Studio Musings

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Accepting the Challenge

It's been a long time (read several years) since I participated in an art challenge. But I ran across this one at the Art Bead Scene three days ago. Tari of selected two paintings from John Anster Fitzgerald - (1819? – 1906), The Captive Robin and The Storm as the starting point. You can see both on the challenge page.

The Captive Robin, depicting a fairy court in rich, autumnal colors gathered around a table with what I think is a robins egg sitting on a leaf plate, with the poor robin bound in a berry vines in the lower left of the painting.

I found myself wondering, what happened to the robin? And then, what if he were rescued? If you were going to go up against the fae, I'd need a fairie stone. Or perhaps I'd done the fae a favor sometime in the past, for which they'd given me a token of their appreciation, which I could attempt to exchange for the robins freedom, along with some other gifts, of course.

One never enters the fairy court empty handed. The question of 'what happened next' kept nagging at me, begging to be answered. And so this necklace was born. Since the deadline for this entry was today, I didn't have a lot of time. The color scheme is an amalgam of the two paintings. The bead work is a mixture of freeform peyote stitch and right angle weave. I left it more open and airy than my typical work, as I found myself thinking of tree roots and vines. Am I trying to weave a net to catch the fae or unwind the robin's bindings?

A resin cabochon with the suspended image of a feather/fern/leaf (the stamp I carved is a feather, but the coloring I used makes it look more fern-like) became my 'fairy token' and the primary focus for the piece. I used right angle weave to capture it. The second photo is of the back of the cabochon as I'm almost done encasing it in RAW.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year Reflections

As 2011 fast approaches, I find myself looking back over the previous year and looking forward towards the new. Thumbing through last year's morning pages, I found I'd written "Lack of fear, openness to spirit and love of community" on the inside front cover. I'm not sure if it's a quote, and if it is, from whom. But it makes a good mission statement for the coming year.

Lack of fear. 2010 was an exercise in continuing despite my internal fears. Writing Freeform Peyote Beading, I considered abandoning the project at least twice a month over the nine months of active work.

"No one will like it", my inner critic wailed, "What if I finish the book and it sucks?" At each stage - writing the manuscript, laying out the pages, sending the final draft out for critiques and proofing, sending the final, final draft to Createspace, accepting the galley proof and activating the book for sale - I was tempted to simply quit. So I can't say that I was fearless, but I can say that for once, I didn't let my fears paralyze me. Let's continue that trend in 2011!

Openness to spirit. What exactly does this mean? That's one for meditation. Listen to what calls out to be created. However one defines spirit, being open - to inspiration, to serendipity, to ideas, to possibilities - is essential.

Love of community. For some time now, I've been quite insular in my art production, even with the studio space. That's one of the things I'm hoping to change in 2011. I'd like to become more active in both my local community here in Seattle, specifically with the Northwest Bead Society and the Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild, but also with the larger online community. I'm almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of beading blogs out there, and am happily exploring the online community.

So there are my goals for 2011. Keep on keeping on.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

You know you're an artist when....

You know you're an artist when your husband gives you an upright belt sander, a book on beetles, and letter & number die stamps, and you're pleased as punch. Or at least, that's my take on my Christmas haul.

Okay, so I'm a rather eclectic artist, I will admit. Even my friends who know me well looked at me oddly when they saw the belt sander under the tree. It's something I've wanted since my stint at Penland in 2008 and the few days we spent in Robert Dancik's class. The belt sander makes it so much easier to work with concrete, resins, epoxys and paper mache to make specialty cabochons, beads, and other unique focal items for my work. And more than anything, it's simply fun to play with! Isn't that what Christmas is about?

The book on beetles is Living Jewels 2, an absolutely amazing collection of macro photos by photographer Poul Beckman. The colors, designs and patterns are simply stunning, and a definite source for inspiration. Sometimes a little disturbing, but that can be good too. This is a large book, over 13 inches tall, and several of the beetles span the entire page - there are even a few that fill a two-page spread. As beautiful as they are, I am eternally grateful that they come much smaller in real life! Makes me want to break out the oil sticks.

So what wonderful oddness did you find under your tree?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oil Stick Article Reprinted

I'm a little slow sometimes, but thanks to an email from a friend, I just discovered that Quilting Arts once again reprinted my article, Working with Oil Sticks, that I wrote for the magazine back in 2004. This time, it's part of an ebook titled "Five Surface Design Techniques" that you can download for free if you sign up for their site. It was announced back in January on their blog, Quilting Daily.

As I've been seriously considering tackling oil sticks as my next major writing project, it's great to see that there's still interest in my original article. I've learned so much since then!

Thanks Margaret for pointing me towards the post. And thank you Pokey - I love to see my name in print! Maybe this will be the impetus I need to finally add a surface design gallery to my website. After the new year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free Snowflake Instructions

Here's a holiday treat for those of you who've asked me about instructions on making the beaded snowflakes. You can thank Joe for this one as he keeps suggesting I add how-to articles to my website.

I don't want to consider how much time I've just put into this, but I do think it turned out well. I won't guarantee the written instructions are bullet-proof, but they should work well with the diagrams.

The instructions are on my website rather than my blog because I have more control over the layout, and it was rather complex, meshing the illustrations with the pictures.

If you decide to try out the instructions, I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snowflakes and Stars

Tomorrow's the holiday party for the Sead Bead group of the Northwest Bead Society. And I needed to bring a 'bead-related' gift for the gift exchange. Hmm.... I could bring beads, or a pretty cabachon, but that seems to be copping out, somehow.

So I decided to make something small and seasonal. What could be more seasonal than snowflakes? Except I think I've created a monster. These are so fun to experiment with, and stitch up so fast compared to the beading I usually do! (Especially if I don't bother to finish off the ends, as you'll note trailing threads from several of these). It's interesting to see what makes a particular design read 'star' and another 'snowflake'.

The string of stars at bottom left was an interesting challenge - the first one worked from the center out as normal. But the other two, I had work from the outside in, twisting the brain just a touch. It's worked with size 15s.

The earrings are supposed to be my gift. But I may have to do a little more experimentation before I'm certain.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

52,470 Words in 30 Days

52,470 words: my final count before calling it quits last night, the last day November and night of NaNoWriMo . I'd passed the 50,000 mark; the NaNoWriMo win the night before, but pressed on because there's a LOT of story left to write, and I wanted to see just how far I could get before they called it quits and barred the gates to updates.

Waiting for me when I won; a video of the Letters and Light staff clapping and shouting 'you won' and a wide selection of winner web badges and a printable certificate. It's amazing how satisfying such simple things can be!

Wow! During the other eleven months of the year, it's easy to forget the adrenaline rush of this event. I am definitely a geek; extreme sports hold no interest, but a hard and fast deadline for a challenging artistic endeavor; that can get my blood pumping.

Since this is my second year participating, I went back and read through some of last year's blog entries to see how the two experiences compared. One major difference stood out immediately: this time I truly enjoyed my story, not just the process. The first few days I struggled to get into the story. Returning from a week-long trip, I'd lost the flow and struggled again (raising the temptation to give up), but by the start of the fourth week, the story took on a life of its own. And from there, I won't say it was smooth sailing, but it was satisfying, even when it was a struggle. Sitting down to write, I was excited to find out 'what happened next - the particulars. Last year, by the fourth week, I hated my story and wanted to start over and only continued because I wanted to 'win'.

Like last year, I'm only halfway through the story. But with this one, there's a reasonably strong chance that I'll continue writing, though not at November's pace. But maybe, just maybe, I'll actually have something ready enough to take advantage of Createspace's free proof offer this year. (A winner goody - good through June, 2011). We'll see.... In the meantime, I'll just bask in my personal victory.

Last year, my participation in NaNoWriMo gave me both the resources (it's how I found my publisher) and courage to publish my first book. Wonder what far-reaching changes this year will bring?