Yes, Hello! I’m Still Here!


I’ve been feeling immense guilt at having not posted in over a month. I was in the midst of a move, and blogging about creativity was far from my mind. That’s not to say that I haven’t been creative. I’m lucky to have a job that requires creativity on a daily basis, so that even if I am not creating at home, I am creative at work. I have some great “Keep It Simple Genius” recipes I will be posting soon. Right now, I thought I’d share some photos.

Photography is something I’ve been away from for quite some time. I’ve been meaning to get back in the saddle but have not been inspired to take the ol’ camera out of the saddle bag as it were. Then I was asked to photograph a fundraising event at my local art center. The event is called the Soup-er Bowl ( get it? ) which leads to no end of confusion when said verbally without the benefit of seeing the pun. It’s my favourite event because it involves ceramic bowls and soup – LOTS of soup. My sister would approve as she is a soup junky. Basically, you pay $45 and you get to choose a bowl that’s been hand-made by one of the students ( my mother-in-law makes amazing bowls!) and then you taste up to 14 different soups from local restaurants and vote on the best one. I treat it like an Olympic sport. Have you ever tried to eat 14 different soups at a sitting? It is tres difficile. But I’m usually up to the challenge – it’s called a muumuu and no food all day leading up.

This time around I was simply the photographer. As sad as it was to not participate in the yumminess, I was freed to just focus on getting the shots.

The lighting was tough – mixed lighting (mostly halogen)  in a dim, cavernous room at night. My flash unit wasn’t working because I had an accident with a leaking battery that killed it. Aargh! So, I had to rely on a steady hand, highest ISO I could use without too much noise and a wide open aperture at f 5.6

Sorry if a bit of photography speak snuck out and made you blank out momentarily (the photographer in me).

I was nervous about doing documentary photography. So much happens at the same time it’s hard to know where to be and how to choose the shot. If you lose the moment it’s gone. Not to mention that I’m shy about being all up in peoples’ grill. It’s not really my forte, but I tried to relax and just have fun with it. I even got up on a stool in the middle of the crowd to get  better perspective. I was surprised to discover that people just forget that you’re there (so much so I had to make sure they didn’t knock me from my stool). I can’t say that I had a break-out, spectacular, Henri Cartier Bresson-esque photographic moment, but I was pleased. Here are the results:

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At the Farmer’s Market


Forward momentum. That’s what I’m all about these days. After an inspiring visit to Canada to see my sister doing her Farmer’s Market and other shows, I wanted to get started in my neck of the woods. I enquired about the local Farmer’s Market but didn’t hear back, didn’t hear back…and then suddenly an email on Friday asking if I could set up on Saturday!!

Well, I couldn’t say no, but I was also nervous about “yes” because I wasn’t prepared. But, I went for it. Luckily I could borrow a tent last-minute from my husband’s place of work, and a few tables from my mother in-law. It was hasty, but it worked out in the end:

My rushed set-up. Not spectacular, but it did the job

I’ve now committed to the market every Saturday until the end of the season. That’s 12 shows total. I’m not sure it makes the most sense monetarily, but I am looking at it as excellent promotion. How is anyone supposed to know I exist if I don’t get out there? The wonderful thing is that, after only being here for a few years, I already know quite a few people in the community and they are quite supportive. It seems I have a lot of interest from tourists and locals alike with my pet portraits.

I’m selling pet portrait commissions along with small items such as prints, cards, small hand made ceramic charms and hand drawn magnets such as these:

Hand made, one of kind magnets

As well as cards, which I’ve posted before, either here on this blog or at my sister blog: www.vieveandlynsker.wordpress.com where my sister and I share all things creative.

Yesterday I showed up at Costco, ready to buy a tent with walls, only to discover that “summer is over”, at least, according to retail land. So, I was a bit flustered having no back-up plan. But after a quick consult with my very capable and steady sister-in-law, and the help of her smart phone ( I need one of those BAD!) we were able to locate a shade canopy, not exactly the style I wanted, but available at Friedman’s. At that point, I would have bought anything at any cost because I just wanted to get a damn tent for this upcoming Farmer’s Market. Luckily I was in luck, because though the tent didn’t have walls, it happened to be on sale, so instead of $100 it was $89. Sold! What a relief.

I’m not totally where I want to be in terms of the perfect, most simple and light market set-up, but I’m getting there. Wish me luck!

S

Art in the Clouds


I recently set up a booth at an outdoor art fair in Angwin called “Art in the Clouds”. It was only the second year for the art aspect of the fair and as such I was one of only four art related booths. I at least broke even, but it wasn’t super successful. I had taken part in the fair mostly as a practice run to see if I could do it. In that regard I learned a lot and now have more confidence going in to a next one…I haven’t lined any up yet though.

The way I managed to break even was with the printed  cards and a few little trinkets I’d made, like the magnets and a few charms.

I recently discovered the long existing but never discovered by me “shrinky dinks”. I had a variety pack and ended up really liking the matt finish one since it really works well with colour pencil.

This is colour pencil

And this is permanent marker. Note their size.

Place in the oven at 300F

In seconds they start to flex and shrink. Really fun!

In the end they’re super small, about half their original size.

Later I attached small silver jump rings and hung them on ribbon. I ended up selling a few of these charms.

Here’s what the set-up looked like:

A little cluttered. And it was hard to get people to walk in and actually look at the paintings.  A little more thought needs to go into the whole thing. Definitely a less patterned table-cloth is in order.

I made a few rings some with ceramics and one with a drawing behind a glass pebble.

mini canvas charms

 Card sets

A pretty good turn out

Overall a good experience and I’d like to do a few more of these types of events. If nothing else I got a lot of positive feedback which was rather encouraging!

Cheers.

S

When Inspiration is Hard to Find


I was just called by a dear friend who asked me the question “where do you get your inspiration?”

Good question. Damn good question.

The interesting thing is that the question arose from her observations of me as being full of the stuff. I write, I draw, I paint and photograph, cook and knit. But from my perspective, it is a daily struggle to stay inspired and to feel like I can truly call myself an artist.

The problem is comparison. It was an eye opener to realize that people viewing what I do might think that I have no problem in the creativity department. I constantly look around me and see OTHER PEOPLE doing AMAZING things that I NEVER THOUGHT OF.

Between the painting sessions and the knit fests, there seems to be eons of time wherein I am a creative void. Somehow the act of creating when it does occur is never enough. If I don’t eat and sleep art-making, then I am a fraud, not a true artist.

I’ve been working really hard on this, through the “Artist’s Way” and other avenues of my own creation.

Folks, it really comes down to this: What brings YOU joy?

Staying up all hours of the night forcing myself to paint does not bring me joy. Sleep does. And ideas come to me in the space between sleep and waking. That’s the truth and I need to remind myself of that.

Joy is dabbling in all sorts of different mediums, when I feel like it. I know I feel like it when I am compelled from my seat to start that project. And when I am done, and feel the urge to step back, I need to do that. Joy is in loving the process, not forcing it.

And joy is in finding inspiration in other people’s artwork – not comparing and wondering if they have more mastery that I do. Simply look, absorb and allow yourself the freedom to consider trying a few ideas that the work inspires in you.

Here are some people who inspire me:

www.genevievetownsend.com

http://www.aislinncaron.ca

http://www.karenlynningalls.com/

http://patrickamiot.com

http://www.markmattioli.com/

So I thank my buddy for the inspiration for this post and hope that she finds a pathway into her own creative energies.

Stay creative and find your joy!

S

Epic Art Fails


I know, probably the first rule of marketing is to present your work in the best possible light; don’t expose your weaknesses. But this is a blog about process, and art is definitely a process fraught with stumbles, errors and epic fails. Art is human.

I am most definitely human; subject to all sorts of weaknesses…brought nicely home to me this weekend by a whammy of a cold. I thought I could nip it in the bud with a good dose of oregano oil and rest, but oh ho no, this bugger needs to run it’s full and brutal course. Lying on my couch, wearing the same grubby outfit I’ve had on all weekend, a sea of spent tissues around me, my hair on end like a scrap of furry road-kill, I started to think about my art. More specifically, the failed art.

Wait. Wait, you say. How can you fail at art? It’s self-expression, it’s a piece of you, it can’t be an entire failure. Well, I beg to differ. Just as I can fail at health, I can fail at art. The stuff on canvas, those epic fails can be taken care of with a few layers of gesso. A lovely under-painting that hopefully no one will every discover (though in my wild imaginings, it’s a hundred years later and they’re examining my work with those x-ray things and they discover the fail beneath the win and they are all greatly disappointed).

No, the fails that are most evident are the ceramic ones. No gesso will make that lump of stoneware disappear. When I’m dead and gone, those pieces, even if broken to bits, could still be discovered by some future anthropologist who might extrapolate from their find that people of this time were none to intelligent.

And how do I ultimately know that my work has failed? My hubby gently and inconspicuously sets it aside, either on the floor beside the table I set it on or in a cupboard out of sight. Message received.

Exhibit  A:  A butter dish.

Intelligent Design: small birds on bottom half to help lid stay on.

Fail: Under high kiln temps, birds flex and the end result is this:

New Life as:   Shades rest and plant prop.

Exhibit B:  Two tea pots

Intelligent Design: built in tea leaf strainer in spout

Cute, right?:

  

While I did manage to side-step that age old problem of the all too Phalic spout…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fail: Glaze will ruin those carefully crafted strainer holes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit C: Square Tissue Box Holder

Intelligent Design: The tissue comes out of the monsters mouth.

Fail: No it doesn’t, because the tissue box doesn’t fit!

I’m not a precision artist, especially where math comes in. There can be a 20% shrinkage rate from wet clay to twice fired clay(depending on many factors). I did use a ruler and calculated approximate shrinkage, I swear!  Mostly I go with my gut instincts on designs and it usually works. This time was no different. My gut instinct said this probably would be a fail. I was right.

While oh so sweet looking, the sides of the box flexed under the heat, just enough so that a square tissue box does not fit in a not so square monster. I don’t have a tissue box to demonstrate it for you, because I’ve used all the available tissue on my bottomless snot producing sinuses.

So there you have it. The epic fails.

But failure is a good thing. Just as failing to remain healthy gave me an awesome excuse to do nothing and just rejuvinate, fails in art inform the process and ensure a win the next time round.

For a look at a true ceramic artist’ work, whose fails always still look like wins to me, please visit my friend Aislinn’s site:  www.aislinncaron.ca

Adios fellow process-ers!