Friday, October 30, 2009

What I Learned This Week


  • Handing sharp instruments to squirrely students does not have to spell "B-L-O-O-D-S-H-E-D" and in fact, can result in cleverness and creativity galore.
  • Handing sharp instruments to said squirrels DOES mean much worry and sweating and stern guidance.
  • While classroom chaos does not occur in carving class, it DOES erupt during a lesson on paper folding...go figure!
  • Perhaps having 45 students fold and race paper airplanes was not the best idea if the goal was a soft, reserved, dignified lesson plan on origami.
  • It was really fun watching the middle school monkeys and their creativity take flight, no matter how chaotic the air space.
  • Spending a lot of time working small can result in a nearly wild urge to work HUGE! 
  • Large, prestretched canvases cost as much as dinner at a nice restaurant.  Box mac & cheese it is for me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dem Bones


Well, we had studied design elements and principles to death so it was finally time to give my high school squirrels some sharp objects and hope that no blood letting (unintentional or otherwise) ensued.  I am very happy to report that my first day of stamp carving with the students went well (and bloodless).  There were constant reminders of "Don't put your fingers in the carving path!" (she shrieked) and the occasional "Don't use the gouge as a pointer!" but all in all, they did just fine.  We are studying Mexican printmaker and social commentator Jose Posada in conjunction with our stamp carving, using Posada's famous calavera (Spanish for "skull")illustrations as inspiration for our own carvings of playful skulls and skeletons.  Yesterday, students started out by carving something small and simple so they could get a feel for the tools and material.  Over the next three or four class sessions, we will advance to carving a full skeleton and then learn how to ink the carvings and pull prints.  The kids have done some deliciously wicked skeleton sketches and I can't wait to see them translated into carvings.  There are skeletons dancing and skeletons skating, royal skeletons and warrior skeletons.  Drawing even a simplified skeleton with clothes and accessories is no small feat and the squirrels have done a fabulous job.  I'm off to carve my own skeleton to use as a demo piece.  Hope everyone has a terrific Tuesday!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Art in the (Itty Bitty) Round


My weekend was soft and quiet, filled with tiny art-making and here and there, some vigorous house cleaning.  These are some "rinchies" (inchies in circle format) that I made for a swap of such itty bitty things.  There is something oddly meditative about creating art on such a small canvas.  When I sit down to work on miniatures, the world sort of melts away as I focus on finding and clipping just the right size images, gluing down the practically microscopic pieces, figuring out my theme, adding the words, and finally edging the circles with a little bit of Staz-On ink.  You may ask:  What in the world do you do with such little things?  Inchies, rinchies, and other art in a mini format (typically under two or three inches in any one direction) are perfect for use in mixed media jewelry projects, greeting cards, small artists' books, and gift tags among other things.  I like to use these as mini illustrations in my journals where writing is the primary focus as opposed to those journals where ideas are mainly communicated through images and journaling is secondary.  I am finding that the process of creating minis, the intense concentration that develops as I hunch over my creations, is the most important and refreshing result of a tiny art session.   

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I Learned This Week

Welcome to a new Friday feature here at Lost Coast Post...
"What I Learned This Week:"

  • Tiny, tiny art can fill the need to create something without feeling compelled to create a major masterpiece...
  • To pick up all those bitsy clippings off the table with a fused hand, put a little bit of poster putty on the end of a paintbrush and viola!  Works splendid for found word poetry work as well...
  • My kitty princess, Miss Tuscany Jane, likes to play tag but my ankles are getting the short end of the deal in this game...
  • Aforementioned royalty is becoming a bit of a bed hog...
  • Blackberry honey and peanut butter sandwiches make the best breakfast in the world...
  • Monkeys will climb down off the bookshelves and light fixtures if the ole cartooning lesson plan is dangled in front of them...
  • Monkeys love, love, love to model funny poses for each other during said cartooning class...
  • I love monkeys!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Two Twinchies and a Mini Mona


After making those Paris-themed inchies for a swap, I realized how much I've missed working small...really small...and so after a cup of coffee and toast at 4:30am, I managed an inchie of dear, sweet-faced Mona, and just to spice things up, two butterfly "twinchies" (2-inch square art)....all before my son crawled out of bed at 5:30.  If I didn't have an intervening physical therapy appointment, I think I'd play straight through to evening.  I've decided that I'm going to make a bunch of these little pieces of art and then color-copy them at Staples to make my own collage sheet.  Won't that be fun?  I'd also forgotten how much I love to make up my own collage sheets and so I'm on a mission to create a Hand & Soul Studios image collection.  Anahata Katkin had these themed collage image books some while back (she discontinued them last year or the year before that) and while I coveted them, I never made the investment because I didn't want to use so much of someone else's stuff in my own work.  But if I make my own???  Too cool! I know exactly what types of images and symbols I like to use over and over again in my work and I'll be able to tailor my collage sheets directly to what I'm always looking for in collage material.  And going through the process of making art for collage sheets will ensure I have plenty of little projects to do when AEDM starts up in November.  Wheee!  Off to hunch over my work table some more!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Parisians & AEDM


Sometimes, all I have time for is a tiny bit of art, what with all the dishes, laundry, kitty snuggling, parenting, teaching of monkeys, and necessary self-care so I don't crash and burn.  And I do mean tiny art:  here's 6 Paris-themed inchies (one-inch square art) I managed to create this morning in between getting the boy out the door for school and lunchtime.  I used to do inchies all the time before my hand surgery and now, with my wrist fused, it can be quite a challenge to pick such little things up off the table.  But, as always, I managed and I love the results.  I have a feeling that when Art Every Day Month starts up in a mere ten days, I'll be playing around a lot more with inchies.  They are a great way to get in some art time without a huge commitment.  And on that note...if you are joining me for AEDM in November, remember that you do NOT have to start and finish a piece every single day.  The guideline is just that you work on something artsy each day in the month.  As the coordinator of AEDM, Leah Piken Kolidas states, this is a "low-pressure challenge."  Art is how you define it and could range from painting to knitting to a home-cooked meal to singing in the shower.  If you miss a day, just start again the next.  Besides making a little art every day, I'm planning on using November to live loudly and proudly as an artist, something that is really hard for me.  That'll mean wearing handmade jewelry, brightening up the wardrobe, using the purses and bags that I've made, artist dates...just coming out of the studio, so to speak.  What will committing to art every day inspire you to do?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pretty in Pastel


More simple playing around...I'm still dealing with fibromyalgia fatigue so I'm not as productive as I'd like but still managing to create a little something every day and that's a plus.  Every so often, I get the urge to make pink and girly and romantic things and so this postcard piece arose out of that sort of compulsion.  It used to be that all I did was pink and pretty but now my palette is dominated by hot pinks, lemon yellow, and pumpkin orange.  It is good to take a break from all that screaming color every now and again and take a breath.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jeepers Creepers & Farmers' Market


I love these birdy paper dolls from ARTchix!  I spent the weekend just playing around, trying to shake off some stress and shake loose some artist's block.  My creative juices always seem to dry up a bit after a big push to complete a lot of large pieces and since hanging my "Facades" show October 1st, my easel has stood dusty and neglected.  I long to paint but my brain is fried so I am working on little bits here and there.  When I want to "prime the pump," so to speak, I tend to play with a lot of pre-determined materials like scrapbook papers, collage sheets, embellishments and so forth rather than creating everything myself.  Using stuff other people have designed takes the pressure off and I feel free to let go.

In other weekend news, I spent Saturday morning at the local Farmers' Market and came away with apple-cinnamon bread, jalapeno-cheddar scones, blackberry honey, zucchini, and three pounds of Ruben Star apples.  I've been making an effort to get out to the market each weekend as I love simply wandering around, listening to the live music, admiring the baskets of flowers, fruits, and veggies, and watching everyone else who has decided to trade sleeping in for market morning.  Plus, I get some fabulously tasty organic goodies in the bargain! 

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Ruler of the House

It has almost been a year since a new baby came into my life, one actually prescribed by a forward-thinking physician.  Full of fine soft fur, fun, and fight, she has had me laughing and loving ever since.  Miss Tuscany Jane came into the world the hard way, born at a millyard that sits along the cold, blustery edge of the bay.  I'm told that she had siblings and of course, a mama, but that of all the wild babies at the mill, only Tuscany was successfully captured.  She was transported to a local animal rescue where she promptly hissed and bit for all she was worth and the rescue manager proclaimed her one of "the top ten worse feral cases" she'd ever dealt with in ten years.  She was so traumatized that the rescue had to keep a blanket over her carrier so she wouldn't try to attack her caregivers through the bars.  She was extremely malnourished and there were moments when her life was in question.  But she made it and slowly, very slowly, she warmed up to the idea of living in a world with human beings.  Some five months later, I wandered into the rescue, companion animal prescription in hand, and it took all of two minutes for me to know that Tuscany, with all her rough edges, was the one for me.  There had been several other adoption petitions filed before mine but somehow they all fell through.  I took it as a sign that this fiesty little furball was meant to tear up my household and brighten my days.

When I brought Tussy home, she hid under the dining table for several days but predictably she emerged for tuna-flavored kibbles and (thankfully), the potty.  Gradually, she began to seek out my attention and I responded with gentle, nonthreatening baby talk and sneaky little strokes from head to tail when I could make physical contact.  It has been a long, slow dance for the last ten months but Tuscany now sleeps with me under the comforter every night and spends a good portion of the morning curled in my lap, purring for all she's worth.  She has retained some feral behaviors:  she hates loud noises and strangers, she rarely meows, and she has a certain unpredictableness of mood.  I've showed these pictures to the rescue and I'm told that it is highly unusual for reformed feral cats to expose their belly.  However, Miss Tuscany seems quite comfortable with Rubenesque, full frontal exposure.  She reminds me every day to play fiercely and love passionately with plenty of naps in between.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Miles To Go


Our mild fall weather has turned dark and stormy with rain periodically beating down upon the roof, bringing a lovely, soothing sound to this loft-like apartment.  The little green & copper tree frogs are singing along to the rhythm of the rain, thrilled that their world has suddenly turned so damp.  These are snuggle-in-bed days but I'm due to teach the ins and outs of focal points this afternoon to my high school students.  We are (finally) finishing up our unit on design elements and principles and the kids are sooo ready to move on to stamp carving and printing.  And frankly, so am I.  I have so many things on my plate right now and so many more things waiting in the wings for time to bring them to fruition. All I need is time and focus and energy and...time.  Sigh!  I just have to trust that my dreams will wait patiently for me to catch up. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Be Fabulous


For purposes of blog post illustration, I've been pulling images (today & yesterday) from a journal of mine previously kept pretty much under wraps.  "Soul Stories" is about two-thirds complete and is a repurposed tome of children's poetry.  Whilst preparing the book for journaling, I gessoed the pages before painting with a variety of cheap craft acrylics. (Note:  For art journaling, crafting paints are best because they have more binder than pigment, making them easier to write over AND they save your expensive acrylics for other projects.)   On some pages, I left just a thin coat of gesso over the illustration so I could come back through and alter that image for a journal entry.  On others, I preserved the poem so I could use it for future inspiration.  Mostly I simply used the book as a substrate for my journaling, completely painting over the original text and images (as with the page above.)  A lot of the entries in this journal are very personal and thus off limits for public viewing but a few are more illustrative than narrative.  I really like to create "affirmation" pages in my journals, little visual bits of positive self-talk that I can return to when I am blue.

And speaking of fabulous, do yourself a favor and visit dear sweet Kelly at Soul Humming to reserve yourself a copy of her incredible art calendar for 2010!  12 months worth of Kelly's incredible art just waiting to grace your walls!  Wow! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sweet Songbird O' Mine


A bird came down the walk;
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad, -
They looked like frightened beads, I thought
He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, plashless, as they swim.

Emily Dickinson

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Witches Have Arrived


As the weather cools down and the leaves begin to swirl, I start to get in the mood for the most Zetti holiday of all - Halloween!  While I spied Halloween merchandise in the craft stores by late June, it seems only natural to play in orange, purple, and black when the quilts come out of the linen closet and icy lemonade gives way to hot tea with cinnamon sticks.  Over at My ARTistic Life, Helga is hosting a challenge asking artists to create something with an inchie attached.  Given the option of using a 4x4-inch or ATC format to feature the inchie, I ran with the trading card idea and created my first little piece of the fall season.  With a jeweled flower pinned to her quite stylish purple pointed hat, this witchy woman is ready for October frights and flights. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A.E.D.M.


I am gearing up to join Leah and many others for "Art Every Day" month which has been taking place in Blogland and studios around the world every November for the last seven years.  The rules are ridiculously simple:  create (or work on) something artsy every day for a month.  Now I tried a similiar challenge back in May and while I didn't create something every single day (aside from my daily journaling), I did fulfill a vow to begin blogging more regularly.  Even partial participation in this sort of challenge can have lasting, positive effects but I am determined to make it through the month this time around.  It'll be tough...no question about that, especially with lots of monkey wrangling thrown in for good measure but I really, really want to spend a month immersed in the artistic life.  I suppose I do that now but for one month I want to do it and document it and truly appreciate all that my life encompasses each day.  November - the month of thankfulness - is perfect for such an endeavor.  Won't you join me?  

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Space-making Potential


I need a nook.  I am currently nook-less.  Like many of you, I have a lot of stuff.  It seems to go with the territory as us artists are potential-o-holics.  Things always have potential to become something cool or beautiful or whimiscal or just simply, something else.  And so we save and purchase and hoard things that have potential until one day, we look around and wonder why the studio feels so claustrophobic.  Did I mention that I have a lot of stuff??  (Maybe a virtual studio tour is in order.)  Anyway, I have realized that in all the neatly restrained and color-coded stuff, I am in serious need of a nook, a little space to curl up and read and sip French vanilla coffee and just breathe.  When I was hanging my show in the furniture store the other day, I kept getting distracted by all the furniture, specifically the overstuffed (no pun intended) chairs.  I could imagine myself snuggled into one of those chairs, wrapped in a quilt, gazing out at the lazy cows who wander the neighboring field.  Then something interrupted my daydreaming and I remembered that there's probably no room for another piece of furniture in my already stuffed apartment.  It is definitely time to commit wholeheartedly to using what I have and making space where I can.  And that can mean, most definitely, making time to breathe, time to snuggle, time to cow-watch.  In a pinch, the couch has nook potential.

Friday, October 9, 2009

White Dove Moments


This particular journal entry is downright sedate compared to all my usual work but it seems to accurately reflect the peacefulness that has settled into my spirit with the last few days of rest and relaxation.  I am making a concerted effort to find a little bit of contentment in each day, no matter how I feel.  Having chronic health issues can take its toll on positivity and the sense of accomplishment highly productive days can bring.  It becomes all about finding peace in the small movements forward, in the little moments that otherwise would be overlooked.  Perhaps those times can be described as "white dove" moments;  most of the time, life gives us pigeons (and all the associated mess) but every so often, a dove wanders into the grey-black flock, cooing and strutting for all its worth, and we are temporarily entranced.  I am trying to recognize those moments more often and give them the attention they deserve.  I think that if I really pay attention, I'll find that there are a lot more doves out there than I give the world credit for.    

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hibernating & Incubating


I've taken a bit of a break from blogging this past week to enjoy a small vacation from teaching while the middle and high school students are on a weeklong school trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  It has turned out to be an important time to get the house back in order, to rest and recover from the remaining vestiges of the flu, and to incubate fresh, new ideas for artwork.  The weather has turned cold and grey which is perfect for encouraging a lack of errand-running, something that eats up my energy.  So I've been curled up on the couch beneath a mountain of blankets, sketching and note-taking, sipping acai tea, and nibbling on mint Milano cookies.  Plans for new work are taking shape, slowly but surely, even as I continue to work on the "old" stuff for the November and December shows.  I am regaining my feet after being swept off of them by a particularly nasty fibromyalgia flare-up.  Of course, the minute I get all rested up, it'll be time to get back to teaching.  So I am enjoying this respite while I can... 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Neighborhood Construction Finished


Well, this photo should be admitted into the "Bad Photo Hall of Fame" but it is all I've got of my new art show entitled "Facades," now hanging at a local furniture store.  That wall is actually a rich buttercream yellow and it always makes the color in my work pop!  There are 20 pieces total (more are hanging on another wall) and I am quite happy with the way it turned out.  The reception is this Friday evening during the monthly art walk event in my town and the work will remain up during October.  Next up is a post-wrist fusion retrospective to hang at my physical therapy office in November & December.  Then, also in December, "Facades" is scheduled to be installed at an antique lighting and furniture store in a neighboring city that also hosts a monthly art event.  Despite everything that has slammed me in recent weeks, I am, slowly but surely, seeing things through.  It has not been easy and some issues are still very much unresolved but it feels good to see my work out in the bright lights of the world...   
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