Sunday, May 31, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 21 and 22

I have to admit that this past two weeks in my Snippets journal was tough to complete. As of May 31st, I've completed 151 days in this 365 journaling project...just 214 days to go. There are several reasons why I struggled to stay focused on Snippets these last two weeks. First, as teaching ends for the school year and summer break stretches out before me, I am turning my attention to painting. I always work on multiple projects (and in multiple media) at once but typically only one thing gets my white-hot, laser focus. All other projects are on the periphery, things I dabble on here and there as time allows and the mood strikes. Right now, painting is front and center.

Secondly, I am growing weary of collage. Since I am leaning heavily on my imagination and sketchbooks while I paint, collage work (i.e. using images that aren't my own) feels, at best, like a distraction and at worse, like a fraud. Drawing and painting my own stuff (and collaging my own stuff) feels the most authentic. I've been working towards 100% self-generated imagery for a few years now; I'm not sure if I'll ever get there but after five months of using found, collected images, I feel that familiar urge to refocus on my own work. 

Finally, it is simply natural to lose steam in the middle of a yearlong project. 365 days is a long haul and I am not surprised that I am losing interest as I near the halfway point. However, I have zero desire to leave this project incomplete so I am giving myself permission to change things up a bit. I might do some more theme weeks or I might spend a few weeks sketching in each box. Maybe I'll do a monster-a-day for a while or just work with photos. Perhaps, I'll do two weeks of miniature landscape paintings...the possibilities are endless and the rules are non-existent.

It is good to remind myself that this journal is my playground, not my cage.

Note: I've written about 365 projects before. I've finished some and abandoned some. Every effort at a long term project - whether complete or not - has generated valuable insight and inspiration.   

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sparks of Madness Flare to Life

"Grand Prince Iago the Shiftless" - SOLD
I have just a couple of teaching days remaining in the 2014 - 2015 school year but my preparation for an August show of my painting work has already shifted into high gear. I'm going to create some more pieces for my Motley Menagerie theme (birds, fish, animals) to satisfy the crowd looking for more "living room suitable" art but this year, I'm also going to take a risk and bring my monsters out of the sketchbook and into the big, wide world for all to see. I'm calling this series Sparks of Madness, as inspired by the words of the late Robin Williams:
You're only given a little spark of madness.
You mustn't lose it.
I have no idea how these paintings will be received by the public but I know that when I'm painting and these weird little faces begin to peek out from the colorful chaos of my backgrounds, I smile and my grin only gets bigger as the whole creature reveals itself to me. It really does feel like I'm meeting old friends that I've only corresponded with but not yet met in person. Their images are surprising but they also feel comfortably familiar. (I have the same sort of feeling when I sculpt...sounds crazy I suppose but there it is.) Anyway, I hope that at least a few people see these paintings for what they are: a celebration of my inner child.

I'm not sure yet how I'm going to title these paintings. Should I give them names? Or just numbers? I'm leaning towards naming them all; numbers seem so impersonal. Still thinking this over so this little fellow remains nameless at this moment. Hopefully, he'll feel brave enough to speak up soon so I don't have to keep calling him "Sparks 1." 

EDIT: I ended up giving all the Sparks pieces silly, elaborate names. This piece became Grand Prince Iago the Shiftless.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Curious Commenting Conundrum...Corrected

While I paint, I keep a small altered book open off to the side and I unload all my excess paint onto its pages. When a page reaches a pleasing stage, I create a finished entry. This image is from that paint scrapings journal.

Note: Thank you to Ozge, a sharp-eyed reader who alerted me to a malfunction in my blog template which superimposed the "Number of Comments" line over the "Publish" button making it impossible to comment in the first place. I wondered why the crickets had invaded in full force for the last three or four posts. Since I didn't dare mess with the blog code, I changed the comment format. Now when you click "Comments" under a post, a separate window will pop up, allowing you to comment as desired. I do moderate comments but there are no verification hoops to jump through. I hope this makes commenting easier although now you need to allow pop-ups when at my site. *sigh* I had the comment section embedded within the post to avoid the pop-up hassle. I have no idea why (or when) the template got all discombobulated; I just know that the pop-up solution circumvented the problem. So comment away dear ones...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Organizing Paint

As the school year winds down (just six more teaching days left for me!), my painting practice is gearing up in advance of my next show. Every year I vow to start early and most years, I still find myself working like a madwoman in the days prior to hanging, desperately hoping I'll have enough pieces to make the show look "full." This year, I basically have no choice but to begin early as most of my previous work for the "Motley Menagerie" theme are on to other homes besides my apartment walls. 

This year, I'm merging the Menagerie show with a subset of creature pieces collectively known as "Sparks of Madness." I'm putting my monsters out on canvas in living, large color. *gulp* I made this decision back in October of last year and my reasoning from that time still rings true:
I think it is time to take a risk and put together an entire show featuring my private passion front and center. Yikes! There is a good chance that this is a fool's errand. Let's face it: monsters aren't as living room compatible as pretty birds and elephants. This is really a matter of authenticity. I love creating creatures. As crazy as it sounds, they whisper things to me as they come to life. They tell me to play, to smile, to laugh, to be bold, to be content with who I am, awkward bits and all. I think it is time for my creatures to speak their truths to a wider audience.
Since I anticipate devoting most of my summer to painting, I've been doing some reorganizing of the studio so I have easy access to my supplies. Previously, all my paints were stored in various baskets scattered throughout the studio. Between the acrylics, the craft paints, watercolors, gouache and mediums, I have too much to really consolidate into a single spot. However, I did manage to bring the heavy body paints front and center.

I have a large corkboard (purchased for $5 at a local thrift store) on one wall of the studio and it's my inspiration board. I decided to devote half of this space to a functional paint display. This organizing system is not an original idea; I found a picture of a similar set-up on the internet. Because I'd rather not pay for a hundred nail holes in my apartment wall, I used a tack and clip system to hang my paint tubes on the corkboard. (Nails would probably be sturdier but there's that pesky damage deposit to get back.)

I hope to add nice big color samples on stickers to the tubes so I can see the colors more clearly but that's a project for a more obsessive day. The tubes are generally organized by color moving from left to right but I'm not going to stress if something gets out of place...those sample stickers will come in handy for replacing tubes where they belong...hmmm....I guess I do need to get on that as soon as possible! Just as long as I spend more time painting than organizing the painting supplies!

Edit - May 26, 2015:
After a long day at work (and being too tired to manage anything else), I took the time to add those color sample stickers to all my hanging tubes of paint. I love, love, love any organizing-by-color system (not to mention swatching) and it was actually both fun and soothing to sit quietly working on this project.

I am thrilled with this system: no guessing at colors while also digging through overflowing baskets of paint tubes. At my last painting session, I shimmied the three feet from my studio table to the inspiration board and selected which paints I needed immediately. Once I was done, I just clipped them back into place; as I suspected, the labels were very useful for remembering where each tube needed to go. Plus, the whole thing looks much cooler with all those pretty color splashes!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to LCP!

Whoo hoo! Let the confetti fly and cake be served! It's been nine years since I first began blogging here at Lost Coast Post! In honor of the occasion, I've been tinkering with the template, changing up the blog header, adjusting the color scheme, updating the pages. If you're reading this in a feed, please do pop in to the actual site so you can check out the makeover. 

Let's review how it all started on Saturday, May 20, 2006...
Well, I have decided to leap blindly onto the electronic bandwagon and try out blogging. I'll share my art and my random thoughts & observations on trying to live an artistic life. I'm hoping that this experiment will encourage me to write more enthusiastically and prolifically. The more daily wonderings I can generate, the more material I'll have to explore in my art. And sometimes, it is just helpful to document everyday struggles and triumphs, transforming the internal into something external. That, after all, is the job of the artist, no matter the media or medium.
Many years ago, I created a zine by hand titled The Ephemeron and in moments of insanity (typically when fevered,) I toy with the idea of revisiting zine publishing. (I may still give in to that crazy notion.) I think that when I began blogging, I envisioned this space as a virtual zine, a replacement for that hand-produced zine that was fulfilling but exhausting. I don't know if Lost Coast Post really became that in the last 705 posts but as I move forward, I will be making changes here and there so LCP more closely resembles that model. I want to continue to offer solid content that readers can actually use in their own art endeavors. I think that is an imperative as I also gently nudge LCP toward being something that can, in the least, fund my art supply habit. Simply put, I need to offer something worthwhile for your dollars, be it information, inspiration, or physical art works.

Rest easy though: Lost Coast Post will NEVER become one of those blogs that exists solely to promote product. Those kinds of blogs leave me with an icky, overwhelmed (and yet underwhelmed) feeling. I want this space to be somewhere you look forward to visiting and where you leave feeling richer than when you arrived.

So thank you to everyone, silent and talkative, who has joined me here over the years for my frequent ramblings, occasional rantings, and wild, unpredictable adventures in art. May there be many more meetings between you and I!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 19 and 20

Last Snippets posting, Laurie asked if I was working directly in the journal or if I was creating art separately and then gluing it onto the page. I answered her in the comments but in case that reply was missed, here's my answer again: I do a little of both. To provide a bit more detail, I thought I'd list what I did on each day so everyone can get a better idea of how I work in this journal.
May 4: Collage of book images, magazine word, sticker
5: Book image, stamping, handwriting, scrapbook paper, sticker
6: Cropped photocopy of old journal page, book image, washi tape, sticker
7: Cropped photocopy of old ATC, stickers, scrapbook paper
8: Book images, piece of name band from that day's ER visit
9: Purchased collage material, rub-on number
10: Purchased collage material, junk mail clipping, book image

May 11: Hand-painted numbers, hand-painted monster (collaged onto page)
12: Magazine clipping, purchased collage material, number clipped from Bingo card
13: Found photograph, magazine clipped number
14: Cropped photocopy of old journal page (collaged onto page,) office date stamp
15: Scrapbook paper, Bingo number
16: Wrapping paper, hand-stamping, clipped words, scrapbooking embellishment, date stamp
17: Cropped index card from previous ICAD challenge, scrapbook paper, stickers 

And although these items do not appear in this particular pair of pages, I also draw or paint directly onto the page as well as gluing in little cartoons my son has drawn.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Unfolding My Own Myth

5:15 in the a.m. here on the coast of northern California (if you're thinking San Francisco, adjust your thoughts about 300 miles north of that!) Lit only by the tiny white lights circling my studio and the glow of my computer screen, I type this little message, balancing both computer and purring girl-kitty, Miss Tuscany Jane, on my lap. I post a lot about my giant marmalade Marley Bear simply because he is (literally) such a big presence in my life but Tussy was here first and she is my constant shadow - a bit cranky as calicos are prone to be but still always in my orbit, usually trying to worm her way up onto my chest so she can snuggle. 

I wanted to say how very loved I feel after all the thoughtful and supportive comments that came in after my last post...thank you! When you guys so generously take time out of your busy, busy lives to tap out a message to me, it fans the flames of my enthusiasm for this space and helps assure me that I am on the right path. After nine years, I suppose it is natural to wonder "Is what I'm doing here still relevant and useful?" Thank you for the resounding "Yes!" Message received. I'm going to just let this blog unfold and reveal itself as I do the same. I have lots of ideas percolating about where to take Lost Coast Post in future weeks and months (dare I say years?!) and I'll put some of those notions into practice as the teaching year winds down. It is delightful to know so many are willingly to join me on this unpredictable journey of my art and life. 
Gratefully yours,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Minuet No. 11 & Thoughts on Blogging

Happy Monday! I'm battling my way back to everyday life after a run-in with a nasty flu bug that landed me in the emergency room...ugh. I haven't been upright, much less making art so today I'm posting another piece from my Minuet series. I love this one and I am starting to see a trend in my favorites: full abstract is out, fairy-tale/storybook is in. That actually fits in quite nicely with my expanding exploration of illustration.

Confession time: I stopped posting much of my cartooning/illustration work because the blog stats seem to show that most people come here for my journaling and paper art work. Posts with drawing, doodles, and all manner of art oddities are practically skipped all together. (And I'm talking about extreme shifts in the number of views from one kind of post to the other.)

I'm a bit torn about that as in truth, my journaling (as I had practiced it for years) is slowly giving way to more drawing, painting, sculpture, and illustration. I think that in a year or so, collage (as a primary technique in a project) will be largely part of my artistic past. My diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson's Disease is a huge motivating factor. Simply put, I want to push my fine motor skills to the limit while I am still blessed with a steady hand.

Originally, I thought that two separate blogs (one for journaling, one for illustration) would be best but that was an awful lot of work and I didn't exactly feel genuine in either space. So a while back, I made the decision to merge the two blogs and hope that people would stick with me in my journey. Readership and comments plummeted and not sure what to make of that, I went back to posting just my more "mainstream" work. I never stopped doing it and then began again for the sake of the blog; I just was doing much less and wanted to transition into posting about what I've been doing a lot.

I still believe that to be the most authentic I can be in this space, the focus of the blog needs to shift as I do. It just gets really, really scary when I post stuff I love and only crickets greet my efforts. I know the world of blogging has changed from when I first began in 2006. I feel like I'm one of the few bloggers who still uses the blog format for more writing than pictures. (I do try, dear readers, to vary the length of my posts but anyone who's ever known me will tell you I've always been verbose. What can I say? I love words and I love putting my thoughts into tangible form.) I'm sure my wordiness is difficult to deal with in this age of tiny, handheld screens. I also know that those phone-sized keyboards and blog reader programs make commenting difficult. I guess, ultimately, I'll just stop looking at the statistics and the comment counts and just post my heart's desire. I know that will be the only way I'll be able to continue coming here for another nine years.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Wish on the Wind Returns, Fulfilled

Have you ever plucked a dandelion stem and sent a wish into the wind? Or paired a penny with a hope and tossed both into a fountain? Surely, at some point, we've all faced a lit birthday candle, eyes closed, a dream held close until we released that dream into the flame with a single breath.
I've done all those things many times throughout my 45 years. I wished and walked away without a second thought, consigning that wish to oblivion before the tufted dandelion seed drifted out of sight, before the wishing penny joined the other coins at the bottom of the fountain, before the dripping candle wax had hardened on the birthday cake. Maybe it was just a short attention span or maybe it was something deeper...a lack of hope and optimism. Either way, I've sometimes paid little mind to my dreams beyond sending them out into the world on a whim. 

Sometime in the first week of April, something on Twitter caught my attention: a technology giveaway for creatives. I followed the provided link and discovered byRegina, a passionate business that offers guidance to bloggers looking to develop and refine their online businesses. For the time it took to fill out a form, I could win a new computer, camera, or iPad (whichever I thought I needed most.) No retweets, entry fees, or Facebook likes required. In order to qualify for the "Creative Ninja Scholarship," I needed to describe what I did, the equipment I currently had, and what I would do with new technology if I won. The owner - Regina Anaejionu - and her team would review all the submissions, choose 20 to move on to the final round, and would take over from there to select the winner.

The goal was simply to give the gift of new technology to someone who needed it in order to take their dreams to the next level.

I clicked on the form and then, iron-fisted hesitation took hold. My mind was filled to bursting with doubts:

There has to be a catch...I'll never win anyway...I don't have a brand...I barely have a business...everyone else is more worthy...maybe the fact of Parkinson's Disease negates any plans for my I even fit into the demographic these people are trying to reach?

I filled the form out in part and then deleted it. "There's no point," I thought. Later that day however, I opened the form again and after a deep breath and one of those impulsive, "It can't hurt to try" decisions, I completed my entry and hit send. I closed the tab in my browser and promptly forgot all about it.

And then, the impossible happened.

On April 23 (three days after the announcement of the winner,) someone emailed me to say "Congratulations on winning the computer!" Initially, I had no memory of entering a giveaway. (The chaos of theater dress rehearsal week was in full swing at that time.) Fortunately, the writer mentioned byRegina and I had something to type in the Google search bar. The link popped up and I said to myself "Oh, that....wait! What!?"

There it was in black and white: I had won a brand new MacBook Pro! A stubborn sense of unreality dogged my thoughts relentlessly throughout everything that followed: the email to Regina asking if this was really happening, the reply that, "yes, indeed...this is not a joke," the wait for the package to arrive. It wasn't until I was actually holding that white box from Apple that I knew my wish had come true.

Now I am learning to use a Mac. I am spending a terrific amount of time carefully considering where to go next, thinking about how to expand my art business and how to improve my teaching. The ability to offer video content opens up a world of possibilities.

This experience has sparked so many thoughts. A wish came true even after I had so cruelly abandoned it. A gift awarded by the Universe through blind luck is one thing; I wonder now what will happen if I actually pay a little attention to my goals. Can I nurture myself and my wishes into the realm of the real? I'd been dreaming about what my life could be but only halfheartedly. That isn't enough. In the least, those wishes have to be accompanied by hope but it's even better to follow up with direct action.

I am deeply thankful to have a new computer. (It is thrilling to have a computer that doesn't default to the Blue Screen of Death if I try to open a page with an embedded video.) I am also incredibly grateful that someone read my story and deemed my work worthy of joining 19 other people in the pool of finalists. While I understand that, ultimately, the luck of the draw fell in my favor, the fact is that someone grabbed that wish I cast and gave it a nudge towards reality. I feel encouraged and empowered, both by this new tool at my fingertips and the vote of confidence. I think great things are in my future!

Thank you so much to Regina and her team for this generous gift! I look forward to growing into my new "creative ninja" status!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beauty and the Beasts

In between all the other things I do, I spend a lot of time playing with clay. I don't often post pictures because sculpture is something I mostly do quietly and privately to wind down after a hard day or to finalize a character design. Perhaps you remember these ladies and gents I posted about back in 2013?
Well,in April, I was absolutely delighted when Judy Wise opened up a class on how to create Sculpey dolls. I signed up immediately and learned her awesome technique for making jointed dolls. I began with a doll that mimics Judy's style and technique, a pretty little thing named Piper. Piper is very sweet, a bit busty, and definitely a girly girl.
Then I veered off the path and surprise! Monsters appeared! Huck and Puck are Piper best friends. Huck (in violet) is a bit shy and self-conscious owing to a rather unfortunate dental difficulty. Puck looks perplexed most of the time but he is a good soul who looks after Huck when the other monsters in my studio snicker. "Mind your own fangs," he replies softly. Properly admonished, the other monsters stop laughing and invite Huck and Puck to join them on the shelf overlooking my work space.
This little clay beauty and her beastly friends join the growing contingent of clay creatures and characters crowding my studio. Their little faces watch my every move and I am cheered by their stalwart support. I cannot wait to make some more!

Oh, and hooray for this, my 700th post here at Lost Coast Post! My blog's ninth birthday is coming up on May 20th. I can't believe that this space is still going strong after all this time. A big virtual hug goes out to everyone who visits here and peeks into this window onto my world. I hope what you see and read inspires you in your own creative endeavors, whatever form they may take. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Snippets: Weeks 17 and 18

As per usual, I present my latest Snippets spread representing the last two weeks of miniature daily journaling. I'd like to point out that I used here no less than 6 artful index cards created during a previous incarnation of Daisy Yellow's annual, uber-fantastical "Index-Card-a-Day" challenge (ie ICAD). I love using all the little art bits I generated for that project in my journaling: instant depth and interest. If you're interested, this year's challenge is less than a month away; all the fun blasts off for the fifth year in a row on June 1st so for more information, bounce along to Tammy's ICAD FAQs... 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Minuet Misstep

"Minuet No. 10 - Sunset Over Humboldt Bay"
Not every Minuet that I've done has turned out wonderful; I love most of them but this is not at the top of my favorites list. I think it is important to show what I think doesn't work as well as the collages I believe to be successful. Just like you can "overwork" a painting, you can overwork a collage and I think that's what happened here. I had a decent idea but got too carried away during the execution. It is far too busy. Note that I did NOT tear this out of my Minuet journal. I made it, hated it, learned from it, and moved on.
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