Court C Studios – Take a Tour

I’ve been sharing posts regarding the Tacoma Studio Tours which are happening this weekend. October 15th and 16th from 11am to 5pm you will have the opportunity to visit 57 artists and collaborative studios.

Find studio locations and plan your trip by visiting the Tacoma Arts Website, there  you’ll find an interactive map and trip planner that should be helpful in plotting your course.

Believe it or not, Tacoma has a very rich art scene and if you happen to live even just a little south of Seattle you might find the trip to Tacoma to be a nice(r) alternative to the hustle and bustle of Seattle, with its frustrating, ongoing road construction, heavy traffic congestion and impossible to find parking (and expensive when you do).  I encourage anyone in the area to head out this weekend and discover the hidden, and not so hidden, treasures you can find in Tacoma. You’ll find The City of Destiny offers something for everyone from antique and thrift shops, quirky gift shops, interesting art collectives to world class museums. And parking in most areas is only $2.00 for the entire day on Saturdays! WHAT? Yep, you read that right. There is also the Tacoma Link Light Rail which is FREE to ride and will take you from any point on its route to the Theater District stop and from there  Court C Studios is just a short walk away.

So – get over to the Tacoma Arts website and plan your trip now. Please.

Here is a wonderful short video created by the City of Tacoma highlighting a friend of mine, Lynne Farren – an amazing mixed media and collage artist, as well as painter. I happen to be in the same building ( “Court C Studio aka Firers Etc.) with Lynne and it’s always fun and inspiring to see what she comes up with.

Court C Studios will be open for the tour on Saturday AND Sunday. We are number 25 on the Studio Tour Map. Come in and have a chat with the artists, learn something interesting and create something fun.

Court C Studios...

Roberta Lowes, hand woven wearables and accessories
fibersetcstudio.com

Leah Fits, acrylic painting and mixed media
leahfitts.com

Nancy Mclaughlin, acrylic painting
nancymclaughlin.blogspot.com

Karen Perrine, hand marbled paper, paper and collage artist

Shirley Benton, acrylic painting
shirleybentonart.com

Ann Darling, custom clothing and accessories, textile artist
We would all love to see you there!

Life on the EDGE?

There have been many  blog worthy events in my life lately, but my poor time management skills have prohibited me from scheduling any serious writing time.

I guess I’ll start with the most recent happening in my life. Most likely that is also where I’ll end because lets face it, too much of a good thing can get boring. I’ll try to make it quick.

Two months ago I stepped (actually, I was pushed) way out of my comfort zone.  Now, I consider myself a very adaptable person and I’ve had my share of positive life experiences that were often the result of my being pushed out of my comfort zone, but for the most part, I prefer to stay in my comfy little zone and maybe extend an arm or leg into the uncomfortable world of unknowns from time to time. After all, what is life if you don’t live on the edge just a little?

What makes me uncomfortable?
Strangers
Writing
Large groups of strangers
Talking about myself
Talking about myself to a large group of strangers

Oddly enough though, I’ve been known to respond to online invitations to attend groups and meetings with people I’ve never met before and for the most part I have always had good experiences with doing that. I’ve also had to give presentations and even talk about myself just a little to rooms full of strangers. I can do it, I just don’t like to.  But nothing causes me greater discomfort than having to share my “art” and vision with people, strangers or not. That may come as surprise to the  faithful few who follow me  on Facebook, Instagram and here where all I do is write about my explorations in artistic discovery, but trust me, it is not something I feel entirely confident or comfortable doing. Which explains some of my long absences here. I  do it because I feel I have to if I expect to go anywhere with any of this. ANYWAY….

On one of those occasions where I  decided to drift into the unknown by attending a lecture on social media marketing for artists (with a friend who I also forced out of her comfort zone…) there was mention by the facilitator about applications being accepted for EDGE. EDGE is a one week professional development resident program that helps emerging artists develop their goals. It has helped many an artist set goals and launch successful careers.  The deadline to apply was June 31st. I found out about the program on June 29th – I’m a little foggy on the exact dates, but the point is I didn’t think about applying because well, that would have been way too uncomfortable. I would have had to show actual artists my work AND write about myself AND write about my work and I was not / am not  in any way ready to think about applying for anything like that.  I knew though, that my friend was more than ready and I encouraged her to apply, which she said she might consider while also making a million excuses as to why she shouldn’t. Oh, we are so good for each other.

I put EDGE out of my mind and on the morning of the 31st my friend sent me a hilarious text message. She had decided to apply for EDGE and she thought I should too.  I sent her back  an “LOL” she – of all people! – had decided to apply! I was shocked, amazed, impressed – she did it, good for her! But I had to laugh at her thinking for one moment I was at that level. And that is when she pushed me. But for some reason, I was ok with playing along and thought: what is the worst that could happen?

Well, I could have my soul crushed like a walnut under a wheel loader is what could happen! And frankly, I have had enough of that for the past two years. It’s not so much that I can’t handle rejection. Well, yes actually it is that. I suck at rejection, even though I’ve had plenty of practice with it over the years, it never gets easy.

At her urging and pushing I decided to arm myself with some duct tape for the soul and give it a try. After all, I had 9 hours to fill out the application. Plenty of time. I completed the process with about 10 minutes to spare.  Then I waited. I figured there would be no news until after the July Holiday, so it was pretty easy to forget about it, plus I was pretty sure there wasn’t a chance at all I would be accepted. Then still I wondered…

A couple of weeks went by and I received a very happy and nervous text message  from my pushy friend (yes that is how we communicate – rarely do we ever talk to each other, this way we can stay in our comfort zones and still be social) that she had been accepted! I was so super happy for her. And I patiently waited for my rejection letter to come.

It never came. I began to feel a little tremor in my soul. After a couple of weeks, my soul cracked.

Apparently my artist’s statement, statement of work, my “art”, my application was so horrible none of it was even worthy of a rejection letter. I laughed to and at myself. What was I thinking? If It was just a mail in application perhaps the rejection would not have caused me such distress. However, with social media and so many of us on-line everywhere, there was a very deep gut wrenching feeling that not only do I suck, but that I was being passed around on every type of  media device known to man. I could hear the laughter, the jokes and I convinced myself to be happy that I had brought so much joy to so many people for a day. But I seriously became quite embarrassed for a few days too, thinking that everyone from the program might have peaked at one or all of my social media sites in order to assure themselves that they really don’t suck so bad after all.

As my soul crumbled to dust over a couple more weeks, I did finally receive the rejection letter I thought I was so unworthy of. I felt better. I looked at the bright side, the application had forced me to look hard at my goals and think about what I really want to do, should be doing or NOT doing. I also wrote an artist’s statement, a bio and about my process. True, none of it was good enough to convince anyone of my potential, but what I had left was a really polished rough draft that could be tweaked for future use.

HA! Future USE? Like that is ever going to happen.

Yet, I keep at it. Why? I’m not sure. I  will say though, I think I have given up on the art aspect of what I am trying to do and  may just stick with making what sells. Or I may not. I guess I’m still riding that wave.

And Then

And so I continued to go to my studio on a fairly regular basis and just kept making anything that came to mind. Feeling pretty satisfied and generally happy with the process, but like a complete failure with the finished “work”. Yes, these are fun, people like them, but what do they say?

Then, leaving my studio yesterday I had a thought; “#@(K  this *(&T  I’m going to do ART. And it might be weird and strange and SUCK but at this point , I just don’t care.” But then, maybe it wont be weird. Maybe it will be pretty and nice and that is ok, right? And no one even needs to know it exists.

And Then (Again)

I came home yesterday and went through the routine of checking emails and OMG… what should I find in my in box?

These exact words:
Happy Wednesday to you! You were next on our alternate list in case someone from Visual EDGE had to unexpectedly drop, which just happened.

Well, how funny is this? I was pretty quick to want to say “YES!” but before hitting ‘send’ on that, I stopped to think… I was still super excited about my friend getting accepted and the thought of us going together was more exciting than my receiving the offer of acceptance (for a few seconds). I knew she was going, but I also know how she can sometimes talk herself out of things and I wondered if perhaps her anxiety might have gotten the best of her. How funny would it be if I accepted and SHE was the one who dropped out? Clearly this was beyond a text message and a phone call was absolutely in order. Plus, I was not entirely sure I really wanted to go, the thought of being there with all those strangers, talking, showing my “art” to judges and critics… not exactly healing balm for the soul.

After confirming she was, indeed, still attending and convincing me of why it was super important for me to go and what an honor it was to have such a great opportunity, I went ahead and hit ‘send’ on that email reply.

And now, I must go sweep up the dusty crumbles of my crushed soul and return to my comfy place where I will take aim and get ready to toss every little bit haphazardly over the EDGE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Garden

Today I’m feeling like I need an escape; a peaceful place to gather my thoughts and tune out the world. I have it in my mind to create such a place in my own back yard, but for now I’ll just have to pretend.

Here is a simple paper cutting I finished last month. It was a good month for me. I think all the sunshine helped energize my mind and awaken a little creative beast with in me.

I did this tin because Japan during springtime is one of my favorite places to be.  I wanted to capture the serenity of a tranquil Japanese bamboo forest, the soothing sound of bamboo leaves rustling in the breeze and the trickling of a gentle stream.japanese garden papercut

I’ve started to use more of my own hand made embellishments and I like to keep it as true to handmade as possible, but I did use two texture plates for the sky and the grass. Also, I cheated a little and used a small circle punch for the cherry blossoms. I wasn’t feeling up to the challenge of cutting out 50 little tiny circles by hand.

bamboo garden

Japanese garden collage

As I said, this was a pretty productive month for me and I’m excited to be finishing up a few projects, which I hope to share with you next time. But now – I must go tend to the garden –

Cheers!

 

 

Changes…

After weeks of trying to find a witty, entertaining way to explain my absence and lack of motivation to write anything more than a laundry list- I give up. So here it is, my not so grand reentry into the blogosphere.

 

What Has Changed

Sadly, Elliot was growing more incoherent each day and developed a very annoying habit of beating her head against the wall for hours on end. I found it impossible to concentrate with all that racket so we had her shipped off to a very fine sanatarium  finishing school so she might be molded into a more polished version of her twisted little self. But this means our bricks and mortar shop, Twisted Elliot, has officially closed.

Once Elliot learns the art of proper parosol twirling and how to distinguish between a pitchfork and a dinner fork and especially how to control urges to stab someone with either, we will happily welcome her back and continue to love her unconditionally.

Yes, it was a little sad to close the door on Twisted Elliot, but all is well. We are in a new studio space, which is exciting (we have windows!) because I feel it will give me a place to work more and worry less about presenting that work in a retail setting.

Here is a peek at the new studio:

I call this the “Collectors Corner”, it’s a place for all those weird things I find on walks or have been given to me by friends… things like deer bones, dead bees, feathers. Not sure what the feng shui in all this is, but it might explain a few things.

collectors corner

storage and photobooth

A major dilemma I’ve faced for years now is having access to a convenient permanent “photo booth”, a designated zone where an item can be placed and photographed immediately upon completion. Since I make small items, this should be pretty easy… it isn’t. This area in a corner of my shelving units has potential, I’ve had  a little luck with some items, but there hasn’t been consistency in the photos and I’m doing a lot of editing, which can be very tedious and time consuming.  But, notice all the empty space on the shelves?  I always have to make sure I save room for the hoard to grow.

work zone Collage

This area by the window has proven to be a good option for a “photo booth” though not a permanent set up. But all I have to do is drape some white paper over my computer and VIOLÁ! Then dump photos int a photo editor and Voilá! again… the key would be to get the shots right from the beginning… oh well. Again, not perfect, but very little set up is required, and on a sunny day the lighting is pretty perfect. I’m enjoying having these two separate work areas, including my brainstorming area (you can tell not so much as a cloud in sight these days). Two work areas make it easy to move back and forth between tasks and projects when I need a break from one or the other…

comfy place

and the comfy spot is great when I need a beak from both. This also makes a nice cozy spot for the occasional visitor (hint, hint).

And then there is this:

packing station

                                                  The pack and wrap station for all those Etsy orders that are going to start pouring in and flying out. But for now it is a good spot to just hang my coat. Notice my fabulous  Blue Apron  boxes? They are great for transporting the dolls to and from shows.

And that’s all the changes that have been happening here. It’s a work in progress, and we are missing Elliot, but when she returns, there will be a place here for her in the newly padded cupboard.

 

What has Stayed the Same

Pretty much everything else has stayed the same.  Well, not really, but I won’t dare bore you with all the bland and boring details. Besides, most of it doesn’t involve me, and I’m not one to gossip… not online anyway.

So, until my next post, which hopefully will be soon, Cheers!

And I meant to ask… how is the New Year treating you so far? Have you also had some changes going on in your world? All for the better I hope.

 

 

 

 

 

I Have Ways to Make You Talk

You never know what twists and turns might happen in the studio.

What started out as two separate pieces, each destined for starring roles in their own story, turned into something completely different.

First, there was a bird, which I stumbled upon (literally, I tripped right over him) in a thrift store and paid too much for, probably because the thrift store was an antique store – and you know how the word antique increases the price of an object by about 200%. This bird is definitely not an antique. But I couldn’t resist, he was taking to me, chattering away about all the grand dreams he had. Until I got him home, then not a peep. For months.

One day, I decided to make him talk, so I painted him, hoping to coax some ideas from him. I would’ve been happy with anything he had to say. I was just tired of him sitting there, mocking me, blank eyed and mute.

The Empire, start

And he stayed in this whitewashed comatose state for many more months.

I decided I would tackle another project until that damn bird decided to start talking again.

The Empire, project beginning

This would be easy, I had a few ideas of what to do with this piece. Some kind of diorama for sure. I began collecting and forming parts to create an underwater scene but ended up going down another path chasing butterflies through a secret garden. ACkkkkk. This clock was not the right shape for that. But the butterflies carried me back to another time; the days when primordial sludge oozed over the earths surface and that one tiny little single-celled organism supposedly brought forth all the diverse, amazing and complex life we see on our planet today. I would create a time line of life on earth.

Then something happened and I lost interest in the idea.  To the unfinished project pile went the clock along with that mute, mocking bird.

When I hit an artistic block, I start reorganizing my work space. This could be to make room for the flow of creative energy or just simply a diversion tactic, I’m not entirely sure. As it happened on this particular day, in a moment of reorganization when I haphazardly placed the bird atop the clock, a new idea sprang forth.

First, a bit of surgery would be required. bird project I needed to repair the gaping hole in my not so feathered friend’s chest. Dry wall compound worked well for this. And while the opening in his chest was too large, the opening in the clock was too small, so that needed to be fixed as well.

After a few minor alterations…

The Empire

I wanted to include a globe in this piece and I was glad to find a papier-mache egg in my stash. I was not so glad though, when I made a few mistakes in painting it and had to find a way to wash the paint off the papier mache. You know what happens to paper when it gets overly wet… as I tried to gently erase my mistakes the paper began to disintegrate. But I was pretty happy to find a black smooth surface underneath.  I free hand cut a tiny map of the world – my deepest apologies for those island countries that may have been relocated or completely omitted – I think Italy is missing its boot heel. But, it doesn’t matter it is the end of the world after all.

The egg sits atop a rumbling wave of black sludge; a polymer clay tsunami.

It was important that the egg rotate, notice it is not on its axis, I struggled with tilting or keeping straight. I thought an earth in complete turmoil would most likely be off its axis, so this works, which was nice because the egg already had centered holes in it.

egg Collage

To make the earth rotate, I used a battery operated clock mechanism. This presented two problems; one, the mechanism sat too low and two, the battery would have to be changed which meant the egg would have to be removable. A small wooden spool made a good support and added the right height for the mechanism. I drilled a small hole in the clock bottom to place a peg which the spool would fit onto (2), giving the egg a little support and also allowing for the unit to be removed so the battery could be replaced (3).

That is about it for this month. I suppose I could go on and on about all the symbology of this piece here, but I think it speaks on its own. Or maybe not. But I do think maybe that bird learned a valuable lesson.

TTFN –

Altoids Tin Pop-UP

For some strange reason I had a strong need to create a chrysalis from polymer clay. I had no idea why or what I would do with it once I made it.

polymer clay chrysalis

How could I tell its story?
Cacoon tin collageI thought it would be fun, and maybe challenging, to create a pop-up.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I just love the way the butterfly unfolds when the tin is opened. Actually, the first photo is the second chrysalis I made, because I like this one so much I decided to make another one and thought I would give you a peek at how they look l before I paint them.

I also became so inspired by the pop-up concept I thought I would attempt it with something other than butterflies.

sparrowCollage

Again, polymer clay was used to make the eggs, which are then hand painted. The nest was made from wire. For both tins I used Steampunk Botanica scrapbook paper by DCWV. The lovely little sparrows were taken from the Graphics Fairy, an amazing resource of vintage images available to all crafters and artists for use in their projects. Thank You Graphics Fairy!

Well, it has been a rather productive week so far – wait, it is only Wednesday, I actually started these projects a couple of weeks ago, but I was able to get them finished up yesterday – just in time for a show I will be doing this weekend too. 🙂

Well, cheers to you all – have a fantastic day.

Hope Untarnished

I thought I’d ease into my new-found interest in paper cutting by creating the piece here. When I say ease in, I mean this isn’t exactly what I would consider a true paper cutting. I simply cut out the flowers from decorative paper with scissors. The small, detailed flowers were cut using a die cut machine, very little skill required. The butterfly is hand cut from a scrap of cereal box, then hand painted.

As usual, I wanted to use salvaged items. The frame is actually purchased from Ikea and was to be used for signage, but I decided to rough it up and use it as a support for the Altoids tin that houses the butterfly.

I titled this piece “Untarnished”. I wanted to call it “Hope”, but I did a painting a few years back with that title, so “Hope” didn’t seem original enough.

Perhaps it was the ghost of Dante whispering to me “Abandon all hope…. ” You know the rest. But this isn’t about a trip through the hell, nor does it attempt to explain a great literary work. It’s more a reference to personal growth or regeneration; “here begins new life”. That Dante. At least, I’m pretty sure it was Dante, the voice was speaking English, so I can’t be too sure. But I suspect that in the after life we’ll be capable of speaking and understanding all languages. 

Now, with my reference to Dante you may expect me to get all philosophical and existential.  Ha – no chance of that happening today. Believe me, I go through an existential crisis regularly. It’s all quite boring, so I will spare you the pain.

I only felt compelled to project an idea that under the rubble of a damned, fallen humanity there is still an unwavering certainty that all hope is not lost. I decided to go with the title of “Untarnished” because lets face it – life is full of little “surprises” that can take a toll on our spirit, mind and body. We may feel like that old rusted out clunker, which long ago lost its usefulness. Yet, if you look closely you’ll see that old abandoned rust bucket has sprouted its own perfect ecosystem. Which is really the point. Difficult situations may lead us to see nothing but the rust and ruin. But deep inside we remain untarnished. Under the tarnished debris, germination of a new world occurs and we find that those difficult situations can also be used as fodder a beautiful metamorphosis. Well, the hope is that it would be beautiful and not a Kafkaesque nightmare. No, wouldn’t want that. 

So what do you think? Should I go with “Hope” or does “Untarnished” work just as well? And does any of this even matter? Oh wait. I’m NOT going to get all existential, remember?

untarnished 1

untarnished

untarnished back