Friday, November 2, 2012

Out of my Gourd

I'm sitting here on November 2nd, listening to the dreaded "mainstream media",  anxious for the election to be over!  I can barely stand to go on Facebook lately, with all the intense political commentary and, frankly, propaganda (both sides).  Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, of course, and even entitled to try and sway others to their side, but when it gets so ugly and relentless, it drives me nuts.  So, as a little diversion, a collage challenge was in order:

Out of My Gourd

It's been nice to escape to my little world of cutting-and-pasting, participating in Mary Green's collage challenge for November.  She generously gathered this trio of autumnal images for us to work with:
and I did a little stack-em-up interpretation, and also figured out how to do a color gradation in Photoshop (waaay easier than I thought!).  I've been trying to used these monthly exercises to go a few baby steps further with my very minimal knowledge of Photoshop--that way I don't feel so guilty about spending time on this unnecessary stuff instead of the necessary stuff I should be doing.

The stuff I should be doing is getting projects finished for our fourth annual Holiday Boutique, which is in two weeks.  Gulp.  Our humble little sale, at my friend Chris's house, has grown each year and we are looking forward to a pretty huge turnout this year.  It's always a lot of stress, but the fun outweighs it by a ton, and it is great to see old friends who stop by.  By the way, I did NOT get accepted into the big Portland craft show ("Crafty Wonderland") that I wrote about a few posts ago.  It was both disappointing (boohoo: rejection) and also a giant relief (we have a dang holiday boutique to put together!)--a real mixed bag of emotion.  But throngs of vendors applied (Portland is very crafty!), and they ended up with a glut of jewelry people (my primary offering was my soldered shadowbox pendants), and I was put on a waiting list.  Like I always say (too often, it seems), it keeps me humble.

Go Obama!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Playing with Paper Dolls

I did an illustration for a little girl's dress sewing pattern for Simplicity Pattern Company way back almost a year ago, and wrote about it here.  Here is what it looked like:
I illustrate specific fabrics when drawing these.  The sewing patterns are are kind of a co-op with the designer of the garment (my client) and the fabric manufacturer.  Featuring the sewing pattern in the Simplicity catalog helps to promote the sale of the fabrics, and vice versa.  As it turns out, this fabric group did not get manufactured, but another group was chosen instead.  The client liked this piece of art: the pose, the girl's expression, etc., and wanted to re-use it.  My job was to re-draw the dress, using the new fabric designs.  This could be done by computer, with a map-and-drape program, but it always looks kind of "fake", and the client prefers the hand painted look.  So, I played paper dolls and came up with this replacement:

While I was at it, I changed the color of the boots and tights to the same charcoal grey in the fabrics. Here's what the new version will look like when it appears in the catalog:
Good as new!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cast Concrete . . . My Favorite Leaf

I painted lots of concrete leaves the other night, but this one is by far my favorite.

It was a happy accident of many layers of color washing, plus many layers of dry brushing in various colors.  The leaf itself is very flat--meant to be a trivet, I guess (it was one of Roberta's rejects)--so at first glance in its natural unpainted state, I didn't think it was very exciting or had much potential.  The dry brushing brought out so much of the subtle texture captured in the casting that I didn't even realize was there.

I just finished about 3 hours outside today, raking up leaves in the back yard, and now nursing 3 new blisters (even through my gloves!)......, I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with pretty fall leaves!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Concrete Leaves...In Living Color

I posted about making cast concrete leaves this summer here,  and since then I've been back to Roberta Palmer's backyard classroom to make more.  Once you've taken a class, she lets you work on your own, making as many castings as you can fit in your three big cardboard take-home boxes.
The dark areas on the kiwi castings, above,  are leaf fragments that I haven't removed yet.  The kiwi leaves are fuzzy, have to be sprayed with cooking spray before casting, and are still really difficult to remove. But they are such a cute HEART shape!

I made 9 more, to add to the three that I already had.  My crazy friend Chris went with me, for her third visit, so I think her grand total was 20 leaves!  We both wanted to make plenty, both for ourselves and to give as Christmas gifts.  So the leaf count between the two of us is up to 32.  Okay, Chris decided to take Roberta's painting class, taking several leaves she'd already made and cured, to learn Roberta's techniques of masterfully painting with exterior latex paints, dry-brushing, staining, and finishing.  Roberta is quite a perfectionist, and the beautiful leaves she sells at many markets and shows around Portland are only her very best---resulting in 'rejects' that she literally throws away.  Seeing Chris's enthusiasm and growing 'collection', she offered all FIFTEEN of her 'seconds' to Chris for free!  Chris brought them all over to my house,  we looked them over, and said "How can these be REJECTS?? They are better than the ones we've made!!".  Now the total count between us is 47 LEAVES! (Obsessed much??)
The leaves starting to pile up on my kitchen table...
...and my kitchen island.  Boxes-full are out out of camera range.

Chris showed me the paint techniques she'd learned; I tried to follow, but just ended up doing my own thing and winging it.  I had many pots of latex paints left over from a mural project I did at my daughter's school, plus lots of acrylic craft paints, so we just plunged in and started painting.  Here are a few of the ones we've finished...I think we did almost twenty over two evenings!  Some we loved, some were a little funky, some we'll keep working on until we like them.  Here's what we've got so far:
There are bowl shapes, flat trivets, ones with a copper coupling to display later on a copper pipe, others with wire embedded for hanging.
These get several coats of outdoor sealant to help them withstand the elements.
It's really a lot of fun painting them.  The trick is to add subtle dry-brushing of a color over a dried color to blend it all, and that easy technique makes them come alive.

As much as I love the painted ones, I still like the look of those left in their natural concrete state.  Here are the first three I made, in my backyard (so many fall leaves fell in the past couple of days--it's a little messy out there right now...):
Our yard is kind of rustic and free-form, not a traditional 'manicured' space, and I like the look of the plain concrete with all of our rocks, etc.  But I'll probably put a few of the painted ones here and there as well.  I mean, there are 47 of them, for Pete's sake...I could practically pave the whole yard with them!
The rhubarb leaf on the right always fills with water and makes a sweet small birdbath.

I think we are done making any new leaves (ya think??), and will concentrate on painting the remaining ones.  We have our annual Holiday Boutique in November at Chris's house, and will have a few for sale there, but mostly they'll be gifts and 'keepers'.  
My dear goof-ball Chris with our 'mini masterpieces'!

Monday, October 1, 2012

October's Here...another Collage Challenge

It's the beginning of another month, so I headed over to Mary Green's monthly collage challenge, and got to work.  I'm still learning little baby steps in Photoshop, so I thought I'd add in elements with some drop shadows, and keep it fairly simple.  Here's my submission:

A Rose for Agnis

Here are the original elements she had us work with:
Hoping to add more posts in the next few days.  I've been busy with my cast concrete leaves, and other artsy fartsy things that I want to share.  I'll be back soon.  Hope you will be, too!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Things with Wings

My poor little neglected Etsy shop has finally been fluffed up just a little!  I should re-name my shop THINGS WITH WINGS, because my two main subject matters are little feathered birdies and be-winged angels. 

I'm trying to get into a big juried holiday craft show, and they really want a website or online shop to view for consideration, rather than just a few random pictures.  The deadline to register is today.  Gulp.  So, I've been scrambling to finish up those soldered shadowbox charms that have been started weeks ago, and also scrambling to include a few of my angel paintings in my shop.  For the show, I plan to have a bunch of original paintings, but will focus on offering mounted prints and cards.  That part isn't done yet, but at least I have scans of everything, including scans of originals that have long been sold.  I just need to figure out a production line process for cranking out a lot of inventory, but I realize I just don't work--or even think --that way. Also, my soldered work is so very time-consuming, it's not even funny.  I probably make pennies per hour on those sales, but I just truly love making them.  Just wish I could crank them out faster, and streamline the process somewhat.  I'll get in a groove eventually, I hope.  I find out if I've been accepted on September 30, and if I don't make it in, it won't be the end of the world.  In fact, it will give me plenty of inventory for the much, much smaller scale holiday show my friend Chris and I do every November. 

But for now, I'm going to keep adding to the shop, and hoping for a few sales there as well.  Being so new to selling in the Etsy world,  I'm struggling with whether I should open a second shop or not.  Even though both of my offerings are feathery, it feels clunky to have both things together in one shop.  Maybe I should have a separate shop just for paintings and prints.  And the existing shop just for soldered stuff.  Well, I'll sit and ruminate over that for a while, but in the meantime everything will get lumped together, so those judges can see it all in one place.  Wish me luck!  And come visit my little shop! :-)

P.S. Not all of my new stuff is feathered....I've also been playing around with old crusty watch faces and pewter hearts to tuck in my shadowboxes.  Not everyone wants to "put a bird on it", I reckon!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Collage

I wanted to play around with cutting and pasting in Photoshop, and came up with this simple digital collage for Mary Green's collage challenge for September (wow...September already?!?).  I have about 10 other things I should be doing, but needed a little break to do something just for fun.  Hopefully, my next post will be about how I've restocked my Etsy shop with loads of new items (wishful thinking) and lots of other productive things.  In the meantime, here is my little collage for this month:

Asters and Goldenrod (click to view larger)
Then I played with a posterizing filter and think this looks pretty cool and retro:

And here are the three images we were working with:
Until next time....enjoy September!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another Collage Challege

I'm so glad to see that Mary Green is back in the blogosphere, and running her monthly collage challenge once again!  It's a simple challenge, to use at least part of each of the three images she provides, in a collage of one's choice.  Here is the little ditty I created this afternoon:
"Figs~ Nature's Pleasant Laxative"
And here are the three images Mary provided (I love the all the soft colors!):
To this mix of images, I added a little fig botanical illustration to reinforce the theme, plus some purple papers, and tiny little flower brads for some 3-d pizazz.  Easy-peasy and a fun little diversion.  Now I need to go get some real work done (but I'd really rather play with paper all afternoon...)!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where Bloggers Create-2012..................... My Studio Tour!

Welcome to my creative space...come in and take a look around!
This is the door entering my studio/office.
I'm pleased to be joining in again on Karen Valentine's 4th annual, 2012  "Where Bloggers Create" party!  (Click on the link to visit lots of other artists' studios. See list in her sidebar).  I'd love to show you all the nooks and crannies where I create.   I'm lucky enough to have a room dedicated solely to the artwork I do both professionally (illustration, graphic design, textile design)  and 'just for fun' (jewelry, mixed media, collage).  I'm showing you the "company's coming" version of my space--in real life it is MUCH more chaotic, with several projects going on at once, and messes left everywhere. I am a hoarder collector of SO MUCH stuff, this room is pretty packed full.  And what doesn't fit in here, is stashed in other parts of my house, much to the chagrin of my patient family. I can't help it....I love so much crafty stuff!  And, like most of you, I love to be surrounded by all my treasures!  Let's get started on the tour...

As you enter the room, there is a long counter with file cabinets below and shelves above.  There used to be a bulletin board just to the left of the shelves, but I recently replaced that with an old dollhouse.  Can you believe I got this handmade cutie in the Goodwill Bins?!!

I just love the scalloped edging!  It even has old wallpaper on the walls and lace curtains on the cut-out windows.  Old game pieces, my stash of pearls, and other trinkets have found a new home!
This old house has great details!

A tiny guardian angel perched on top, watching over the stash

Strange bedfellows: pearls and bingo cards

Vintage game pieces, and favorite old photos

Beneath the big house are a couple of smaller wooden houses.  One of them has hooks inside and is just perfect for my etsy jewelry inventory:
The bird hooks below hold samples for the soldering classes I teach.

I just opened my etsy shop this week!  I'd love for you to visit my little shop, too (see side bar).  A new adventure for me!
As we keep going to the right, you'll see shelving, cupboards, and filing cabinets holding lots of supplies.  Like many of you, I like to collect old baskets and cases for storage.  I've added a few new ones since last year.

These are my "new" metal boxes I found while out thrift-shopping. I think they used to hold photo slides.  Love how flat they are.  I don't even have anything in them yet! I just like how they look.  But I think they'll be great for jewelry-making supplies.  Maybe for next year's tour, I'll show you what I will eventually put in them!
A funny thing about these boxes: I found TWO of them in my trusty Goodwill Bins, then saw a lady walking around with a THIRD ONE in her cart.  I followed her for a while, then finally got up the nerve to ask if she'd part with hers.  She was nice enough to pity me and let me have my "set".  (I'm not sure I'd have been as generous...) But, I mean, three is SO much better than two, right??!!?  Even if they ARE empty!!

Baskets on the shelves hold stamping supplies, soldering equipment, and more.  The vintage white doll case holds glass and cutting tools.
And I've dedicated one shallow shelf to my collection of cute face cups.  I'm always on the lookout for more:

I have an ugly open paper storage case on the counter below the shelves.  I thought about putting a simple curtain over it, but I think I'd get frustrated trying to move it out of the way when I needed something out of the cubbies, so I think I'll just leave it in its practical, ugly state.  I tend to prop up things in front of it.  Here are the things in the current rotation:

On the left is a print I just bought from the brilliant Cori Dantini, and one of her greeting cards, too.  Next to it is a darling book by the talented Salley Mavor, whose exquisite felt illustrations are scrumptious.  I got to meet her at a lecture and book-signing recently.  I'm in awe of her work.
Continuing along the wall, I have closed cupboards plus my photocopier, printer, and computer. 
Next to my computer monitor, I've hung some of my mixed-media angel paintings.  I scan the originals and from them make wood-mounted prints and cards.  I usually have a few of these paintings in the works.

(The next two pictures are from last year's post, since not much is different now. ) The french doors lead out to a small balcony, so even here in rainy Oregon I get lots of natural light. The pennant banner above the doors is also part of my blog header, and welcomes crafters who come to the studio to attend our collage and soldering workshops.
Usually the worktable has a project or two on it,  and NEVER looks this tidy.  Here, my little dog Barkley can often be found, staying close to 'mom'.  For our "Collage College" classes, this table is joined by another smaller table, and can accommodate 8 class participants who gather to do some creating.  During class, it usually looks like this:

Right now, the table is cluttered with a couple of current projects.  One side has an angel painting  in the works:
And the other side of the table has wire bird nests in progress for my little soldered shadowboxes:

(The rest of this tour is a repeat of last year's posting.  Hope you don't mind, but it's all pretty much the same, so I'm just showing it to you again.)  As you look at the next wall,  you see more cupboards and shelves and a HOARD of old musty books that I cannot resist lugging home anytime I find them.
I have so many old dictionaries, it is ridiculous.  But I love them for collage and they make me smile.  I also cannot say no to old sheet music, and maps, and wallpaper.  Not to mention scrapbooking paper.  It keeps stacking up, higher and higher.
The baskets hold textiles, trims and laces.  Then there are my tins full of old postage stamps, and cute wooden boxes filled with old buttons sit below the little window.
The cupboards hold many supplies, catalogs, and bulky stuff.  Since I'm left-handed, I put small built-in drawers on the left side of my drafting table, so all my pencils and pens are easy to access.
My drafting table is the hardest thing to keep organized.  As I work, I am just MESSY, and end up doing my work on any tiny clean surface I can find.  The built in light box is invaluable, and its glass top is great for xacto-cutting.

The drafting table is definitely the workhorse area of the studio.  Big bulletin board above, with random stuff piled on. A-a-a-and we're rounding the corner to our starting point (phew! I'm about you?).
Since this is a photo from last year, you can see the bulletin board on the right, where the dollhouse is now.
Next to the desk is a storage closet, and where I hang the apron I wear for classes:
More hoarding lurks behind the door, in a semi-organized state--bins full of this and that:

The inside of the door holds several illustrations done for Simplicity Pattern Company.  I spent years as art director of Daisy Kingdom, Inc., a fabric, craft, and publishing company based here in Portland, until it was bought out by Springs Industries, and they did a great deal of licensing with Simplicity.  I still do freelance illustration and design for them and other clients.
I have a few skill sets, but photography is NOT one of them....sorry for the lousy pics.  Definitely not my forte!

So now we are finally done with my studio tour.  And I'll leave you with one last photograph which is all too apropos:
The cut-out hand pointing into my studio aptly once read "DUMP HERE"

Thanks so much for visiting!  It's fun to have you come and see where I work and play,  and I can't wait to spend the next couple of weeks peeking inside your creative spaces.  So many kindred spirits out there--and a special thank you to Karen Valentine for hosting this wonderful event where we can all hobnob with each other!  Again, I'm so glad you stopped by, and I'm hoping you'll leave me a comment and let me know you dropped in!  And I'd love for you to become a follower...a girl can never have too many friends!

 And now, I'm off to go snooping inside your studios!