Sunday, December 30, 2007

Taking Stock of 2007

Today I put on my "fat" jeans and waddled out to the studio...finally... I needed to get out there, but kept finding excuses not to. And the more I put off taking stock of 2007, the harder it got to walk out there. But I did, and it's a good thing.

I took Alyson Stanfield's idea of writing down one's accomplishments, and used her list as a guideline. The point being, it's overwhelming sometimes to look at all the things we have yet to do, so it's a good idea to take stock of what you HAVE done. I noticed, as I wrote this, that I kept wanting to add, "but I still need to...". I refrained. Here's what I came up with:

In 2007:

I PROMOTED MY ART by getting my website up, starting this blog and posting regularly, sending out two mailings, inadvertantly having two newspaper articles written about me, and by being in the right place at the right time as Inspirational Director for the Tahoe Arts & Mountain Culture website as founder Becky Bell promoted the hell out of it.

I ENHANCED MY ONLINE PRESENCE by writing lots of blog posts, opening an Etsy store, posting on the Underground Artists blog, hosting a Virtual Open Studio, and somehow, due to a local news article about my neighborhood , I'm turning up in all sorts of weird online places, which is actually kind of creepy.

TECHNICAL SKILLS: Hmm... not a lot of that, but I did learn how to add a YouTube video to my blog...

I added approximately 40 names to my MAILING LIST, but actually it's more; I had to delete some names too, as the people had moved or been abducted by aliens since I last bothered to do a mailing a few years ago...

Okay, this one was fun:
Who are the TOP TEN COOL OR INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE you met this year?
I won't list them all here, but I will mention the surprisingly welcoming art community in Truckee, and the fact that I met Liz Mamorsky, who is very, very cool. And of course my favorite British person, Shelley Hocknell, who, also, is extremely cool.

Moving on, I created NEW BUSINESS CARDS using an online service and some advice from one of Luann Udell's blog posts. I also created a seemingly useless promotional piece which can be used as a handy doorstop!

A MEDIUM OR SKILL MASTERED? "Mastered" is a strong word, but I know that I reached a certain level of comfort in working with the laminated recycled paper. I also feel I managed to create jewelry that other people seem willing to wear in public.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT that I attempted would be the Art Helmets (although they closely resemble the bowls, but upside down). But I did learn to use the epoxy resin with the paper forms (how else is a girl supposed to create horns?).

RESOURCES DISCOVERED? Huh? The hugest resource I discovered was the support of my art group. That works for me.

IMPROVED STUDIO HABITS - having a new, dedicated studio space made all the difference in the world (my previous studio was nicknamed "the Ice Cave")(for good reason). I managed to get out there at the same time most days, to stop working at a regular time (much harder) and worked at least five days a week, if you don't count my obsessive habit of thinking about art all the time...

SUBMISSIONS? Invited to participate in ClayNichols Annual Invitational Urn Show; accepted into the Artisan Shop by North Tahoe Arts; the art helmets were accepted into one of Riverside Studio's monthly themed shows; also accepted into Tahoe Arts Project's Fine Art Festival.

BUT THE SINGLE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO MY ART CAREER in 2007 was the founding of the Underground Artists, and my friends' willingness to start the group with me. Wait: that, and the new studio. I get two "single" things. Lucky me!

That was a little bit uncomfortable...feels too much like tooting one's own horn. But it was did kick-start my memory a bit, and it does appear as if something got done last year. Good.

Next up:
Goals for 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

San Francisco Street Art / Graffiti

Yesterday I posted a link to Shelley Hocknell's "Painting a Day" blog, where she had posted a YouTube video. I thought that was pretty cool, even though I don't use YouTube much. But I wanted to learn how to do it. I'm posting this cool video as a sort of test. I live about four hours away from San Francisco, and have seen a few of these amazing murals... (even have a photo of myself in front of the first one shown) but it's very cool to see them all put together in this way. I love SF.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ho Ho Homebody

Even obsessive artists need some time off. I took the last two days to visit my dad, and today to do pretty much nothing, except continue the choco-fest.

The cool thing about this blog is that people keep popping up to say that they've visited the blog; people I haven't heard from in years, including my ex-pat cousin. I love hearing that. (If you're one of these people, please try to register with Google to comment! It's really not hard and only takes a few minutes. I KNOW it's a deterrent to commenting, to have to register, but hopefully it keeps out spammers, and I really love hearing from you. Also, you can always email me to say hi, if you're having trouble with the registration process.)

I'm going to get back to work tomorrow; clean up the studio and get organized for the new year. In the meantime, here's a link to Shelley Hocknell's new blog: Painting A Day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Yes, Yes I Know...Or, the Holiday Rant, 2nd Installment

Yes, I know it's Christmas Eve day, and I should get a life and not be blogging. But to be honest, there's a few reasons for this post. First of all, it's part of my greater scheme to keep myself from eating all of the chocolate in the house. There is a mind-boggling amount of it, between what was leftover from the Open Studio, the chocolate my husband always buys for stocking stuffers (it's hidden, but I'm sure I could find it if I needed to), the chocolate I always buy for stocking stuffers, and the famed Disappearing Butterscotch Marshmallow Brownies (which, although they are butterscotch brownies, they are nonetheless brownies, and therefore qualify).

But the greater reason is just that I enjoy posting, and with this break from the studio, I am still thinking art; maybe even MORE likely to post, because I'm not in the studio making it. This whole Christmas holiday just seems like an obstacle to being in the studio. I've turned to creative gift-wrapping, but it's not the same!

Anybody else share my frustration?

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Art Year: Shifting Balance

Happy Solstice, Art Fans!

It's seven degrees here, at 12:15 in the afternoon.

SEVEN. Degrees.

But that's not what I sat down to write about. This is my "end-of-year" post, partly because it 's the Solstice and partly because I'm just feeling that way today. As I sit here, my other computer is cycling through its screensaver photos, and I'm reminded of what a good year it was. In her newsletter this week, Alyson Stanfied wrote about using this time to focus on our accomplishments, in an article called "Celebrate Your Wins", that might help jog our memories. I plan on using this, either on my own, or with the Underground Artists (if they're willing!). Because I know that some days I feel like I've made a lot of mistakes this year, but with age comes at least a small bit of wisdom. So I want to focus on what I learned, and what I accomplished this year, before heading into the new one.

I live on Saint Nick Way, in a place called Christmas Valley, and a reporter for the local paper came by the other day to interview me for a piece she was doing on said valley (read article here). We sat down to talk in the studio and she asked me how long I'd been doing this work. I had to really think before I answered, because I've been at it since before my first son was born 13 years ago, yet it was only this year that the balance shifted between my responsibilites to my boys and my responsibility to myself and my art. And so I told her "a year". I've really been doing this with intention and a sense of commitment for one year. And I think it's been a pretty good one.

A frickin' great one.

In the spirit of gathering up myself for this new one, 2008, I feel myself being drawn to return to some 2D work. I sat down and did a quick piece on the morning of my Open Studio. It's a start. And it was fun. More to come, next year. For now, the work space will be transformed into a wreath-making, gift-wrapping station.

Happy Holidays, and stay warm!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Rant, the Christmas Version

I'm about delirious from lack of sleep; and it ain't from no sugarplums dancing in my head. Between preparing for the holiday Open Studios, and my state of denial about the actual holiday (quite an interesting fine line, wouldn't you say?) I managed to put off any holiday shopping until today, when I had, oh, about 3 hours of sleep. Being that we live in a resort town, the weekend before Christmas is a BAD time to be in town, so I forced myself out the door today (Thursday), with less-than-terrific results. (Thank GOD for Shelley and the tea and homemade mince pies! Thanks, Shelley!)

But, I've figured out something about the holiday:
to me, it's mostly about making this dark time a little bit lighter: some gifts, some lights, some sugar... that works for me. So I think I've got it handled.

If I can only stay awake...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

And the Winner Is... I Mean, Are...

I'm exhausted. And I think I may have found my Chocolate Limit (admittedly huge). The Open Studio was a success, and I'm so grateful to all who came. More on that on the Underground Artists blog tomorrow morning; plus pictures.

I'm so tired that all I'd like to do tonight is post who won the earrings. It's not so simple though. First of all, I want to thank everyone who commented, and tried to comment. (Becky and Carole: I put your names into the hat because I know you tried to comment but had technical difficulties!) I really enjoyed getting comments on my blog; the feedback and conversations really made the blog feel dynamic this week! Thanks.

This morning I wrote that I'd take comments until 5:00 tonight, and then I'd pick the winner. Well, we got so busy towards the end of the Open Studio that I completely forgot to check the blog before I had one of our friends pick a name out of the hat. So that person will receive a pair of earrings. However, when I realized that there were new comments on the blog, I felt I had to honor what I'd written. Yet I didn't feel right putting the first name back in. So I added the new names and called my neighbor (otherwise known as the Best Neighbor in the World). She agreed to let me run over with my faux-leopard-skin-pillbox hat, so that she could pull another name.

So, two winners:
The first winner out of the hat was Sanoma Kellogg!
The second winner, due to my mistake, was Kristen Schwartz!
I'm sending a pair off to Carrie Cahill Mulligan as well: as soon as I got back from my neighbor's house, I realized that I didn't put her name into the hat for one of her comments made earlier today. It seems only right.

I'll figure out how I'm going to choose your earrings and get them to you tomorrow. Right now I'm so tired that my eyes are literally closing. Goodnight and thanks, everyone!

Actual Reception

Today is our third Underground Artists Holiday Open Studio. And today is also the last day of the Virtual Reception. You can comment until 5:00. After that, I'm going to have somebody pull a name out of the hat. I'll post it here later.

I woke up feeling inspired, so that's it for this morning. Even though the studio is sparkling clean and completely straightened up, I've got to run in there this morning and put something together... gotta run!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Claiming the Art

The Midnight Necklace. Make that the 4 am necklace...

What do you think? I have been wanting to do something around the idea of connecting pieces to create more involved necklaces. So this is my first foray... and it was fun. A fun foray. You can see it better if you come by tomorrow. (I tried to model it, but its darn hard to get a good photo of your own neck!)

I spent yesterday making room for my Underground buddies to put their work for tomorrow's Open Studio, and creating spaces for my own. Oddly enough, I really enjoyed the aspect of displaying MY work in MY space. I never thought I had a good handle on display, but I'm learning. I learned alot from the women of Riverside Studios in Truckee; very innovative. Inspired by them, I took a branch that had been part of an old piece I recently took apart, and hung it from the ceiling with my necklaces draped over it. I really like the way it looks. I was thinking of Carole Sesko, who I mentioned yesterday... in her studio space, her art is always out, visible; when you walk in there you really get a sense of who works there, what she's about. It radiates her vision.

I haven't done that in my studio yet. (It's been almost a year in this new space.) Partly because the space is fairly small. (Can I also blame the dust?) But maybe it's mostly that I haven't fully claimed the work as my own. So maybe that's why hanging the earrings and necklaces yesterday felt so satisfying: I get to start inhabiting my space in different way. I think I'm going to leave it out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rearranged, or Deranged?

I had a nice time at 4:00 am, tossing and turning and designing necklaces and making mental notes of changes to the Underground Artist blog...

Good ideas, all. And all written down on the pad next to my bed. Surprisingly legibly, I might add. I even sketched the necklace design in complete darkness, with all the parts in the right place. Hopefully the piece will look as nice as the sketch. In the middle of the night it also occurred to me that I need to mention that this Sunday's Open Studio involves all three Underground Artists (Kristen Schwartz, Barbara Wesson, and myself).

In order for all of us to fit our work into my small studio, I re-arranged earlier this week. Allow me to describe this deranged process to began simply enough:

I had move my comfy chair into the house. But let me be more specific; this involved an ENTIRE day, beginning with: moving the comfy chair out of the studio, taking apart the computer that was on the oak desk, moving the entire studio around to make room for the oak desk (in order to provide a place to put said chair in house), moving the computer into our new "computer room" (aka laundry room), putting the computer back together, and finally moving the chair into the corner just in time to run out the door for Gordie's aikido class. There was extensive dusting and vacuuming involved, and I didn't get to shower before running out the door, but the studio cleaned up nicely and there's more room with this new arrangement.

I heard from my North Shore artist friend, Carole Sesko, yesterday; she's got her second Open Studio scheduled for Saturday, and sounded so excited about her decorations that she actually inspired me to string up some lights, at least. I love her work, and if I've got myself all set for Sunday, I may just head up to Truckee to check it out. If you can't make it, at least take a look at her website if you have time.

I was going to pop another earring shot in here, but for some reason Blogger has decided I can't. Maybe later....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

John Cusack Not Throne Away

I've been going on so much about the earrings lately, it seems I've almost forgotten some of the other work I'm busy with... like necklaces. That's actually how the earrings came about; I started creating necklaces with scrap pieces, and wonder of wonders! if you cut that in half, you've got earrings! It's amazing. Anyway, here's a pic of a necklace I finished today. It's pretty big. I like them bigger; they're like small works of art that you can wear around your neck.

For some reason, I also felt compelled to post some photos of my older work. A "greatest hits" of sorts. MY favorites. Sometimes I get focused on what I'm working on at the moment, and I forget that I've gone off in all these other directions that some day I'd like to re-visit. Anyway, here they are:

"Be In Your Barbie" hangs out in my studio. Her legs wiggle, and I love that. It's a great mood-lifter! If you come by the Open Studio, I'll let you wiggle them.

"Idle Worship" hung on our wall for a looong time, much to my husband's dismay. (He HATES John Cusack; I wonder why? I love him. Hmmm...) I gave John to a friend who really loved the piece (and John). Her name is Stacey, and she's a very brave woman, as well as a talented ceramic artist, who is currently waiting for a liver transplant, so think good thoughts for her.

This last pic is my functional recycled toilet paper roll throne, titled "Not Throne Away". That was raffled off to benefit the local Tahoe library. (Our local library rocks!) It was alot of work, but some day I'll make another one. And keep it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the Most Boring Post of the Week

I'm so glad you Virtual Reception visitors can't actually SEE my studio. Unless I post photos, which I'm not going to do! I spent yesterday ripping my studio apart, and today I'm going to start putting it back together. It's a good excersise; gives one a fresh start, and it's a good time of year to do it, too... I'm not sure if it'll be an improvement until I actually do some work in there, but the rather large Dust Bunny population has been cut back to a manageable size, and at least I've found a pencil that fell behind the flat file.

This will be my Most Boring Post of the week, and if you can find something to comment on here, you really deserve those earrings! Your name will go directly into the faux-leopard-skin-pillbox hat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Art Reception Online

Today we're kind of continuing with the Art Reception theme...only virtual wine and chocolate don't taste as good, do they?

Well, there's nothing I can do about that. What I am going to do is talk a bit about know, after the introductions and small talk. I know its a bit crowded in here, but grab a truffle and make yourself comfortable...

The thing about talking about my process is that, ultimately, it's like what you did in 5th grade. So it's not really that interesting, is it? We all remember it: wheat paste everywhere, in your ears, your hair... your best friend made that turtle with pink HAIR, it had braids made out of pink yarn, for pete's sake, and every time you looked at the thing you laughed so hard you had tears in your eyes. (At least I did. And I still cannot look at that thing -yes, she still has it! - without the same reaction.)

Of course, MY project was what I considered a masterpiece of recycling. A simple, functional piggy bank made from a plastic milk jug and toilet paper rolls for the legs. Beautiful!

But I digress....alot....

So, yes, ultimately it's the same piggy bank process: layering paper using some sort of glue. The difference is that in the intervening years, I've gone to art school, and worked as a designer, and had kids, and made alot of art... and even figured some things out. (Like, I don't use wheat paste, but I do still get glue in my ears, my hair, etc.)

So (geez, she is going on FOREVER. Is there a POINT?) I do use the lamination process. I use recycled newspapers for the majority of the 5 to 8 layers that I typically do, depending on what the end product is going to be. I use other papers as outside layers to provide a textured finish. The glue is plain white PVA glue. Before painting, I gesso all surfaces with two coats. I finish up with layers of acrylic color, and seal it with acrylic varnish for water-resistance.

The difference between my work and alot of other papier mache artists that I've seen online is that they are working with pulp and molds, and their end product tends to be figurative: people , animals, etc. I've worked with pulp, and may do so again, but for now I'm really enjoying the color and design aspect of what I'm doing. And as I'm trained as a designer, it seems to fit. So I avoid calling myself simply a papier mache artist because I don't fit into that mold. (was that a pun?)

I'm betting your ready for a refill on that wine about now...

Monday, December 10, 2007

There's Something Fuzzy...

on the Underground Artists' blog.
See photos of the mysterious Walter and other friends at Kristen's Open Studio/Holiday Sale by clicking here.

Welcome to the Virtual Reception

Suppose you really really REALLY wanted to come to one of our holiday sales, but for whatever reason (broken leg while skydiving? live 2,000 miles away? stuck in parking lot traffic jam while holiday shopping?) you just couldn't make it... what then?

You're invited to take part in my Virtual Reception. The VR will be held this week, starting today and going through this coming Sunday, December 16th. Here's the basic (borrowed!) premise:

I post on my blog.

You comment on my blog.

For every day you comment on a blog post, I will enter you name into a drawing for a pair of my recycled paper art earrings (I will substitute a necklace if you don't have pierced ears!).

Sunday afternoon, during the Open Studio, I'll draw one name out of a hat (or Art Helmet!).

I'll post the name of the winner here on Sunday evening.

Check back here to see if you've won!

(if you comment more than once on a particular post, you're still entered only once; if you comment on different post (even if it's on the same day ie: if I feel inspired and post more than once on a particular day... it happens...), you are entered again.)

(does that make sense?)


Here's how:

1) at the bottom of each post, there's a link that says how many comments have been posted (it's usually 0! we're trying to remedy that!) Click on that link.

2) A pop up window will pop up. There will be a box for typing in your insightful and fascinating comment. Type comment.

3) Underneath that, there is a place to type in your Google Username and Password. YOU MUST REGISTER WITH GOOGLE TO COMMENT ON MY BLOG (I did this because I believe it keeps out spam-type comments). And it's easy.

To register with Google:
Click where it says: "No Google account? Sign up here". You will be asked to enter your email address, a password and a display name. The display name is what people will see when you leave your comment. After you are registered:

5) Leave your comment (if you haven't already). Click "publish your comment".

6) Win earrings.

So, here's the first post. I'm looking forward to see what you have to say!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Elf Yourself

On a completely un-art-related note:
This takes a while to do, but it's so totally worth it! My kids and I laughed ourselves silly every time we watched it. And we watched it alot.

Go to

If this doesn't make you laugh, you may need to have your funny bone examined.

Open Studios Continue

Life is good. It's been a long and interesting week, and tomorrow is the second event in the Underground Artists Holiday Open Studios. I've been working on more earrings; my new favorite pair is pictured below. I'm focusing on earrings and necklaces, as they make great gifts. I'll also have some older pieces at sale prices.

I'm looking forward to the mulled wine and DESSERTS at Kristen's house. The fact that it finally snowed shouldn't be a problem, though it is cold...23 degrees at the moment!

But if you'd rather stay inside by your cozy woodstove, there's always the Virtual Reception. I'll be hosting that next week, right here. I'll be giving away a pair of earrings. Details on Monday!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Art Display, the Low Tech Way

Hardware cloth: the low-tech way to display your art!

I used hardware cloth this summer when I put together some standing panels to use at the TAP show. It's very rough-looking, but with the recycled nature of my work, I think it's good fit. (never liked those cloth-covered panels; always reminds me of my former life as a graphic designer, or like I'm in an office cubicle somewhere...searching for the cheese....)

The women of Riverside Studios have a knack for displaying their work. And one thing that caught my eye was, yes, a piece of hardware cloth hanging on the wall: an earring display!
How clever is that? So, I did what any self-respecting artist would do: I stole the idea.

I like the industrial feel of it... and as my art leans towards the charmingly imperfect, I think it's better than showing my work on a more "polished" surface...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

We Have the Technology

Just a quick post to let you know that I took the big credit card leap! We now have the technology to process credit card payments. So whether you come by one of our Holiday Open Studios this month, or find me at a show somewhere, you can now use your credit card. The company that I went through for this is called Propay, and it's very easy to set up an account with them. Their prices seem very reasonable!

When the new year rolls around I plan on making some changes to the website; it'll be more like a gallery, with more new work featured. If you'd like to purchase work that you've seen on the site, I should be able to take your info over the phone, and process your card that way, but I'll have to look into that more...

In the meantime, if you buy something from my Etsy shop, you can still pay by credit card. Using Paypal, you will be able to select the credit card option, so you don't need a Paypal account. Very easy.

Monday, December 3, 2007

There Are No Words

Okay, well, there's a few. But I can't really think of any good ones that don't sound trite.

Our first Holiday Open Studio at Barbara's was yesterday. Good food, good friends (see? trite.) Wonderful people who wanted to come see us and pick out fun handmade gifts for their loved ones. All three of us Undergrounders had an amazing experience. My thanks to everyone who showed up! You made it happen (trite! I know!).
Everything I do with the Underground Artists turns out to be more than it seems. Each experience brings out some issue I have, or somebody has, and it feels BIG. The dynamic of being part of a group is very powerful. I highly recommend this sort of "group therapy" to any artists out there, especially women who have been mothers and as a result have a somewhat skewed idea of our worth...and what our time is worth.
I saw a very funny print ad today, for Absolut Vodka. It's a husband and wife standing together in their living room. The woman is slim and smiling, glass of vodka (presumably Absolut) in her hand. Her husband is standing besider her, looking a bit rumpled, with a huge pregnant belly...ha!
can you picture it?
But I digress.
As moms, we're used to working literally 24/7, with no pay. (I laugh when my husband comes home and complains about his job...(I think: "YOU'RE GETTING PAID FOR IT... how bad can it really be?") And really, my mom job is great. I'm not whining. It's just that we're used to our time being worth "nothing": no money. So to get back into this art thing, this business part of it, we really have to change our thinking about what our time is worth. What WE are worth.
Just an aside: Why does Google's Blogger do away with the spaces in between my paragraphs? And where do they go? Does some other blogger get them...loads of space between her paragraphs? Anyone know the answer to this? I am forced to resort to creative measures to make it look like there's a space in between them. Like so:
And speaking of answers: the question I asked in my last post, about the ridiculously irrelevant tag in my husband figured it out. He held it up to the light: it had a microchip in it, to guard against stealing. Luckily it didn't guard against "shoulder shopping".

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Absurdity and Balance

I put on a hat this morning, to go load up my car for the Open Studio at B.'s house...I've never worn this hat before; my husband finds alot of things by the side of the road (at Caltrans they call it "shoulder shopping") and he'd found this GAP hat. I put on the hat. I took off the hat, because there's an itchy label inside. It says (I am not making this up) "REMOVE BEFORE WASHING OR WEARING". That's all. What is the purpose of this tag? I ask you.

Anyway, the car is loaded up with the boxes, and I'm ready to go. Just a quick post first...

with some pics of the earrings I finished up last night. I had a great helper... my younger son was hanging out with me, happily popping every single bubble on a piece of bubble wrap, but was available for consultations when needed. I trust his taste. And I was really grateful that he was there with me. I've been feeling that I'm not spending enough time with my kids. It's such a hard balance!

Okay, must run....