Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thoughtful Thursdays: Sometimes It's Years!

Inspiration doesn't always hit right away... that's for sure. But sometimes you see something and you just have to have it... even though you're not sure what the heck you're going to do with it!

Well that's exactly what happened when I picked up these cute little houses from Maya Road. They sat and sat and sat and sat in my stash of stuff for several years.

At one point, I'm sure I attempted to make something of them, but was overthinking it too much... so I put them back. And then, just a few weeks ago... I had an idea!

I'd make them into little beach cabana-style tents... and use them as beach badge holders! I painted them with summery shades of pastel and made cute little striped roofs. I decorated each one with a coordinating window and door.

And added dimensional metal numbers to them using extra-long brads.

I even added funky fuzzy ribbon around the bottoms to give the illusion of sand. Now they're all ready for summer. It only took 3 years!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheap Thrills...

One foam stamp, one pair of old blue jeans (almost on their way out), and some jet black acrylic paint were all it took to jazz up these favorites of mine. I was getting bored with them and felt like playing around. All I did was simply spread out some black paint onto a non-stick surface (I used Ranger's Craft Sheet here), and pat the foam stamp into the paint until it's completely covered. Then I stamped on the jeans, nice and firm... and that's it! Don't worry if the stamping doesn't come out perfectly, just dip a paintbrush into the paint and fix any parts you like. Ta-daa!

I had actually stamped on a pair of lighter jeans with white acrylic paint a few years ago and loved them... but alas, they don't fit any more. So I figured I'd try it again. I bet if I bought these at Anthropologie they'd be $249!! Cheap thrills work for me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Fun Starts Tomorrow!

So excited that this weekend marks the kickoff of Creativity By-the-Sea — the Ocean Grove, NJ art retreat weekend event! I'll be teaching on Sunday, but also wanted to mention that we are having an Art Vendor Fair on Saturday evening. You'll be able to purchase original art, jewelry, wearables, home decor items and more made by the retreat's very own instructors (including me) — who are all extremely talented artists themselves! If you're around, come on down... it's free to look!

Creativity By-the-Sea Art Vendor Fair  
Saturday, March 24, 2012
6:00 - 9:00 pm
Youth Temple (Lower Level)
22 Pilgrim Pathway, Ocean Grove, NJ 07756

P.S. Bring a copy of the flyer above and you'll receive a free Creativity By-the-Sea backpack-style souvenir bag!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This Is Your Brain On Art... Any Questions?

Well, I'm proud to say that I am following my own advice. Now you must understand that this in itself is a major task! But I said I was going to draw something every day... and I have. I'm not saying I like everything I've done (thank goodness for the editing that social media allows), but I am just happy that I have begun a new creative journey and am ready for where it takes me. Here's a few of my favorites from the week...

This little squre-headed bull had been floating around in my head since Jesse Reno's class and was the very first drawing I made... all with my non-dominant hand. I liked him so much I cut him out and pasted him inside my journal. Oh, dear.... I hope he likes pink!

Little circus bear just started out as a round head. The very interested sun looking over him I added as a contemplative interaction for the sketch. Just trying different things.

One single star caught by this primitive bunny makes him a happy boy. Again, just drawing what comes to me and not trying to force the direction of the piece. The moon and stars were all added after the bunny was "born". Still feeling out my style. I know it won't happen overnight... but I must say I am one impatient artist!

This sketch emerged from the desire to illustrate the stress related brain fog I currently suffer from. The little monster in her scrambled head makes her eyes all wonky, but she still holds tight to her heart. I liked this one so much, I decided to play around and turn it into a painting...

I stuck with my own personal style for the background because I didn't want to get too far out of my comfort zone. I know how frustrated I can become when I'm going into uncharted territory. I chose to make a very busy background, almost to create a total sense of chaos for the piece.

But working late into the night turned it into... well... ummm... uhhh... something a little different! I was actually employing some of the methods I learned in Jesse Reno's class and had covered up a section of the piece I didn't like. The color I chose looked like a hospital gown and not seeing her arms made it look like they had been severed off. So I went with it! I actually love the way she turned out! Just goes to show... I'd give my right arm for some artful play time!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughtful Thursdays: Check This Out!

Or, should I say... check this off! After riding the wave of inspiration I picked up attending Jesse Reno's workshop, I took a long, hard look at my art... and my life! Things started to become much clearer, as I determined what I liked and what I didn't. But the improvements I needed to make would take time... and how could I make time for all these changes? I couldn't help but take a really hard look at the things that were wasting my time. So here's what I came up with... Check it out!

Only 4 items on each day’s to do list!
I used to make a neat, well thought out, concise list of things to do each day. It's become a little more willy-nilly these days. I'd list what needed to be done for the week, and just tackle them as I felt like it. That had to change. So now it's 4 main tasks for each day, in order... and I ain't done 'til I'm done. Not too many... and not too few.

Stay off Facebook during work time!
So I have myself automatically logged into Facebook when I turn on the computer. Bad girl. I find myself checking to see what everyone's up to throughout my day... which is actually my work day. Working at home, for yourself can be bad for that slacker/deviant side. I know it's just a distraction from doing what I'm supposed to. So now I'm staying off and staying on task.

Finish one task before starting another!
Sometimes I'll work for a day... or a few days... or a week... and then I'll stop and look at all the detrius I've left in my wake. It's as if the Tasmanian Devil just went through my house. How can one person make all this mess? So now, before I start another task, I put everything away from my current task... before moving on.  

Turn off the television!
Awhile back I'd have a "No TV Week" where I would turn off the boob tube, except for regular programs I like to watch (but I have to turn it back off right after). TV truly has become a medication for me. At the end of the day, my brain is so exhausted from thinking that a mindless program is a soothing distraction. However — like the computer and social media — once I get sucked in, I'm hooked. There's so much I'd like to do, learn and improve upon in my life... wouldn't it be great to dedicate that mind-numbing time to it? I think so.

No computer or e-mail after 8pm!
I'm always checking my status on Facebook, trying to Tweet something amusing, or checking my e-mail to see if, well.... if anybody's out there. I think the single life has taken its toll on me in that I have no one next to me to bounce ideas off of, to say the amusing anecdote that popped into my head, or to complain about how I cannot believe who just got kicked off Project Runway. But I've come to rely on that a little too much. So it's time to stop looking externally for instant gratification and just make sure I'm happy with myself.

Draw something every single day!
After being able to re-examine my art, I've realized that I think I'm pretty okay with creating backgrounds that I love... it's not knowing what to draw on them! So how can I learn to draw better, or know what I like to draw? By drawing! So I'm going to draw something every day. And now I'll be able to better analyze what I like and don't like about each piece.

Go for more walks; get outside!
Working at home, it's so easy to not leave the house for days... especially during the winter. Sometimes I wouldn't even leave the perimeter of my house past the sidewalk except to put out the garbage. Okay, well... I'm not a big fan of cold weather, but fresh air and getting away from the computer.... I'm definitely a big fan of those. Now that Spring is in the air... this one's easy.

So, having started all this on Monday, I have to say it's been kind of hard. I've been distracting myself from what needs to get done for so long that it's become habit. But what I'd like to get done is so much more enticing, that it's worth the retraining of my brain.

What are your most difficult habits to break? What would you put on your checklist? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Letting Go...

I recently got the opportunity to attend a two-day painting workshop with Jesse Reno at my all-time favorite Virginia retreat... Art & Soul. I absolutely love his primitive style and his methods of painting intrigued me to no end! Painting with your hands, graffiti-style markings, and layers upon layers of acrylics, shapes and symbols was something I wanted to explore for my art.

Jesse himself is his own canvas, covered in marks and images that tell his own story and remind him of what is important in his life. He openly shared many of those stories with us, and showed how sometimes disparate events seem to come full circle. He's come along very far on his own journey of quiet, reserved artist to the extremely deep, acutely aware master he is today. It was an honor being part of this storytelling process.

After creating a few samples of backgrounds for our art, Jesse picked up a couple of the students samples (anonymously) to critique them for the class. Of course he picked mine up first and inside I was secretly blushing with excitement! However, he actually wanted to show the class what not to do! My piece had too many same-sized areas of paint and pattern, and was mostly all mid-tones. A few years ago I would have turned bright red, flushed with embarrassment, and felt like nothing I ever do is right. But this day, I was excited and thought to myself... Oooooh! What can I do to fix this? That's a huge step for me. Making mistakes has been the bane of my existence. Could this be a whole new Michelle?

After spending quite some time reworking our initial efforts, we switched gears and did some drawing exercises on plain white paper. This was so we could get an idea of what we were creating without a busy background to distract us. It's funny, but this is still one of my favorite pieces. I haven't gone any further with it. But I think I like the contrast of the white and how the faces stand out.

The next day it was the big leap. drawing on the backgrounds we created. One of my pieces started out like this, but it changed... alot! Jesse taught us how to step back and look at the things we like and the things we don't like. He showed us how we could change up the boring areas and higlight the interesting areas.

So then turned into this. But by this time I had gotten to the point where I wasn't afraid to change things. (Just take a picture first, and) Move on! I liked my little deer cat thing in the bottom left corner, but he just didn't make sense there. The eye to the right was looking like a fish, so I changed it up again.

...and so my piece finally made it to this after I returned home. I feel like it's okay, but it's not as "me" as it could be. At one point I had walked around the classroom looking at everyone else's art and getting a little jealous. Many were doing Jesse's techniques, but in their own style. So I stepped back and realized that because I'm a "recovering perfectionist", it takes me time to execute new ways of doing things. And that I was mimicking his style so that I could learn what I needed to and then I could apply it to my own style later on.

In fact, this piece I did awhile back — having been inspired by Jesse's paintings — is more me than anything I created in the workshop. But now I have the tools, as well as the perspective, to be able to look at what I don't like... and fix it. And I'll remember the most important advice from his class... sometimes you just need to make a move. It doesn't always matter what you do... just do something and the next step will reveal itself.

I'm thrilled that I got to take this class. It was an amazing experience at just the right time in my life. I'm looking forward to how my art will evolve because of it! Hurrah!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughtful Thursdays: I Can't!

Earlier this week, I got the opportunity to take a 2-day painting class from Portland artist Jesse Reno entitled Freedom to Create. I knew it would be tough because his class takes you outside your comfort zone. I knew this going in, which is why I chose to take the class. Being the "recovering perfectioninst" that I am, taking a workshop that thrusts you into making mistakes and confronting what you don't like, would have terrified me 5 years ago. But these days... I was really looking forward to turning "I can't" into, "How can I?" I definitely feel more confident about looking at my art and being objective now (Life, well... that's another story!).

I'll be posting some interesting progressive photos of my project, showcasing all the layers and how they changed throughout the class in my blog post on Tuesday so, stay tuned...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Join Me At Creativity By-the-Sea...

Sunday, March 25th
Creativity By-the-Sea, Ocean Grove, NJ

Take a stroll with me down to the boardwalk... or the circus.... or the carnival.... as you learn how to age and everyday items like wood, plastic, clay, fabric, paper and more. Bring back memories of those fun arcade games as you create a whimsical, folk art style, dimensional shadowbox from the ground up using vintage and everyday items. Starting with an unfinished wood box that you'll paint and decorate — you'll learn easy techniques for making new things look old. These are methods that you'll be able to use time and time again on your own future projects.

For information and registration, check out the Creativity By-the-Sea website and sign up to come play with me! Or choose from some of the 2 dozen classes offered at this art retreat on the Atlantic Ocean... we'd love to have you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thoughtful Thursdays: The Future Is Clear!

Because every day I'm shufflin! Okay, so I didn't just write this blog post so I could do a shout out to my favorite party song... it's actually a fair warning. So that you don't do what I've done. So that you don't get trapped in a box. So that you don't ever buy storage that isn't clear! I'm here to tell you about the clear tub shuffle!

A few weeks back, I did a post about how I organize some of my art and craft supplies. I mentioned that when a particular group of supplies outgrow thier jar, drawer or shelf... that they might get lucky and get their own tub. One reason is that I love sifting through my stuff to find exactly what I need! However, the storage tubs I had were not see-through. It was highly probable for me to get quite annoyed trying to find that one piece of whatever that I was looking for. But it's all clear now!

I needed to store my supplies in transparent tubs so I could see everything from tippy top to the very bottom... and everything in-between (and yes, that is a 2" piece of a jean hem and an old bra strap. I save everything! It's a curse). But my life is so much easier now that I can see what I'm looking for from all sides. So take this as fair warning.... if you're gonna go big... make sure you're clear about it.