Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Necessity!

One of my favorite quotes happens to be... Necessity is the Mother of invention. I love that one because it's so true, not only in life, but in art as well. So today's inspiration (okay, so it's a little stretch) is "art imitating life". Or is it "life initiating art"? I'll let you decide...

After years of using the internet for my website, blogging, shopping, yahoo groups, business forums, online classes, and the like... I got tired of trying to remember all my user names and passwords in my head... or looking for them on their little scrap pieces of paper scattered everywhere. So I made myself a Web Log!

I had this cool blank journal and it was the perfect size and shape. I painted it with Adirondack Paint Dabbers, swirled on a little bling with Stickles Glitter Glue and even added the vintage plastic index tabs, colorized with Adirondack Alcohol Inks!

Now everything is in one place... my pretty little pink book. No more searching... Yay!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sideshow Banner: Crustacea... Comes Alive!

Last week, I was able to borrow a projector and trace my sideshow banner drawing onto heavyweight outdoor canvas. Since then... I have been obsessed with finishing it! Sometimes I get so excited that I jump right into a project (and continue)... even though there might be "issues". When I started painting, the outdoor cotton duck fabric I was using started to shrink! Oh no! So I painted on a scrap piece... let it dry... and threw it in the bathtub. The fabric flattened out, so I continued painting... thinking I'd just paint a few spots and gently place the entire banner in the tub. Well...

I couldn't stop! Every spare moment I had was consumed with painting, painting, and more painting. And since I was using acrylics, with a drying time of only minutes... I kept going and going. I painted for hours at a time (I think 6 was my record!)...

I was having fun getting lost in all the finite details. My favorite television shows—on in the background—drifted in one ear and out the other. I didn't even lift my head to see what was going on! And then...

It was nearly finished... wrinkled and all. I was ecstatic! But I really wanted the fabric to be nice and flat for when I added the finishing touches — outlines around the edges of the main "advertising" elements. So I gave Crustacea a bath...

And then I let her drip dry...

And so... now I know! Make sure your fabric is washed (or at least wetted and dried) before you start. My sideshow banner does still have some wrinkles. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. I used to think that I couldn't make mistakes... and that I had to do everything perfect the first time. This held me back from even starting a piece of art I really wanted to create. Now I embrace mistakes and the sky is the limit!

Until next time big top fans!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Rejuvenating The Soul...Getting Away!

Sometimes there comes a time when you've had enough... when the hustle and bustle of everyday life drives you a little bonkers... where you've come to the point that you can't even think straight, never mind do the things you'd love to do. And when that happens, it's time to recharge those batteries. Let go a little. Get out of the house!

It's time to get away...

I know for me that it's tough to think about going on a vacation (or even a weekend getaway) when there is so much stuff to do. But it's because there's so much stuff to do... that we need to get away! We go and go and go and go until we are an automated robot of ourselves on auto pilot. Time to change the scenery...

This is one of my all time favorite places to relax and unwind.... the stream behind the Woodstock Inn, Woodstock, NY. It's just so amazingly beautiful and you sit in these giant Adirondack chairs as you listen to the water trickling by while the sun shines on your face. At first it is hard to sit and do nothing... but you get used to it really fast!

Taking a break—no matter how long or short—really does rejuvenate the soul. It clears out the clutter in my mind and makes it easier to be inspired when I get back home. What rituals help you to recharge?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sideshow Banner Madness... Feeling Crabby!

I'd like you to meet Crustacea... part woman, part crab. You see... she was born this way. And she realized that the Traveling Carnival Sideshow was really the best place for her to go. There she could fit in with all the other outcasts, and she'd be taken care of like royalty. The best of both worlds!

As you can see, I'm really loving this whole sideshow theme. Most likely because I felt like an outcast for most of my lifetime. Add to that, being born in July under the arthropodic sign of Cancer, and you have... Crustacea!

I'm having so much fun trying to make these strange visions of mine come to fruition, and enjoying every second of the process. After finding the perfect natural color canvas-like material as the basis of my banner... I tested out acrylic paints and was surprised at how vibrant they looked. Today, I'll be using one of those old High School projector things and a transparency of my sketch to trace the image onto a 3 foot by 4 foot section of fabric. I just can't wait to get started!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recently Listed: Vintage Key and Lock Jewelry

After a recent trip to a vintage hardware store... I was really inspired to raid my collection of antique skeleton keys, door locks and miscellaneous brass bits and bobs I've collected for years! This simple Key To My Heart necklace has minimal elements, but big impact.

Pairing just the right peek-a-boo photo with this brass door lock leads to an interesting story about Mommy's Room.

And of course... sometimes there's a man behind that door who wants to profess his love for you, but might be a little shy. This Secret Admirer necklace was built around such a story.

The necklaces you see here and more have been added to my Etsy Shop this past week. You can check out my entire selection in the Uncommon Jewelry section of my store. Happy browsing!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Cupcakes!

What better inspiration is there than a favorite delectable treat? Cupcakes happen to be mine. Soft chocolatey cake... smooth, sugary icing in pretty colors. Yummy! Aside from being a tasty dessert, cupcakes happen to have a nice simple yet interesting shape. The perfect fodder for mixed-media art projects!

This Wonderlanderful cupcake collage was done on cardboard using charcoal and acrylic paints. I smeared on a thick layer of gesso for the icing and painted then glittered it. And because this particular baked good comes from the Land of Oz... it totally needed a pair of ruby red slippers.

This collage was done on a cigar box lid using a phone book page for the base of the cupcake. The entire piece was painted and then coated with beeswax. I worked some Perfect Pearls Pigment Powder into the icing while the wax was still warm.

I took a local silkscreening class a while back.... and what kind of image did I use to make my screen? Yup... you guessed it. A cupcake!


And this carnival-style ode to my favorite treat is a vision in pink. The big top tent houses a dimensional cupcake made from fan-folded paper and silk flowers. A paper clay cherry on top completes this assemblage, which exclaims... Pretty please, with sugar on top.

I'm actually pretty lucky to have some very good local bakeries in town (within walking distance!) that have outstanding cupcakes. Every once in awhile I treat myself to one or two. However, in between... I can use my love of this very rich indulgence for my creative inspirations.

Do you have a favorite food that's shown up in your art?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ta-Da! Presenting... Willie and Tillie...

Ahhhh... the illusion is complete. And so are my folk art style conjoined twins... Willie and Tillie. I really enjoyed working on this project. In fact... I think I could say this might be my favorite piece to date! What I loved most about the process was losing myself in the details....

Making sure the faces (and crazy hair) were just right. Especially since I was trying to match a one-dimensional "living" icon.

Getting the embellishments to look old was very zen-like for me. I love making new and vintage items look really aged, distressed and time-worn. In a perfectly imperfect kind of way!

Even choosing just the right book pages, decorating the balloons, and picking the perfect wire to use as the string became a thoughtfully pleasant step in the process.

I can't even tell you how long it took to make this assemblage, mostly because I did it in my spare time over a span of several weeks. But more so because it was a labor of Love. I found great joy in each step and even surprised myself along the way. It's been a while since I've gotten to enjoy the actual journey a creative inspiration takes me on. I certainly intend to do more pieces like this, as it was most soothing for the soul.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Recently Listed: Carnival Fun - Mixed Media Assemblages

I am excited to announce that I have completed all ten of the carnival-style assemblages I'd been working on before vacation and have listed a few of them on my Etsy shop. Each one has a personality all it's own and I have some monochromatic color schemes as well as the typical circus colors available. Each one is hand painted then distressed and features vintage and everyday bits and baubles. You can find them listed in my Carnival and Circus Fun section. Happy Shopping!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thoughtful Thursdays: Emotions... The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!

It is no surprise that artists can be very emotional people. But, hey... don't we all have our good days, our bad days, and those kind of ugly days too? Nobody's happy all the time. And as an artist, I get to let those emotions spill out into my work... baring all for the world to see. But I don't mind, because I have nothing to hide. In fact, if my art can touch you in an emotional way... then we've made a connection. And I love making connections. So today's projects were inspired by feelings of all kinds...

The Good: After going through a difficult separation and divorce a few years ago... I began to get my wings back and I could remember... How To Fly. (P.S. I was 41 when I made this necklace — more symbolism).

The Bad: the title of this piece really says it all... Sometimes I Feel Like A Broken Doll Baby. And it's true. Sometimes I feel like I've been through the war zone or something. But I look at my tattered garb, fading paint, scrapes, cracks and worn out parts... and I embrace every one of them!

The Ugly: these Tattered Roses were forgotten before a week long vacation... and looked like this upon my return. As I was about to toss the whole bouquet, I passed by a window. The light shining in onto the windowsill made the perfect contrast for these sad little buds. But I realized in that moment... there is beauty in sadness. We all feel sadness at some point in our lives. Why not embrace it rather than fear it? It's usually the precursor for something much better. And that was the beginning of a whole new direction in my art.

I hope you can be inspired by all your emotions too... the good, the bad and the ugly! It's what makes you... You!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday... Mardi Gras Style!

Hey everybody... I'm back from my vacation to New Orleans and wow, what a trip! Although it was the week prior to Mardi Gras, there was no lack of things to do, places to go, and people to watch! Until you're in New Orleans, you just don't realize how large and diverse this riverside town is... from the French Quarter to the Riverwalk... from the Garden District to the Arts-laden Warehouse section—and everything in-between—there was always something happening!

The French Quarter was an interesting mix of early 19th century 2- and 3-story row buildings, shops and yummy restaurants. In fact, I had some of the best food ever on this trip! Mmmmm mmmmm.
I loved all the old neon signs throughout the city (didn't know Walgreens was even around that long!).
And New Orleans is really creative with their new signs as well... whether it's a chalkboard announcing upcoming bands at the House of Blues (what a fabulous use of fontography!)...
...or the entrance to one of their many interesting shops!
Royal Street was always bustling with plenty of antique shops, cafés, street performers and bands. It was very entertaining!
Bourbon Street was crazy most of the time, especially after a parade... and well, at night... and, um, at 3 in the morning. Not for the faint of heart!
The Arts District was my kind of place with funky shops, local artisans and outsider artists. Made me want to go home and make stuff!
I did get out of town for a day to visit a Creole Sugar Plantation that was run by women (yes, that's right) for almost 200 years, beginning in the early 1800's!
One of my most favorite tours though, was a behind-the-scenes at Mardi Gras World, where all the floats are made. All these different shapes, figures and characters made from styrofoam or molded with fiberglass. It was like a giant Art Doll heaven!
I even got to see some of the float components being worked on... and then saw them in parades later on in the week!
And speaking of parades... I think I saw 8 over the course of the week we were in New Orleans. Each one is put on by a different group, and has a specific theme which is evident throughout the floats. And, let me tell you, when it comes to being politically correct... well, there is no such thing at Mardi Gras... as evidenced by one of my fave floats... Glazed And Confused!!!
And... let us not forget about bead acquisition... a huge part of Mardi Gras! It's actually pretty exciting, waving your hands, trying to get beads and more thrown in your direction. You put them around your neck until it aches and you still want more! It's addictive. I actually captured a drive-by-beading...
video

Oh, and let's not forget about the doggie parade... Barkus! No, that's not a crawfish honey... there's doggie in there!
Some doggies got a little tired...
And no vacation in New Orleans is complete without a trip to the Riverfront Flea Market to shop for fun souvenirs and a visit to Cafe du Monde where you can get Beignets covered—I mean buried!—in powdered sugar and a tasty chicory-flavored Café au Lait...
All-in-all it was a great trip and I can cross another one off the Bucket List. Thanks for coming along for the ride! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

St. Patty's Day Promo: 17% Off Sale!

Aye and Begorrah, friends! Just wanted to let you know that in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm offering 17% off of everything in my Etsy shop... through the 17th! Just enter the code SHAMROCK when you check out. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Faux Fat Tuesday!

Faux Fat Tuesday... you say? What's up with that? Well, I'm actually down in N'Orleans right now with family and friends... enjoying all the Mardi Gras festivities. However, the official Fat Tuesday is next week, March 8th.

But Mardi Gras is a practically a month-long celebration and there's been so much creative inspiration between the festive parades... vibrant colors... and local French Quarter culture. Add a little shopping... great eats... and people-watching... what a great break from the day-to-day grind of trying to make money (not that that's a bad thing).

I brought my journal and my camera, so I'll be sure and sketch out my inspirations and capture some memories while I'm down on the bayou. See you all next week when I return...