Going With The Wind

Reading Love Letters Written On The Wind
Remember my collage a day project, back in August? It really took on a life of its own, in a way that I'd never even dreamed it could. Digital collage has become my primary creative work, and I want to chase it all the way down the rabbit hole to wonderland.

A couple of months ago, I was looking at my collage above, Crowgirls. This phrase floated through my head: "Even crowgirls get the blues." And like a cosmic smack upside the head, I knew that this was what I'd been looking for: a new identity for my creative work. A second wind to lift my sails and take me off on a new journey. You can read more about that day here.

Crowgirl Studio is my new baby. The response has been amazing. My digitally collaged illustrations are available as prints and cards, and I even put together a calendar for 2015. I hope you'll join me over at the new blog or Tumblr or Pinterest.

I may pop in here, once in a while, to share some thoughts or photos or art/craftwork, but my energies are going into Crowgirl, and I would really love it if you came along for the ride. See you there!

Feeding The Shadow

Feeding the Shadow Within
I am really pleased with my recent work. Collage is a visual language I've always wanted to learn - to do something similar to favorite artists like Nick Bantock or Anahata Katkin. It's complex, beautiful, and hard to do harmoniously. I'm feeling my way into it one piece at a time, learning to use my own creative voice as I remix images from the past and present to make something new.

One of the really lovely things about all the work I've been doing lately is that I now have enough of a body of work that I can get something of a wild hair and go off on a whim and apply to a juried website like InPrint.

InPrint is a juried membership print-on-demand website, and I applied and got in. It's really cool in a lot of ways, because they do more to promote their artists than similar sites and artists get to keep a significantly larger percentage of their sales. While I'm going to be keeping my Society6 shop going (they do greetings cards and phone cases), I'm just a bit overjoyed to be able to share my InPrint store for fine art prints of my work.

Feeding the Shadow Within is available as a print.

Mixed Media Fall

Her Autumn Journey
As we (fingers AND toes crossed) move towards fall, I'm working mostly with digital collage. I love the flexibility of the medium – not to mention how forgiving it is! I can make mistakes without losing anything. Nothing is permanent. It makes me happy to share my work on my Tumblr and here.

How Raven Stole The Sun
A couple of weeks ago, I asked friends to inspire me to create digital collages by offering me a basic idea for a visual story, a single word, or a link to an image to work with. Working my way through the list actually gives me some structure, and that makes it easier to get going on new pieces.

Maid, Mare and Moon
I found myself with an interesting little mental hurdle. For a while, I was fretting, just a little, over what I thought the friends who made suggestions expected to see vs. what I wanted to create from the various ideas. Creating for someone else, vs. creating for myself/the sake of creation.

She Has Turned The Page
For example, this piece was sparked from the idea of "a secret forest grove deep inside an abandoned factory building." This is what I ended up doing with the idea. In the end, I decided that the ideas were meant to serve as springboards and that what I did with them was strictly up to me.

Collage: Art Finds A Way

Most of the time, August's daily collages were creative exercises for me - creative expression rather than emotional. There were two exceptions, though, and they are two of my favorite pieces of the collection.

She Is Her Own Shelter

I created She Is Her Own Shelter after our dinner out that night at our favorite sushi restaurant was nearly spoiled by another customer: a man of a certain age who came in with his family and was loudly self-entitled and complaining the entire time we were there. Seriously, we could hear him from the other end of the sushi bar, he was creating such a disruption. There are a lot of men like that in my family. I have a hard time being around someone like that – I was going to say "in public", but really "anywhere" would be closer to the truth – so instead of being able to enjoy our meal, I felt tense, watchful, and ready to fight or flee.

A Collage A Day In August

Daily Collage #30 - Her Majesty
For August, I set myself a creative challenge: create thirty-one collages in thirty-one days, with the intent to flex my creative muscles, share my work with the world, and build a new body of work.

Here are some of the things I learned over the course of the project:
  • Showing up to the page (virtual or otherwise) every day, whether I want to or otherwise, is powerful. Necessity really is the mother. 
  • There are images that I like to use again and again, like vintage photographs, stars, the moon, the sky, wings, flowers, leafs, trees, ravens and other birds, cats. Finding new ways to use them is wonderful.

Prints (and some other fun things) are available in my Society6 shop.

Here's my basic process, more or less, when creating a collage:

Collage Project, Twenty Days In

A selection of my digital collages

Ten days left in my collage a day project. I really hit my stride a few days in, and it's been all learning, fun, and experimentation ever since. I'll share my thoughts about the process and what I've learned from it at the end of the month.

See all the collages here.

Some are available as prints and other fun things in my Society6 shop.

Here Be Monsters

Monsters and the edge of the map
My August collage a day project is going really well. There's something about committing to daily creative output that not only just plain feels good, but I can see that I'm rapidly building a new body of work, and that is exciting.

This is the latest. I may do nothing else for the next few days but put vintage Victorian illustrations together with various cephalopod bodies, it's so much fun! Here Be Monsters is available in my Society6 shop. All the collages are posted on my Tumblr.

Tangled Up In Blue

Digital Collage: Tangled Up In Blue
I love collage. Both the finished product and the act of making it. I've always found the process of making a traditional collage to be very contemplative – paper, scissors, glue, moving the elements around the page to bring something together out of your imagination to life. It's also very satisfying to do something similar in the digital world, especially when working with vintage imagery – creating dreamlike images from ghosts of light.

Of the collages I've produced so far this month, this one is my favorite, hands down.

One Crazy Summer

Boom, Boom Boom
Summer has been kind of crazy busy, and I haven't been doing much of the kind of work that I usually share here. I've been riding my bike a lot, getting into better shape - 300 miles in June, 340 miles in July! So now you know where I've been for the last couple of months.

I've been doing all kinds of things on the creative front, though. It's just that for some reason, I've felt like compartmentalizing things more.

I've got an Instagram page now, where I've been sharing my seasonal photos and watercolored photos:

I've entered a few design contests over on 99 Designs. Mostly book covers, which I'd like do more:

And over on my Tumblr blog, I'm doing a collage-a-day project for the month of August:

Anyway, keeping busy, trying to make progress in every part of my life that needs it and working to build my skills further. Hope you're all having a great summer!

Starry, Starry Art Cards

I love working in small - even tiny - formats. There's something very pleasurable about a piece of art that you can cradle in your hands. Here are a few ACEOs from my Art Fills The Void series, currently available in my Esty store. I'll be creating and adding more soon.

Art Fills The Void

I'm the featured artist for May at the Hilyard Street Beanery, here in Eugene, and this is my latest collection of creative work, Art Fills The Void.

I've been enchanted by the new Cosmos series lately, and it was part of the inspiration for these watercolor and acrylic paintings. Here's my artist's statement for the show:
Do you remember being little and making a wish on a dandelion gone to seed? Did you watch the tiny white puffs fly away and disappear on the wind? When you were a kid, did you ever look up at the stars scattered across the night sky like dandelion wishes, and wonder if someone was looking back across the unfathomable distances at the tiny speck of light that is our sun?  
This collection of watercolor paintings is about the intersection of the terrestrial and the celestial: the tiny, ordinary bits of beauty that surround us every single day, from feathers to ferns to dandelions on the wind, juxtaposed the incredible sweep of the night sky. It’s about mystery and fleeting life and ancient light. It’s about wishes.
A couple of months ago, I came across this tutorial for painting galaxies and eventually decided to give it a try. I love watercolor. The early results were really happy-making, but I wasn't sure about the next step. Then, one morning in our backyard, I saw a single dandelion seed dangling from a spiderweb.

There are things that catch my attention over and over and over again, for all my life. The sweep of the night sky and the arch of the Milky Way. The moments when I can shift my perspective and look across the miles at the stars, rather than up at them - islands in the void. Feathers and seeds blown on the wind. A tiny green vine reaching for and finding purchase to twine upward. And I found a way to visually join the vast and eternal with the tiny and ephemeral.

Oh, and I still hate writing artist's statements.

I love this artwork. I love the sense of motion I see in it, from the swiftness of the wind to the infinitesimal pace of the growth of a flower or a vine. I love the softness, the luminous quality of the paint. These are things I reach for.

When my other half saw the first painting, he said that I should make more. He said that I should do a whole series. And since I'm always saying, usually cheerfully sarcastically, that "art fills the void", Mr. B said that should be the basis of a show - art filling the void.

My muse, my love, this one is for you.

Hail Caesar

Fountain of the Gods at Caesar's Palace
Mr. B and I just got home from a long weekend  in Las Vegas with our good friends Sarah and Grant. While it is SO not, ultimately, my kind of place, I still had a blast walking around and filling my eyes with the spectacle, as I generally do when the opportunity presents itself. There is always something new to see. This is partly because I am no longer 22 years old and able to run around for 24 hours at a stretch and therefore will never get to see everything in one trip (honestly, it's humanly impossible anyway), and partly because the place is eternally under construction or renovation of some kind.

I had a lot of time to think while we walked. I'd like to share some thoughts under the jump.

Spring Is Here

Springtime in Cascadia. 

New Zone Gallery and Metamorphosis

I am very excited to have a piece in the New Zone Gallery's Zone 4 All Show in April. Metamorphosis is a one of a kind mixed-media collage, with vintage elements, hand-lettering, and hand inking. It's my largest current piece at about 36" x 24" with the frame. And one of my favorite quotes to ponder.

Into the Mystic

Mixed media: watercolor and acrylic
On days when I feel seriously disgusted with the state of civilization (usually after really bad political days on the internet), I find myself going to Bad Astronomy. There's something about peering into the vastness of space and contemplating its mysteries and beauty that, well, tends to put things into perspective.

And now, there's the reboot of Cosmos. I grew up with Carl Sagan's Cosmos, but that was so long ago that I remember very little except the sense of wonder. Mr. B and I just watched the first episode of the new series tonight and I was lost in wonder of this amazing world and the universe we inhabit.

There's this part of me that will always be about twelve years old (and actually a boy), giggling about fart jokes and pulp fiction covers and artistic representations of naughty bits. And then there's this part of me that looks across at the stars at night and finds inspiration in nature and quiet, soft things. I don't know how to reconcile the two. I can barely get the two parts to talk to each other, let alone figure out how to marry my different parts together. But looking out at the rest of the universe, it doesn't seem like a big deal.

Hubble Telescope Image: The Pillars of Creation

Looking for Adventure

There are few things that make me happy in the simple way that waking up to sunshine in the morning does. Waking to blue skies gives my heart a lift. They seem like a guarantee of the possibility of adventure. So yesterday, I decided to turn my daily bike ride into an adventure. 

I set out to find how many miles I could do in one ride. So far this year, my max has been about twelve miles, with some nine and ten mile rides, but mostly around six or seven miles at a time. Usually, I just hope on my bike and go, with no special preparation. For this ride, I packed a jar of water and a couple of snacks. There's something about actually preparing to do something that can turn the routine into something out of the ordinary.

On my way to the riverside bike path, I stopped at REI. There was a time when almost all my adventures started with a visit to the popular NW institution, hooray nostalgia! I picked up some fruit chews and eschewed getting more gear, which is always a temptation. 

From there, I looped onto the riverbank path, going north to the footbridge and then south as far as the path goes and then beyond into Springfield, which is where I turned around to come back. After about thirteen miles, I stopped to rest for a bit. There was a stretch of path with great views of the river. I drank my water, nibbled my apple, and felt like I was really on an adventure. A small one, but still an adventure.

I took a few pictures from my rest stop and ran them through Waterlogue, which is a very fun smartphone ap that essentially applies a watercolor filter to photographs. I love the soft effect! It's a huge temptation to turn all my photos into watercolors.

I Had Some Dreams, They Were Clouds In My Coffee

This week brought me some good news. I'm going to be the featured artist at the Hilyard Street Beanery in May! It's a cozy, intimate space, so the fact that I tend to work small is going to be a good match for the setting.

A few days before, in my sketch book, I'd been playing with the idea of dreams and creatures who appear in them, and how our dreams at night are often rooted in our daytime lives. I want to create imagery that reflects that duality, with animals as symbols and messengers and people doing the beautiful, impossible things we dream of doing. 

With just under eight weeks to get ready, these ideas are going to become the heart of the body of work I'm going to create for my show in May. 

By the way, sometimes I love to share my sketchbook pages here. When an artist shows a piece that goes from the inception of the idea in a rough sketch to the finished piece, I love to see the process, so I want to share that. Is that something that other people enjoy too? 

The Power of a "Favorite"

Recently, I added a couple of new original art pieces to my Etsy store. Almost right away, someone favorited this one. I wish I could tell you how much it meant to me that someone took the time to look at it and liked it enough to hit that little button.

A Giveaway from Making Handmade Books

I follow a wonderful blog, Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden. She is well-known in the world of handmade books and art. I have a few of her books and if you're wanting to teach yourself the art and craft of bookbinding, they are great resources.

 A few weeks ago, she did a Mystery Valentine giveaway, with collaged cards that she made back in 1995. I *love* a good mystery, and had the good fortune to be one of the lucky people to receive one. It arrived in a gorgeous hand-painted envelope.

Sealed with washi tape!

Inside the envelope was the mysterious package that intrigued me from Alisa's blog post.

Inside, I found this: a very pretty stitched and collaged valentine on thick blush paper. The paper is infused with a golden shimmer.  

I love the vintage-style metal cupid!

I almost never win anything, so I was incredibly pleased with my good luck this time. And next year, I'll be passing this on to a friend for Valentine's Day, with pleasure. 

From The Sketchbook: Complete Within Herself

Just a little something from my sketchbook. I haven't been drawing much lately, and I'm trying to change that. I'm happiest with the text, which has exactly the effect I wanted - loose, a little archaic, without referencing any ancient culture in particular.

Work in Progress: Medusa

I've been doodling around in one of my throwaway sketchbooks - one of the ones I use when I don't feel like being at all serious about what I'm drawing. It's a good way to work through some block issues, convincing myself that it doesn't matter and it's just for fun. I started drawing some monsters/mythical creatures, like the Sphinx, harpies, angry fairies, and so on. Apart from being an excuse to draw boobs (always fun), I'd like to draw more fantasy art, and this is good practice.

The Medusa popped up in a corner of the sketchbook page, and it made me want to do a more finished version with watercolor pencils. It isn't quite there yet - it's missing something to make it special - but I'm not unhappy with it so far. I layered some iridescent green paint over the pencil as kind of a representation of the power of her gaze. I'm thinking about maybe doing some collaging over it next, adding more mixed media. It's also considerably larger than I usually work for drawings like this, 8"x10".

It's interesting how things changed between the rough initial sketch and the more formal work. They are two very different faces. In some ways, I like the sketch a little better. It's rougher, but it has a vitality to it that I don't feel in the painting. Maybe it's that the snakes are wilder. Maybe it's her open mouth and wider eyes. Both expressions are ambiguous, though, and I like that.

Fogs of January

Winter continues. So far this year, I've been concentrating on getting myself into good daily patterns, like riding my bike every day that I can, and making progress on my various resolutions and goals for the year. It helps that the valley is in the middle of one of the driest winters we've had in a while. Riding in the rain always feels so purgatorial for me!

But I ride in the cold and fog because improving my health is probably my most important goal for 2014. And sometimes the beauty of the world smacks into me like the wind, even when – maybe especially when – it would be nicer to be home in the warm, with a nice cuppa. Riding in the fog yesterday morning, gathering frost on my hat and arm warmers...it was worth it for the beauty. 

One of my other big goals is to whip the house into shape. It's slowly coming together and feeling tidier and homier. My basic strategy has been to do five things per room per day, which may seem like a small, but it starts to add up and I never really feel overwhelmed. Even when I'm really tired or don't feel like doing anything, I can still get myself through five things in each room, even if it's just picking up a stray sock or putting a book on a shelf. 

I need to get back into making art soon, though, with my first show of the year coming up next month. 

Beauty in Ice

We spent a few days in southern Oregon with my mum. She'd been feeling poorly and needing a bit of support and company, so down we went, through ice and snow and freezing fog. I have mixed feelings about where I grew up, but if nothing else, I learned how to drive in the snow.

The sun came out in time for us to drive home, but for a few days, the landscape was rimed in frost and ice. I found amazing beauty in Mum's backyard.

Of course, I brought my knitting, pencils, sketchbook, and ACEO blank cards to keep my hands busy and my heart happier than it would have been otherwise. This little fox looks like I felt, alert and a little wary. He's available in my Etsy store now.