Wish me luck!

Here are the three prototypes we are going to present to an important client tomorrow. I am so proud how all of us worked together to make these ideas come to life. How nice it is to work for a company that is small enough to allow us to brainstorm while combining our individual talents, yet large enough to implement the ideas we deem viable. Wish me luck! The idea behind the mock-ups are to show the colors, textures and seasons of our rural (yet becoming more suburban everyday) county.

This experience makes me think back to where I was:
20 years ago... going to college taking an overload of classes, working three jobs, wanting so badly to have they type of job I have now.

10 years ago... married and mother of a kindergartener, working full-time at a retail store, barely making ends meet, dreaming that someday I would work as an artist.

5 years ago... different job, same retailer, working as an inventory anaylst, trying to incorporate some artwork into my job making breakroom posters.

Now. I have the job I imagined as a small-town student in high school. Back then I didn't understand that being an artist wasn't "pie-in-the-sky." I knew I wanted to be creative. I wanted to use the talents God gave me, but had no idea how that could be possible. To be honest, up until this point in my life it wasn't possible. I didn't have the self-confidence or determination to succeed that I do now.

And as happy as I am with work, I have such a flurry of activity at home as well. I've started painting again. I'm making jewelry. My goal this year is to be in a gallery. My creative life doesn't simply happen at home anymore. My job is fueling my creativity at home and vice versa. How blessed I am in this respect.


"Roberto's Offering"

"Roberto's Offering" Copyright 2008
"Roberto's Offering" - Detail with inset of Bob-the-Cat

This painting tells the story of Bob-the-Cat who followed my son home one day 5-1/2 years ago. We had plenty of animals in the house so we could not keep him, but I agreed that Bob could be our "outside" cat. Bob roams the neighborhood and is fed by many people. He is very healthy for a stray cat and is allowed indoors during the winter in some houses to warm up. We had him fixed so he wouldn't create more homeless cats. He comes when called and goes by the following names: Bob, Bob-the-cat, Robert, Bert, Bobby, Bobbert, Roberto, Robierto del feline, (you get the idea).

Because we are one of the families that feeds him, he brings us gifts. Every summer he procures the neighborhood gardening gloves and brings them to us. I don't know how he finds them. Usually he brings a single old, worn out right or left, but one year there was a brand new pair with the packaging still on them. We collect all the gloves and then place a sign on the old tree in front of our yard asking people to pick up theirs. One by one they are reclaimed. Bob also brings us mice, birds, anything he finds precious.

Revisiting Modern Japanese Prints

"Selected Works from the Richard F. Grott Family Collection"
This show contrasted the Eukiyo-e, woodblock prints of the Edo period and that of modern day.The different modern movements were sosaku-hanga, or "creative print," and the shin-hanga, or "new print." Shin-hanga was an effort to renew the Eukiyo-e print styles and conventions while the sosaku-hanga rejected these conventions in favor of self-expression and creativity of the individual artist.

The clean lines, cool colors, geomety and textures of "Snow at Kutsura" made it my favorite. It was also quite large for a woodblock print.

Print on the left:
Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950)
Title: Yamanaka Ko (Yamanaka Lake)
1978 reproduction of a print originally made in 1929, Edition: 62/300
Image: 16.75"x22.25"
Carver: Endσ Kσkyoku
Printers: Tochigi Yoshirσ, Ito Tσmoro
Richard F. Grott Family Collection

Print on right:
Clifton Karhu
Snow at Katsura (or Katsura Detached Palace)
1970, Woodcut, Edition: 38/50
Image: 15.5"x25.125"
Richard F. Grott Family Collection
It was great to have Al and Connie along to explain the intricacies of the art form. I know I would not have appreciated the prints in the same way without them along.

Ayomi Yoshida - YEDOENSIS

Yesterday The Makers Art Group went on a field trip to see Ayomi Yoshida's installation YEDOENSIS at the NIU Art Museum. It was created with close to 100,000 woodblock print sakura, or cherry blossoms. It was incredible to see wall after wall covered in these 2"x2" squares of prints. Each one was an individual, some subtly pink, others using mica. After reading her artist's statement, the concept made more sense; but there was one line that stood out most to me:
"It (the installation) also allowed me to demonstrate how small, single acts, when piled one on top of another eventually amount to something larger."

This singular point is how I try (keyword: try) to stumble through my life. Each act of kindness, of love, of care when piled one on top of another gradually lead to a greater path. In this way a person's life becomes more than the here and now, it becomes a movement to change the world. It changes people's perceptions. Remember back to a time in your life when a stranger did a kind thing for you. Maybe they opened a door for you, maybe they let you have the parking space, maybe they allowed you to go first in line. Did it reinforced your faith in humanity. How did that make you feel? Not everyone is bad. Not everyone is in it for themselves. Just think if everyone practised this philosophy. Think if that was the norm and not the incidental surprise? It would change the face of humanity.


Creative Thinking

At work, I have an important client that could mean a great deal to the small company I work for. The idea is to come up with something that will hold it's own against a wonderful painting by Julie Kiefer-Bell .

How on earth could I do something like that? As soon as I saw it it became my entire environment, like I could walk into it. Then I noticed the way the brush was used, how the canvas' texture showed in some areas, how the glowing light was achieved. I absolutely LOVE this painting. Georgia O'Keefe is one of my favorite artists and I can see similarities between these two artists.

I drew up some ideas on my own and then went to the production department gurus to see which of the ideas were plausible and which were physically impossible. I could tell right away which ideas were good because other people would get excited about it as well and want to help out.

We went to work mocking up small scale samples. One of the ideas (left, center) was to print one photo onto textured substrate and cut it as the warp. The weft was then printed using another photo. The two images are then woven together. The effect is warm, inviting, and colorful just like the client requested. I think they will really like it. So far, as a team, we have developed 4 separate designs. I'm excited! When they are finished I'll share photos, but not how-to's (trade secrets ya know.)

On the home front, my most recent painting is coming together slowly but surely. Again, I can't wait until it's completion so I can share it with everyone!


KVAL: Kishwaukee Valley Art League

I've found out that KVAL has a website as well as a Flickr page... I signed up for their newsletter and so, I think I've joined(?). Meetings are the first Thursday of the month at the Unitarian Church, D-town, at 7:30 PM. Hope to see you there.
KVAL website: www.kval.us/members/


Eye've made a new banner

I've been trying to think of an image to use as my blog banner. It couldn't be too cutesy or too; well, you know, like every other person's. I was trying to use some of my artwork, but that didn't really work either. I was looking through some old photos and came across a folder where I had taken a macros of the eyes of everyone in the house (including the dog and cat). If I remember correctly I did this because I liked the colors and texture of the iris and was doing research. My eyes are blue/green hazel with spikes of gold. A blog is supposed to be a picture of who I am as an artist and as a person, and the eyes are "the window to a person's soul." So, the two separate ideas melded to form the banner design.

Today I was able to paint during the afternoon instead of my usual night time routine. It was good to paint in the bright daylight as it streamed in through my window. Nothing specific to do, nowhere to go. I had my warm fluffy socks on, my comfortable fleece top and my most worn in jeans. Right now it is -2°F and feeling cozy at home is the best feeling in the world. I even have hot spiced apple cider to sip. Ahhhhh....
PS: Thank you so much Elista for allowing me to list you as one of my "Inspirational People!"


The Good, The Bad, and Ugly

I woke up this morning groggy, swollen, stiff... basically old. I've been staying up late painting which explains most my a.m. ailments. So when I checked the email and discovered the heron pendant (left) was purchased at my
Etsy Shop, my day suddenly became brighter. Yay!


The afternoon came and cooled my giddiness. I had my usual appointment with my doctor regarding my high-cholesterol-high-triglycerides-low'"good"-cholesterol-high-"bad"-cholesterol-thang. Everything was higher than last time! Oh, right. Everything was high except the "good cholesterol, which was down.

I type it with an exclamation because, as I finally admitted to my doctor, I had filled my prescription for the first time right after my last visit. (I was supposed to be taking it for about 9 months already.) So, I DON'T use medication and it cuts itself in half? I USE the medication and it's back up? What the heck? Jeepers!

I still had a sale, though. So, life is good. Thanks, Mar!


Dick Blick Trip

The Makers took a road trip to Dick Blick by the Woodfield mall to purchase art supplies since the store was having a major sale on canvas. As it turned out, the particular canvases I wanted were NOT on sale, but we had a coupon so it was alright.

I was fretting about what my next painting was going to be on the ride in, but then I saw ...angels begin to sing as light rays pour down on... a round canvas. Back in 2006 I had drawn my cat curled up like a circle with Sharpie markers. Since then it has faded slightly, but now it is the perfect subject to paint. It combines MY surroundings, MY stories, etc. and it does not copy the aboriginal art percisely. I will begin to use my own icons and symbols.

The ride home was nice because I was trying to think of how to tell the stories without words. When I was in college, a professor told me that my paintings and drawings told a story - that was not fine art, that was illustration. So, I had always felt slightly "less" when I made this type of art. Now I say, "Oh well, I can't seem to get away from it. It is part of who I am. What the heck, life is short. I'll do what I want regardless of whether or someone else approves. I approve and that is good enough."


"Seadragon's World"

Copyright 2008
Here is the latest painting. It shows a seadragon laying in wait within the corals and seaweed. The white layer symbolizes death. The outermost layer is a magnification view of the mysid shrimp that will be eaten by the dragon. The shrimp, in turn, are eating the already dead detris (the white dots). Everything to the outside of the white stripe is either dead or soon going to be. The blue-green circles symbolize not only the water, but the circle of life. The lines around the shrimp are the water currents swaying them to and fro.

After doing some more in-depth research into Aboriginal art, I understand that what I am doing may be considered offensive to the indigenous people of Australia. Their art is more than just our western civilizations concept of art. Art is not merely a "picture" but a living thing which connects past to present, natural to supernatural, and is a sign of knowledge. It is part of their religion and part of who they are as a people. The thing is, that is exactly why it is so dear to me. I respect that it is a spiritual journey of meditation, patience and guidance from a greater being whom I call God.

So, not wishing to offend, but still in admiration of the meditative, symbolic, iconic, and spiritual aspects of the artistic style; I've decided to build my own symbolic imagery stemming from my own geneology, time, place, space, religion, education and culture. Stories that my ancestors have passed down through the generations would be expressed in the paintings. Symbolic animals and plants from my piece of the big blue marble. You get the idea.

Tomorrow I am going to Dick Blick and pick up some more canvas boards. Maybe tonight, in my dreams, an idea will be planted and I'll begin again.

To learn more about Aboriginal art as an iconographic art form establishing both a verbal history and an intrinsic connection to nature look here: http://www.buy-original-art.com/styles/aboriginal_art.htm

"Hello, Mr. Cupcake!"

"You're my new best friend!"

Yesterday was one of my boss' birthday. It was a veritable food-a-palooza. My favoites are the delicious
homemade cinnamon rolls and these (photo) creme filled cupcakes from Sweet Dream Desserts. Oh my gosh are they sweet. I remember my mom making "7 minute frosting" and their frosting tastes like that. Maybe I'll ask mom for the recipe. My taste buds are tingling...


HTML stinks

Well, I started trying to make the menu buttons for this blog at about 4:00pm *cough* while admittedly I was still at work. First I had to research how to make an image show up online, next I needed to know how to upload said image and find it's URL, THEN I had to find out how to make that image a hyperlink.

Let me further explain that at one time I considered myself technologically adept on a computer. My friends and family would come to me with all their tech questions. Now I have been reduced to not really knowing what a "hyperlink" was... in the words of someone very close to me... "what a n00b!" (You know who you are.)

For the finale, I had to find out how to make a good looking menu button in photoshop. I USE Photoshop everyday, you would think I could figure out how to make a stupid little button. It was so easy, I thought like a new dad building his first bicycle, I don't need instructions. Sheesh! *toss of head* Well, I tried three times creating, uploading, fiddling, pounding fist, etc. Until I found a little tutorial video here .

FINALLY, my prize was won and I am the proud owner of the cute little buttons at the right. It only took my five hours, one hungry family, one ignored puppy, and a headache. Was it worth it? Heck, yeah! If anyone needs help making menu buttons - I'm there for you, baby. Friends don't let friends try to make web buttons themselves.


Happy Coincidence of Color

On my Flickr Contact's photo page these two completely separate artists (robayre and minkoff) showed up side by side and I couldn't help but see the similarities in color and its use: stripes in the background with the same palette, the foreground is the same color green, the sticks on the plant match the cord of the necklace, etc. Does anyone else see this, or am I crazy?


Research for work in progress

I've mentioned before that my current painting is of a seahorse. Why? I don't know... They are exotic, otherworldly, peaceful, patient,small creatures. I want to be able to post the painting RIGHT NOW(!) because I am so excited about its development. As I painted "Crocodile Dinner" I regained knowledge on patterns, textures, contrast and color using a limited pallet. This one is SO much better and I can't wait for it to be completed, but I have to pace myself. I don't want to ruin the strides I've achomplished. While the previous painting showed action, this painting shows calm.

I drew this funny little shrimp character as how I imagined a shrimp to be. Then I did research to find out exactly what one looks like and which types a seahorse eats. I thought shrimp were similar to crayfish in that their legs were attached just below the main shell of the body and the gills were in the tail. Being from the Midwest and seeing more corn and beans than shrimp, how was I to know? I guess shrimp's "legs" are IN their tail and they swim backwards. This particular type also has a little spike on the back with barbs. I wonder if that is a type of protection from predators?

Anywho, research is so much fun. I get almost fanatical. It's like I am obsessive-compulsive. I ask myself a question and look for the answer which, in turn, leads me to ask ten more questions. Those questions just HAVE to be answered as well until it spirals out of control I literally have stayed up all night "learning." The sad part is that my memory is so horrible that by the next day I've completely forgotten everything. I just hope that it just seeps deep down into my brain and jumps out as subconscious twists and turns when I need to be creative.


"Dude, RUN!"

"This Wednesday! You will be served for dinner... Moh-ha-ha-ha! Bring friends...More for me!"

I have loved this show since the beginning. I'm such a paranormal fiend. It makes me feel as if there is a heighten awareness - fight or flight. The only problem is afterwards, I have to go up the stairs - at night - by myself! Yikes! I don't even have a blankie to comfort me! I will freely admit that at times I leave the lights on at night.

Our house was built in 1877 and has only 2 families live in it that entire time. The first was the Charles Bloom family who immigrated from Sweden, they had two sons and one, I believe, died in WWI because there are no records of him after the war. The second family was my husband's. His grandparents, who immigrated from Ireland, purchased the home from Mr. Bloom. His wonderful aunt, a school teacher, lived here from the time she was a young woman. She cared for her parents as they became older and passed, then she cared for her sister when she became ill and passed on as well. Decades later, she became sick and died. She was such a beautiful person. I really admired her.

Anyway, we were lucky enough to live in the house afterwards. Sometimes when I am in the room when I am in that room, the cabinet door where the cleaning supplies are stored pops open of its own accord. I say out loud, "Aunt M., I'm sorry, I know I don't clean as well as you did, but I am doing the best I can." I hope she hears me and understands.

A Warm Welcome

"Crocodile Dinner" copyright 2008

Along with the very first
The Makers Art Group blogspot post, I've decided to post my artistic endeavors on Blogger as well. You may still view my artwork online on Flickr and my shop at Etsy (it is currently being updated). It may take awhile before I use a blog properly, but I'll give it a chance. Hope you will tag along for the ride.

I haven't painted with a brush since 2003 and have preferred using vector or raster art - no clean up and the linework is oh-so-perfect. But I had a couple of canvas boards laying around and some cheap acrylic paint from a previous crafty project and I thought I'd give it a go.

The result is "Crocodile Dinner," above. The crocodile has successfully killed the carp and is happily circling and playing with it before finishing it off. The water current created by this "dance" is shown by the swirls around the animals as well as the river stones kicked up from the shallows.

There are parts of the painting that I really feel are successful such as where the crocodile head meets its body and the ankle area. Other patterns are not as successful. So, I learned quite a bit about what I feel works and have begun another one of a seahorse.

The process is so wonderful. I paint at night much like another person might read a book before bed. Afterwards I imagine what I might change as I stare at it and drift to sleep. Many times, in my dreams I will see these changes and know if I should make it or go in another direction. The Australian aboriginals are known for their Dreamtime paintings...which a completely different concept of a dream time, but I think it fits for my purposes.