My Art Jewelry

Moss & Sunglight Bracelet
I've always loved making things. As long as I can remember, if I go too long without getting my hands into some creative work, I start to get kind of cranky about it. And there are so many art forms that make me happy. One of my favorites is art to wear, especially mixed-media jewelry.

I made the bracelet pictured above to remind me of an early morning walk through a Northwest forest. The green aventurine represents the pale green moss hanging from the pines, the citrine drops are the pale sunlight of sunrise creeping through the trees, and the silver is the glint of light on drops of dew.

After a long time of pondering and dithering, I finally decided to start selling my jewelry in my Etsy store. Look for more in the days to come.

Home From The Holidays

The View From Jerome
Over three thousand miles, through valleys and mountains and deserts, from clogs to sandals to fleece boots and back, through rain, warm sunshine and snow, we came, we saw, we enjoyed!

My better half and I went on an epic road trip to visit his family over the Thanksgiving holiday, in Phoenix and Salt Lake City. It completely felt like cheating to get a break from Oregon's torrential November rain, but I loved every moment of warm sunshine and sandal-wearing. The temperature in Phoenix in November is an awful lot like Oregon's in June or July.

One of the best little side-trips we made was to Jerome, Arizona. It's this tiny little mountainside town, a couple of hours north of Phoenix, with a rich western history.

A View OF Jerome
The views and history and mountain air were so incredible (not to mention the art galleries!), I pretty much forgot to pull out my camera, so all photographs are by our friend, the talented Kevin DeLuca.

Of Course, The Old Cathouse
No trip to Jerome would be complete without a visit to the House of Joy, a notorious house of ill fame. How much do I love that euphemism?!? The answer is, a lot. Also, I want a pair of stockings like the one on the sign.

Sketchbook Page

Sketchbook Page 11-20-12
I've been taking something of a depression-fueled break from creativity lately, but yesterday while chatting with a good friend on the phone, I pulled out a sketchbook and did some sharpie doodles. A couple of good things came out of it. I'm especially liking the sugar-skull and lotus combo.

Monday's Inspiration: Vandy Hall

Egyptian Fizzgig (and model) by Vandy Hall
One of the best things about being an artist is that you tend to just naturally develop a circle of creative friends. One of my best friends, Vandy Hall, inspires me every time she turns around. A few weeks ago, she came down to my house for a visit and art retreat. One of the pieces she put together, Egyptian Fizzgig won an award at Orycon.

And I got to watch her process unfold, which was just awesome. It was so good to see someone so talented going through much the same creative process as I do: move some paper around, do a little drawing, stare at it all for a while. add more paper or color, stare some more, wander around and think, add another detail, do some research, think some more... It makes me feel like I'm doing something right too.

In addition to her obvious fine art skills, she knits, she felts, she juggles, she does acrobatics, she does metal casting, and on top of all that, she is a professional glass-blower. Check out her work at her Etsy store!

Art Show at Orycon

My panel at Orycon's art show
Sorry to be so quiet lately! I've been getting ready for (and then recovering from) Orycon. Orycon is our local science fiction/fantasy convention. I've been going to it since 1991, and for the last few years, I've entered my artwork in the convention's art show. And this year, since I've been doing so much mixed media collage, I decided to enter my recent work in the show.

This is probably the best, most polished entry I've ever put together. Bear encouraged me to frame everything, which made a big difference. (I also had a table with some of my felties and overflow artwork, but I let myself get too busy to take a picture of it, silly me.) Nine collaged pieces and three original illustrations.

Overall, it was a great experience. I sold a couple of my felt pieces, and Discovery was claimed by a friend of Bear's, who saw it in the picture he posted to ye olde Facebooke. I think the big lessons I learned for next year would be to make prints of a few pieces to place in the print shop at the show and to target my artwork more carefully.

My friend Vandy didn't sell any of her original pieces, but multiple prints of her work sold. It seems like convention goers are somewhat more likely to buy artwork at print prices rather than original prices. Also, cats and dragons and Dr Who inspired artwork seemed to be the most popular, so I may try to work in more cats next year. Happily, I love cats.

With Her Heart and Her Boots

With Her Heart and Her Boots - Mixed Media Collage
"Bats in the belfry" "A penny saved is a penny earned" "Her heart was in her boots" - all those wonderfully descriptive sayings and metaphors of the past! I grew up with them, having been raised by a mother who as a child was raised by her Victorian grandmother. Lately, I've been thinking of ways to give those old stock phrases a little bit of a twist, replace a word here and there to give the meaning a nudge.

"Her heart was in her boots" is a metaphor for feeling low. For this collage, I gave her a heart that had definitely escaped from her boots, and both her boots and herself wings to fly away.

The background is hand-colored and painted with a gear stencil. The butterflies, I hand-cut, using my own templates, out of art paper and then hand-embellished with pen. Flowers and heart are another art paper. Boots and cameo are vintage ephemera.

Work In Progress: No Fear of Depths

Work in progress: No Fear Of Depths 
When I'm not obsessing over giving things wings, I am obsessing over mermaids. It's been, up to this very moment, a very private and quiet obsession, like many of the things I am truly obsessed with.

I think it began with my extreme and lifelong love of baths and bathtubs. I can spend, quite literally, hours in the bathtub. When I was a little kid, that tended to be limited by parental interference, especially after I discovered the bliss of reading in the bathtub. My parents grumbled about having a mermaid in the family. Now that I only have myself to grumble over the water and electric bill, I could spend just about forever in a tub. The great tragic fault in our current house is that there is no tub. I eyeball my friends' tubs, and they know it.

I'll write some more about this piece, its origins and inspirations, when it is done. Nothing is glued down yet and the writing is the roughest of drafts. It's going to be good, though. I have a good feeling about it.

Monday's Inspiration: Lisa Swifka

Artwork by Lisa Swifka
One of the things I love about mixed-media art and collage is that there about a million ways to create artwork in that style, all beautiful and unique. Another amazing artist that I've discovered lately is Lisa Swifka who blogs over at A Whimsical Bohemian. I am particularly inspired by her use of layering, color, and type, and the way she mixes her original art in with found elements.

Lisa is organizing an art blog event called Our World, Our Art for early 2013. I am really hoping to participate; it sounds amazing.

Click here for some more gorgeous examples of Lisa's artwork.

Local Art Exchange

Give & Take
I've been walking around my neighborhood, exploring and getting to know it a bit better. On one of my walks, I came across an art exchange wall.

The Art Exchange Wall
Someone created this art exchange on their backyard fence. It's pretty sweet! There are all kinds of chalkboard spaces, including many in easy reach of young hands. There has been an interesting variety of artwork every time I've walked by it.

A nicely-done chalk drawing
I decided to add something to the wall.

My tiny house fantasy
It's a drawing I did last year when thinking about tiny houses and natural landscapes. I made it with Copic and Pitt art pens on scrap mattboard.

My art with another great chalk drawing
I'm rather delighted to note that my drawing was gone to a new home less than 24 hours after I put it up. I put my name and blog address on the back, so if the new owner wanted to drop a comment, I'd be happy to hear from them.

I think this will probably be a monthly thing for me. It's a great way to contribute to the character of the neighborhood and keep myself both walking and creating.

Work in Progress: Metamorphosis

Work in progress: Metamorphosis
I have to admit, as much as I love spring and summer, fall colors are absolutely irresistible. The moment I saw this picture of Pagliacce, I knew he needed wings and rich autumnal colors around him. This piece is very likely to become part of a larger piece with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. The actor reminds me very much of a young E.A.P.

The backgrounds are hand-colored with Copics and the orange/black paper comes from my collection. Pagliacce came from an old book on the opera. The butterfly (a picture, of course) is a Purple Emperor.

Fall and the Beauty of Little Things

Beauty Everywhere
Summer is my favorite time of year, but fall is so gorgeous! Maybe even more so because each sunny day might be the last before the cold gray wet sets in again. I beguile the last warm and lovely days of the year by being alert to the beauty found in little things.

Dreaming & Discovery: Works in Progress

We Live, Move and Breathe Discovery - Progress
I am making progress on several projects. Discovery is a lot closer to being done - everything is now glued down except for the butterfly, and I may go with a different butterfly or moth. I had a breakthrough on the words and did them by hand - I love the results! I added the star field with the same white pen. I'm kind of thrilled with the way this piece is coming along.

Dream - Progress
Dream is coming along as well, though nothing is glued down yet. I found some additional elements to add to the collage mix and added the hand-drawn filigree and butterfly outlines to the matboard ground. I now have a solid plan for the canvas: I'm going to coat it with a thin layer of gesso and cover it with a thin sheet of crumpled white tissue paper. The goal is to have the colors shining through an ethereal textured paper.

Tiny Fairy

Tiny Fair Mixed Media Collage
With a variety of works in progress, I'm happy to have a completed little project to share. This piece began with the words "tiny fairy" clipped out of an old book, along with an illustration. I found an illustration of a woman playing tenis in a vintage AD, and went off from there.

The background is my beloved scrap matboard, hand-colored with Copics. The scrolls I drew work nicely with the variegated effect of hand-coloring. Even with her dragonfly wings, the little figure still has a strong New England preppy feel, so I went with crisp, warm plaids, polka-dots, and geometric print for the flowers. I finished the surface with gel medium to give it some sheen and texture.

The overall composition is meant to be fun and nothing else. Sometimes I love putting something together for the whimsy of it, and not worry about telling a story or having a deeper meaning.

Monday's Inspiration: My Husband

Me And My Bear
I am a very lucky woman. I've been blessed with health, creativity, determination, and the ability to pursue my dreams. And as if those weren't riches enough, the universe brought me a partner who loves me, supports and encourages me, and if anything, believes in my dreams even more than I do.

Barret (or Bear, as his nearest and dearest get to call him) has serious amounts of his own creative talent and drive. The range of his interests never cease to amaze me. He collects vintage radios, is interested in Victorian and Edwardian architecture, loves antiques, is an amazing cook, and can fix just about anything he puts his hands to. He replaced the brakes on our car, a simple bit of repair work that still has me gobsmacked. He's a reader, a gamer, and one of the sweetest, kindest men I've ever met. No wonder I said "yes" when he asked!

Bear inspires me on a daily basis to do more, try new things, and to believe in myself.

Photo by Vandy

Completed! Catterfly Artist Trading Card

Catterfly Artist Trading Card
I've got a lot of works in progress right now, so it was really nice to come home from a very busy weekend (Bear and I got married last weekend - just a little busy, eh?) and complete a project.

For this art card, I stamped the background with a hand-carved lino block given to me by a friend, which I hand-colored with Copic YG93. The flowers are punched out of art paper from my collection, and the little moth is a found object colored with Copic B21.

I love the way the low-contrast colors on the flowers allow the little cat to gradually emerge from the background! This is my first collaged ATC, and I am happy with it.

Monday's Inspiration: Emily Hughes

Emily Hughes - "A knight's gotta make a living"

As a long time fan of good illustration, it is SO exciting to watch the next generation of illustrators coming up. One such is Emily Hughes, who blogs over at Emily's Rather Large Adventure and who recently completed her illustration degree.

Emily's work reminds me of a bit of the children's books I loved growing up in the 70's, but at the same time, it's fresh and original. She uses soft, natural color palettes. Her lively lines really bring her work to life. Even in illustrations where the characters are standing still, like in Norwegian Wood, they are vividly alive, caught in an instant between movements.

I need to learn to capture that sense of motion in my own drawings and illustrations.

Work in Progress: Catterfly ATC

Work in progress: Catterfly ATC
I found out that our local art supply recycling place, MECCA (Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts), has a monthly ATC Swap. ATCs are artist trading cards: miniature works of art on 2.5" by 3.5"backgrounds. I thought it would be great to put some mixed media ATCs together and go meet other local artists. That, and making a dozen or so miniature collages sounds really fun.

This is the first one, with nothing glued down yet. It's interesting to go back to a smaller scale, with collage. I found a picture of a little orange kitten who reminds me of Toby Fat Butt, and some appropriate wings for him. What I haven't figured out yet is what the little guy is looking at. I'm planning on coming up with something amusing for him to be stalking, and embellishing the background with color and pattern.

Monday's Inspiration: The Windmill Farmer

Joaquin Baldwin made this wonderful piece of animation. This is so beautiful, I cried tears of joy. The colors are so soft, the textures so rich, and the visual composition of each shot so perfect. Much to learn from it, I think, for collage.

Work in Progress: Dream

Work in progress: Dream
It's funny, but when I draw, I tend to work small, usually on a background no larger than 8" by 10", and often smaller. Collaging, I'm finding, makes it feel natural to scale up.

I found this painted canvas at BRING, a local recycling/building material outlet. It immediately became something of a logical background for this collage idea inspired by a found print of a painting of a young girl by Pierre Auguste Cott, c. 1870. The canvas is about 18" by 24".  When it's done, this will be one of the largest pieces I've ever attempted.

I'm planning to rework this canvas pretty extensively - probably very little of the original paint will show when I'm done. Nothing is glued down yet, and I expect that the composition will end up being pretty different too. But that's one of the things I love about collage: watching the first glimmerings of an idea start to play themselves out, changing and evolving as they go.

Work in Progress: We Live, Move & Breathe Discovery

We Live Move and Breathe Discovery

Here's my Wednesday work in progress - a mixed media collage (quelle suprise, no?) inspired by the idea that we live, move and breathe discovery. I'm pretty happy with this composition (nothing is glued down yet), but I'd rather like to try luna moths instead of the butterflies. The scale is pretty good, though. I was worried about the butterflies overwhelming the scale of the astronaut, but seeing it at a distance, I think it works. Moths might fade slightly into the background and make for better visual balance.

Discovery background

For the background, I took a piece of matboard and hand-colored the background with Copic B34: Manganese Blue. I really like the rich, watermarked texture I can get with Copics. Then I used a cotton ball to sponge silk paints in blue and black over the top of that. Why silk paints? Because I have them and I haven't been using them for silk painting. They dried quickly and went on nicely. I'll be interested in seeing how the silk paints take the final top coat of gel medium.

Discovery type detail
I think the type needs to be bigger, more readable at a distance. It's an important part of the composition, and those words were my springboard into the concept.

Monday's Inspiration: Lisa Kaus

Lisa Kaus collage in Somerset Studio Magazine
Every Monday, I'm going to try to share something or someone that inspires me.

While looking for mixed-media collage inspiration online, I came across Lisa Kaus and her lovely body of work. My reaction can be summed up in one word: BLISS!

Ms. Kaus's style is light and colorful, lyrical and sweet. Her work has appeared in Somerset Studio and other publications. One of the things about her artwork that appeals to me most is the orderly nature of her collages, such as "Joy Within". She calls this style "Gridlocked" and teaches workshops on it. Taking one of Lisa's classes has been added to my list of dreams.

I Feel An Obsession Coming On

My latest mixed-media collage.

This has been coming on for YEARS. It's like learning a new visual language, but finding that I already have half the vocabulary tucked away in shoeboxes and drawers. I am so very excited about discovering a new way to create characters and hint at stories.

So, for this particular piece, I started with a piece of vintage ephemera that got crunched in a tragic shoulder bag incident. For the background (matboard scrap) I spritzed ink over a tree stencil. The wings, crown, and flowers came from an old and terribly tattered 1927 school reader, and the watch face from a 70s era back issue of AD. The whole was assembled with Golden Soft Gel (gloss), and I layered a coating of the same over the top for texture and sealing.

Blossoms Floating Collage

Over the last year or so, I've picked up quite a few books on collage and mixed media art. The form intrigues me. It's visually rich, borrows shamelessly, incorporates ephemera, and gives new life to all sorts of imagery. It's also a challenge for me, because my personal visual style tends to be very clean and simple. Collage challenges my boundaries. A lot of people don't know when to stop; I don't know when to keep going.

One of my big things recently has been decluttering. Getting rid of things that I don't use to make room in my life for the things that I do. And last week, I decided that if I hadn't made use of my collaging books and materials in the next year, they were all going to have to go. That decision must have seriously kicked something loose because I had an almost preternatural urge to create these happi coat collages.

Inspired by a similar collage, I drew the template for the coat onto chipboard and cut it out by hand. The background is mat board hand-colored with my Copic pens. The coats and embellishments come from my collection of collaging materials. I was delighted by how different my versions are from the art that inspired them.

One of my Mantras

Just something I tell myself from time to time:

Good to breathe,
Good to give.
I get what I need to live. 

I just wish I could remember the source.

Dissolving Blocks

My creative block is beginning to dissolve. I'm in a new town to stay, my books are coming out of storage, and I find myself wanting to draw. And it feels good.

Monster Monster of the Month

I am pondering doing a "Monster of the Month" club thing. The first time I tried something similar, my follow through was less than optimal (I still owe a friend a big fat round of beads), but my life seems to be more stable now. I'm going to try a three month run as an experiment.

If you'd like a free three month membership to my Monster Monster of the Month Club, please comment here, and I'll select a few folks at random to receive monstery goodness. If selected, you'll need to PM me a mailing addy. All I ask in return is that if you like what you get, please publicize it.

If the experiment works out, I'll be offering paid memberships starting in late November.

Some examples of my monsters are here, and I'll be including at least one tiny felted monster in the mix.

Fuzzy Pye and Toby Fat Butt

These are my fiance's cats, who have, by some mysterious process of love and adoption, become my cats as well. The fuzzalorum calico is Pyewacket (her name comes from Bell, Book and Candle), aka Pye, Princess, and Butterfly Girl , and the marmalade boy is Toby, aka Tobycakes and Toby Fat Butt.

Don't let this image of domestic tranquility fool you. They don't actually get along. But I recently managed to catch them having a rare moment of co-relaxation, with Tobes in his usual jelly roll curl, and Pye sprawled out in a distinctly undignified manner, on the off chance that someone might come along and offer her belly skritches.

With my allergies, I never thought I'd be able to have cats, but here we are. Toby in particular has adopted me as his Preferred Person, and I love that maddening little orange furball more than I can say. I love both of them.

Blissful Scribbling: Scribbler Too

How About Orange posted a link to a wonderful online doodle toy, Scribbler Too. I am having far too much fun with it!

Fightin' Words!

My poster design for a new reading series at St. Johns Booksellers.

Completed Market Day Poster

I'm very happy with this. That pear makes me smile and long for more sunshine.

Market Day Poetry Poster

One of my favorite clients gave me a new project: a poster for their Market Day poetry reading series. I've roughed out a couple of ideas for the series poster.  Later, I'll need to do a template for specific weekly readers.

Working, of course, in my low-stress, no-pressure, lined-paper sketchbook.

Where To Put The Cart

While link surfing, I came across a wonderful art team/blog, Cart Before The Horse.

I think the term "whimsical" gets overused, so I'll just say that Dylan and Jo's work is simply fantastical and a perfect marriage between illustration and craft. And their visual voice is so strong, it inspires me to spend more time developing my own unique style.

Also, just for conversation's sake, to those it might concern, I do have a birthday coming up...

...ok, it's in October, but that's not too far away to start thinking of such things, right?

Pulp Fiction

While fighting my creative block, I thought I'd share more of the things that inspire and inform my creativity. It's not all pretty art/illustration and sweetness and light.

I have a Thing about horrendous pulp fiction covers from the 50s, 60s, and 70s - vintage smut! The quality of the art ranges from the sublime to the what-the-hell-am-I-looking-at, and is almost always unintentionally amusing. For example, this jewel:
I came across this cover illustration while voraciously reading the archives of Pop Sensation. I can't tell you how many times I laughed until my sides hurt. Rex Parker, the fine and twisted mind behind the blog, has one of the most fabulous collections of pulp fiction art on the web, along with hilarious, knowledgeable commentary.

Years ago, I had a pulp novel that I swiped from my grandmother's house. Vintage smut of the first water. After quite a lot of giggling, I loaned it to a friend. Her mother came across it, and into the fireplace it went. I was branded a "bad influence" and that was the end of that. Until, many years later, when I started my own collection of vintage pulp.

Sadly, I can't remember anything about that particular book other than a few key details. It was about a private dick (tee-hee, "dick") who went around quaffing cognac and gettin' it on with the ladies. Which included a pair of redheaded twins (maybe blondes?). I remember that the cover art was bad bad BAD, explicit and awesome.

The whole experience taught me that art and sexuality are powerful things, especially when combined. Especially when they make you laugh and feel slightly shocked at the same time.

Blockity Block Block Block

I have been dealing with horrendous creative block for a few months, for almost everything except for everyday design work. Lately though, I've been feeling more of an urge to draw and create again. It's like an itch.

In order to get around the creative block, I kind of have to sneak up on the act of creation. The more casual, the better. "La la la, not really drawing anything, nothing serious; move along, creative block monster, move along."

A sharpie on the back of an envelope is an excellent way to sneak something past it.

Toby and Pye, Lino Block Edition

I've been playing with a new method of image-making (new to me, anyway): linoleum block printing. Collage offers classes on the subject every other month or so, and after taking one, I was addicted. There is something kind of magical in producing an image by hand that can then be hand-printed on a variety of surfaces. Also, the printing ink has a slightly different quality on the paper than anything I've ever used before.

This was the first lino block I carved: a portrait of our cats, Toby and Pye. Stripey Toby is chasing after Pye and probably going to stick his face right under her tail. I don't get the cats doing that; I thought that was more of a dog thing. She hates it, but then, they are not exactly friends.

The class itself was marvelously fun: good supplies, clear instruction, friendly encouragement. Collage's upcoming classes are here.

Last Friday in St. Johns

We've got an art event coming up in our neighborhood, and this is the poster I designed for it: