Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I've been feeling fairly housebound lately- my little boy's been sick so there's been no running around, no school etc. since last Thursday. This morning I had to call and cancel a couple of activities and felt pretty down about it. But I turned on the computer and had the chance to sit and read some of the messages there and felt a lot better. Plus, being at home with a sickie has given me the chance to play around both in my art room and with my little boy a bit more. We've done games, built a mega-zoo in the living room and spent a lot of time cuddling and reading. That has been very nice. Anyways, I thought I'd share a couple of the projects I did over the weekend. They're both an extension of some of the other work I've done. I'm trying to feel out the next step in both my wire work and my mixed media constructed pieces.

The wire ball has bits of paper torn from an old book woven into the wire. As well as some yarn, and some knots made from old t-shirt scraps. I also used some of my collection of spiral binders torn from some old lesson plan books of my mother's. She was recycling the paper pages and was going to toss the wire. I stepped in to take them home but haven't had much idea of what to do with them until now. I like the variety of shape, line and metal they add to the baling wire ball. Something new!

The piece above was another try at the constructed collage look. I had envisioned larger flowers and was going to stitch fabric to them for bright color but the piece had a mind of it's own and seemed to develop contrary to my plan. It turned out to be a fun surprise! And the overall look is still the bright color against the green with some collaged elements worked in so I'm pleased with the result. It doesn't seem completely finished but I suspect the rest will come in the next few days. I'll post it again then.

So after some reflection I guess I'm glad I had both this time at home to play in my studio as well as the time to cuddle in with my little boy and focus on him for a while. It was a small respite in the complete whirl of activity we usually find ourselves within. Who knew?

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Work on the Local News!!!

Wow! I just watched the 10 p.m. news with my sweetie and couldn't believe it was me and my work being shown. My life has been so amazing this last year. I'm kind of in disbelief at the way God has opened doors and made the seemingly impossible- possible! I was so pleased with the way they focused on the shop local feature as well as the Team MN site. There are so many amazing artists on Etsy and so many in my own backyard. Their work is so diverse I just love being part of this community. Thinking about Etsy prior to the interview I made a list of "cool things about Etsy" and the community it fosters among crafters and artists around the world was number one. I have met so many supportive people, buyers as well as other sellers, who just want to create beautiful, interesting things. I love hearing from others how much they may like my work and I love having the chance to let others know how much I like theirs. Yes, it's competition but I think of that as just another reason to try hard to make my work better and better.

So what's next? Dream big, Work hard, and Trust God is the motto of a friend of mine. I love it and have made it mine as well. Dream big?-I have a book that looks more and more like it might become a reality. Work hard? I've just joined an amazing design team (you'll hear more about the Fab 5 soon!) and I have a sketchbook full of ideas to play with and mess around with. Trust God? He's done so much for me I couldn't imagine what my life would be like without Him. Most amazingly? I have a family that is being so supportive I could cry when I think about it. If this is what God can do with my life, WHY would I want to do anything other than to trust Him!! OK enough for tonight!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

All the difference

Yesterday evening when the sun was going down, I walked into the kitchen and saw the light illuminating beautifully some flowers I had on the counter.

When I saw how they were glowing I ran and grabbed my camera and was able to snap a couple of photos. Now looking at the pics I'm really struck by the difference between the two that I took. In the first the light was streaming just right. Lovely! Then I thought I'd move some of the cluttery stuff in the background before I snapped the second pic. What a difference just a minute makes! In the first the flowers seem to glow, the light is streaming right through the petals as if they were made of stained glass. In the second the light is less warm, and the tulips seem more opaque. Duller.

I have a friend who has been trying to coach me to take better photos. Unfortunately we're doing it over the phone so I'm required to actually understand what she's trying to instruct me in. I learn much better through show and tell. This happened upon late afternoon lesson was a perfect demonstration of what a difference even a slight adjustment in light can do for a photo.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hurray!!!! A Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway! I appreciate the time you took to do so. So drum roll..... The winner is Plain Jane! Then because I felt like it, I drew another name...Ilymore! I actually have both of your addresses so start to look out your window for a package in the next week! Again, I love writing this blog and am so appreciative of everyone who takes the time to read it. You are valued!

Now the next cool thing!!! I was interviewed by a local news reporter on Wednesday about Etsy, and my experience as a seller. It was great to have the opportunity to share all the fabulous attributes of this online marketplace. I also got the opportunity to really plug Etsy's shop local feature. Something I'm become more and more a proponent of. I was completely nervous but the first thing they wanted to do was to get some footage of my son, sitting in my lap, helping me to sew. That really helped me to relax and I ended up really enjoying the experience. And I'm VERY excited about the press Etsy is getting and the interest I hope this will generate. The segment will air on the WCCO/CBS station on the10 p.m. news Monday night. Barring any major news story, or scandal. :)

I was working on one of these lamps when they were filming. They've been showing it in progress in the previews for the story. I thought I'd show you the finished version!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time Mis-management

Just a quickie post today. I've been swamped with all kinds of little time distractions. Not the little meanderings I talked about last- but life stuff. Things that are important but take time. For instance, super cool that both queries I sent to Sew Somerset were accepted but there is the whole have to write the articles thing now. Tuesday afternoon a reporter from WCCO called and wanted to interview me about Etsy. SUPER COOL but that meant frantic cleaning and prepping the project they wanted me to work on. Tuesday and Wednesday- shot. And there's this book I decided to write on the back burner constantly simmering.Today I realized that I have 20+ wire flowers to make for keychains for my Moms group to stitch tomorrow. It'll be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the teaching experience all takes time and right now all I want to do is play with the beautiful new fabrics I picked up this morning. How to balance the "life" stuff and "fun stuff" is still a mystery to me. If any of you have a clue- I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Importance of Meanderings

Sometimes I'll imagine something and it will start to hover around my day to day thoughts. Appearing now and then but elusively as if playing hide and seek. I recognize it. It's the start of an idea that has no form yet. It might be the glimpse I had of something interesting, it might be a phrase, or maybe just a striking color combination that caught my eye. It appears and disappears suddenly and then just as suddenly reappears while I'm flipping through a magazine, or driving down the road. Sometimes its while I'm browsing the work of other artists on Flickr or Etsy. It will again register briefly and this time assumes a more opaque form. Then retreats again and I go on. This is how the process of inspiration works for me sometimes. This building through random associations continues until something clicks adn I know how I want to begin to develop this idea into art. It is still unsubstantial in form at this point and I know that sketching even the seed of it or journaling about it's appearances and the connections I've made will help me to define it.

Little meanderings such as these are how great art begins. Some artist refers to it as the muse whispering in their ear. Others attribute it to the universe and synchronicity. Me, I believe it to be God directing me somewhere new. These brief glimpses of thoughts or images often lead me in a direction I might not go otherwise and my art is much richer because of it. So I want to emphasize to you the importance of daydreams, of stranger thoughts that appear out of no where, of the little tiny glimpses of a connection to something greater.Treat them gently and nurture them. Leave them alone if they want for a while, let them grow wild in your subconscious before you attempt to cultivate them. You'll know when you're ready to work with them. It will feel as if you are collecting puzzle pieces and finally have the last one. Then you may start- not before. Your job before is simply to look around and see if you can spot the pieces.

One way I have of keeping the pieces is to post those that are visual on my cork board. This is my collections of lovelies. Things that I love, admire, or simply have a feeling about. This is also the place I pin up unfinished works. I let them reside there and daily I glance at them. These are puzzles without all the pieces. They are waiting until the day that I find that last bit or idea to finish them up. Some of these pieces stay for over a year.

Other lovelies are images with colors I love. Others are bits of art from friends or a magazine photo that sparked the process I described above. I don't know why I keep them but I feel that they will become something some day. So I pin them up. This has the additional bonus of surrounding me with inspirations and things that I love. What could be better?

Many artists have memo boards like this where they pin up bits of fabric or paint swatches. Images of things they love. I didn't know this until I read about it in a magazine. Seems to me if a lot of us are doing it- it must be a pretty effective tool for the artist. So- grab an old corkboard, find a spot you'll look at daily and start your collection of "lovelies". You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Technical Oops! and Happy Valentine's Day!

Hi All! Due to the fact that I accidentally clicked on something that made it impossible to post a comment where I asked you to comment I will be extending the giveaway through the end of next week. I apologize to all of you who so sweetly tried to comment and couldn't. I actually have a hard time believing I did this but my husband assures me it's a talent I have and he lives with. :)

Which brings me to the other half of this missive- Happy Valentine's Day to all you lovelies! I will be watching a romance (Sleeping Beauty) and having a fine Italian meal (pizza) al fresco (on the floor in front of the t.v.) with my favorite boy(s)! Have a wonderful night!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Art As Usual Kick Off Giveaway Celebration!

"Winter is a rollercoaster of blah"-So says my four year old as he quotes a Curious George episode. So I thought I would make up a celebration but then I remembered Valentine's Day is this weekend. So we'll combine my idea with V-day and have one great party! I was thinking of a kick off sort of post and to make it fun I am going to giveaway a piece of art work. In honor of the impending love day, I will give away this Scribble Heart to one lucky blog viewer! Even sweeter? I'm linking up with a fellow Mn Etsy crafter, Rebekah of Urban Market, who is giving away an adorable banner that spells out "BLOOM"- perfect for SPRING!

For the Scribble Heart just leave a comment answering this question- "What do you love?" by Sunday, Feb. 15th. For those new to the comment thing- just click on the comment button at the end of this post. When it prompts you for your Google id etc. go down to Name\URL. Put in your first name and leave the URL blank. That's all the info I need. From all those who enter I will write out and toss your name into a hat and have one of my cuties here at home pull one out. I will post the winner on Monday and will need you all to check back and see if You were the lucky winner. You (the winner) can then contact me with your address and I will ship off your heart- straight away! Good luck!

To enter Rebekah's Giveaway just follow the link to her blog and follow her instructions. Her deadline to enter is Sunday the 15th as well. YEAH!!! Then spend the whole weekend in happy anticipation of your win. Or just in the rosy glow of having participated and making me awfully happy!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Fly"- Artist Tricia McKellar

"Fly" is a photograph taken by Etsy artist Tricia Mckellar. I was browsing Flickr yesterday and in a serendipitous moment happened upon her work. I absolutely love it. Yes- it's birds and anyone who's seen my work knows I have an affinity for birds. But that actually developed from my love of flight. More explicitly my love for observing flight. The toss of a paper airplane, the drift of a feather in the wind, a kite in early march. I love to see things fly. My favorite made up image of daVinci is to think of him standing outside, sketchbook in hand, watching the flight of birds. How this scientist/artist must have wondered at them. The beauty and the impossibility of something soaring through air. Gliding, being held aloft by an unseen breeze.

Tricia actually seems to capture that entranced moment of wonder. By focusing on the birds and limiting the elements in her photos she mimics the ultraconcetration we experience watching something that fascinates us. Just birds and the telephone pole in that great and glorious sky. No nearby tree or home. No other point of reference no other distractions. She has created an entire series of moments like these. Entitled with single words like "beginning", "departure", and "wanderlust". They all eloquently capture a moment in one beautiful, simple shot. I am very grateful she has allowed me to share her work with you- it's all so lovely. To see the other photos I mentioned, visit her shop on Etsy- www.eyeful.etsy com.

Hand Made

I thought I'd share another photo today. I've been working on some different forms for my wire work. One thing I tried the other day was a bowl. It started out all tight and controlled and got looser and looser. The end result is charming although not exactly polished. I don't know why I can't always make things tight and controlled. But if I think about it I don't like the contrived, perfect look of something that was manufactured. I like the hand made look. I always thought the pot with the squished in side was far more interesting then the perfectly formed one. Especially when the artist chooses to see it not as a mistake but as an unexpected element of the design.

Point in case- last year I was trying out a new style. I wanted to free form a heart and then stitch/ tie fabric strips into the piece. The first heart I made was too tight and I tossed it aside. Later I picked up the mistake and thought it wasn't that bad. Then I hung it up. That piece totally grew on me. I loved seeing it on the wall in the mornings. It was sweet. So when I opened my Etsy site at the end of July the first thing I listed was that scribble heart. I had no idea if others would think my mistake was as charming as I did- but I thought I'd give it a try. That heart became my most viewed item.
There is a handmade movement in America today. I think as more people become involved in making crafts the more value they attribute to the work of others. They know the time, effort, and obsessiveness that goes into each item. There is a uniqueness to the handmade that totally attracts me as well. A few months ago I went to IKEA wearing a new sweater I'd got at Target. I saw 3 other moms wearing the same sweater. I laughed- but took off my sweater. No one over 25 wants to look like everybody else. On Etsy there are thousands of cool t-shirt shops and I can guarantee that the likelihood of anyone around here buying the same shirt is very very low because this is still very very new. Handmade lets you stand out. It lets you decorate your house with art that you can't find down at the poster store. It also allows you to deal directly with the artist. I think that's kind of cool. I like knowing the person who created the designs I'm choosing to express my style with in my home. I also like knowing that I'm supporting someone who's taking a chance and living their dream. I guess I could add- like me! So go- check out the Etsy link. With 170,000 + shops you're sure to find something you'll love.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A New Creation So I wasn't going to post tonight but when I checked my e-mail I found this gorgeous little piece of art waiting for me. It's a sample from my friend Shelley's Spring '09 collection and is a new style for her. But chatting with her she says it is more of an expression of her personal style then anything she's done yet. I absolutely love it. She's also been sweet enough to say that the constructed piece I created partially inspired the first piece she did in this style. Which ties in wonderfully enough to something I heard in church this morning. The pastor told the story of the man who penned Amazing Grace. He was captain of a slave ship and saw nothing wrong with his life until one night. That night there was a storm and he cried out to God. God listened and this man changed his life. Later, this man's story inspired someone else who became a powerful advocate for the abolition of slavery in America.

Stories are powerful. Art too can be powerful. The connection is inspiration. When we are inspired by something, or someone we are moved to action in response. Our reaction can result in something new and beautiful or something great, that in turn might inspire someone else. It's a natural, internalized reaction that has its root in our Great Creator God. Our ability to be inspired and to react to this inspiration with the creation of something else is one of the ways God created us to be like Him. Shelley had no idea that her response to my work would inspire me to make this connection, or to share with you this idea, but isn't that one of the most surprising and wonderful things about this life? Maybe reading this and seeing her work will inspire one of you, the readers. Maybe this is the beginning of a chain of loveliness and creation that spans the globe. My little piece was just a little piece, but who knows- this whisper could one day become the shout of someone else. Every bit of creation becomes extremely valuable in this light.

So take a look, be inspired and maybe it will motivate you to create a work, a thought, or a writing that will then continue on as an inspiration to someone else.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Studio Tour: A Play-Room of My Own

I was reading a book on creativity the other day and it mentioned Virginia Wolfe's A Room of Her Own and it struck me how often that is quoted to justify a studio space. As an artist we do a lot of things for other people. Often when we begin to create it's for others, and when we try to justify a play space we justify it by all kinds of reasons. Mine was-"I just need a place for everything to be together so the paintbrushes quit ending up in the silverware drawer and my watersoluble crayons quit landing in the bathroom". My canvases were hung up down in the laundry room next to the laundry stuff and my acrylics were in the with the dishes(which was the logical place it being next to the silverware drawer and all). My art was hung up in a completely haphazard way wherever I had wall space and my pastels were in my son's art room. The fabric and wire I kept in big plastic storage bins under the dining room table so that they were somewhat accessible and portable. It felt chaotic. I was always rummaging around trying to locate things. So when my son grew old enough for his big boy bed we moved him into a larger room and I have reclaimed my old art room.

The funny part is that now that I'm back I appreciate that I needed the room. Not because I needed a centralized place for everything but because I needed a place for my thoughts to flit and rest. A room I can enter and know it is the place for me to create, to be adventurous, and to play. Yes, it has all the supplies I need. It also has a place for me to work. But the thing I like best is that it inspires me. I've re-hung my old corkboard and filled it with eye candy-the pieces of paper, or fabric, or photos that I collect that inspire me. Over my desk are more of these postcards, and photos. My sketchbooks have found a home on the bookshelf. Pulling them out of the storage boxes and shelving them was a wonderful homing experience. I have a spot for my rock collection as well. The art hung haphazardly throughout the house is now finding a home in this room and I love being surrounded by it all. This I think, is what a "room of her own" was for. It is a place to inspire us to be the best, most creative us. To nurture our fledgling ideas. To display new visual treats and to help us discover new loves.

Could I create without this room? YES! Do I love having it now? YES! It feels wonderful. The part I love best is how the sun streams into it each morning. The part my husband loves best is that my "stuff" has now been contained and is off the countertops, his desk, the drawers, the closets, the living room floor, the kitchen wall.... You get the idea!