Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Bit Of My Wonder Emporium

If you look closely, VERY closely, you can see a small person in the center of the background wearing an orange shirt.  That was me yesterday at our town's relay race.  The photo is far away because Mikel took it before I handed off the relay sash to him.   As soon as he took it, he ran the camera and his raincoat to the side and got back to the start line for the hand off.  It was another rainy day and therefore great to have some reason to leave the apartment.  I'm sure if we hadn't had an obligation, we would have just stayed inside all day.  It's days like that, rainy days, that I dream of book stores, coffee shops, galleries and restaurants.  We've learned great ways to entertain ourselves in small spaces.  Thank the universe for art!  

A magical amazing movie about creativity and living life as an occasion.  
I'm sure you've seen it, but in case you haven't, I HIGHLY recommend it.

We've been planning our straw bale house we want to build in Vermont.  
Here's one image of a house that probably has too many windows for such a cold state, but is beautiful and inspiring nonetheless.  

Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cabin Fever

*** Sorry, my computer won't let me add in links today. The Etsy sellers are listed below. Theme: anything that makes my rainy day brighter and more fun! Happy weekend.***

1. Yellena
2. Kate Bethel
3. The Runny Bunny
4. Ice Cream Candy
5. polkadot pancake
6. Studio Karma
7. Alchemy Fibre Arts
8. Ollies Wollies
9. Ashleyg

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Slump vs. Silhouette

(studio shot of some new silhouettes I'm working on)  
I'm not sure if they will be incorporated fully into my Landscape of Enough, but they were inspired by the shadows that the sculpture creates.  Here's another example:

I was feeling a bit lonely in my studio yesterday (feeling like "why am I here? does anyone care if I'm here or not?") Of course the answer to the second question is yes and no.  A lot of people don't care about art (or don't think they care) but I think if people really think about it, we all need art in order to witness the truth that there is magic in the world; that we can transcend our everyday lives and connect to other people.  We are each alone at a very basic level and we can only share so much of ourselves with others.  Art is one way for us to touch others in their own isolation as our magic/creativity speaks to the vast parts of their souls that our minds and bodies cannot touch.

The answer to the first question is that I have to make art.  If I don't get in my studio, the world slowly loses its sparkle for me.  I stop seeing everything as infinite possibilities and start seeing it as overwhelming/boring/separate from me.  I start to look at other artists as if their work is a product and feel like if only I could make that/draw like that/think those thoughts/have a website like that/have funding like that/etc., my work would be valid.  

The truth is, all I had to do was get back in my "studio" and do something fun and quick, just so I could witness my own magic and my own way of seeing the world.  We each have our own way of seeing the world and the only way for us to know that is to make something and witness what he have seen.  I can't make work like anyone else because I don't see the world the same as other people.  If my work is like another person's work, I think that's evidence of a collective conscience.  

The other truth to the first question is that I needed to get into my slump in order to appreciate what my real work is.  I'm not fully out of my slump yet, but I think I'm on the upswing and I'm enjoying the kind of vulnerable ache that seems to come with losing my bearings.

So anyway, I think I might have packed my mental suitcases before I'm really supposed to pack my real ones.  I have about a month left here in Japan after all, and that's plenty of time to make some sweet art magic.  I sat by the pond yesterday and did some landscape sketching (the first of my magic I've seen for days).
It probably doesn't look like much to someone else, but that's the point.  It's my own evidence and support for what I see.  It's one function of a sketchbook and a place to start to make "finished" projects.
I made this landscape collage this morning. 

So anyway, in my pre-landscape-drawing slump, yesterday, I was NEEDING any reinforcement that I am a valid artist (lame but true).  I did the nerdy thing of Googling my name and guess what I found!  An awesome blog written by an adjunct professor at Tyler School of Art in Philly named Loraine Glessner.  She wrote a blog post about me last December!  Her blog is really cool (not just because she wrote about me) because she posts about awesome artists (I just checked in today and her most recent post is about Charles Burwell, who makes stunning painting) and she posts studio tips on Mondays.  What a great idea!  Studio tips are like life-savers when all we need to do is just get back into our studio but we don't know how.

So I'm on an upswing.  Studio tips to come, I think.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Tower Speaker" and my Plastic Soap Box

"Tower Speaker"

My awesome husband recently finished a bunch of new sculptures and added them to his website.  It isn't until now that he is sort-of allowing me to announce his new works and website additions to people.  He's much more humble than I am.  I really love his work and I'm really lucky to be able to share a studio with him (even when I am totally jealous of his amazing productivity).

"Blue Bust"


The Plastic Era

Mikel and I were talking on our walk to the grocery store yesterday about how sad we are that everything is made of plastic and therefore breaks easily and is usually irreparable.  Not that I don't LOVE plastic.  My art (and Mikel's) and jewelry wouldn't be the same without it.  Most of the plastic we use, though, is found, recycled or purchased at a thrift store.  I am drawn to plastic because of my optimism about being able to make treasure from trash, and because I love the color and texture of plastic.  I also don't have a problem with the fact that plastic discolors and becomes brittle in time. 

My problem with the world's addiction to plastic is that it is directly correlated with our loss of basic skills: sewing, woodworking, cooking, fixing cars, gardening, making paint, etc.  Someday (we estimated 200 years) we will realize that mass produced plastic doesn't last long, pollutes our environment and enables us to never learn down-to-earth skills.  These grounded skills support a philosophy of abundance and creativity. 

I'm not suggesting a boycott of plastic or an instant reconstruction of our culture.  I'm just suggesting that we take the time to learn some down-to-earth skills and allow that experience to show us that everything we've ever wanted, we already have.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Butter Futter and Christmas Lover

Although teaching English in Japan might seem unrelated to being an artist, it has actually expanded my bag of creative tricks.  When I first started this job I was just itching to add some whimsy to the teaching materials.  The textbook is quite dry and the school is a bit conservative.  This job is really what you make of it yourself.  

Anyway, the previous ALT wrote stories about his experiences for the students to listen to, take notes on and answer questions about.  I decided to make my stories a bit more ridiculous.  I invented a character named Butter Futter.  He has a best friend named Snakey Snake (from Mexico) and a newer friend named Christmas Lover.  

In the above picture you can see Butter Futter giving a tree to Christmas Lover as a house warming gift.  Also, you can see more Christmas Lovers standing on a knife's edge above them.  

Before my time in Japan, I rarely drew recognizable imagery but I really love whimsical characters and beautiful, dream-like landscapes (that's one of the many reasons I have always loved Michelle Summers work).  Teaching English in Japan gave me a reason (although it's sad that I felt I needed one) to play with my own characters.  I think any job I've had has given me inspiration for new art.  When I was a nanny, I expanded my jewelry and drawing techniques.  When I worked at a coffee shop I thought more about making t-shirts.  Although my goal (in the near future!) is to be a self-employed artist, I appreciate what I have stumbled onto through working random, non-art jobs.  The more limits I have, the more creative I am.

More to come!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I do like Cheetos

Yellow Quotes:

"The yellow fog that rubs its back against the windowpanes."
~T.S. Eliot

"I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. he told me to wear a brown tie." 
~Rodney Dangerfield

~Clifford Stoll

To read quotes about yellow, click here.

**I love yellow. ** 
It has a reputation of being both the color of geniuses and of crazy people. 
 It is usually vibrant and often bothers people.  
What do you think about yellow?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dipping into Ponds

(sculpture sketch from this week)

I have had the privilege to be able to sit by the pond across the street lately and read and sketch/write.  The weather is beautiful and soon I will be busier than I can imagine, so it's important for me to take some down-to-earth time.  

This sitting time is like taking an "art date" (a date for yourself, just for seeking out inspiration.  I like to go to book stores, galleries, other people's studios, and just check out the internet).  But sketchbook/reading/sitting time is the best for checking into where I am at the moment.  Sometimes I don't know exactly where I am and therefore I feel lost and aimless in my studio.  This time of sitting is a really good time for journals and artist statements to reflect on what I'm thinking about and how I'm feeling.  

It's amazing how often I realize I've had repetitive thoughts in my head that I didn't fully realize I was having.  For example, I was writing about how I felt really stuck on a sculpture.  I also wrote how irritated I was that I could really "see" it because there was too much stuff in that corner of my work space.  I didn't fully realize that was bothering me until I wrote it down.  I went right back in, cleaned out the corner and got a whole spurt of energy and ideas for the piece.  

We have the natural ability to know when our activities and attitudes are healthy and productive, or when our activities are destructive and poisonous.  It's important to learn to listen to our intuition about these things.  Unfortunately our culture doesn't generally teach us how to listen to our intuition, or even value intuition at all (In fact, capitalism depends on us being stuck in our negative, unhealthy states of mind so that we feel like we need external things to fix us).  Listening to our intuition is something we not only have to learn to do, but to learn to recognize in ourselves.  

"Dipping into The Pond" by Betsy Watson

Along with the book "COLOR" I have also been reading:
I HIGHLY recommend this book to any one in a relationship (and anyone who believes their life is about evolving as a human being).  It's based on the idea that love is the new frontier in our society.  Most of us no longer live in a culture that holds relationships together when they become difficult and so we must make conscious decisions for ourselves about how to evolve as human beings, and how relationship acts as a teacher and the most vibrant place to do this growing and learning.  
Happy Making!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

DIY Color and Bug Blood

This is the book I`m reading now. I am always trying to be conscious about where my food, clothing and other things I buy come from to limit my carbon footprint and thus keep my impact on the world neutral or positive. This book has made me realize that I have no idea where my paint comes from or the history of certain colors, pigments and paints. In this book history rides on the thread of color.
Of course with education comes information that can be quite shocking. For example, the day I bought this book, I also bought some chap stick with a reddish tint. The reddish tint comes from the ingredient called "Carmine". From this book I learned that if the chap stick company were to write the layman`s term for carmine in parentheses next to the official name, they would write "insect blood". Yum! It really is delicious, though, the chap stick, I mean.
Just some food for thought... or thought for food?
This book is leading me into a more DIY paint-making practice as well as a desire to seek out the history and importance of certain colors as I travel. I wonder what Japan has to offer?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

The pics above are from these ETSY shops:
1. Rubypearl 2. Flamekeeper 3. Lucybluestudio 
4. Moonstr 5. ArtofAndrewDaniel 6. Rubypearl 
7. Reyney 8. Anniebee 9. Rivulette

Thursday, April 9, 2009


These earrings were featured in an ETSY treasury by PaperRoseDesigns called "Around The World". Thanks for choosing my earrings!!! PaperRoseDesigns is an ETSY seller out of Pittsburgh. She makes cool jewelry using enameled metal. Check her shop out by clicking her shop name above.
Happy Friday!
It`s a sunny Spring day and I`m officially on the hunt for some sweet airplane tickets to Vermont! I will be heading "home" the weekend of May 30th. Yay! Now for the tricky part: packing (especially packing my "Landscape of Enough.")
Now that our computer is mostly working, I will hopefully bloggify a bit this weekend.
Ciao for now!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Expensive Mysteries to Glitters

I didn`t take this pic, but my computer crashed this weekend (I`m on the school`s computer now) so I have no choice but to find pics on the internet. That said, this is a pic of the castle in Matsumoto and it is cherry blossom time so this is what it looks like (or will in a few days, anyway). Beautiful!
About computers crashing: We have a genius friend who knows way more about computers than I could ever learn. And, like all geniuses should do, he is able to explain it in language that a 7-year-old can understand. Therefore, my Apple went from being an expensive mystery to a DIY project. I even know where the hard drive is in the computer now! It will probably take a while for us to get the parts but it will be worth it if we don`t have to hand it over to Apple and pay gazillions of dollars for work we could do ourselves. In the end, we may have to hand it over, but we won`t be any worse off than we are now and we would have given it our best. (Strange that I am suddenly working on basic electronics AND computers...nerd or cool?)

I spent a good part of the weekend hot gluing treasures to my Landscape of Enough and starting to figure out the lighting/shadows. It`s going to be magic! Mikel and I spent a while hanging out in the dark watching the shadows move on the wall and sculpture literally saying "Ooooh! Aww!" (possibly it doesn`t take much to entertain us and we all know now that we were computer-less and thus music-less etc...) Anyway, we enjoyed it. I`m very excited for this show.
That said, I do want to add that I did start the weekend with a much needed pep talk from myself. I had reached a point with this piece where my manic excitement simmered down (because I finished what I wanted to in my initial manic stretch) and so I felt a bit of a loss of what to do next. This always happens when I make things, even paintings. It`s a good time to leave my studio (I went and sat by the pond) and give myself a list of what to do next. My list for the weekend was something like this:
1. Add more glitters and reflective bits.
2. Have fun with color.
3. Play with shadows.
4. Pay attention to parts that are boring or dead and make them interesting.
5. Have fun.
Not to bad for a to-do list, right?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Moving Cupcakes

I didn't make these but found this picture while looking up ideas for the cupcakes I will decorate for my sister's wedding (they will look nothing like these, though).  
I am sandwiched between two big things in my head right now; my "Landscape of Enough" and the wedding.  Mikel told me that I have been really quiet lately (which made me wonder what I usually talk about...) so I must be either really at peace in my process, or so dug into my mind that nothing can come out in words, only through art-making.  I am about to make a trip to the store for some more supplies and then I will have the whole day to keep digging in. 

This is a kinetic sculpture made by Meridith Pingree.  I found her website yesterday and watched some of her kinetic sculptures on Youtube and found my new calling.  I e-mailed her hoping that she would be up for sharing some sort of lead for me to follow toward this new endeavor and she gave me a ton of awesome info: books to check out, websites to buy stuff from, etc.  Thanks Meridith!  The internet is an amazing thing for connecting to people and sharing information.

Off to the store!