ARTIST: Liza Cowan

Cowan home decor DIY tips in Nest issue of SevenDaysVermont

 The editor of Vermont's premiere weekly newspaper, SevenDaysVt, follows me on Pinterest, and decided that a feature about my DIY home tips would be of interest to the paper's readers. This is from their quarterly special insert on homes, Nest. 

Regular readers of this blog will find some of these images familiar. I've posted them here on the blog, as well as on Pinterest and Flickr.

Liza Cowan Home DIY tips, decorating on a budget, coordinating patterns, wooden crates for home decor, make curtains with binder clips
Home Eclectic Home, Liza Cowan DIY home decor tips

Read the online version here.



Digital collage, the "Maybe" series of time- traveling ladies.

Liza Cowan digital collage, vintage Kodak ad, greenhouse photo by Liza Cowan at Horsford Nursury Vermont, time travel

I've been busy making digital collages, mostly using a combination of my own photographs and images from vintage Kodak ads, vintage sewing pattern packets, and old ads or images of 19th century ladies in swimming costumes and bicycles. Finding the images is just the first step. 

I separate the people from the background using Photoshop, which can be tedious, but once I have them done, I save them as PNG files and they are ready to go for the next collage. For the Greenhouse picture I  ran my original photo through the Waterlogue app on my iPhone. I do most of my actual design and composing using PicMonkey because it's much easier than Photoshop for this kind of work. For me, anyway. 

how to make digital collage with photoshop, original photos and waterlogue app

Some more examples. 

digital collage by Liza Cowan. Maybe they visited with girl taking photo of cat. vintage kodak ad. Photo by Liza Cowan

Digital collage by Liza cowan. Maybe they liked to play by the shore. 19th century ladies bathing suits, bathing costumes, photo by Liza Cowan at Shelburne Bay, Vermont

Digital composition by Liza Cowan. Alice Austen, Clear Comfort, Staten Island, vintage ladies bathing suits, bathing costumes

Digital collage. Mabye they took pictures in the garden. Liza Cowan photo. Vintage Kodak ads, pug, seagull

Liza Cowandigital collage. garden party. vintage sewing pattern. 1940's ladies slacks.
digital collage by Liza Cowan. Maybe they biked over for a visit. Photo by Liza Cowan, vintage ladies on bicycles, 19th century bicycles

Patriarchy Propaganda: Teach her how to love it.

Patriarchy, Teach her how to love it. Propaganda pamphlet USA circa 1933. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections via Liza Cowan FAKE!™

Advertising is a powerful force for propaganda. Just after World War One, fledgling press agent Edward Bernays returned from The Paris Peace Talks, where he had helped President Woodrow Wilson coin and promote the phrase "Making the world safe for Democracy. Upon his return, he decided to bring his ideas on Mass Persuasion to commerce and then to the US Government. He realized that the term "propaganda" had a negative connotation after the war, so he coined the phrase "Public Relations" and he and his ideas changed the world forever. source

Advertising is propaganda. 

Source material: 1933 Frigidaire advertising booklet, Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections. Liza Cowan FAKE!™ Design. 

Vintage Perfume Bottles in Color

I wrote about these vintage perfume bottles here  but I just came across another version I made. Looking at this image with a fresh eye, I quite like the vibrancy. Hope you enjoy it too.

Perfume bottles, vintage. Bandit perfume. Glass bottles,  Photo Liza Cowan
4 vintage perfume bottles. Bandit, by Germaine Cellier. Tabu, Geoffrey Beene and Private Collection 1973 by Estee Lauder. Photo ©Liza Cowan



Brighten Up A Winter Room: reflective objects

Silver pot with paperwhites brighten up a short, dark, winter interior ©liza cowan
Twinkle, twinkle to brighten up the short, dark, winter days. Photo ©Liza Cowan


I like to brighten up the short, dark, days of Winter by placing shiny reflective objects around the house. The twinkle of reflected light does wonders to lift the spirit of the room. 

There are lots of great, inexpensive knock offs of silver, mercury glass and mirrored things in circulation right now, so keep an eye out. I found this container at Home Goods, for a song. I'm not sure what's its intended use would be, but I was looking for a shiny silver container for my paperwhites, and this is perfect. And it was cheap!

Happy Solstice. 



Mannequin by Ralph Pucci/ Maira Kalman

From the photo vaults: The blue haired boy. Mannequin by Ralph Pucci, based on drawings by Maira Kalman. Photographed at Pine Street Art Works ©Liza Cowan 2007. Used for advertising and display at store for many years. 


Mannequin Ralph PucciMaira Kalman photo ©Liza Cowan 2007
Blue Haired by mannequin by Ralph Pucci / Maira Kalman. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2007

The old wooden dollhouse

Wooden dollhouse, black and white,  liza cowan photo
Vintage Wooden Dollhouse. Photo ©Liza Cowan

I bought this wooden dollhouse from a friend in Woodstock, NY in the early 1980's. She was about to move, and it was just too big to lug around. Now I have lugged it to two different houses in Woodstock, two apartments in Brooklyn, and one house in Vermont. I'm about to move again and was considering selling it, since I'm downsizing by a lot.  I took it down from atop the fridge, where it has sat for 13 years, to take some photos of it. And I fell in love with it all over again. I guess I'm keeping it. 

Wooden doll house liza cowan photo
Wooden Dollhouse. Photo ©Liza Cowan

4 Ways To Improve Your Business Facebook Page

I was planning to teach a class at  Winooski Circle Arts, a store I managed, about  using Facebook for business. Since WCA is closed, I thought I’d share some ideas here. The examples are from two Facebook business pages I created: Winooski Circle Arts and Small Equals.

I've framed this for business pages but the ideas hold true for any professional pages: art, writing, publishing, theater, cooking classes, or anything. 

The four key ideas are:

Image + Story 

+ Acknowledgement + Engagement


 1) Use images:

Winooski Circle Arts vintage shopping image
You can use vintage images on your facebook page. Add text with imaging software like PicMonkey, which is free online.

Use images as often as you can. It’s best if you can shoot your own.  iPhone or smartphone pictures are great for this. Better still - take an extra few minutes to crop, frame, and add text if you want. Remember to add your logo, and add photo credit if the photos are not your own, or even if they are. I use online photo editing software, PicMonkey and think it's a great program. There is a free standard version or you can upgrade for more versitility.

Take pictures of your product, your office, studio, employees; take pictures at the craft or business fairs you attend. Take photos at events you speak at. Take pictures of the equipment you use to make your product, and the people who are using the equipment. Take pictures of your customers interacting with your product - but only use them with permission.

Old images are great too. Take advantage of google image searches to find a vintage image that is no longer under copyright. These are fun and people enjoy them.  Do not use images that are copyright. Rule of thumb, stick to images made before 1925. That’s not precise, but good enough.

2) Tell a story.

flashbags vermont, vintage parsnip seed pack, illustrating facebook page,
Photo of a small equals product being made in the Flashbags studio. Photo ©flashbags vermont

Story sells. There’s always something to tell about your product or service. Do you make something that uses ingredients or components? Write a paragraph or two about them.  In my business, Small Equals, I like to write about how my bags and placemats are made by Flashbags in Burlington, VT. Or about the boxes that are made for me by Vermont Wooden Box. Go to your supplier, ask some questions, snap some photos. Link to their websites.  Do this often.

Did you start working with a new manufacturer, with a new tool, a different paint? How is it different? What does it look like? Where did you get it?

Unless you go into the woods and chew down trees to make your paper, your supplies are made somewhere. This is interesting when you think about it. Your customers will think so too; even more so if you actually do go into the woods and chew down the trees.

Did you read an article or see a film that inspired you? Even if it is only tangentially related to your business, your readers might like to know about it too. Remember, your customers are well-rounded people, and they want to hear about your ideas as well as your product.

If you’ve written a blog post about anything related to your business, make sure to link it on facebook. And, of course, make sure you have a facebook link on your blog.


Acknowledge your employees. Photo of Saturday shopkeeper, Willa Cowan.
Acknowledge your employees. Saturday shopkeeper, Willa at front desk.

No business, maker or artist works completely on their own, nor do they get their ideas out of thin air. Did someone give you a terrific idea that you put into production? Were there books that inspired you? Tell your customers about it. They want to know, and the person who gave you the idea deserves credit.

Is your product being sold in a local store? Go there and take some pictures, or at least write a little post about them. Make sure you link to their facebook page, too. This lets your customers know where they can get your product, and builds good relations with the store. This is very important. Do this often.

Did you consult on a project with someone? Tell your readers.  You have an amazing accountant, fed ex driver, editor, publicist?  A customer who was particularly encouraging or funny. Share the story.

Write about your employees, mention their birthdays, or if they got an award or had a baby or if they accomplished something interesting or important for your business.  Everyone likes to be recognized, and your readers will like peeking behind the scenes.

This is all about building good will with your customers, friends and employees.

This is also known as building community. It matters. A lot.


Converse with your customers. winooski circle arts.
respond to your readers. If they don't matter to you, you are in the wrong business.

Don’t just post and run. Make sure to respond when someone comments on a post. A “like” will be the barely acceptable minimum. A “thank you, Sally,” is quick and easy.  If someone asks a question, answer it. If someone’s comment inspires you to write back, do so, even if it's brief.  Conversation is engagement. Conversation lets your customers know that there is a real person there and that you care about them. If you don’t care about your customers, you are in the wrong business.

Sometimes your readers will post a comment you disagree with. If it's truly offensive, if it uses slurs or attacks, you certainly have the option of deleting it, and often that is the best thing to do. But if readers are responding with a genuine concern or interesting idea, even if you don't agree, try to think of this as an opportunity for engagement. You lose credibility by ignoring or deleting comments that don't tell you how wonderful you are, or that don't parrot your own ideas. Eventually your readers will figure out that you do this, and will realize that what you have provided is not a community but an echo chamber. All but the diehard fans will leave, and this is not really something that will help you promote your business.

These suggestions mean you have to check in to facebook regularly. I’d say minimum of once a day. Keep posting, keep responding to your readers. Engage! This is an important part of your job. Just do it. And have fun with it.

Your business is not just about you. It is about relationships. Build them.

PS: I wrote a post several years ago about reciprocity in business that covers some of the same topics. Find it HERE

Winooski Circle Arts is not open right now, but here's the Facebook Page.

Find Small Equals Facebook page HERE




Guardian cat-woman goddesses, art therapy and dream time


Liza Cowan, two cat woman by river with houses
Two cat woman guardians Drawing in cray pas. Liza Cowan 1990

 Way back in 1989/90 I studied Art Therapy with Dr. Erika Steinberg at The New School For Social Research in New York City. Dr. Steinberg had us all keep extensive journals of drawing exercises, dream and meditaion notes, and the process of drawing. It was an amazing class, with some extraordinary students, including a gifted and now- famous psychic/intuitive practitioner who subsequently became a best selling author, but during that year was just beginning her career, and, for those two semesters, was a good buddy of mine. Her insights amplified our work in many ways.  The class met twice a week for two semesters, and it was the environment in which I rediscovered how much I liked drawing and the process of making art. 

I chose not to become an art therapist, but the techniques of dream work and art therapy clung. I was reminded of this last night as I was listening to a radio broadcast that, almost in passing, mentioned feline guardian beings and goddesses. Of course, cats were goddesses in ancient Egypt and around the world, but I don't think I was thinking about them as I began this small series. Not consciously at any rate. The images came from dreams and meditation.

In our art journals, Dr. Stienberg had us keep notes, short ones, on three things: Environment, Process and Product. That is, what we were feeling and the physical space we were in while we were drawing, how we made the drawing, and a description of the work itself.  


Guardian cat woman and boulders. ©Liza Cowan 1990
Cat woman guardian. Drawing in colored pencil. Liza Cowan 1990

 Product: Cat/woman #1. February 19th, 1990

She is facing the world, staring right into its eyes. I love drawing mouths as circles. Like she's talking and kind of surprised, too. The boulders are from a dream I had two weeks ago, just after we got our dream-box assignment. In the dream I saw huge dark boulders and received instructions that my job was to decipher the rocks. Like, that's one of my lifetime jobs. The water is fluid and reflective. Her feet are not quite in it, or maybe her toes are just touching that unconscious substance.

Guardian cat woman #2 and note ©Liza Cowan 1990
Cat woman, drawing in colored pencil. Liza Cowan 1990

Product, Cat/woman #2 Feb. 19th,1990

 She is still a bit stormy, but a lot more peaceful. I love this drawing. She is a solid presence. Heat or emotions rising from her, intense but rhythmical. 

( I don't know what the "stormy" is in reference to.)


Guardian mama lion and cub, liza cowan and notes
Mama lion and cub. Drawing over photocopy Liza Cowan 1990

 Lion/woman. April 1, 1990. Woodstock

Environment: Hanging out at home in Woodstock

Process: I was looking through some magazines and came across this photo of a lioness and her cub, or a cub and her mother. I was moved by how they looked both peaceful and ferocious at the same time. I made a photo copy of the picture and drew over it with cray pas. I gave the mother lion my hair. I know that it is the male lions who have the mane, not the females, but in this case she, like me, has the tresses. 

Product: Sometimes I describe myself as a mother lion when I am protecting people or things I care about. I can be ferocious in my guardianship, alert and calm. I love how the cub stands enfolded in her mothers arms and head. 

The following drawing is from a week before the first cat drawings. I believe that the animals in this dream either were, or became, the cat figures in the subsequent images. 


Liza cowan dream drawing man and marsupials
Dream of man and marsupials. Liza Cowan Feb 11, 1990

 Product: This is a dream I had last night - from notes I took when I awoke from the dream at 5:30 am:

"I am at a Woodstock gathering, I have my video camera and am ready to tape, but nothing appeals to me. 

Suddenly a small man is doing a "show" with strange looking animals, maybe marsupials, who are delivering ecology messages. They keep changing shapes and exit by disappearing into the ground. I get the whole thing on tape. I have no idea how this strange little man feels about my recording him. He comes over and smiles and hugs me warmly. Very lovely. He's glad I recorded it. I am going to give him my business card but suddenly everyone leaves the gathering in a big crowd and I wake up."

This drawing does not convey the eeriness of the dream. It was almost frightening, the animals were so strange and so was the man. But he was so nice that it ended up not being scarey at all.

I don't have a vivid image of the animals, so I just drew anything, figuring it was still accurate. The big eyes and stripes feel right.

Before I fell asleep I was reaing a Jungian magazine and I think it influenced ths dream.

The creatures are intense, especially their eyes, as they were in the dream. Their message was profound, but I forget it."


Flower Fairies of The Summer: Photos from the garden

Flower fairies of summer


Mother Nature and the Flower Fairies have been busy in my garden making the flowers grow. My job is to take pictures of the results. 


Image source



Hanging wisteria photograph ©Liza Cowan
Wisteria in my garden. ©Liza Cowan


Peony Bud, photo ©LIza Cowan 2013
Peony Bud. Photo ©Liza Cowan


Pink lilacs. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2013
Pink Lilacs on white. Photo ©Liza cowan


Pink lilac on black photo ©Liza Cowan
Pink Lilacs on black. Photo ©Liza Cowan


Geranium petals pale on white photo ©liza Cowan
Geranium blossom on white. Photo ©Liza Cowan
Geranium blossom on black. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2013
Geranium blossom on black. ©Liza Cowan


More Dogs and Annie Sloan Paint

My new photography show, Saki, Pug For Fun opens in two days but I'm still shooting for it. Crazy, right? Today I took four pictures I'm very satisfied with. One will go in the show, maybe two.


Spotted chair, annie sloan chalk paint ©Liza Cowan
Spotted Chair. Painted by Liza Cowan with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

 Recently I started painting old chairs. This was my first. It's been a lot of fun and I'm so pleased with the results. I paint on any surface, really. Glass, walls, wood, canvas. And in the past I've painted some furniture, but discovering Annie Sloan Chalk Paint really made a difference. That suff goes on so easily and covers so beautifully. And no smell. And water cleanup. 

Today I decided to photograph the chairs, on a beat up old table in front of my living room wall. I painted the wall 11 years ago when I moved into my house. You can see I like spots. I'm shooting with my iPhone 4, using the Camera+ app.


Saki pug on spotted chair , annie sloan chalk paint ©Liza Cowan
Saki on Spotted Chair. ©Liza Cowan

 Here's Saki on the spotted chair. Saki is a very good poser. For a dog who doesn't relax even when she's asleep, it's fascinating to me that she will calm down and pose as soon as she sees a camera.



Stella doxy daschound on chair painted with Annie Sloan paint liza cowan photo
Stella, my doxie, on the spotted chair. ©Liza Cowan

And here is Stella, the doxy. Stella's not quite as happy in front of the camera but the floor was a long way down and she was not about to attempt a jump. So she sat. Here she was listening to the sound of a car outside. It's best when something captures their attention.



Saki pug on spotted chair, annie sloan chalk paint, photo liza cowan
Saki, relaxed in front of the camera. © Liza Cowan


Most of these images will soon be available as greeting cards on my online store.