Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Etsy-versary!!!

Today's the day! One year ago today I listed my first item on Etsy! It amazes me it was a year ago. I am so grateful to the reception my work has received. Very very grateful! This morning I mentioned it to my husband and he suggested I get a piece of cake to celebrate. Jasper and I thought it was a good idea but then came home with this yummy little masterpiece. YAY!

It struck me as a good time to review the amazing wonderful crazy things that God has worked in my life in the last year. So here goes...

Etsy Coolness-
82 Sales + additional direct sales
3000+ hits on my Wire Tree
Front Page 8 or 9 times
528 store hearts + lots of item specific hearts
Sent $300+ to Orphanage
Had visits from over 87 countries
Over 10,000 visits since January this year
Countless conversations
Lots of friendly encouragement
Found 1 kindred spirit (the best of all!!)

Other Wonderful things...
Started blog- and remembered I love writing
Submitted work to 3 art magazines
Published in 3 art magazines!!!
Got crazy idea to submit a book idea
Sent in book proposal with sample work
Play/meet weekly with local Christian artists
Filled 3 sketchbooks
Appeared on Local News as local Etsy artist
Let God lead me
Debt free!
Set up my very own studio room in our house
Took chances and jumped when God said "jump"!

I kind of can't believe all the wonderfulness that has come into my life this year. And it all started when I risked rejection and made my work available to the world. Letting others see my work was probably my biggest hurdle. Starting my site on Etsy and feeling all the love and support there has let me open my life to possibility and God's plan. I feel so very very grateful!!! Thanks to you all for your comments and encouragement too! I love my blogging family and you are all part of it!!! I am very grateful for you. AND I can't wait to see what the next year brings!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Making Flowers from Fabric

I've had a fuzzy image in mind of some fabric flowers I'd like to make. In the past I've done ribbon roses and plenty of knit one's too but thought I should try some using the quilting scraps I have. The patterns on these fabrics are so bright and pretty I just love them but when I tried creating what I had in mind they just wouldn't work. The image I have is of multi fabric flowers, that are 3d and kind of shabby chic. So some of these are close but not quite what I was thinking yet.

I'll keep trying. Do you ever get those glimpses? I can't just whip out the flower because I can't completely see them. It's frustrating but from past experiences I know that if I keep going I'll get there. And each attempt is a step closer because I've tried something that either does or doesn't work. That's knowledge.

So that's one of my little projects. Hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

At the Lake...

We've been at the lake for the last few days. And July, I decided, really the best time to be here. Minnesota winters last a long long time and so many of our trips to the lake don't include any lake activities. But in JULY- we've done boat rides, Jasper's gone fishing and swimming and tonight we'll do a campfire. Very nice to be here. I'm also getting some work done, some writing done and some projects defined. Played with chicken wire this morning and will play with plaster this afternoon. What could be better?

Hope you are all finding the time to enjoy right now as well. Happy Summer!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life Close Up

Close up everything looks different- Sometimes it looks big and overwhelming. Sometimes we see parts we never saw before. I had a spider crawling across my wall yesterday and before I could give it a good smack my son stopped me. "Wait Mom, I want to see it close up." Then he got as close as he possibly could (inches) and just looked. He counted it's legs, he tried to figure out where it's eyes and mouth was and really looked. I'm fine with the things outside but absolutely hate how many we have living inside with us. They look like mini tarantulas. So icky. I wouldn't have looked twice at it. But because he did I did too. It was kind of cool. I'm glad he stopped me from just reacting and made me appreciate the spider for just a minute. I still whacked it... but I did appreciate it before I did. Still doesn't sound good. Oh, well. Life.

My thought is that looking close is an important part of observation. Which can be a huge source of inspiration. I'm thinking in particular of Monet's water lilies. I was able to see the panels the MOMA has in New York several years ago. They were just beautiful and the result of his fascination with his subject matter. Monet himself referred to himself once not as a painter but an observer. Which puts other series of his, like his studies of light and haystacks into a sort of Leonardo da Vinci like recording of what he sees. What amazing art was the result of these two men's interest in observing nature- closely.

My self assignment in my sketchbook will be, I think, to observe something CLOSE UP and see how my observation of it will change with the change of perspective. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Some Thoughts on Motivation

Lately I've been shamefully neglecting my blogging goals. Which was basically to blog all the time. Have to say though that I blog when I'm creating and excited to share what I've been working on or I blog as a way to explore ideas through writing. Neither of which motivations have been happening the last week. I hit the deadlines I'd been working towards and kind of just stopped everything. I did that thing that we did in college after exams. You know push and push and push and then CRASH!!!

I would feel horribly guilty about it, knowing the next deadline IS just around the corner, BUT I think I needed the time to seperate. Get back to life a little and relate to the other people who live in my house (husband and son).

A couple nights ago I had a friend staying with me and we got to talking about goals. How important are they? Do they just set you up for feeling badly when you can't meet them? There are the specific goals- like blog 3-4 days a week. And there are the unspecific goals like treat my self well. Then there are the really big too far a way to be sure of goals like "take art classes in Italy and paint in Provence". These are great dreams but as goals.... Yeah I'd like to work towards them but I'm fonder of my more specific and immediate "to do" lists. They make me feel good. I'm rather shameless when I make them too. When I sit down in the morning at breakfast and make it I put down things like, "take a shower, make breakfast, write to do list..." Then I can cross some things off right away and I feel like I'm off to a great start.

Although I argued for setting some mid term goals as well. When I started to play around with the wire and fabric I set a few goals. My first was to let myself learn without constantly critiquing my work. Another was to submit to a magazine within the next year. One was permission to play and the other was a challenge to work towards. I completely committed to both. For maybe the first time in my life I was determined to try for something real. Hard to kid yourself with the "someday" I'll make a difference in my life when you have a concrete timed deadline you've set for yourself. Hopefully, this makes sense to you all. I admit I'm trying to work through my thoughts on all of this myself. I've been trying to identify what was different about this time. I've tried things before but never gotten as far as this. Usually I'm a get excited and try, hit resistance, fear failure, and retreat sort of girl. But something has changed. Maybe it's a sense that the impossible is possible. Maybe it's a willingness to be gentle with myself. Maybe it's my newly found sense of discipline. I don't know. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

At Last! New Listings on Etsy

Seems like it's been forever- but I now have some new items listed! There a bunch of new wire words, some wall size and some embellishment size. I love these stitched to either canvas or my mini art quilts. There's also my favorite of the new listings- a scribble pear and scribble apple. They're the perfect "pear". Ok sad thing is I used that in the listing too.

Next on the to do list- I have 5 finished book projects due soon (luckily I also have a mom and dad who are willing to babysit next week).

I'd love it if you'd check out the shop to see the rest of the new items! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Etsy Front Page- YAY!!!

"Love" this! Love that they included me as well! Thanks to TheFuzzyMonkey for creating this treasury!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tinned Treasures

It started as a challenge to my creativity. I'd asked my Dad to pick me up some old lunch trays I'd seen at a garage sale he'd organized. When he brought over the trays he gave me a box of old cookie tins too. Thought I'd want them too. I think cookie tins are kind of pointless and I really had no use for them- but it's my dad and he'd got them for me so I mumbled thanks and tossed them in the garage. But later I was thinking about art and how really we should be able to make amazing art out of anything. So I started to play around with the tins. I did a post a while back with my first experiments altering their finish. I'd crackle painted one and spray painted another trying to see what I had to work with. Then I dropped it to do the book stuff.

So a couple of days ago when I needed to try and quick come up with a submission idea for the next Sew Somerset my eye fell on the tins and I thought I'd give them a try. Anything can be art right? The tin on the right is my first attempt. I really struggled with it at first. I knew I wanted to use some fabric and wire- :) and I knew I needed to include stitching, and because of the depth I thought it'd be cool to have things at different levels. So those were the parameters.

It turned out kind of fun. The central flower is actually fabric petals that I cut, coated with gel medium and then stuck to a mini plastic easter egg. To attach the wire, I used my handy dandy crop-a-dile and punched holes. The little silhouette at left is courtesy of Singlestone Studios. I was trying to channel the whole cameo look.

So there you have it- a little creativity and now I'm looking at the tins in my garage in a completely different light. Thanks Dad!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Making Our Footprint

Today I footpainted with my son. We started out with brushes and everything but he'd only made a couple of brushstokes before he was sticking his finger in the watercolors. Soon he wanted to make his handprint and since that was great... he figured why not a footprint too?

This is the kid I thought didn't like art. Which of course was an arrow straight to my bosom.

The incident made me think about art and again, why do we make it? Do we make it to be pretty? Do we make it to make a statement? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I think a lot of artists (maybe you) do create to express themselves but often it's the hook that gets us. "What happens if....", "What if I did...", "When you mix_and _ you get..." I saw it today in my son's eyes and heard it in his voice. He REALLY just wanted to know.

There are a lot of reasons I create. But the wanting to know- it's a big one.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some Tips for Submitting to a Magazine

Next week is the deadline for two magazines I absolutely love. One is Sew Somerset and I have been completely fortunate that they have included my work in their last 2 issues. My goal was to make it into three in a row. I thought that would fix my wire and fabric work in the minds of the subscribers better than appearing every once in a while. The second magazine is also by Stampington and actually just premiered this June. It's titled Art Quilting Studio. I loved the clean professional looking layout of this magazine. Rather than incorporating any sewn pieces it concentrates on the world of art quilting so it seems to have a more cohesive feel than the first. Sew Somerset is still my personal fave though, just because the projects are all over the place and I LOVE all over the place.

So these two deadlines are then next two goals I'd like to hit. They're on my mind so I thought I'd share my thoughts on submitting.

1-Find the magazine that best fits your work and style. Scope it out and try to get a feeling for the projects they like. For instance, I put more mixed media into the projects I submit for Sew Somerset just because their reader base seems focused on that. So when I created the "believe" mini quilt I added part of an old carpenter's ruler. It pulled the entire piece together and if I hadn't been searching for that little added "something" I might not have thought to include it.

2- Go for Broke! Include an article proposal. It felt completely audacious submitting an article proposal with my first group of work but I figured it was worth it if it put my work in the feature section vs. gallery. Although I would've been thrilled just to have it accepted into the gallery. Published is published! I googled magazine proposals to find the format I should follow. As for topic- did you create a new technique or mix media in a unique way. Is there an interesting story behind the creation of these pieces? Artists love to know what inspires others so telling a little about what inspired you is a great addition to the proposal/article. It also helps if you have 2 or more pieces to illustrate your article idea.

3- See a Need and Fill it. Sew Somerset seems to get less submissions for their wearable art section than the others. You might have a better chance of getting accepted if you tried focusing on a section like that. Could you adapt your work to a wearable format-plus you could be discovering a whole new direction in which to take your work! Fun!

4-Be Different. Don't worry if your work is a little offbeat or a stretch for the magazine. It should fit the general theme per Tip #1 but it's great if it's a little off. The editors could be looking for something a little different to help them expand their look. No one was doing wire and fabric sculptures when I submitted them. I figured they did use sewing techniques so although it might be a stretch that might also be appealing. You never know!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Question for us all-

Over at Singlestone Studios blog, Shelley asked the question- "What keeps you going?" I thought it was an interesting question about motivation. What keeps you going? Is it the next idea? The latest new product or material you can't wait to try? Is it your goals? For me it's all of the above. But more than anything it's the desire to be whole. There were dark years where I didn't have the energy or motivation to create. Although my mother nagged me to death about it- I just couldn't do it. She saw what I knew too- I was an artist and to be an artist- not creating art- it's miserable. I felt drained and unhappy all the time.

If you look at it one way- it's that darkness that now propels me. I don't want to go there again and so I do the opposite of everything I did then. If I have an idea now I don't stop to see if it'll go anywhere. I think about it, but don't obsess completely. I follow it and find out. Sometimes it's a dead end but more often then not it's a path that continues on. I play a lot more. I don't worry about making "serious" art any more. I create from a joy within myself instead of a horror toward myself. I'm self encouraging instead of condemning.

Lately I've heard people make a few comments about my work I thought was interesting. A couple of people referred to how joy-filled it can be. Another mentioned it was "uncensored". I'm not sure what I think of that. I honestly don't think too hard about what my work portrays to others. I make it because making it makes me happy. I also have a deep sense of being grateful. I am now able to be the person I was created by God to be. It makes me just really really glad to be doing what I do. But I'm curious- what makes you go on? What keeps you busy and creating? It might be something worth thinking about!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Doing the Work not just the PLAY

I wanted to title this post "Sucking it up". But then I thought I'd get a bunch of hits from Twilight fans, who would only be disappointed to learn I was talking about doing things you don't want to do. Cause it turns out that all those lessons our parents tried to teach us (like taking responsibility for your work and doing the things you don't want to - WITHOUT whining about it) really are important.
Even in art, which I love doing, I finding that it's important for me to do some stuff I don't want to. For instance, I need to take better pictures for my Etsy site. I know mine look like candids and although I don't like the look of them- I really don't want to take the time to learn how to take better one's. Aperture, f-stop, all that seems like more than I want to know. Plus, my creative energy has been solely focused on that first book deadline. I finished the page plan this week which is a page by page sketch of the ENTIRE book. Crazy! It worked out pretty well and I have to admit I have a much clearer vision for the book. So that was the first thing I "sucked it up" and did this week for my art.

Second, I let a friend who does amazing post production work for Photo Group in VA. give me a lesson on photographing my art. I know it's been killing her to look at the blog and my Etsy site and see all my amateur shots. Seriously- she can't stand them. So although I didn't want to learn, I knew this was my best shot at better, more professional pictures.

One thing she showed me was how to get the really close up in focus shots that blur right away. I love how this looks- it really draws the eye in. So I'll give it a try in the next week and see how it goes. The picture above is one she took of my wire tree. I do try to balance the suck it up stuff with fun stuff though- I kind of think you have to!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Taking Risks

I take risks. All the time. Mostly on canvas or paper. Lately I've been expanding my play into all kinds of areas and it's kind of scary because it's not comfortable and also because I can't see my way through to the other side. When I create something it evolves. It's the absolute best thing about art- how it's not all you. But I admit to usually have something in mind to begin. I think on things a lot before I start them. With so much going on with the book it's just been a non stop whirlwind of art materials, new techniques, and inspiration. I keep thinking the ideas will stop soon. But they don't because one begets another and another. It's me lately just trying to keep up with them.

I have to submit my detailed project list for the book soon. Just a list but I want to make sure that I can do all the things I say I will- so I've been all over the place in the last week experimenting. My favorite is the charm bracelet. I've really struggled with it. Visually I can't really "see" it yet. That bothers me. But yesterday it started to come together. Not the finished piece but I've narrowed down the ideas some and feel like I have a map. I'll get there. But it's been a definite challenge. Working, experimenting, taking risks- it's how things change. One my favorite says is "create your life- make art." I feel that by jumping into the unfamiliar (jewelry) I'm taking a definite risk. But this whole experience started with a few risks, a couple of goals, and the decision to just do it. Whatever the "it" idea was. Action will move you closer to your goals, sitting around will only make you really comfortable where you are.

I say try.