Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I was lost for almost the entire day, bouncing between my old Sony Vaio that has been sitting in the corner of my office for more than a year, and my MacBook Pro, which was wiped clean of documents when I upgraded to a new one.

I meandered from thought to thought like Hansel in the woods looking for Gretel, googling artists, book illustrators, floor plans, recipes.

One click took me across the sea to a blog about gardening, another to a blog called Collection a Day. The blogger has a book, a beautiful one that you can buy to savor the many collections she gathered such as erasers, plastic bread ties, coffee cup sketches. I thought of a friends collection I came across last night at a party. In a glass case that covered the wall beneath the stair in her foyer were collections of sand dollars, beach shells, turtle shells, a birds nest with eggs intact, and even cuckoo clocks were arranged in a collection within the walls of glass, apparently no longer able to blast their tunes throughout the house.

I thought of the delight she must have each morning as she makes her way to the kitchen, surrounded by the things that she loves, the little moments she can jump right back to that made her want to pick those things, to save them, to savor them. In other rooms, bowls of crystals, arrowheads that she might have found in a creek of her childhood. 

I thought of days past when we would collect fools gold and white shale in the negative form of an oyster shell.  I thought of the feathers that probably still are stashed in a cup in the back of my closet in my mom's home in Livingston. I shudder to think she might go on a cleaning spree and toss them. 

I thought of all of the pseudo collections I have stashed around my home, from trips, rocks from Arizona and Puerto Rico, wood pieces in the shape of a cross, moments on the beach while searching for signs on the shore to guide me, comfort me, make me feel assured that God was speaking to me, even in my wandering. My stashes lie in drawers, in bags, lined with abandon along the edges of my book shelves.  There are rocks, hair clippings of the kids (yes, ew), bottle tops, wine corks (I did glue those to the backsplash at the lake, and not too neatly I might add) but you have to give me credit for something.  A favorite item I might call more of a pile of mementos than a collection is a rock I keep on my sink. It is in the shape of a heart, a reminder that mine is so often similar. A metal cross with crown to remind me that there is something much bigger than myself allowing me to make mistakes but bearing my burdens. A piece of coral I once thought represented my split from my first husband but when turned the other way now stands as a symbol of the bond that shows my husband together with God as the center of our world. And a chain and necklace with a number seven and a crystal chandelier piece. I am not sure why it speaks to me but I am now exploring the meanings of the number seven besides the usual "lucky number" it represents.

I thought about how the other things that surround me now are like half thought out verses, magazines I didn’t get to read yet, a broken statue that lost a head, sitting on my desk in  hopes I might muster the energy to glue it back on, if only I might find it. (round things often roll behind the desk to the floor, the abyss that is the crack between desk and wall).

I hop over to Pinterest and type in “collections”. I am inspired, moved, motivated. Yet I sit on this computer surfing for new writing projects, for painting inspiration.  Luckily this weekend I actually did get out and visit the Norman Rockwell exhibit at our museum in town. It moved me to tears. 

I realized after my husband, an accountant, was trying to calculate the number of issues Rockwell had illustrated, that he was producing creative work out of obligation that appeared to run on a weekly routine. Deadlines prodded him along, giving him no excuse to shirk his creativity. His illustrations would come to be a bond of American spirit during bleak times with economic downturns and war. He would speak to the common people, the politicians, the mothers, the fathers, the soldiers, the aristocrats. I teared up at the magnitude of his collection in awe of the talent that quantified his existence. 

I came home immediately and napped. What else is a girl to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Then Monday I woke up and vowed to never paint or draw anything that has no significance. And today is Wednesday. I set the bar high for myself making my creative motivation more like a limbo contest than a goal to prod on through the life that is the creative person.

I know for sure we arsy types are better equipped when gathered together in what my new creative writing friend calls TRIBES.  I love the tribe. The creative tribe pushes you to expand, not contract. The tribe chats with you on the days you can’t seem to produce. The tribe offers gentle suggestion without bursting a bubble on the things that are just about to burst forth into life.

The tribe understands the block. It understands the genius that comes in the night and is lost the next day because the pen was not working or the tape recorder was nowhere to find or without batteries. The tribe understands when you are painting together and you then dash to jot words to an idea for a song that may or may not ever be written with music.

The tribe is always ready to try again the next day, to piece together the puzzle.
The puzzle that is the creative life.

And most of all, the tribe is there to share in the glory of your accomplishments, even if those are merely that you completed the scrapbook of photos from eighteen years before. 

Here is hoping you find a tribe to move you forward, to quantify your existence as a creative outlet for the things within that are unheard and unsaid and uniquely yours. Together make a collection of moments that inspire, reflect what you believe in, document that you ever walked this earth, if even in a photo book or a small journal.

The most sacred collection to me is that of the small books scribbled in during 1917 by my great grandmother whom I never met but who lit a fire in my heart for writing. She will never know what that collection of poems and inspiration have done in my life. 

What can you gather to inspire those who come along to find your collection?

Allison Adams

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Magic City Post article on Dog Days of Birmingham

Go visit the best site in town on all things BIRMINGHAM

Here is a recent article I did for them on
Dog Days of Birmingham

112 18th Street North, Birmingham  (205) 458-9364

If you are walking downtown and hear the barking of dogs echoing from the rooftops you have not morphed into a Disney hound movie. You are merely passing in front of the coolest place for dogs in the city of Birmingham. Dog Days is celebrating their two year anniversary on September 15.  
Jimmy and Sue Johnson created Dog Days and their loft townhouse after his job was cut from a middle management software company in 2009.  He researched a number of job options but after spending Halloween downtown and getting to know some of the people who call the city center home, he and his wife began looking for real estate there.  They decided to incorporate their love of animals into the space they would come to call home.

“We visited with the owners of the Hunter Furniture Store just as they were planning to retire.  My wife and I toured the building one afternoon the Hunters and I made a deal on a handshake.  With the help of ONB (Operation New Birmingham) we were able to secure a loan for two years with a great rate,” Jimmy said.  “It looks like now we are going to need to expand.”
Michael Gibson, AIA with Appleseed Workshop was hired to create the unique facility that allows the dogs to run freely in pods to play with their friends while their owners are working.  They won an AIA award for the design.


For the more laid back dog, there are a number of private rooms available with numerous themes that include an Alabama den, Auburn den, Princess room, and a Jungle themed room.  

On the rooftop they mingle with new found friends and sniff about running across toy slides and into the doggie bone pool while being watched by a resident caretaker.  Some people who live in the area choose to bring their pet for half a day so they can get some social interaction. 
Dog Days offers boarding, daycare as well as grooming.  The groomer, Terry Reliford has twenty years of experience.  Dog Days will soon offer training services as well.


“We upload dozens of photos to our Facebook page throughout the day so owners can see what their pets have been up to. We have so many who think of their pets as a part of the family.  Birmingham dog owners are a tight community, but Birmingham owners are not our only customers,” he explained.  “We have people who drop their pets on their way through to the beach from Nashville or from Huntsville. In fact, 70% of our clients come from the suburbs.  We even have people who fly out of Birmingham and drop them off on their way to the airport from Tuscaloosa and Alabaster.”


Dog Days tenants must be spayed or neutered, and be up to date on all shots.  They are also screened for temperament.
“We do some social screening on each dog that comes in.  We introduce them to a few dogs one at a time to see how they react.  We have only had a few we were unable to integrate into the upstairs play area and only a couple we had to send home because they became territorial after being here for a while.”


The Dog Days staff has a number of cameras and monitors in each space and at night the Johnsons have security screens where they can see the dogs from their home loft area on a separate floor, just in case.


Dog Days hosts pets whose owners work at UAB, Regions, Alabama Power and a number of law firms in the downtown area. Children’s Hospital is nearby as well as UAB.  Patients who require extended treatments are offered a 20% discount if they have been in the hospital for two weeks or more.

“A recent client was a gentleman from Florida who had received a liver transplant.  He would bring his dogs here while he was receiving treatment so they didn’t have to stay behind,” Jimmy explained.

The Johnsons are personally involved in the pet community as well as other organizations.  Sue serves as CEO of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham.
The offices are located across the street from Hand in Paw.
The two groups collaborate to place children and pets together through programs such as Pawsitive Living.


“We are very involved in supporting the Humane Society and have had floats in the Do Dah Day Parade since we opened.  Together with Birmingham Animal Control and Bama Bully Rescue we will be sponsoring a huge event on October 20 in our parking lot next door called Pup O Ween with costume parades for the animals and treats especially for them,” Jimmy said. “We are also sponsoring Paws For A Cause Fun Run and Pet Walk in Hoover on September 15.


The Johnsons have loved the downtown living experience and have a number of friends who live nearby.

“We never owned a bicycle the entire time we were married.  We now hop on bikes and ride two blocks away to Railroad Park or to a restaurant nearby.  We know of a few Great Danes who live in apartments nearby.  They adapt to condo living.  Whether a dog lives in the suburbs with a large yard or whether in a kennel inside, they all need interaction and stimulus,” he explained.  “A dog in a yard will lie around all day until the owner comes and then that is when he wants to play.  The dog who has been inside lies around too and needs to be walked.  Here the dogs are interacting all day long so they can lounge about with their owners when the day is over.  It is a win-win.”

If you are downtown and want to drop in or peek in the window you will find dogs of all sizes and breeds just doing their thing.


The owners take great pride in the quality of care the animals receive and each dog gets special attention, as noted by the billboard in the front entrance with the names of “Today’s Birthdays”.  They just happen to feature doggie birthday parties for the whole family.  A recent party was held on the rooftop with a dozen people and  half a dozen of the dog’s friends.  The birthday fee includes cake and ice cream as well as serving bowls for the dogs.  The people are welcome to bring their own.  After all, this place is all about the dogs!


For more information go to their website at

Story and Photos by Allison Puccetti Adams

Sunday, September 9, 2012


This year I took part in a number of opportunities to stretch my boundaries and learn a bit about other artists methods and share some of those with you here~

NEVER stop creating!

Kellie Newsom lives that free artist spirt of a life with her husband in a home they are painting their mark on inside and out.

She was recently at Alabama Art Supply which showed me how to embrace those faces and bodies I have struggled with in the past. Yes, I knew bodies were like math, with proportion and order....but I could never seem to nail them. She gave me the secret! Painting loose, she says, “uses the right brain”. Well no wonder my right brain rules my life and my rooms, my sock drawers are all LOOSE! I’m releasing all that to the fact that my left brain is still not in control.

She uses paints called Atelier interactive Colours and they are incredible with a texture and method of blending that becomes a mix of watercolor and acrylic in style. I am loving getting to know mine.

HANDOUTS reminded us of the Da Vinci model of the face and body
with a face actually measuring five eyes proportionately across and seven down

We start with right brain shaping with a large brush to get the form in place

Then add the dark shadows

Kellie loves these paints because she loves to COLOR IT UP

Kellie's portrait was of Bill Murray~ amazing to watch her work.

Some of Kellie's work includes traditional figures in a contemporary way.

My girl who I turned into Lady Gaga ish woman

My finished lady...with contrasting colors. I later blended it to soften the contrast.

We warmed up with BLIND contour drawing...try it! Look at something and follow it with your EYE and do NOT look down at your paper.

I am carrying around a journal these days and capturing lots of practice time with these in carpool lines...waiting rooms (suggested at a workshop with Nan Cunningham who had a beautiful collection of part grocery list, part magical future painting ideas in a little hardback book no larger than a checkbook)

Words for the day : NO EXCUSES!

Since Kellie's workshop I was inspired to pick a person each day from facebook and paint something from their pages.

HERE are some of those paintings.

It is ALL a process...and the best way to learn is to TRY AND TRY AGAIN!

Happy Painting!

Next Blog will share tips from 
Nan Cunningham, Montgomery artist who has been collected for years!
She now resides in Auburn and was at Alabama Art Supply 
to teach about COLOR 

It was a stretch for me...but the tips on the limited palette were phenomenal!
As you can see, I couldn't stand not throwing in other colors...
simple...keep it simple...not so simple ! 

 Allison Puccetti Adams

and check out my new website at