Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Be a River

If you could be anything in nature what would it be? Would you be a tree? A mountain? A small still pond? I was looking at some photos from our vacation last summer. It was a good reminder that spring will come. Looking at this photo of mountains and trees and the river I felt some renewal and a peace.

Then this afternoon I was flipping through old sketchbooks and found this teeny tiny little entry.
It said River as Life. I guess it was a personal creed I was thinking about because it goes on..

Meander through life.
Surround yourself with nature.
Be a source of life for all that surrounds you.
Be constantly moving and changing- sometimes slowly, sometimes in a torrent.
Be a still small creek that yet carves its own way through mountains.

I would add to that to be patient when life moves so slowly and enjoy the almost stillness. You're gathering strength for the rapids to come.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Working Inspiration

The act of creating amazes me. Sometimes I have to really work to create something. These pieces seem to develop over time and take a lot of thought and questioning. I consider each decision I make carefully. Then there are the other times when the work seems to flow effortlessly and I hardly know what I'm doing. I just do it. Those are the pieces that to me seem inspired. Then I'll have to slog through 2, 3, or more of the first experience to reach the place where everything just flows effortlessly again. This can get discouraging. It's like reaching the peak only to have to go down and start all over again. I want the peak experience every time. I've come to realize though that art, like life, takes a commitment to work on through the difficult places. You have to be willing to create bad works of art in order to create a great one.

With Valentine's approaching I've been thinking about love and when I had the chance to create on Friday I did a light, sweet mixed media piece with lots of hearts (above). The entire process was a struggle. Nothing seemed to look just right. I think I painted over it 2-3 times at least. Finally I decided to give it a rest and I slapped a bunch of paint on some recycled canvases I had. Slopping paint is purely therapeutic and really that is where it's artistic value lies. But I was going to use these as backgrounds and really didn't care much about how the slopping went. Then the painting started to develop and became "true love..."This piece just flowed. It seemed to create itself- it was also a true reflection of how I see love now. The first piece was fun and sweet. This piece has a darker side to it. The text says: "true love comes only after we make the choice to be true to the one we love". I've been married for ten years to a wonderful man and I know now what I didn't know in the beginning. Marriage takes work and commitment not just sentiment and chemistry. It takes making the choice once those fade, and life gets rough to commit and be true. When I fell in love it was involuntary. Later, I made the choice to love truly.

So be willing to work when you don't feel like it. Be willing to make truly awful art. Trudging through those valleys, committing to the path, and then making that climb upwards is the only way you will reach the peaks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Beauty in Contrasts

It's cold here. The very dregs of winter, but today we had a little respite. It's sunny, in the 30's and the house is glowing. I seem to observe color better in light like this. One thing I noticed was how my embroidery floss keeper creates this wonderful little color palette.

Sometimes little observations of beauty can seem like unexpected gifts. For a moment you stop and appreciate the world around you. The gift is the moment- for a small bit of time you are totally present and engaged with the world around you. That is part of why I love flowers. A flower in full bloom is at a particular moment in its life cycle. It catches my attention. The Dutch Masters painted beautiful bouquets with flowers that were in all stages of growth. Buds, full bloom, and in the different phases of decay. They were painting time and saw beauty in each stage of it. Perhaps I need to appreciate that because it is white and cold and so very very winter outside, the beauty of color and flowers inside creates such contrast that it arrests my attention. Early Christian churches were actually created plain and unassuming on the exterior so that when one walked in they were amazed by the glorious golden contrast of the interior. It was a comparison that was supposed to exemplify the difference between this life and the afterlife in heaven. It's a wonderful thought!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tutorial: My Catch -All

Artists' Journaling is a new publication by Stampington that has just appeared on the magazine rack at my local B&N. I was glancing through it and thinking how beautiful these journals were as works of art. But completely impractical as a working sketchbook. My sketchbook has always been utilitarian. I think of it as my catch-all because I need it as a place to store my ideas until I'm ready for them. There are times when ideas have been flitting through my head all day and if I don't collect them they are there buzzing loudly all night as well. For the last two months I have been without my sketchbook and have really found it frustrating. SO today I decided to bite the bullet and purchase one. I had ideas about a lovely hardcover bound beauty but frugality stepped in and I opted for the cheap paper covered model. Still I wanted something a little more sturdy so once home I altered it a wee bit.

First I glued a piece of fabric to the front cover. Then I tore the cover off of a musty old book and using gel medium glued that on top of the cover.

On top of that I added a couple more pieces of fabric, a ribbon, and a fabric cut out of a butterfly. I wish before I glued these down I had added some stitching- but I was in the groove and wanted to just go for it. Alas.

Then, to reinforce the cover I punched holes in all the corners of the hardcover and added grommets.

Finally, I added some details. The "My sketchbook '09" with colored pencil, some stick on gems, and a few rub-ons. I also cut scraps of fabric and tied them to the wire binding.

Voila! Completely personalized as well as a bit more durable!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Make Friends

Last August I took the leap and started an Etsy site. I was a wreck for weeks before we launched. It was just so intimidating to actually put my work out there. I was far more concerned that no one would like it than I was that anyone would buy it. That came later :). It was so worth it! I found validation on Etsy. People did like my work and I even do pretty well selling it. YEAH! But FAR more importantly I found a community of people that are incredibly supportive of each other. One of my favorite Etsy finds was Shelley from Singlestone Studios. She is an amazing artist who's vinyl wall graphics are truly unique and extremely well crafted. She has been extremely supportive and has even gone so far as to surprise me with matching graphics for this blog and my etsy site. I LOVE them!!! Many artists try to operate in a vacuum. They are missing so much by not "making friends". We don't create in a vacuum. We absorb everything around us, including the work of other artists, I truly believe that it is part of who we are. I have been so blessed by the Etsy community, the sellers and the buyers, that I truly consider them to be the best thing about my time there.

So anyways, please check out Shelley's etsy site and her blog- they are both full of eye candy for the color and design enthusiasts! Here is one of my all time favorite wall graphics from her site. Wouldn't it look lovely in your home?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Inspiration- First Post

Today I thought a lot about what I would write to you tonight. Because this is my first post I thought I would like to define to you what I would like this blog to be. I would like it to be a source of inspiration, I would like it to be a place to find beauty, I would like it to be a reflection of all the good and wonderful in life. I would also like it to be a reflection of my aesthetics and interests. So I right off I can tell you it will have a lot of art, nature, and beauty. Plus a healthy dose of domesticity, creativity, and fun! Most of all I am looking forward to interacting with you all. Please free to comment often and if you have any questions about anything please let me know!