Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Studio Tour

In full disclosure: my studio no longer looks like this.  As I've mentioned previously, a tornado of creativity has struck.  My desk is littered by bottles of paint, stationary, and library books galore.  There are discarded palettes and partially completed canvases leaning against the walls.  A bigger and better easel now occupies the same corner as more boxes of magazine clippings and it is certainly time for some spring cleaning.

However, this is my art studio. My pride and joy and favorite room in my house.  When we first toured this house my heart leapt with hope and joy as my then fiance and I decided we would use the enclosed porch as my art studio.  It was one of the first rooms I put together when I moved into the house, mostly out of necessity as I have accumulated quite a bit of art supplies.

(The view from the doorway)
(Sorry I'm not sorry for the sorority paddle, but I do apologize for the darkness)

(My desk area, obviously) 
 I like to be surrounded by color and pattern and I prefer to have tools like scissors, pens and pencils readily available so I don't have to hunt for them in the bottom of a drawer.

As I mentioned, this black easel has since been replaced.  What I forgot to mention in my legend is how this window faces into the living room of our house so periodically my husband will raise the shade and peak in if I've been too quiet for too long.

It's not a very large space, maybe 8x12', but with sufficient storage and a little elbow grease it's pretty perfect.  As you can see, it's stuffed to the gills, every nook and cranny, with things that beg to be given a voice. 

I really enjoy all the natural light it affords me; hence, why it's difficult to be super crafty on dreary days.  In any event, I hope you enjoyed this tour of my little haven.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away

I must have felt very "French" this morning.  Technically I'm half French-Canadian sooo I suppose I was living into some distant heritage.  I donned a boat neck black sweater, black pants, pointy toed black flats, and a dramatic wide red belt.  I ditched braided pigtails in college since it made me look even younger, but I like the texture of braids so I tied them off at the base of my hairline and pinned the loose ends in a messy little up-do. Voila, my attempt to beat the rainy day (ahem week) blues.

The weather was still atrocious when I got home.  Le boo.  Rain does not help my creativity.  I need sunshine to really blossom I suppose, but I have been using the time to clear some clutter in my studio...kind of.  It still looks like a creative hurricane swept through with half-finished paintings and bottles of paints strewn about.

I brewed un cafe' and settled in for a very American housewife afternoon.  I began cutting through magazines making piles of textures I like, inspirations to paste into my art journal, images I'll someday turn into envelopes, and words and images for collage.  The discarded carcasses I recycled.  As I settled into my task I transitioned into sweatpants and daytime television, until the hubbie called to tell me he was on his way home at which point I cleaned up, lest the carnage of my afternoon overwhelm him.

This weekend has been rather productive in the the condensing of my magazines.  AND I have so many clippings to inspire more animal designs.

So tell me, what animal would you like to see come out of my studio?  I'm up for a challenge, but for now my all American husband calls me to his latest creation-bacon wrapped chicken breast stuffed with feta and sun dried tomatoes.  Life as a newlywed has its perks. ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pesky P: Patience

This virtue, ohhhh how I need to cultivate it.  With my ADHD-addled mind I can get rather impulsive.  With a creative idea oh dear, how I itch to make it come to life!  But, as i suggested last post, sometimes my ideas are sooo big and require so much planning or forethought that by the time I finally getting around to making it well... I lose patience with the project.

Sometimes starting a project, or a series, especially when I have an idea of the "end goal" too firmly in place, I become so anxious to get the project finished so I can move on to some new goal.  This issue is probably as much about loosening up as it is about discipline.  I find myself getting impatient with a project to be finished so I can start another.

Sometimes, I am too "patient."  I decide to let a project sit for a little bit as I try to figure out where I'm going with it, and then I end up stalling out.  Do you know what I mean?  Sometimes that beloved project ends up shafted when I decide to move onto something else because while I was trying to solve the problems of my current piece I dreamed up something else.

Truly, my latest series does require patience.  Hundreds of colorful circles are needed to complete an image.  I sometimes have to switch between colors and often have to switch brushes, but the movements are the same; though some pigments seem to have a little more flow than others.  (Have my artist friends noticed that?  Have you ever used two different hues by the same brand and one flows a little more than the other?  I've noticed it with craft clay-sculpey III as well.  The colors that seem to have more white seem to be a little stiffer than other colors.)  They say God works in mysterious ways, perhaps this is one of His ways of teaching me patience.  Painting all of those circles is half meditation half puzzle.

I'm reminded of some trigonometry principle I learned in high school about how you never need more than 5 colors to create an image where the same colors never touch.  The example I was given was a map. If you had the states colored in different colors, you would need a maximum of 5 colors to make sure there weren't two blue/green/pink/yellow/orange states touching.  Crazy!  So, when I'm tempted to start mixing a bunch of new colors to fill in holes where I just can't seem to avoid placing two of the same color side by side, I think of that.  (Now try telling an artist she doesn't need math-and we haven't even touched on patterns and slope of lines and scaling, oh my!) 

Suffice to say, any good puzzle and any good art piece, requires patience.  Patience for drying, patience for planning, patience for arranging, patience for figuring out how not to place two circles of the same color right next to one another....  It's a learning process and I can't wait to get back to my painting puzzles after work!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Three Pesky P's

There are lots of pesky "P" words that can really throw a person off track. Pessimism, procrastination, preoccupation, are just a few of the ones that jump to mind, but the ones that really mess me up are planning,  patience, and perfectionism.  They seem so harmless.  They may even feel like attributes and skills for which one should strive. >> Pause- don't start "shoulding" on yourself.  You know what I mean "I should be more patient."  "I should plan better." "I should be more perfect." "I should not have eaten the entire box of tagalongs that was my victory prize for completing the 5k for the cookies in less than a week's time..." (in my defense there's only like twelve to a box so that's like 2 cookies a day for 6 days... if you ration them).  Shoulding only creates guilt and then rebellion so knock it off.<<  Instead let's say they may appear to be skills or attributes that may be beneficial.

Sometimes I think that I am not a great planner.  Oh, au contraire mon frere.  I'm an extraordinary planner.  Unfortunately, I start planning and I can't stop planning.  I think of all the things that could and "should" get done or be accounted for before making a move.  I start to anticipate every possible detail and then... >>poof<<! It's like my brain explodes and suddenly I'm overwhelmed and near out of time.  In all my planning I've lost sight of the bigger picture and I've lost motivation to act.  Dear me, I've lost so much time in planning that I barely have time to get the plan done!  Who's with me?!  So for the next few decisions I wing it.  Then the pendulum swings back towards the middle, until the next time I realize how great things can be when you plan for them.... 
Planning can be detrimental to my creative process.  Holding too tightly to a plan leaves no room to embrace "happy accidents" until a simple 'mistake' becomes an irreversible and devastating derailment.  Sometimes the plan in my head is too extravagant to bring to fruition on the page or canvas; instead of using it as a guideline I could easily become overly frustrated and the half-completed project sits abandoned, shamed under a pile in my studio.  

Lesson learned: keep it simple and (sometimes literally) go with the flow.

Application:  I planned to write about all three of my pesky p's in this post, but something's come up and I'll have to tackle perfectionism and patience another day.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Unexpectedly Encouraged

Before I open my shop, I've set myself on getting some good scans of my work.  It's a twofold goal.  First, scanned images can be used for high resolution prints and other salable paper goods.  Second, having a scanned image (as opposed to a picture) would be nice to put in my personal portfolio.  This of course would help me with my own separation anxiety.  

Yes, I get a twinge of separation anxiety with my artwork.  Of course there is the anxiety associated with people judging it, criticisms as well as overly emphatic praise, but here's the other thing: I make stuff I like.  I make stuff I like and would want to put up in my own home.  Otherwise, what would be the point of creating if I didn't like my own creations?  It's a little piece of me, a little view of how I see the world or my imagination.  The completed piece is a summation of my struggles and triumph. I wrestled with that blank page, that blank canvas, that otherwise useless item that was almost trashed, and I made it something new and colorful; I gave it significance.  (Now if you believe in the same Creator God as I, can you imagine Him as the ultimate artist who gave significance to you?? What a beautiful parallel... but I digress).  Additionally, some paintings are laden with personal meaning.  There's a hummingbird painting I'll discuss some day soon that started a whole new trend in my artwork, but I'm loathe to part with it because it has its own personal significance to me for both it's content and the transitional period in which it was created.  But you know what I would do with that beloved painting?  Make a print of it and allow other people to enjoy it too, because of all the artwork I've created, that's the one people most admire so far.

For me, making prints seems like the way to go.  Who knows what kind of goodies I could create if my handmade creations were made into digital files!  Unfortunately, I've hit a snag in my production plans.  My paintings are too big for my personal scanner, and the scanners of all the local print shops with whom I've discussed the idea of scanning them.  On the other hand, this has been a kind of serendipitous experience, going into local printing shops and bringing a painting with me.  I now know that I need a large flat-bed color scanner.  I've also gotten leads from local shop owners on other companies that might have the capacity to make those scans.  Furthermore, I stopped into one shop that showed me a new product with which 
they are experimenting and wouldn't you know it, they were interested in trying it out with my digital images (once I get them scanned).  I'm not sure how it will play out, but it did spark quite an entrepreneurial vigor.  Finally, toting one piece along with me from shop to shop I was so encouraged by the interest and comments of the print shop employees, especially from people I wouldn't expect to be so intrigued by my art.

Yes, my family and friends have been encouraging me all my life that the things I create are interesting and salable.  But they're biased.  Getting unexpected complements and interest from strangers, that's been rewarding.  I'm unexpectedly encouraged.  I'm still on a hunt for my resources and I've hit some snags, but somehow I feel more confident that I'm on the right path.  As I sign off, enjoy this elephant who was my traveling partner today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Found Image Inspiration

Creative Inspiration is an elusive little wench.  She will strike you at an odd moment and you think "I MUST CREATE NOW," only to find yourself without even the slightest of materials, or at the very least with rather uninspiring materials.  Conversely, I have also had the dreaded experience of being surrounded by beautiful, inspiring materials that practically beg me to make something with them, only to have a lack of ideas, or too much pressure to create in a fixed amount of time.  In the latter situation, I've found I benefit from imposing rules on myself, but that is perhaps best left for another post on another day.  Let us return to the problem of having an unexpected >>lightbulb<< moment of inspiration at an inconvenient time.

Many people carry notebooks for storing their creative ideas.  I, belonging to the technology addicted generation(s) of the modern day, nearly always have my trusty iPhone nearby and therefore conveniently have at my disposal both a "notepad" and a camera.  Owing that creative ideas often come from images rather than word or random thoughts, having a camera accessible is really beneficial.  We see Pinterest filling up with images and captions that provide countless inspirations for various things: room design, cooking and baking, child crafts, interactive lesson planning, fitness, and of course arts and crafts.  Pin boards aren't necessarily new to the creative community, but this is like having a pin board in my pocket.  Even better, a pin board full of images from my life, often things that are original in nature, as well as things with which I interact.

One cool thing I've learned from art classes and art therapy classes has been the idea of what I now know as "pareidolia."  (Thank you wiki.)  Have you ever laid on your back or stood with your face up to the sky and watched the clouds for animals and shapes and images? Pareidolia. Have you ever seen a vague image within some amorphous substance?  Pareidolia.  The phenomenon of finding the Virgin Mary in burned toast- Pareidolia.  Cavemen used shapes they found in the rocks; a bulge in the rock wall might be used fortuitously to emphasize the strong chest or rump of the animal they painted.  I've also engaged in the process of scribble drawing where after filling a blank page with scribbles (HINT: this helps reduce the anxiety of a blank page sometimes), one tries to find images within the scribbles.  You can ignore lines, create or erase lines, and emphasize lines by drawing over them or filling in shapes.  These found images often inspire me to create something, even if it's not a representation of what I found, and with my iPhone camera I'm able to snap a quick photo as a reminder for later when I have the time and resources to create.

Let's use a recent find as an example.  Full disclosure, I have a bad habit of brushing out my hair with my fingers when I condition it in the shower, then sticking the hair that's inevitably knitted to my fingers onto the shower wall.  Gross, but okay, at least my intention is to remove it after I shower so as not to clog the drain! Anywho, recently when I did that I found a dancer on the wall.  I hope it's rather obvious that in the confines of my bathroom I'm not exactly prepared to make art that isn't on my face, sooo I fetched my phone/camera and snapped a photo before I cleaned it up.  Today when I had more time, I uploaded the image to my computer, printed it and emphasized the "lines" that I saw within it.

So you see her booty and her hair, how her arms are raised up and her legs are crossed?  Her face is uplifted?

Then, I scribbled over the back of the print out, lightly, with some charcoal.  I put the page onto a sheet of watercolor paper and traced the lines I exaggerated before.  It left faint marks which I was able to use as guides to give life to the dancer I saw.  Here's how it turned out:

It's still pretty abstract, and I discovered I might want to use some wet on wet water color in the future, but I like her. My intention is to add a verse in the negative space to the right and below her.

So there you go, Inspiration strikes and she doesn't care how inopportune the moment. I confessed to a kind of gross habit that I'm sure my husband "adores," but now I get to show him how it might actually pay off.  I suppose the biggest point is: be open to inspiration and be prepared for it at any time.  Photos can be really helpful to get you back to what inspired you before when you're in a better position to create.

And now it's Valentine's day and it's quittin' time sooo this arteest blogger is outta here!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

e(dot)e: That's Me!

Whimsy's misspelled. 
I know.
But whimsy's such a great word and sometimes a great approach or attitude towards things, especially artistic endeavors.  Whimsical is probably a nice way to describe my art. ("My art," it took a lot to type that but we'll get back to that later.) When you spell whimsy with a double e, specifically whimse.e, well the e(dot)e part is me!  I'm e(dot)e, at least my first and middle initials are e.e.  

It makes for monogram magic apparently.  If you've noticed, there's been an explosion of monogramming, well, everything.  So as my friend and sorority sister once pointed out, my parents really did me a solid because a large last name initial anchored by the same letter on either side provides nice symmetry, and monogrammed E's are pretty.  This  has been all the more apparent to me since I recently got married and changed my initials from eBe to eMe.  Monogrammed B's, well they're pretty; fortunately M's aren't too shabby themselves.  This was confirmed by the proprietor of a monogramming shop who gushed over plans to produce a traditional, script-y EME on a recent purchase.  Don't worry dear reader, I haven't monogrammed everything that will lay flat or sit still, yet.  Moving on.....

As I promised, let's get back to "my art." I'm a creative type.  This blog will likely be filled up with my creative inspirations, works, and struggles.  One of those top artistic struggles is recognizing myself as an artist, without rolling my eyes.  I've referred to myself as a crafter, designer, and I'm playing with the term illustrator,  but something in me cringes when I say I am an artist. Tisk. Tisk.  I make art. I, however inconsistently, keep art journals, and lately when my friends have questions about art, they've come to me.  Some might say that qualifies me as an artist.

So E.E. makes art, and we know it's whimsical.  Let's be honest and say that when I make art, it is rarely very serious in content.  I just can't seem to make art that has a dark social commentary or satire, and I don't know that I want to do be dark.  I have embraced the whimsy, and the freedom that comes with it is of course the freedom of imperfection. I like the idea of making art that is, as google defines whimsical, "playful...or fanciful, esp.[sic] in an appealing and amusing way."

Why "saturated" whimse.e? I tend towards saturated hues, bright colors and jewel tones, bold earthy colors, but not so much pastels, etc.  Recognizing that trend in color use, I also like the idea of something that could not be any more whimsical than it is now.

e(dot)e...well that's me, the artist, crafter, daughter, dog-owner, illustrator(?), wife, and xenophile behind this blog.  All my other labels we can tackle later.  Now it's time to get down to business and get creative!