner… wait, scratch that. Halloween was almost a month ago, which is when I started typing up what was suppose to be my 4th entry, but then this happened…

 Gradient Seasons Project

… earlier this month, I gave a lecture on color gradients and simultaneous contrast to A’s kindergarten class, which was followed by a group painting project demonstrating the concepts presented in the lecture. We looked to the four seasons for subject matter and color palettes. I used contact paper to make stencils and the kids applied the paint with cotton swabs moving from dark to light in the opposite direction of the gradient background.

Then we had multiple birthday parties to attend. There are a lot of November babies!

birthday sawyer

skeeball Atticus 

I also made a deal with A’s piano teacher and traded some coffee filter/felt/cotton ball sheep hats and a recital backdrop for lessons.

 sheep hats

Luckily, I am married to a sculptor, who managed to make the structure for the backdrop with cardboard boxes, brown paper and a few choice adhesives in just a few hours. The kids had fun painting the snow and now I think we need to paint a mural together somewhere…

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bus mural progress

I cut out holes for the red bus lights, taped colored transparent film to the back and placed a couple light stands behind the backdrop to create this effect. This was all our piano teacher’s idea and we were so happy to help bring it to life. It was a wonderful night of music and A is super proud of his medal and his snow.









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Fall Break at the Beach Part II

The beach is such a wonderful place for exploring, making and learning. Todd has been working with Moon to spell her name. This year at the beach she did it all by herself. Drawing in sand and building with it comes so naturally to kids. 

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As a kid my dad taught me how to make drip castles, now I get to pass this mysterious and meditative play on to my kids.


Shell hunting never gets old. Talking about their form and function with Atticus and nesting a dozen of clam shells according to size with Moon helps to create tactile memories. Studying a multitude of shells from our morning walks, we talk about what a handful have in common – the spiral. I did not give a lecture on the Golden Section or make them memorize the Fibonacci sequence, but we did talk about the spiral hidden inside the red cabbage I sliced for slaw a week or so ago.


As we dug in the sand to make a moat for yet another castle, I suggested we make a spiral. Everyone was in agreement…


I was way more excited to watch the water rush in then they were,


but we all enjoyed it in our own way.

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One day I would love to take a family road trip to see Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake. If your kids are old enough to remember such an adventure there are some great pointers on the Tips for Family Trips website at

Until then we’ll make our homage in the sand.

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Fall Break at the Beach

Last week was fall break, so we headed to the beach!


So there are a couple beach road trip items that are a must for this mama.

1) Magna Doodles – Are awesome on a road trip for practicing writing and reading. Atticus and I will send “notes” back and forth, while Moon cracks herself up with funny portraits of all of us.



2) Face Paint – It’s a fun activity for the front porch or the beach, the sunscreen makes it easier to remove and it gives the kids something to do while resting for a bit in the shade. Let them paint YOUR face, if you dare. Below Moon requested Bunny Princess and Atticus’ design (painted by him) must be inspired by that GOTYE music video.


But who says face paint has to stay on your face?


Sometimes before their evening bath I give them face paint and they paint each other’s backs and bellies. I also like painting faces on their bellies, which can explode into Belly Theater. As A & M paint and talk to each other in funny voices I can sit at the computer and answer at least the day’s emails or doodle in my sketchbook.

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Welcome to MAMfA!

I have been teaching visual arts curriculum to college age students since 1998. First, I taught drawing and design as a graduate student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, then professionally at California State University Long Beach and Indiana University. I am currently a painting professor at Warren Wilson College, which is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

In 2009, Todd Frahm (my husband and sculptor) and I welcomed our first born, Atticus. Twenty-five months later we completed our family by giving him a little sister whom he named Moon. Life has been a not so delicate balancing act ever since. Between parenting, teaching, committee meetings, household chores and the almost non-existent date night – making time to work in the studio can end up at the bottom of my to-do-list. So as soon as my kids could put pencils to paper I put them to work in the studio. Encouraging my kids to make art has allowed me to get more of my own work done, but more importantly it gives them hands on experience as they learn to navigate the world around them. In the spirit of “it takes a village” I hope to share my expertise with new parents, so that you can get more of your own work done, or at least get a few quiet moments to yourself.

Fall is a very good place to start…


These three pictures were taken on the same day during our last autumn in Indiana. I couldn’t help but notice the secondary color scheme of gradient greens to orange and that I had serendipitously dressed my son in the same fall colors.

I have been a leaf collector since childhood who has mothered an enthusiastic tree climber. Last fall in NC we collected many leaves and looked at the interesting patterns, color transitions and combinations. While observing color in nature I often think about collage assignments I give in my design classes to create the illusion of middle mixtures. Some can be so convincing you’d swear you could peel the translucent film right off! So how can we talk about mixing chromatic neutrals with a 3 yr. old?


With paint of course!


I will often tape newspaper down onto a counter top in the kitchen or on the floor in my studio. Then I tape a sheet of heavyweight paper, cardboard, or the inside of a cereal box on top of the newspaper. The tape creates a nice border for your child’s artwork, making it ready to matte, frame and gift to a doting grandparent. Note: To create an even easier release tape, so that you don’t tear your child’s artwork, take the painter’s tape and stick it to your clothing before applying it to the painting surface. The lint from your clothes will make removal easier.

So after collecting all of our leaves last year we arranged them according to hue (color) families and proceeded to organize them into a gradient row of leaves ranging from green to red to orange to yellow and back to green again. We stitched them together with some thread and adorned the new fort Todd had built for them a couple weeks earlier. We plan on making a much bigger installation this year and I may preface the project with a viewing of Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rivers and Tides”. Happy leaf hunting!


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New items in the shop.

More mini skyscapes and new trinkets.  Don’t forget to check back, as we’re frequently adding items to the shop.  Order now, and get your item before Christmas.

Mini Skyscape 2sm Mini Skyscape 1 sm 4 trinket tortoise and hare sm 3 trinket group sm

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Rabbit Time-Lapse

Check out our latest video-

Stone Cloud Studio is a title sponsor for the Shut-In Trail Race which is organized annually by Ju’s Running.  The clay rabbit featured in thevideo has been cast in bronze and will be used as the first place award for both women and men.

Rabbit King

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Fluff: the hidden track from my artist statement

To fluffy to be professional, but maybe blog appropriate…

The vacuum of art production (and life for that matter) is akin to the journey of a tiny, lonely asteroid, adrift, long ago unmoored from its belt brethren. Despite the abyss between home and destination I broadcast persistent, if feeble, cricket chirps of self-expression, my beacon to the belt. More often than not, I am answered by a deafening silence that reminds me the only thing lower than a sculptor (according to Elton John) is a potion salesman. Almost invariably I reach the precipice of utter isolation and the urge to go radio silent is abated by subtle affirmation “good one”. This intermittent trickle of approval, failure fed frustration, and the resentment spawned by a mountain of rejection drive me to cast out a few more of my message-filled bottles, that they might reach another if only as a bread crumb on the trail. I carry on, honing my ability to speak as I drift ever nearer the shore of silence.


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Revised Artist Statement

Just revised my artist statement.  It’s been stagnant and stale for years, so I decided to give it some polish.  Still turd-like, but better.  Feel free to tell me what you think (provided you love it).

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Inside the Studio

It’s still a work in progress, but here are the digs..

I’m attached to Riverside Studios in the River Arts District.  Shoot me an email if you’d like to stop by.


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Like any pre-teen girl, Stone Cloud is now on Facebook and Twitter.

While we’re not sure why, we’ve decided not to miss out on any thoroughly trodden corner of the interwebs.

You can check out all our micro-thoughts (as if we had any other kind) on Twitter  @2StoneClouds.

And if that’s not enough (imaginary person reading this) check out our Facebook page at

We’re actively trying to keep everyone up to date on all our projects and progress.

Thanks for checking out the new site.

Todd and Lara

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Stone Cloud Studio Gets a New Website

Artists Todd Frahm and Lara Nguyen launch a new website for Stone Cloud Studio. Designed and developed by Independent Studios in Asheville, the site features a revamped and growing portfolio, a blog/updates segment and a lot of other great features.

A lot is going on here, and a lot more is in store – so be sure to check back often.

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