Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All in a Week's Time....

Newly Released!!
It's been busy around here and in the last week I've...
-Taught a class on my wire flowers at the Studio at Rush Creek (and LOVED meeting the lovely ladies who attended!!!)
-Sighed with anticipation when my advance copy of Sew Somerset came (lots and lots of goodness in there)
-Attended the end of the year picnic at my son's school
-Gone to the hardware stores more times then I'd like  (ok that's a lie I really like going to the hardware store but don't tell my husband... ;)
-Painted lots and lots of beautiful trim white 
-Polyurethaned a door (never done that so it made the list.)
-Started Christy Tomlinson's new e-course, She Had Three Hearts (love it!)
-Raided the craft shelf at my local library
-Painted my newly remodeled bathroom- it's almost finished!
-Took a bath in my lovely new tub
-Wrote an article for CPS gifts issue
-Sent in proposals for a couple of magazines (although that might have been the week before-can't remember)
-Brainstormed ideas for the Sew Somerset deadline coming up in July (thought it was in  June so I got an early start)
at the zoo
-Watched Tron and Tron 2 with my husband (better then I expected)
-Completely enjoyed my son's reaction to the new Kung Fu Panda 2 (he vibrated all the way into the theatre, through the movie, and all the way home- it was THAT good) 
-Went to the Minnesota Zoo and saw the sea otters
-AND got to start reading through my new book, Plaster Studio by Stephanie Lee + Judy Wise (completely lovin' it!)
New book!
*Those were the highlights and what I really really love is that this is a typical week for me. I don't get new books or magazines all the time but I really love how my life is such a mix of home and art.  

The things that really make life good though are the little things, the comments you leave me, the new recipe I tried, the time spent with my son and husband, the fabulous new idea that hit in the middle of the night, and the texts I get during the day from my friends just wondering what I'm up to. It's all so good and I am really so so grateful to be living this life. Right now. Thank you all for being part of what makes it so good. I really really appreciate it. :)

So what have you been up to? Found any cool new art technique? Gone somewhere new? Found something old you just loved? Picked up a killer new book or magazine? I'd love to hear from you- so please leave a comment so that we can know what you've been up to. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Search of the Artistic Home

The last couple of days I've spent painting. You see it's the last week my 6 year old has school and I just had to get a project finished up. There's no artistic expression involved in this marathon session, alas, instead I'm trying to finish painting our newly remodeled bathroom, and all the trim for the upstairs of our house so that the remodelers can come back and finish up . I've think I've mentioned before how challenging my house is to me. I told someone years ago that my idea of good interior design is a house that hugs you when you enter it. Which means to me that it's got a warm color palette to envelop you, a mix of high and low ceilings where appropriate, (but not too high), big open windows, furniture you can sink right into, natural elements, and artistic personality. I've been working towards this ideal home for about 10 years now. This is our first home and we've only recently had the funds to fix it up much. Which I have to say, feels phenomenal. It is still just an '80's split level, but it's starting to reflect my aesthetic a LOT more. We have wood floors all over the house now, we put in big white windows, the rooms are all painted in natural colors, with lots of creams and browns. There's a real mix of woods which I like. And slowly but surely we're adding furniture I love. I have of course, got wire and fabric art ALL over the place, but I have a good selection of paintings and photographs too. 

A lot of what is making me feel better about the house though, is the little things. For instance, a couple of weeks ago was my birthday and my mom and grandma bought me some Fiesta Ware. It's the boomerang effect. You like what's new and different from your usual. I used to love the white I got for my wedding, but they do lose something when they're chipped, scratched, and 12 years old. The new dishes are bright, pretty, and make me happy to set the table.

I've also got art everywhere and I really really love that. It's not all my art either, I have a print by Erin Leigh of etsy in my kitchen that was a Christmas present this year (love it!), a she art painting that my mom did (it's the cute mom and daughter one), and my fly decal from Single Stone Studios over the entry that always makes me happy to see it. There are the wooden screens I made for either side of the entry door, and  pillows by Katie Benson on my couch. It's all accumulated over the years- a purchase here, a gift there. :) And slowly... slowly... the house is starting to come together. As soon as the bathroom is done I'll show you guys the before and after and I guarantee it'll be a shocker. Just to forewarn you- we still had icky brown shag carpeting on the bathroom floor before this remodel. Of course, there wasn't much shag left to it after 20 + years, but you get the drift. BIG changes. Which reminds me, I should probably wrap this up, and go finish that trim. :)

Have a great day!!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Resources and Tips for Publishing Your Art

From talking with some of you, and others, I know that publishing your art is a goal. How to achieve that goal is a topic that usually comes with a lot of questions. So yesterday I began compiling some info that I've found to be helpful and have posted them as a page here at Art as Usual (look up and under the blog header you'll see it). This is a total work in progress, and I plan to add more info and links as I can. But I think I have enough info here to get you started if this is, in fact, a dream of yours. So take a look, and know that you can be published. 

I'm off now to finish up some prep for my Author Night tonight over at the Studio at Rush Creek. I'm hoping to see some of you who are local, there. I think it'll be fun and am excited to be spending time with some other crafty guys and girls.I hope that you too, whatever your plans are, have a fabulous evening tonight. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where Did Your Artist Go?

I used to teach art to elementary students. It was fascinating to watch the sheer abandon the younger children had as they fearlessly smeared paint across paper, mixing colors, obscuring the white. They painted for the joy of it, and because they wanted to feel it, to see it, and to find out what happens. Art for them was an experience to be enjoyed. I noticed though that as I moved up in the grades, teaching older and older children that they learned to be self critical fairly quickly. Art became a skill to be learned and those who could draw or paint were the only one's who still enjoyed it and really it's questionable how much they even enjoyed it. I'd hear even the most gifted students talking disparagingly about their work. They didn't get the hands right, or the perspective, or the color. Often teachers who were teaching art like any other subject would judge the art critically with the idea that they needed to assign a grade. Without being artists themselves they judged as best they could on the technical things. Does it look right? Did the students use the "right" colors, did they show a proficiency? These things became the criteria for "good art".

When I teach I try to encourage my students not to judge their work. I try to show the difference between a self critique, where you look at your work and propose to yourself what you might do different, or how you could have solved such and such a problem, and a self criticism where you basically tell yourself that what you did is wrong or bad. The second is the trap I think we all get stuck in, as we begin to compare what we did to what we see as ideal and if it fails to measure we take that as an internal blow to our very selves. We judge ourselves on our ability, our work, and how we measure up to others.

Is it any wonder that so many drop art as an interest as they get older? Academia very squarely puts art in the "elective" category, and as something that isn't as important as other classes. Looking down the road, the career of the artist is murky, the road unclear. This contrasts drastically with other possible careers that have a clear path delineated as well as a projected salary scale. That murkiness gets worse when we believe we have to have "talent" as well as skill. Talent is not quantifiable, it's something we feel we need to be labeled by others with. To label ourselves as talented is simply not done. So we need skill, we need talent, we need a career path, the list of things we think artists must have is long. It gets longer when we add things out of fear, like an artist needs to sell their work, an artist needs to be obsessed, or we'll even decide that a true artist spirit is a touch crazy or unstable. The perception of the starving artist makes this uncertainty worse. What is your list? What do you believe an artist is? How would you describe one?

It's not a pretty picture. Yet so many of us hit our twenties, or thirties, or fifties, with a desire deep within us to be an artist. It's a dream that doesn't die although we try to satisfy it with a career in design or decor or education. It's just not the same and we feel that difference. We sometimes ache with it. But by now we have more perceived strikes against us. We may be busy with a family that requires us to sacrifice our time and desires, we may have debt that we feel ties us to a job that gives us the ability to pay it, we may have a lucrative career we spent years carving for ourselves that we just can't see walking away from. We may have a job that allows us to help others and it's hard to find value in something that we feel only helps ourselves. The list again is long and overwhelming. Yet that desire doesn't die. We become frustrated, crabby, twisted or resentful as the older we grow the more aware we are of time, and how we spend it or don't.

And we're fearful. So fearful of wasting our or others time or money on our dream. If it weren't for that inborn desire I don't believe there were would be any artists out there at all. It propels us against our good sense to take that online course, to browse the art section of the library and come home with a stack of books to work from, to find the blogs of other creatives, to walk into the art or fabric store and stay even if it's uncomfortable. To spend our small amounts of time creating and our small amount of play money on supplies. Because for every little bit we make, we discover that we were wrong. We can do it, we can make something and that act of creating is an act of self discovery that awakes and exhilarates us. We look at the evidence, that something we created and try to realize that this really did come from inside us. We're amazed because we still weren't sure if we could. That's the beginning. It starts with the desire to create and truly begins once we've taken the action to create. 

But even then the fear can intensify and the self criticism returns even more forcibly. We wonder who we think we are to be doing this at our age, or without a background in art, or a degree. It seems audacious of us and that I think can make us feel ridiculous. But thankfully I think that internal desire and love for the act of creation rescues us. It's not something we can help, this want to make something, to pull something out from within us. We must do it. We become artists in spite of ourselves but are oh so careful to call ourselves something else, in case someone misunderstands. We claim to be a crafter, or a hobbyist, or someone who likes to dabble. It may take us fifty years or more til we can claim again, as we did as children, that we are artists. It's a seemingly sad story but if we concentrate on it as a journey I think we can be a little more understanding of ourselves. Because in a journey it doesn't necessarily matter how long it takes you to get someplace, just that you set out and that eventually you reached a place you want to be. Twenty, thirty, fifty years, it doesn't matter- you're there now. That matters and I believe our hearts recognize that. We become different people, who enjoy and encourage others. Who are excited and maybe a little obsessed. But that rightness and joy in creating is just so great that it assures us that this is what we were meant to do, this is what we need to do, and this is what we were made to do.

It's a horribly long blog post today, but sometimes I get a little possessed myself and find a message I want to share. So I hope that whoever it was that today's blog was meant for  takes it to heart and feels encouraged in whatever stage of the journey they are at. You are doing just what you were meant to do- just believe it. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Author Night This Friday!!!

This Friday, the 20th, I'll be featured at an Author Night at the Studio at Rush Creek in Maple Grove. It's a free event that I'm a little nervous about but a whole lot excited about too. The Studio is a fabulous venue and they were sweet enough to let me sculpt the night a bit to my idea of a good time. Which means a make and take, so that those who come can actually try their hand at stitching fabric to wire, an informal chat that's more about you and your questions then me or the book.

I LOVE to inspire and encourage others so this kind of night really appeals to me. I'm hoping to share some info about how to get published both in magazines and books, and how to find the road that's right for you.  I'm bringing some of the projects from the book, so if you'd like to take a closer look, or having any questions about the projects you can ask. I'll also be selling/signing my book, so if you'd like a copy then you can get one then. But I didn't want this to be about that, so although the book will be available, the evening is about so much more. I would like people to walk away  feeling excited and encouraged to try something new and maybe stretch their own creative wings. There will be coffee too, as the Studio is a full service coffee bar as well as a artisan boutique and studio space that makes you feel inspired just being there.

So if you're local, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see you there! It's from 7- 8:30, come for as long as you can, and enjoy this fun, crafty, and hopefully marvelously inspiring event. You can find out all the particulars here. THANKS!!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paint Scrapings

It was one of those EUREKA moments the other day. I have a couple of craft mats that I just LOVE and use all the time as palettes when I'm painting or gluing. I tend to use them and then let the paint dry on the surface so after a while it builds up to a point where I start to think I should scrape some off, but then end up just flipping it over and using the other side. Super lazy, I know, but the craft mat tends to bring that out in me. I mean it's just SO EASY. When done, I roll it up and stick it in an old spaghetti jar I have on my desk and voila I've cleaned up.

But every once in a while, I decide to take a plastic scraper thing or old credit card thingy and scrape off all that old paint. A few days ago, with both of my mats filled, on both sides with paint, I decided it was time and I got to work. The scrapings looked so pretty though that I kind of hated to throw them away. So I scraped away until I had a nice big pile and then... my eyes fell upon an empty spice jar I had just sitting there next to the sink. So I tossed in the scrapings and don't they look just pretty? I haven't played with them yet but I don't see why I couldn't use them like I would glitter or flocking or something else that you would sprinkle on and I'm thinking that might be a pretty artsy look.

I'll give that a shot as soon as I'm done getting a few submissions done. Next week is the deadline for both a Jewelry Affaire and Haute Handbags as well as a submission I'm doing for Cloth Paper Scissors gift issue. I'm rushing to get those finished and mailed and then we'll see what these little flakes can do. Fun!!!

I'm curious though, what have you used as art supplies that isn't the norm? Have you ever tried burnt wood to draw with, or used clay from the bottom of a lake to sculpt with? I'd love to know something YOU'VE discovered. Thanks for sharing!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Happy Return of Spring!

Ultra Important: I want to thank you ALL for your super sweet and encouraging comments these last few weeks. I've reread them time and again for encouragement and thank you all from the bottom of my <3.

Now....I am so glad to announce to you that over the weekend I think spring has officially made her return to our area of Minnesota. It's been a season of a lot of false hopes only to be dashed by snowfalls in May. But today as I glanced out the kitchen window at the back yard I realized we needed to mow the lawn. YES! Of course, mowing is this huge pain in my husbands neck all summer lawn but that means spring has finally decided to stick around a while now. YAY!

Now for an update: It's been a complete whirlwind around here lately and due to some issues with the computer, my allergies, and a bathroom remodel here at the house we've been living day to day for the last few weeks. I do have some pretty fun stuff coming up here on the blog though- some product comparisons, some new art, some fun tutorials. So soon, very soon it'll be back to art as usual around here.

(ha ha I just reread and realized I mispelled long- lawn) oops! gonna keep it. :)

Hope you're having a super fabulous spring and are all super super productive. Have a great day and see you soon!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wrapping Up the Jeans Challenge

One Pair of old painting jeans can mean nine or more new denim accessories. Who knew? Here's what I've got:
1. a funky denim headscarf (part of one pant leg)
2. a stitched denim cuff (part of another pant leg and a back pocket button)
3. a cute little flower ring (from little scraps)
4. a sassy little purse with rolled denim flowers (back pocket, leg, waist band and button)
5. a funky and chunky chain necklace (inseam of pants legs plus leg fabric)
6.  a rolled denim brooch (other back pocket material)
7. a sweet little rolled denim flower barrette (scraps again)
8.& 9. AND a little inspiration bag plus notebook (front right pocket, fabric from front of leg, inseam of leg, and zipper fly of jeans

There's still a bit of material left but inspiration hasn't struck so I'm calling that a maybe addendum for the future. Right now, after a couple of weeks staring at the same fabric I'm ready for a change. Here are some more pics of the inspiration bag I just finished up. It was a total hodge podge of pieces and really would've made a really confusing tutorial. So I opted to show you some pics of the finished bag instead. The notebook was created from a small mini with cover removed. Then I glue sticked on some of the jeans fabric. The holes at the top were punched with the crop-a-dile. I stitched the flower on through the paper backing. It's pretty cute. :) Note what a fabulous closure the zipper fly of the jeans made for the main compartment of the little bag. I really like how that turned out. It's the perfect size for a phone, a small wallet, whatever. In the back pocket I've got my coupons I always forget, a place to put the business cards I also seem to forget/or a small glue stick. Perfect! It has been a GREAT challenge and I hope that it's given you some ideas and shown you what a really old pair of jeans is still capable of. Enjoy the pics!