Thursday, January 23, 2014

Making a Fresh Start

It's so easy to get bogged down in the drivel of everyday life, especially in January.  The temperatures have been hovering around zero and that alone is enough to make everything hard!  But the sun is shining, the heat is cranking, and I just had a bowl of hot oatmeal with cinnamon, apples, raisins, and walnuts, so it's time to take a positive step forward.

So what exactly would I like to accomplish this year, as far as art goes?  Here's the list I've been mulling over for the last 3 weeks:
  1. I resolve to complete at least 2 pieces for the FANE group; one with the theme "architectural inspirations" (due in early March) and the other with the theme "opposites" (due in early April).
  2. I resolve to complete at least one other (self-inspired) fiberart piece to share with the group. 
  3. I resolve to begin printing on fabric with my new Epson printer and use the fabric in at least one piece of art.
  4. I resolve to spend a minimum of 5 minutes on art each day.  If I'm not using that time for a specific project, I will doodle, draw, paint, or collage in a journal for a minimum of 5 minutes.  In doing this, I will continue to search for my own artistic voice and experiment with a combination of words and pictures.
  5. I resolve to approach art in a more "process oriented" (and less "product oriented") way, in order to encourage free experimentation with materials and techniques.
  6. I resolve to create some more unique silver charms with what is left of my silver artclay from last year and to include those charms in bracelets to be listed on Etsy or sold at the PAC sale.
  7. I resolve to continue my goal to "accentuate the positve and eliminate the negative" in all areas of my life!
Sometimes I actually think I am a little too goal oriented, which can contribute to stress for myself and my family, so I'm trying to keep things doable and in perspective this year as I did last year.  I'm starting to think if I can master #7, the rest of my entire life will fall into place!  I'm always searching for ways to make things better, and to do that, first you have to see what needs work or what's lacking.  So you start looking for what's lacking, and you're focused on the negative.  Let's see if I can turn that around and make every day a fresh start.

What are your goals and aspirations for the new year?  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter Fun

What do you do for fun in the winter?  This morning we had a beautiful, heavy snowfall, the kind when every little twig is outlined in white.  Everything was hushed and quiet.   Since I was out with the dog anyway, I decided to try to capture the snowy scenery.


Here is my garden covered in snow with snow falling on the lake in the background.  It's a beautiful place to be, even in the winter. 

Of course, Cassie was really the reason I ventured outside this morning.  I probably would have been just as happy to enjoy the view from the window!  But she couldn't contain her joy and energy and just had to get out and run and roll and lay in the snow.  She is still such a puppy!

 Another thing I like to do on a snowy day is bake.  I'm not sure why.  But it makes the house feel really cozy to come in from the snow and smell fresh baked banana bread!

Later in the afternoon I was inspired to make cupcakes as well.  I've been buying fewer cookies and treats, but since it's the weekend and we're indoors, I thought it would be nice to have a little indulgence!  I tried using Godiva chocolate liquer instead of vanilla in the frosting, just for a slightly different flavor, and dusted some cocoa powder on top.  Yum!

Of course, one of the best things to do on a snowy day is cuddle up with a warm blanket and a good book!  Today I finished reading The Girls Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate.  I really enjoyed it - it was light and fun and would make a good movie, along the lines of "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

Finally, I did a little bit of artwork today.  I managed to get my new Epson printer up and running all by myself yesterday.  I relocated that little plastic shelf unit from my daughter's bedroom where it was no longer being used and was simply gathering dust.  It makes a nice place to put the printer as well as conveniently eliminating some of the clutter from my work table.  Connecting the printer to my laptop was easier than I thought, although I did have to run to Radio Shack for a different USB cable.  But in no time at all, I was printing - and directly on fabric!

Here is the first photo I tried printing.  It's about a fourth of a photo I took in Italy, and blown up to 8 x 10 and printed on fabric, the colors look very washed out.  I printed it again, and this time boosted the color a bit, but meanwhile I thought I might experiment with this one.  I got out my Inktense pencils and added some color to the sky and some of the trees.  You can really see this in the foreground.  I like the control you get with the Inktense pencils, but even in a set of 24, the colors seem very limited.  There are only 3 or 4 shades of green, and it's challenging to get enough variety from that few.  

Here is the photo printed again, with the color boosted and another portion of the photo printed below it (I wanted to print one long 11x14-inch photo, but this small printer is a little limited.  I had to print two 81/2x11 pieces and I'll have to sew them together and hide the seam.)  As you can see, the colors still look washed out, so I think I will use the Inktense pencils on these as well.  I want the photos to be what's seen through a window in my next project.  I thought it would be a fun way to use a photo of the Tuscan scenery, as well as the new printer.  (Yes, the color of the sky definitely needs some vamping up, don't you think?)

 More about this project and my 2014 goals in the next post...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Entropy, Bunnies, and Life

It's already mid-January, the new year is already more than 2 weeks old, and I've yet to post anything about goals.  I'd love to say I've been so busy happily creating that I just haven't taken the time to post, but instead, life is getting in the way, as usual.

A long time ago, I read a definition of life in a physics journal (I was a copyeditor) that took me years to understand, but once I got it, it stuck with me.  In scientific terms, life is defined as "the temporary reversal of the universal tendency towards disorder."  In other words, when left to themselves, things tend towards chaos and disorder.  All living things are organized systems, making them temporary exceptions to entropy, the universal tendency towards disorder.  As my children grew into toddlerhood, this really became apparent, as I would work as hard as I could all day, but the house was never any neater nor the laundry pile any smaller.  If I skipped a day, things fell into complete disarray rather quickly.  And so sometimes it seems you spend your life fighting against entropy, trying to maintain some organization and order, and if you stop for even a short respite, things just tend to go kaput all by themselves.

Take this morning, for instance.  I bought the Epson printer below last September (yes, you read that right - I've had it more than 4 months) and I just took it out of the box today.  I bought it because it was a great price (only $35) and it uses pigment inks, which are permanent when printed on fabric.  I finally had the day free to set it up and get it running.  But life had other plans...

First, when I went down to my creative space this morning, I noticed sand was strewn all around the floor (yes, sand).  I bought the sand a few years ago when my daughter had to make a model of a pyramid and we glued it to the outside to make it look more realistic.  I've kept it around and have used it for various things, including using it as a prop when photographing beachy jewelry.  I had it in a plastic bag tucked inside a box on a shelf under my sewing table.  But the bag had been chewed open and the sand strewn all over the floor.

I swept up the sand, as well as the chewed papers and fluffy pet hair all around the floor.  The same varmint who got into the sand is attacking my paper stash, and the cardboard box I keep it in!  I had to take some extra time to vacuum and Swiffer everything.

 As I cleaned and straightened, I got a good look at some of the many power cords near my work table. One is for the sewing machine, one for the iron, two for lights.  Nibble marks!

Who is wreaking havoc in my studio?  I managed to catch one of the culprits on film:

I wouldn't let her get away with all this, but she is one of my daughter's beloved pets (and very sweet and cute when she isn't wrecking the place!).   We actually now have two of these pests pets living with us and we are still working out the kinks.  I tied up all the power cords and moved them up onto the shelf below the window.  Luckily, because the cement from the foundation goes up about 3 feet from the floor, there is actually an outlet that high off the ground, so my power cords are now safe.  But I think I will have to replace the one to my sewing machine.  Swine rabbits!

I did finally manage to get the printer out and turned on, but when I tried to install the software onto my laptop, there didn't seem to be any more storage space.  I'll have to wait until my DH, the IT expert, comes home.

I'll only list one of my goals for 2014 here:  To get my new Epson printer up and running and to make at least one piece of fiber art using it!

How is your new year shaping up?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Year-End Wrap Up

Right before Christmas, I received my "round robin" bracelet back from the journey it's been on for the past year.  My theme was "mother nature, earth goddess," and I asked everyone to stick with blues and greens, with copper findings.  Above is the beautiful finished work of collaborative art!  If you remember from the original post, a journal went along with the bracelet.  The person right before me in the sequence still has it, along with her final charm, so I haven't yet read the thoughts and purpose behind each artist's contribution, but I'm looking forward to reading that and wearing this!

As that year-long project finished up, I looked back on my goals for 2013.  Luckily, I kept them within reason - nothing too ambitious!  I completed most of them (see them here), thanks to my FANE group.  I completed the two pieces for our group shows, experimented with adding text to my art, and played with my silver Artclay kit.  I haven't yet added a bio or gallery pages to my blog - that can be recycled for this year.  Although I didn't create a huge quantity of art, I was happy with the quality of each piece.

One of the year's highlights was having our kimono-inspired pieces on display in Manhattan (see this post here).   It's so great to be part of this group, which pushes me to challenge myself, and takes me places I never thought I'd go!  I'm looking forward to new challenges and successes as I step into the New Year.  (I'll save my new goals for the next post...)