Thursday, June 25, 2009

Material Obsessions

So I really appreciate it when other bloggers mention their favorite play things and it occurred to me last night as I was going to sleep that it might be fun to do the same here. So all day long I've been thinking about all my favorite things but rather than do a best ever list I think I'll share a few of the things I'm really excited about right now.

First up- the YUDU. I think I mention this fabulous new screenprinter at least once a week (ok day) to someone. I've actually consciously limited myself from mentioning it too often. I've been trying to avoid seeming too "obsessed" reasoning that the lapel is seriously close to "crazy" in the mind of many. But I'm way to excited to share so... here's the link. I started out as a printmaking major a long long time ago and screenprinting has been on my to do list for years. I love the idea of taking my sketches, doing a little silkscreen magic, and having wearable art. Creating my own silkscreened fabric is one of those "want to go there someday" idea destinations for me as well.

Next- INKTENSE watersoluble ink pencils from Derwent work on fabric, paper, canvas, and wood. I have been loving the intensely saturated marks I can make with these. I first saw them on Zinnia's blog and bought my first few open stock just to try. I am currently saving up for the biggest set I can get. LOVE the vibrancy of these!

I've also been playing with Tim Holtz line of "Distressable" products lately. My favorites- the Distress Inks, the masks, and the metal embellishments. I've used at least one of these in everything I've done lately. "Broken China" is maybe my favorite paint color ever (or at least lately). I think I want to paint my kitchen this color- and that for me is a huge commitment to a color!

So those are a few of my latest and biggest obsessions. I'd love to know what your favorite "must haves" are. What do you use over and over again? What new cool thing are you dying to have?

Hope you have a great night/day-

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Soul Homes

I call them soul homes because I don't know how else to describe that connection that we feel to some places. They aren't home but we feel each time we return that we've come home. I feel this way about Glacier, the North Shore in Minnesota, and Yosemite. Italy came close and I think were I ever to visit again I'd have that same feeling. If I believed in reincarnation it would make sense- this home-coming feel but I don't and so I'm at a loss. It's as if we were formed of the soil there and the place itself has knit itself to our being. Do you ever feel it? My husband grew up in North Dakota and I know he feels it whenever he's in the prairies which makes sense, but he feels it standing on the shoreline of Lake Superior as well.

Glacier I love because it has everything beautiful in nature but ocean. It's as if God went crazy with the glory in this one spot on earth. Waterfalls, glaciers, wildflowers, mountains, it's all here. Years ago I went to Rome and remember walking through the Vatican museum at first loving it but after awhile you become almost numb as if you've completely saturated your system and can't possibly absorb anything more. Glacier gives me the same acute feeling. Driving the Going to the Sun Road is one pinnacle experience after another. It's like a crescendo or the finale of a fireworks display. You keep thinking it can't possibly continue and yet it does. Waterfall, glacier, crescent, glory after glory. The views are lovely but the smell of the cedars is itself an experience to treasure. When I create art I wish I could capture the senses like nature can. I love it.

We were only there for two days. One day on the east side of the park, and one day on the west. But it was an amazing experience. We stayed at the Hidden Moose Lodge in Whitefish and ate Grand Marnier French toast with fresh berries for breakfast and sipped wine in a huge great room at night. So just a brief sojourn but I really couldn't recommend it too highly for any who in their heart need to go home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Road

I'm posting today from Great Falls, Montana. So named for the Great Falls of Lewis and Clark fame. It's been a fun but busy vacation so far but I've thought of all of you often and would like to share some of what we've seen and what I've been thinking about.
The first really cool thing was a roadside sculpture called "Geese in Flight" that was created by a high school teacher turned sculptor over a decade ago. It marks the beginning of the "Enchanted Highway" a 30 mile stretch of roadside sculptures that winds through grassland. The artist's goal was to lead the visitor to a small, struggling, rural town as a way of revitalizing the town's economy. Unfortunately our timetable only let us view this first amazing sculpture but I would love to return and travel the "Enchanted Highway" for myself.
We stopped at a Interstate rest area that had a beatiful view of the surrounding grasslands. The sky was a brilliant blue, the grass glowed viridian and had lovely organic crop lines criss crossing the land. Usually the roadside rests are there to mark some historic landmark as well as provide a little relief for the traveler. Some are perched amid the mountains, others on a lake, they really can be lovely. I loved that this one had a balcony created so that people could stand and admire the land. There was nothing unusual about the sight but it truly was beautiful. So sometime someone with the soul of an artist saw beauty in farmland and decided to create a platform from which visitors could stand and absorb the loveliness of the ordinary. Because for miles and miles in any direction the view was grassland.

Later I wrote in my journal. "Changing terrain" Here's an excerpt-
"As I'm writing this we're driving through a beautiful "badlands" area. It is so different from the prairie and lakes regions I'm familiar with. I see a rugged beauty in the rocky landscape. It is so different and unfamiliar that I am awed by the size of this land. It stirs me to contemplate my perspective on life. Would it be different if I were to have lived here my whole life? Would the rocks and the amazing distance from everything have made me different?" "If I were to live here would the changing terrain change me? OR would it lose it's beauty as it grew to be the familiar?" Just a passing thought I wonder about.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hope is the thing with feathers....

Hope... is a mixed media piece in progress. It is based on an Emily Dickinson poem. I first shared it with you a month or so ago and have finally gotten around to adding the text to the piece. So I thought I'd show you the updated version! It's been slow in coming which bothers me but I know that setting it aside until I know where to go next is the best choice.

In fact, there always seems to be a place where the piece feels unbalanced somehow and although I know enough to trust myself and just work through it, those times are still unsettling. But there are times, like the Hope piece, when keeping going isn't the right choice. Leaving a piece and walking away when I need to is more important. It's a skill I'm still working on. I've ruined many a piece because a forged on when I should have waited. Because with waiting comes distance and with distance, clarity.

Art is such an emotional experience that it is hard to feel caught up in a piece and then walk away. But that walking away somehow breaks the connection and leaves me able to look objectively at something in a way that was impossible just moments before.

A while ago I learned the importance of stepping back. I was taking a figure drawing class. I was visually following every line in the model's body as if I had a magnifying glass and was concentrating all my powers of observation on the lines I saw before me. As I was working my instructor came over and told me to take a step back. I was a little annoyed at the break in my session but did it. When I did, I noticed that by observing so closely I had a fairly well developed drawing but only in the one spot I'd been concentrating on. I had missed the poetry of the lines. By focusing on the technical I wasn't seeing the beauty of the entire composition before me. Lesson learned. I ditched the technical after that and my sketching grew much more fluid, organic, and really just lovely. The drawing experience was much more relaxing and frankly, my mood improved too. Maybe that's the secret behind the crabby irate old artist. They're not really like that. They're just concentrating on a bit and not seeing the whole. You never know. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WIP: The Poppies Piece

So I finished the Hope Dream SOAR piece the other night and moved on to a poppies piece. I used modeling paste to create the poppy forms and then went over it with acrylic. Then I added some stitched pieces of fabric and paper. It still needs some more work to pull it all together but I like how it's going. It veered a little too close to hotel room art but the paper and fabric seemed to pull it back from the edge. :)

Enough play for now though. I have a couple of Etsy orders to finish up and ship before I leave on vacation Friday with the family. So I promised not to do much work during the vacation but blogging doesn't really count right? I love it when other bloggers take you along per se on their vacations so I'm going to try and do a few posts. Plus I think I'd miss it!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And We're going to Disney World...

I signed it, stuck it in an envelope and sent it off this morning!!! My first BOOK CONTRACT!!!! I've been hesitant to mention it til now but it seems I really am going to get my book published! It's to be titled Creative Bent and will be released November of 2010. Crazy!

I thought about keeping it under wraps but found it's hard to write a blog about my art and inspiration and not mention the book about my art and inspiration I'm writing as well. I'll try to let you know as much as I can about what I'm doing as I go. Although I can't share the finished projects I believe I can show you some of the others I'm experimenting with as I'm developing the submitted works. SO I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to get any comments from any of you as I work through this!

The book will focus on my wire and fabric work but will include a ton of variations on this combination. I have mixed media, jewelry, home decor, as well as a lot of versions of some of my current designs. Right now it's a YAY!/Panic thing I've got going but as with all things- I know that if I trust God and rely on Him to lead me this whole experience is going to ROCK!!!!

P.S.- I told my son we'll go to Disney World when mommy's finished. It's my incentive to get him to let me work when I need to. We were going to go anyways but I figured he might as well think he's getting something out of this too. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

DONE! And off on to the next piece!

Studio Time started at an early 5:45 this morning. I woke up with my mind just racing with ideas so I grabbed my handy dandy sketchbook and started to take notes. I got a few notes, a few sketches, and made myself a to-do list for the day and then tried going back to bed. But really, with all those ideas... can you? SO I did the "suck it up" thing and threw on my painting clothes and headed into the studio. Really not such a hardship ;)- the days of not being able to work at all are still so recent that anytime spent creating is a joy. Not always a productive joy, and sometimes a fairly frustrating joy- but a joy nonetheless.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Still Making Progress!

Here's another photo of the Hope Dream Soar piece. I sketched in a clock on the left side of the piece. I kind of wish I'd waited to go get Tim Holtz clock mask but I was impatient to see the image in place. I did erase/scratch it back a bit-it needs to be lightened up and rubbed back a little more. I might still add some metal hands to the clock as well. I've an old clock I can cannibalize somewhere. The flying white bird has a new little brass charm in its beak too. It's a little locked heart. I liked how it tied into the bird with the key.... So more work to be done but I'm liking the look. I painted the edges of the canvas this morning and then swiped a bit into the little birdies. I was curious to see how the vinyl decals held on to the paint. They do really well. Coverage isn't great at first because it is a high gloss, fairly impermeable surface so I'm surprised at how well it did take first the colored pencil and then the acrylic. I love the big graphic sihlouette imagery the birds add to the piece. I definitely see more decals in my mixed media future!!!

Then because I was having fun I pulled out an old problem canvas and started to play a little by adding oil pastel to the background. It started looking nice so I grabbed my modeling paste and slapped on some poppy forms inspired by a decal from Single Stone Studios. These I'll paint later but I thought the raised form would be interesting. Sooo.... here's a sneak peek at that too!

Hope you're all having a fabulous weekend!!! I'm off to church!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hope Dream Soar- Work in Progress Update

Here's a before - and during photo of the mixed media piece I showed you last post. I was able to sit down with it a little this afternoon and fix to the canvas some of the items. I also added the third bird and did a little bit of chaos beading to the fabric scrap. It's funny about that scrap. It totally had to be there but it's one of those decisions that don't really have a sound reason behind them. When I visualized the completed piece it was there. When I took it off the piece didn't feel right to me. As a design element I'm kind of fuzzy why I want it there but I'm going to go with it. The beading on it is another one of those decisions.

Over the last year I've been paying attention to all the little inspirations it takes to create a work of art. Besides the overall "vision" of the piece which usually motivates me to start on a work there are all the little inspirations that happen along the way. A little bit of colored pencil here, a bit of fabric there. Sometimes the inspiration comes and then I act on it. Sometimes it just happens. My hand starts to color a bit here but then continues on its own to add a little more to another spot as well. I've noticed the more I do art the more intuitive the process becomes. Not to say there aren't a lot of conscious decisions but a lot of the big design elements just come to me now. I've learned to do things without really knowing why.

Years and years and centuries ago the Greeks believed muses came to them when called upon and "inspired" them. I believe it's God. As the Great Creator he made us all in his image and part of that inheritance is the ability to create. Learning to follow the Creative Spirit when it's there has been a journey but I'm starting to trust it more and more. Sometimes I'll act on an inspiration only to feel it's not right after. Rather than questioning the original "rightness" of the inspiration I'm starting to learn that those "wrong turns" are sometimes the exact direction I need to go so that I can get to the place I need to be to find my way.

For instance, you might be driving to the sea. Following your intuition and taking a turn into the mountains might not seem to be the best idea. In fact that turn into the mountains actually does lead you further from the sea. But by climbing the mountain you gain the vantage point that enables you to view the sea and the right road leading to it. The correct direction is now clear to you but only because you went the wrong way. Make sense?

Just some thoughts I've had on how inspiration might work that I thought I'd share. :) Now here's the updated piece. I think I'm going to add a distressed looking clock face below the white bird along the left side of the piece yet. I'm also going to add a little locked heart charm to dangle from the beak of the flying bird. I thought that would go well with the key the other bird holds. That will take a trip to the Bead Monkey which may or may not happen tomorrow though. I'm going to the Edina Art Fair with a friend!

Hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!!!

Mixed Media Work in Progress

Glancing through my recent posts lately I realized how few of the projects I've been working on lately I've actually shared with you. So here's a run-down. In the last few weeks I've...

- been playing with creating my own little bezels out of coiled wire. I want to be able to make some little charms that have a similar look to the art charms that have the resin coating but don't want to pay the $5 per little bezel. Cheapness sometimes being the mother of invention I've started to play around with ways to make my own. Not having a ton of success there yet.

- been inspired by the hand stamping some artists are doing now and decided to carve a couple of my own.

-started to play around with stiffening fabric so I can form it around shapes and then use it to stitch to my wire forms.

-stacked buttons and made cute little magnets from them.

- continued to play around with my wire words.

-made a really big version of my scribble heart for a customer. Using wire garbage bag ties to keep the shape while I start to wrap and weave it to add dimension turned out to be a great way to work on a larger scale.

- made a whole bunch of little garden stakes for another etsy customer- and a couple for myself too!

- worked on a cute little mini art quilt.

- started a mixed media piece using some decals a friend sent. :)

AND I've been doing a bunch of writing!

I absolutely LOVE that it is actually my job to have all this fun!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

PUBLISHED!!!! Sew Somerset June '09 issue!!!

Yay! Last night I found the newest Sew Somerset in my mailbox!!! It's technically been out all day and it's been killing me to wait for my free copy. I wanted to run right over to my nearest B&N and pick it up!! Funny, I've been waiting for so long and then almost lost it at the end! What a great issue though. I love some of the more colorful pieces-especially the cover piece! It's just beautiful! The quality of work in there has been getting better with each issue I believe and this one might be the best yet. You might not want to rush out and get it like I almost did but you will want to look it over if you've an interest in art quilting, fabric, or some unique mixed media.

I have three mini art quilts that were accepted along with a little how-to article. I would have loved to go on about them a little more than I did but they give you a word count you have to stick to. Like the "dream" piece that I told you the background to a couple of weeks ago I think I'll do a couple of posts in the next few weeks explaining some more of the background and inspiration involved in the other two pieces. WHoo hoo!!! It feels very very good to see my work published again!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

To tin or not to tin...

I played around with a tin project today. Something that I've had in mind for a couple of days- I was kind of just at the edge of really visualizing it and then today it clicked. I painted it with Tim Holtz crackle paint and then wrapped the outside with fabric and the inside with pages torn from a book. It makes a great shadowbox! So now I'm trying to figure out where to take it next. I held up a few items just to get a feel for how they'd look. I know that whatever I do I want to make use of the depth and do some layering. I figure I can hang an item as well as wire through the tin either through the back or the sides. It would make a very cool base for an assemblage. Something else that ocurred to me as I was working on it was maybe masking over an oval in the center. That would leave the reflective tin surface as sort of a mirror and would reflect anything I hung from the center.

So lots of options including turning it into a photo frame. I was also planning on doing a wire loop de loop border along the outside of the piece. I also like the idea of turning it into a sihlouette sort of thing too. What to do, what to do. I have to apologize for the heart pic. It's kind of fuzzy because I couldn't get it to stop moving. Oh well!

Oh, and then there's embellishing. I could add vintage buttons, I coud use the old keys I have, I could stamp on the background or add a bit of bling...I kind of like the idea of using a sparkly old brooch I have. So many ideas!!! I'd love to know what you would do with this canvas... If you'd like to share!!! Thank you!

Weekend Beauty

My parents built a retirement home some time ago in hopes of retiring there some day. In the meantime they go up summers when they're not teaching and most weekends.

This weekend was the big putting in the dock weekend. While my dad and Jeremy were waist deep in freezing water I was out front with Jasper snapping some pics. Across the road from the house is a pond that feeds into the lake behind the house. My mom's iris were blooming and I just loved the combination of blues and greens and purples. Then there's that gravel road running right through that's a nice balance to the cool colors. I also love the juxtaposition of the wild and natural pond area to her more cultivated front garden. Just loveley!!!!