Saturday, May 31, 2008

Adle-Fatique and the Altered Book

Yesterday was another magnificent, wonderful and excellent day spent on the little hot and dusty porch, a.k.a., my new art studio!

My awesome and quite insane (not senile) friend, Lynne, and I spent about ten hours beginning our first altered books.

One more thing I love about Lynne: she will spend ten hours in a hot and dusty porch with three hot dogs at her feet (my two and my daughter's one), eat only disgusting cheap little frozen pizza and drink water which probably has a gnat in it... and she likes it as much as I do. She also loves to dig through boxes looking for stuff. This makes her an excellent artist companion.

Lynne is making a book of her favorite Bible verses and I'm making one of the Proverbs 31 woman.

We both got about four pages sort of finished and I started on a fifth one, but we were starting to get pretty slap happy and unreasonably optimistic about all the great art we could put on these pages when we finally realized we must be suffering from adle-fatigue.

I've always wanted to make an altered book... I've collected books on making altered books... I've collected books to make into altered books... I've collected even someone else's altered book... but oh! How much more wonderful just sitting your hiney in the shiny little chair and working on your own altered book.

Okay. So it could be considered a waste of time.

My sister is always telling me this: DON'T START ANY MORE PROJECTS! (by the way, I started this altered book deal without finishing her birthday present for last year. That was swept aside like so much debris to make room for this new idea!... and her birthday is in a mere 23 days... then I'll be past due TWO birthday presents!)

But starting something new is so HARMONIOUSLY WONDERFUL! It makes my blood move quick and my heart feel happy and my feet want to wiggle and my eye balls pop out a little bit.

And it looks like that's how Lynne was feeling too.

I should have taken a picture of our table we were working on. We were both being so courteous to leave room for the other person. We even shared the same glue bottle for ten hours without serious incident. But then Lynne says: "look... look... this is the space I am working in." It was about a six-inch-square right in front of her chair. I realized I was doing the same thing. We had piled and styled every inch of available space with our pretties and it was just magnificent.

I asked Lynne, "I wonder what people do with their time who are bored and don't make stuff."

She said, "I don't know. I am never bored."

And so I said, "Maybe they clean their houses."

We both thought that was probably right.

Meanwhile, we let the dogs clean up the pizza that hit the floor and we never worried at all about the mess. It gave those bored dogs something to do.

P.S. Perhaps, as I have heard, an altered book is a great place to try something new. Usually, when I try something new I like to throw it away because it is normally a piece of trash. Maybe there is another way.

I have recently discovered that if you resist the temptation to throw something away (of course, with a grand flurry of artistic haughtiness or desperate self-hatred and loathing) that you think is stupid -- burying it in the trash under a banana peel, two rubbery carrots and stray dog doo-doo you find hidden behind the sofa -- sometimes, the next morning, you decide it is sort of b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soldering and Making Crowns

Today has been a fun and busy day.

I worked all day, from 9:00 this morning until now - which is about 7:30 p.m. - soldering.

I'm trying to finish my sister's birthday present from last year because her birthday this year is less than a month away.

Now that's some pressure and some procrastination.

I've been planning to make a birthday celebration crown but it's such a big undertaking that I have needed several hours to dedicate at once to the task. Today I spent the whole day working on it, and am still not finished.

My soldering is really rusty, but I still love it. I don't mean I love it, I mean I LOVE IT!

Here's what I have so far.

I'll post some more as I get to it.

Later, I'll have to tell you all about my "new studio."

Love, d.

P.S. My el-cheapo Radio Shack soldering gun is also el-crapo. It's tipped burned off within a few sessions today (the first time I've used it!) and now it won't really heat. I'm going to change tips but I wouldn't recommend it to any one. I do have to say, however, that it is really easy to solder with... it's just junky.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Most Precious of Studio Supplies

And who could forget...

the most important items -- supplies, if I may -- in the studio: My beloved Frankie (left) and my beloved Lucy (camera shy today and therefore not pictured).

I feel exactly the way Edith Wharton must have the day she penned this:

"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet."

God bless all our little studio mates who support and love us no matter what we do. If God gives them even a smidgeon of the joy they give us, they are living in Heaven now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Glamour of Beautiful Art Supplies

As you have heard and heard and heard and heard, I am trying to get my things organized to move into my new make-shift studio.

Tonight, while I continued pulling things together, I noticed once again - as I have before - how much I love the way art supplies look.

I love all the colors, shapes, textures.

I love all the different categories: adhesives... stamping... storage... craft brushes or art brushes or wax brushes or gel medium brushes or glue brushes... oil paints and acrylic paints and water color paints and craft paints and iridescent paints and inks and pigments...

I love the chaos of it.

I love the abandon of it.

I love art tools: dremels and sanders and soldering irons and toaster ovens and timers and heat guns and scroll saws and drills and jigsaws and sanders and staple guns and glue guns and glue pots and candle making machines and slow-melt pots and sewing machines.

I love flux and copper foil and beveled glass and microscope slides.

I love German Glass Glitter.

I love collections of ribbon and different kinds of tape.

I love charcoal pencils and HB pencils and battery operated erasers.

I love books that tell about art and books that show art and magazines that show work you can aspire to.

I love beads sorted into tiny compartments and boxes of wire and all the assortment of wire working tools.

I love big scissors and sewing scissors and special scissors and photo-only scissors.

I love plaster-of-paris and crayola clay and spackling compound and high gloss finish pour on acrylic and bee's wax and Sculpey.

I love broken vintage jewelry and pieces of old lace, old tassels and jars of buttons.

I love scrap booking paper and mulberry paper and watercolor paper.

I love cut-apart magazines and old books for altering.

I love old dishes for making broken china jewelry.

I love embroidery thread and colorful yarns, old pieces of fabric and rolls and rolls of lace.

I love quality colored pencils and oil pastel crayons and pastel chalks and India ink.

What a blessing to have a wonderful husband who is clueless about the cost of art supplies.

Love, d.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Keeping a Sketch Book

If you've never kept a sketchbook, now's the time to start.

I never kept one either and over the years, I can't think of but one or two drawings that have survived.

When I decided to actually try to discipline myself to keep a sketch book, I also purchased an inexpensive portfolio and I eventually move my sketches into that book. It surprised me to learn this evening that I have completed almost 25 sketches in the last few weeks. I had no idea!

Many of the sketches are simply "thinking out loud" quick drawings.

Others are like a journal entry which shows what I'm feeling or thinking.

Some are studies of a particular aspect of a project I may be having trouble with.

I used to jot down ideas on any piece of scratch paper I could find, but I have learned that these little snippets of paper never survive. By trying to contain my ideas, whether sketches or a short note to myself, in a sketch book venue, I have found that not only are these ideas more likely to survive, but going back and looking through the drawings is really fun.

So keep a sketch book.

Then share it.

(More sketches later.)

Love, d.

The Art of Storytelling

(note: this introduction to The Art of Storytelling is used in the gallery with a collection I am showing. I will just copy it into the blog as an introduction to this series. Thank you! d.)

(top, a close-up from "Shattering the Darkness")

The Art of Storytelling

Mixed Media Interpretations by Donna Roberts

Storytelling was the method of teaching used by the Israelite nation as each generation imparted their experiences with and knowledge of God to their children. Jewish children knew not only their family's genealogy, but also how their ancestors were used by God to shape history.

Roberts, a great lover of the stories of the Bible, is utilizing mixed media art to present these stories in a fresh three dimensional way that is relevant to today's generations. Her artwork attracts the viewer's eye and holds their imagination captive as they discover, examine, and analyze the intricately rich detailed layers. Each piece is designed to unveil itself, provoking a complex and strong subjective response, stimulating discussion and encouraging reflection and application to today's culture

Before beginning a new work, Roberts thoroughly researches the subject to ensure an accurate understanding and strict adherence to scripture. Some of the chosen stories are well known, others are more obscure. Each is a dramatic retelling of God's Word. The method for portraying the story is discussed with Christian friends to make certain that the symbolism is neither too subtle nor too obvious. The goal is to communicate truth and exhibit the very character of God which has not, does not, and will not change with the passing of time

Roberts has combined her passion for art and her love for God to create a dynamic and unique method of storytelling. Her hope is based on the same principles that Moses told the Israelites before they crossed into the Promised Land

"Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul...

"You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 11:19a, 20

About Lightning in Abundance

"Lightning in Abundance" is the piece I finished last night, cleaning off my maddening dining room table so I'd have room to lay the canvas down and add the bee's wax.

This is another of the pieces, in addition to "The Blessed Birth" (below), from the Storytelling series (that I have yet to introduce and talk about)... (as usual, with all us flaky types, everything I am doing is in a helter-skelter order and makes no sense to anyone, not even to me.)

I know the pictures (in the next post) are terrible and I am sorry. I didn't have time to set up my lights and screens this morning so I just laid the piece down on the counter then stood on it and shot the pictures. Later, I'll take real pictures that won't be so embarrassing. (It just occurred to me, I could have just laid the canvas on the floor and stood over it... it served no purpose to put it on the counter then stand on the counter... if I had a brain I would be downright not-as-stupid!)

This is a multi-media piece and uses a variety of materials including: feathers, bee's wax, Old English Furniture polish, acrylic paint, chalk pastels, 100+ year old song fragments, gel medium, iridescent medium, various dyes...

The inspiration comes from King David's Psalm 108:6-16:

In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering,
his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies,
great bolts of lightning and routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.

Bless you all, d.

Lightning in Abundance

Cluttering Up that Table and Using Bee's Wax

Last night, after cleaning off that infamous dining room table, I finished the bee's wax process on the new piece and I really like it. It was fascinating to watch it as it melted, how it affected colors, texture and even the sculpture of the light.

Here, again, is that table. Immediately after cleaning it off, it all started again...

Before I show you the piece, a little about the bee's wax.

First, it's very interesting. I gathered together five pounds of purified bee's wax, a couple candle warmers, small glass and tin units for melting... I used old brushes I had and they were very destroyed after the process (well, at least they'll be good for nothing but applying wax in the future.)

When you first apply the wax -- and you have to do it quickly because it cools like a jack-rabbit -- you really can't tell much about what you're doing because it cools to a white, matte finish. After you get it where you want it, use a heat gun to smooth and disperse it. This was the magical part for me. I loved not only the smell, sizzle and flow of the wax, but also the few moments when the wax was living on the canvas, finding its place.

The wax seems to do a great job of sealing a piece if you're looking for something like that. I think it's worth trying.

Beware: out of the three Daschunds who have looked at this piece so far (my two and my mom and dad's dog), all three wanted to lick the bee's wax. Probably wouldn't hurt the dog, but it's not too good for a person's ego!

Cupcakes Sweet Cupcakes

Last night I had to clean off our dining room table because I brought home a fairly large mixed-media piece I have been doing and wanted to add bee's wax, so I needed a large flat surface.

I was down to the last few items to put away and there still sat my unfinished (faux) cupcakes. I didn't like them because I inadvertently bought large size cupcake papers (who knew they made different sizes these days!) and these dudes were humongous.

After I cleaned all the way around them and they were the only thing left and I stood there and looked at them for a minute -- I had even removed the table cloth -- I took both tins of them and dumped them over into the trash with a great big satisfactory clomp.

Maybe it's better just to start over sometimes than to try to save something that isn't working out. Maybe when I make my cupcakes next time, I'll have learned something. Maybe, but probably not.

Here's a picture of that dining room table. This is something you'll likely never see again.

One last thing, to my Jennifurry - love to you and Lenni and remember where I am. Fifty miles isn't very far... but it seems far to me today.

Love to you, d.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Blessed Birth Sold

What a day!

I sold a piece from the gallery, "The Blessed Birth," which was the first of a Storytelling series I am doing.

I didn't talk about these yet because I hadn't photographed any of them, but I love these pieces. They are mixed-media and intensely personal. I'll do a post later that tells about the series, etc.

Also, unexpectedly, I feel sad at selling this piece. Somehow, you want to keep them all because they are sort of like children. At the same time, HALLELUJAH!)

Love to all and more later, Donna Ann

P.S. I'm sorry the pictures are terrible. I didn't have time this morning to set up my lights and screens... just for hurried shots. The reflection is so bad on the full piece that I don't think it's worth posting. This will still give you some idea. It is actually a five-panel series that covers the annunciation, birth, visit of the wise men, the shepherds, and the entire story of the birth of Christ. Thanks for your patience with my photography.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Brain, No Headache

Wonder what it would be like to wake up in the morning without a headache?

Wonder what it would be like to see the day through a clear vivid mind?

Wonder what it would be like to think swiftly and reliably without being either impaled in the eye or sickened at the stomach by endless Excedrin...

Wonder what it would be like to open your eyes wide and let the sun in.

For over 30 years these migraines have impacted my daily life and at other times have ruled it. In the last two years, they have ruled.

This is despite visits to physicians, neurologists, chiropractors, and the health food store.

This has been with strong anti-migraine drugs and without.

With a good neck and back popping every other day and without.

Nothing makes a difference.

I know God designed me to be this way for a reason. I can't imagine the reason or what it's good for, but as of late, I've just tried to accept it. Rather high or low, in pain or out, thinking clearly or not, I'll take what God decides to give me.

The next step is to stop complaining about it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Frannie's Little Crowns

Hope you've had a beautiful day!

Ashley, my older daughter, and I spent a few minutes working with her dog, Frannie, trying to photograph a couple of the little crowns I have been making.

These crowns are made with tiny glass seed beads and a variety of larger beads on pliable wire to allow some moulding for better fit.

I started working in earnest on these crowns after altering a checkerboard game for a furniture piece I was working on (and am still not done with!). I made crowns for the checkers that would be "Kinged" and just loved that process.

The next crown I made, I think, was Frannie's little green one. It has flowers and hearts, none of which suit Frannie's personality. Frannie is a spit-fire who, the more we love her and chase her, the more she hates us and runs away. It's a terrible thing to see! I love that little dog to pieces! Ah... unrequited love.

I worked on photographing today -- the crowns and some of the kits I'm putting together to sell. I don't like how much of it is turning out. It's so tedious to get a good picture that truly shows your work. Thank goodness for so many on-line sources with great information for clumsy photographers.

About my little studio -- I hope to start working on it this coming weekend. I'm going to make a designated place for all my pretties on our screened-in porch. Later we are going to make it all-weather. I'm not going to get to do everything I want because, unfortunately, it all costs money. But I think I'm going to go ahead and patch the area together as best I can, do some painting, and then go ahead and put my stuff out there. We're drowning in it and I feel hopelessly disorganized and confused by everything in such disarray.

Love to all and especially Ashley Fawn and Frannie Rose. Thank you for the pictures, my beauties

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My poodles (they're goners now)

Well, these were my poodles.

I made these little crowns for them, then decided they still didn't look very pretty... so I added some bouffant hair... still thought they were ugly.

Actually, it may have been a little too much hair (is that possible?), but who could know what to do.

Lucky for me, they were chained together and so when they fell off the precarious place at the shop where I had put them, both of them broke.

I threw those ugly old poodles away but kept that luscious hair for another unwitting project and also stashed away my little crowns.

And I've been making crowns ever since.

Tomorrow I'll take a picture of Frannie, my daughter's grouchy dog, with her new crown। Then I'll show you some others I made. I made one for a mermaid, but probably a dog will have to wear it since mermaids are rare here in Missouri.

I am also wanting to make some human crowns, but I'm not sure if any humans will wear them. They should, but not everyone is crown-confident.

Love to all poodle lovers, d.

Get Your Red Hots Here!

And this is my Red Hots. I did this piece as an ode to my we-wienie dog, Lucy, I think in 2006 (maybe 07).

It's another mixed-media piece utilizing newspaper, tissue paper, paint, buttons, wire, other 3-d elements, and great dog quotes.

To exaggerate the length of the dog, the tail is outside the frame...

I stumbled upon a man eating a hot dog with the headline, "Get Your Red Hots Here!" and couldn't believe my luck.

Also in case you can't see the perspective, this wiener dog is flying (it has wire wings) and its legs are sprawled out... you are looking from above.

I would encourage everyone on the planet to get at least one wiener dog. Then I would encourage them to learn how to spell wiener.

Would you look at this mess?

I keep getting a little closer to putting together my first things for sale on Etsy.

I've got about 30 crafter kits ready, but I have to photograph them and figure out about shipping. Everything takes so much time. I don't want to do anything when it seems like everything needs to be done.

Take a look at these disturbing pictures and you'll understand.

This is our dining room table and it has been this way for weeks. I've got (faux) cupcakes making, letters cut out for my "Chocolate Panache" sign, paintings, gift bags, ribbon that needs sorting... it never ends. And this is just in one room.

How is a person supposed to function like this? And who thinks its ever going to be any different.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Skies and Squalling

Good morning!

I've got to get to work -- I'm late, but wanted to hurry up and post something before I left.

This piece, "Skies", is a 3d multi-media work we put into a shadowbox.

Like what happens to all of us big-and-busy mothers, I hadn't paid any attention to clouds for years until the first time we went to the ocean, I think in 1994. Down at the Gulf they looked close enough to touch, and substantial enough to carry you in their wings.

After coming home and getting back to real life, while still working at RPS (schools), I was a bawling my head off in the car for whatever reason on the way to work one morning.

Always, when a person has to bawl, I have found they also have to flip around the channels on the radio to try to hear a song that will commiserate their horrible life.

While I did this, I happened upon Nichole C. Mullins singing her new song: "I Know That My Redeemer Lives."

Wailing as I was and being a cloud looker now, I looked into the sky, and through my bawley-squally eyes saw the most beautifully formed angel.

She was spread enormously across the sky, flooded from behind by brilliant white light. It was her full body, clothed in a long flowing gown that swept behind her. Her arms were stretched to the front of her as if they held something. The folds in her gown were deeper hues of grey and she was edged in blinding sunlight.

I watched her gliding through the wind all the way up the "you'll get a ticket if you go too fast hill" on 63 coming into Rolla.

It broke my heart and took away my breath so that I couldn't even get out a good boodle-boodle.

Having felt ridiculed by the world for the predicaments I always find myself in (now is that being the center of the universe or what?!?), it came to me how foolish my thinking often is. It's not that I didn't always know in my head how silly I was, I needed to know in my soul. In my head I knew better... this spoke to my soul.... Laughing at us for goodness sake? Revelling in our dismay? Our compassionate God doesn't laugh at our traumas and dramas (though sometimes he must shake his head and say, goodness gracious rachel peaches what a whiner!). He is compassionate. Just like we are with our own children.

Love to all, d.

P.S. Still don't have time to figure out how to do these pictures better, so am posting another shot in the next doo-dad.

Another P.S.

One more thing about "Skies"...

I forgot to mention, but these two shots kind of show it...

You can notice that you can see two sides to this cloud's face. One seems judgemental, the other accepting. Which is your God? Which do you allow yourself to see?

Love more, d.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Icebreakers Mixed-Media Piece

Okay, so here it is.

This was my icebreakers piece I did (see below)... what I can tell you about it the most is that it sure is shiny and it sure was fun cutting apart all that mirror!

Doing it Anyway - Easier but Harder

After Lynne's encouragement (see first blog), I went ahead and published a Christmas card to sell in our shop. This was 2005. It was a watercolor, completed in about six minutes of flourished embarrassment and sheer gall.

The inside said, "Hope some snowflakes stay on your nose and eyelashes."
We sold out (but it took two years), 400 cards.

Every time someone would look at my cards, I wanted to run to the backroom and hide. I couldn't bear their comments and I didn't want anyone to know I had done it.

The next year was easier, but harder.

Now I had two of them sitting out there. Who in the world do I think I am?
That same year, I also did a mixed media piece related to our Christmas decorating theme. It was called Icebreakers. I'll put it in the next posting, because it's messing up (because I don't know what I'm doing!)

It has an Aristotle Onassis quote that says, "If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning."

Having this hanging in the gallery helped me overcome some of my anxiety over the cards, I guess because it was so flamboyant the cards seemed pretty tame and safe.

I still felt like an outsider. That old interloper, you know. Who in the world do I think I am?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Interloping Artist - Such Arrogance!

It feels as if there is something terribly arrogant and presumptuous about sitting down to write about my own big self as if anyone in the world could possibly care in even the briefest of moments or slightest of ways about my big to-do.

I feel this same "who in this world do I think I am???" wonderment each time I decide I've either got to get up the nerve to show some of my work or just shut up about it. This hot-cold, tense, bipolar indecision has paralyzed me for years, and not just about art.
Lynne, my old buddy, actually freed me from some of this paralysis three or four years ago. I was carrying on about the impossibility and hopelessness of my watercolors one day and this was what she said: "Everybody else puts their crap out there... I don't see what's the big deal about you putting your crap out there too." (And let me tell you, I still to this day don't think she even said it in a very nice way. But she remembers none of that, of course. She only remembers her gentle urging and encouragement. Ha!)

The truth is, I felt free as a bird after I thought about that।

Because here is the deal: If I'm going to wait until the things I paint or collage are perfect and wonderful and the whole world is clamouring to see it because of their great admiration of my greatness as a human being and all, chances are better than fair that I am going to die without having done much... and worse than that, what in the world am I going to say that I've been doing for the last ten years at my next class reunion?

Anyway, so here comes the old Interloper Artist. Interloper is how I feel. I'm embarrassed. I feel foolish. I don't belong. I'm a fraud and I know everybody is surely going to catch on quick to my arrogance when you read about my big artistic self. And this will naturally bring about the just reward for such behavior: backlash from an antagonist ridiculer who will instantly recognize me for what I am. An idiot.

So today, as I worked feverishly on my latest piece... and oh my goodness! The exuberance I felt while immersed in the process is something that I want to share. It's something that I want to encourage others to participate in. It's something that seems as life-giving as pure, sweet, fresh air. Perhaps the process of creating something lifts up a human soul to commune with God. And maybe, in the briefest and faintest of ways, when we are immersed in creative endeavor, we sometimes glimpse God's own hand on ours just as we guide the hands of our children when teaching them a beloved skill.

And so a-interloping we will go।

P.S. Actually, I don't believe for one second that anyone will care what I've been doing when my next class reunion rolls around. I am very well nuts, but at least I'm not under THAT particular delusion!