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!

 

 

Riding the Wave

When I posted I was DONE, you didn’t take me seriously did you? Well, the fact is – I am done, my last post still applies. And no, I don’t have anything profound or truly blogworthy to share, but a funny thing happened – not funny ha ha, but funny interesting…

Lately I’ve had a wonderful amount of “free time” and used that time to NOT stress about making goals, meeting deadlines or planning anything other than using my time to put more thought and energy  into the activities I enjoy.  This is not only true for the business side of things but also for the home life side of things as well. In reality, the daily chores and tasks that NEED to be done are simple and take very little time; keeping the floors swept, the sink empty, fridge full, electricity on, internet connected and having clean clothes – all important and all can be accomplished in less than 5 hours a week. As for business, well a person could fill every hour of  the 24 doing business related stuff and that doesn’t include creating and making. Now I’m just riding the wave of life, going with the flow, enjoying the ride. And with that new philosophy I’ve managed to get some fun “work’ done.

I was, for some reason, compelled to do a paper cutting using Hiroshige’s Thirty six Views of  Mt. Fuji as my inspiration. I decided to use The Sea Off Satta in Suruga Province because it is such a widely recognized iconic piece of work and my reference would need  very little explanation.

The Wave

It took about a month to do this one. There was no deadline and I even took a couple of road trips during the month too, something I would have never done before. This time I just enjoyed the process and had fun with it.  I didn’t even stress out when most the layers had to be peeled off and reconfigured because the lid wouldn’t close properly. Now I know how better to plan out my layers so that doesn’t happen again.

Here is a little peek at the process, the quick sketch and a few of the cut layers with one side assembled.

wave assembly

Well, that’s all folks.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention… I took this piece and about 4 other older pieces with me to an event I had no intention of selling at and what do you know… SOLD. And see, I am so done, I didn’t even bother to fret over the lack of wave metaphors I could have been and should have been using throughout this whole post to make it more you know, “bolgworthy”.

Cheers!

 

 

Happy Camping Everyone

I’m excited to be doing a few Holiday shows, but I’m also feeling very pressed for time. With that, I can only leave you with a photo:

caravan tin Collage

This Christmas caravan was created from an Altoids tin. The roof is made from Sculpey III  polymer clay and rests on a trailer hitch made from a clothes pin, spool and wood bead. Other embellishments include decorative paper, beads, pipe cleaner and charms salvaged from thrift store jewelry. I decided not to make my own bottle brush tree because, well, I just wasn’t feeling motivated to do so.

I’ve done a good job this year using only items I can salvage from my stash and using the paper scraps I have collected over the years. The only purchases I have made are for products I have run out of and some really beautiful, hard to find decorative paper. Mostly I’ve been working on creating my own background papers using photo editing programs.

Hey, this was supposed to be a quick photo only post. So with that, while all is quite and calm, I must get back to work. I have about 100 more of these to make.(!)

And Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

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 –

Oh, So Raven

As usual, once October approaches, November and December come full speed at me. Here it is the end of November and not a post has been posted…

I have very exciting news to share. Well, two bits of exciting news, but I’m waiting to share until most the details have been worked out.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share with you a tin I was “commissioned” to do by a friend, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta. Maryanne asked me to make a raven themed tin for her good friend Darlene Foster, a very talented artist who specializes in digital photography and image enhancement.

First, just a short side note… Maryanne has an interesting blog, All Maryanne, All The Time, where she writes about what moves her; music (she is a HUGE music fan), movies, general observations and especially her writing career (Maryanne has a book due out soon titled “On The Guest List”, all about her adventures as a music journalist in the hot spots of NYC). We actually met through blogging and have had the chance to chat over the phone and also become Facebook friends. It’s been a pleasure getting to know her and I was very honored she asked me to make this tin.

I wanted to unveil this in October, but was waiting for Maryanne to present it to Darlene first…

I was very nervous about this task because after looking at Darlene’s work, I felt grossly inadequate as an artist. How could I, a “self-teaching” unknown, create anything worthy enough to present to a talented, accomplished artist? I love her work, the haunting images, the eeriness of it all, and I wanted to capture the ideas expressed in her work without feeling as though I was copying.

But, I’m always up for a challenge. Being that Darlene is a photographer, I thought it would be fun to create a small frame inside the tin. The problem would be placing a photo inside the frame. The frame would have to be removable.

I decided on a square frame rather than circular. The clay was formed around the assembled frame before baking.

I settled on a square frame rather than circular. The clay was formed around the existing frame of 2 joined tags before baking.

I decided to make a small frame out of polymer clay (I am really loving this stuff). I used the metal frames from vellum tags then used three toothpicks between, along the metal part of the tag, to create a space for a photo. A small opening was made by omitting a fourth toothpick along the top of the joined frames so a photo could easily be slid in. For the frame to be removed from the tin, I attached a small, strong magnet to the back of the frame.  I kept velum intact for the back part of the frame, which I adhered the magnet to with E6000 glue.  I must have snapped this photo before I molded the clay frame to the metal part of the tags.  I also used clay to seal up the portions where the toothpicks might have been exposed – that would have ruined the look I was going for :).

raven drawing

I was happy with the raven drawing (right), but once placed on the tin, it lacked dimension. I could have used pop dots to raise the image, however, I was concerned the small drawing on its own would not be sturdy enough to withstand handling. The other option was a polymer raven, I was not happy with the results of that. I decided to place the drawing over the polymer piece which would give both dimension and support. I used Mod Podge to join the pieces together.

So here it is, the finished product.

rav2Collage

Typically, the raven is associated with dark magic, death and often seen perched on tombstones or atop skulls. I love all those images and the dark mystery that surrounds the raven, but for this project I wanted to focus on the positive side of the raven; keeper of secrets, bringer of light (according to Native American creation legends), preserver of ancestral memories. As the raven mates for life, I also see it as a symbol of love, faithfulness and security. These were the characteristics I attempted to capture here.

I heard Darlene was happy with it. I really enjoyed making it and thoroughly enjoyed browsing Darlene’s website and learning more about her as an artist. I also learned a lot about ravens as I did my research.

Being “commissioned” to do a piece of art work IS indeed exciting. I felt privileged and honored that anyone would consider asking me to do this. And as exciting as this was for me, I am super excited to share my next bit of news with you too! But as stated in the beginning – you will just have to wait. (only the raven knows…)

And as the mighty Tigger says…

TTFN,

Cheers!
(well, ok – I don’t think Tigger actually says THAT)

The Hidden Path Revealed

I intended to write a witty, whimsical post involving mysterious sea creatures and how one evening as I took a moonlit stroll along the beach, I was visited by a wise old octopus. As he levitated above the ocean shore he stretched out far-reaching tentacles. Each tentacle pointed to a different path and each path was right and looked as promising as the other. Indeed, each path is worthy of travel and exploration:

RIght View
Right Intentions
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Concentration
Right Mindfulness

But I’m no philosopher and so I will only leave you with these few photos of what I managed to work on this month.

octopus before

Before smoothing, baking and sanding

After:

octopus Collage

Oh, and a song too 🙂