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Archive for 'arts ‘n’ crafts'

Exploring a New Passion… (Contest)
Thursday, April 6th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Sandra Marlow!

It’s weird, but I thought of myself as a writer when I began writing. “Author” was a title I gave myself when I published my first book. It was easy for me to claim those sobriquets.

Calling myself an artist doesn’t feel as easy or comfortable. And yet, I’ve sold many pieces to people who actually wanted to hang them on their walls. To me, it’s thrilling, but maybe it has to do with my mother whose birthday fell two days ago—and no, I’m not blaming her. She was a wonderful mother. It has more to do with my own confidence.  Now, she was an artist. She could paint very realistic oil paintings and did lovely watercolors and sketches. I pattered about with jewelry making when she was alive, but my art consisted of more crafty endeavors—using stamps and inks on things like tiles and dominoes. It wasn’t until she was in need of 24/7 care here at home, and my daughter and I were providing that care with assistance from nurses who stopped in a couple of times a week, that I began painting and doodling.

She never saw my work, and I know she would’ve encouraged me, but she wouldn’t have taken my efforts seriously because I don’t care about realism or learning “the basics” of color mixing and perspective, etc. Still, it almost felt like the passing of the baton when she left. Suddenly, I found my next passion (the first was writing!). I haven’t looked back, but I’ve certainly grown restless, wanting more time to do what excites me most.

Yes, I have a “day job.” Being an author is work. Editing is more work. They pay the bills, but one day, I would love to spend at least as much time painting as I do writing and editing. Of late, when my local art guild has exhibits, I volunteer to man the center to keep the doors open for the public, because, guess what? I can paint all damn day. Having time as opposed to having minutes here and there makes a huge difference.

Take for example what I accomplished this week:

These are pretty but quick. I can do them very, very easily. They take about 20 minutes each, mostly because of drying time.

And then there’s this, which I accomplished while I sat waiting for “the public” to walk through the doors. This took time, and I’m thrilled with the “depth” I managed with watercolor paints. I used 4 different colors on those yellow flower petals to get that 3-D effect. I was in the zone when I stroked that brush again and again, trying not to let the colors “muddy” up. And the leaves? Don’t they have texture? Can’t you almost feel them?

That doesn’t mean that if I have time I want to do more realistic or well-defined pieces all the time. I also worked on this:

I did the watercolor work at the art center but used my acrylic paint pens to finish up the doodle work last night and this morning. It took easily as much time to complete this as the flowers above. It’s not perfect, and I can see balance issues and so many things I would do differently if I attempt another. Still, painting this brought me joy.

So, yes, I’m carving out time to devote to painting. Time I could be writing. Sorry.

My question to you for a chance to win one of the hand-painted bookmarks above is, what is your passion? Have you found it?

Open Contests and a Giveaway! Enter while you still can!
Friday, February 24th, 2023

Good morning! I got a later start than usual because I spilled a full tumbler of water on my desktop. My cursing scared the cats. My desktop is a little crowded, so I was quickly moving items to the floor before I ran for a towel. Then because the desktop was clean, I got out the Old English and gave the desk its annual “oiling.” I had to toss a couple of notepads, and I’m drying some photos with paperweights to flatten them back out. I don’t need that kind of excitement. Isn’t it sad that soaking my desk constitutes excitement in my life?

Anyways, work is coming along. I didn’t get to write any new pages yesterday, but I made great progress on an editing job. I also played with paint, which was my day’s shining highlight. I’m sharing one of the results below. Sorry, I know you’re readers and would rather hear about books, but this is my blog and my life. So there! 🙂

Open Contests

  1. Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes — Hannah Elias (Contest) — This one ends soon! Win an Amazon gift card!
  2. Saturday Puzzle-Contest! Happy World Pangolin Day! — Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Sunday Tarot (Contest) — Win a hand-painted bookmark!
  4. Gabbi Black: Romances Around the World! (Contest) — Win a FREE book!
  5. Little Update, Minimal Whining, and Giveaway Reminder!This offer ends soon! Everyone, pick up your free copy right now!
  6. Sliding-Puzzle Challenge: Woman Fleeing Dragon (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift certificate!

I promise not to share my art every day, but I’m at the start of the 100-day challenge, and I’m excited!

#100DayProject — Day 2

Broken hand…splint in the way…what could I do? I decided to get out the Gelli plates and used my daughter’s wilting flowers to smash into paint and see what I could get. I love this. The picture doesn’t do it justice. There’s so much detail in the chrysanthemums’ petals. Plus, there’s glare from the overhead light, so you can’t really see the depth of color (magenta, Indian yellow, cadmium orange). For most of my monoprints, I only plan to cut them up for collaging, but I’m tempted to cut a larger section of this to glue to a piece of thick art paper and frame it. But it will need a title. Any suggestions? 

Today’s a Blur! I almost forgot to post!
Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

I can’t believe I almost forgot to post today. I set a goal at the beginning of the year that I’d have a new blog every day, whether written by me or a guest author. I nearly spoiled my perfect record! I know, it’s a crazy goal. Why do it? Blogs are dead, right? I don’t believe that. Not really. We’ve seen how fragile our social media platforms can be. This blog is the only thing I can control. Plus, it does give me an outlet. I can share what I’m working on here, bore you to tears with tidbits about my life, and play games with friends.

Or, I can do like I am today and share something I made.

I woke at 4 AM this morning to finish up a set of edits before I headed out to sit at the art center today. I like acting as docent. We rarely get visitors, so it’s my excuse to paint. No computer, just me, a palette of watercolor paint, some pens, and my imagination. I laid down paint on several things, but this is the only item I finished. It’s a watercolor and pen postcard. The colors make me happy.

Today’s Tarot + Open Contests Ending Soon!
Sunday, November 27th, 2022

I’ve been pulling cards on Sundays to try to make it part of my planning process. Every Sunday, I update my work and personal plans to ensure I record what I accomplished and didn’t, then I turn my sights on the coming week. It’s not that I “believe” in the tarot, but because it centers me and reminds me of aspects of my life I wouldn’t otherwise consider when I set my plans. So, onto this week’s card…

Pentacles again. Hmmm. Well, first, I’ll study the art on the card. We have Daedalus, again, holding the pentacles close to his chest, like he won’t share them. Remember, he’s the father of Icarus. He’s also a skilled craftsman. Here, he’s observing his nephew Thalos as young Thalos crafts a gold bracelet. See that side-eye he’s giving the kid? He’s jealous of his skill and worried that he’ll surpass him. The child is engrossed in what he’s doing, unaware of Daedalus’s concern.

What does that mean for me? I’m not sure. I’m not here worried about another person surpassing me in skill. I write and I edit for other authors. I wish everyone well.  Truly. I don’t obsess over stats or even check mine often. A sin, I know, when writing is my business. I’m okay letting go of the worry of whether or not I write a bestseller. So, what else could this mean for me? I turn to the book…

It says that the card represents my holding too tightly to my possessions or things that represent my personal value. What could that be? Yes, I’m acquisitive, meaning I collect things. They’re things that bring me pleasure whether they hold value or not. Am I getting a little overwhelmed by my things? Yes. Simply put, I need to figure out what I want to keep and what I should let go of. In the near term, could this mean that I need to price my items for the coming sale so low that I can offload my inventory? Hmmm. Or does it mean I need to do some future planning for a huge clearing out of my spaces? Selling, tossing, giving away things? I’ll keep that in mind. I can’t do much about it until after next Saturday because I’m too busy trying to create inventory for the sale. I’ll put “weaning the horde” on my December To Do list.

In the meantime, I’m creating “stuff.” Here’s another Christmas card I painted…

Can you think of things I should offer to readers here in the future to help myself empty my bins and shelves?

Open Contests

  1. My New Favorite Thing… (Contest)This one ends soon! Win an Amazon gift card!
  2. Tell me a story… (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Tell me a story… (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
My New Favorite Thing… (Contest)
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Brenda Anderson!

My art room (I’m not yet ready to call it a studio, because artists have studios, and I don’t feel like one quite yet!) is a work in progress. It’s very utilitarian—industrial tile on the floor, tables and work benches on each wall, a large table in the center, which is my workspace. When my mother, who was a true artist, passed, I inherited her multitudinous art supplies. When I tried to cram them into my room with everything I’d already accumulated, I couldn’t walk around the tables without standing sideways because there was so much “stuff.” It took a super-human effort, and the help of my daughter, to get it pared down so I had floor space. I’m not kidding. I could’ve been on the hoarders TV show. Over the nearly two years since then, I’ve donated and tossed items. I’ve also looked for good storage solutions. I’m making great progress, but until recently, working on my central art table was hard because even though it’s a banquet-sized table, it was covered with the art supplies I use most. I needed a solution so I could clear the table before considering working on larger pieces.

After scouring Pinterest and other artist’s organizational tips, I found this:

It’s an IKEA Raskog rolling cart. If you go onto Amazon they’re around $100. When I went straight to the IKEA site, I found it for just $35 plus $10 for shipping. And luckily, it is one of the items they do ship! When it arrived, my SIL assembled it—it’s super easy to assemble by the way—and I began to offload my many cups and bowls of supplies onto the cart. I’m giddy over how much space I have (I’m still clearing the table, so I’ll take a picture of the finished table another day.

If you’re wondering about what that pile of stuff to the upper right of the photo is, it’s tea bags I’m drying that I’ll cut open and empty, and then paint on. I know. My daughter thinks it’s super weird, but tea bag art is awesome for collaging. That wire thing tucked in the near corner of the top rack is a large, vintage flower “frog”—an Ebay find I thought would be perfect to gather all the scissors into one place. I need more scissors!

But look at this! Here are views of the second rack:

See that wooden compartmented box? It’s a $8 flea market find and fits perfectly! I know, me and my flea marketing… And there’s a little bit of space left to fill. 🙂

Here’s the bottom shelf:

Yes, I should find some containers that take up a bit less space to maximize what space I have in the cart, but all that crap was on top of my table, and now it’s not. I can roll that sucker next to my chair when I’m working and have everything I use the most right there.

I’m beyond thrilled.

My daughter loves the cart, too. She wants one for her bathroom to hold her multitudinous beauty supplies. I bought her a white one, and it’s coming on Wednesday.

So, I shared. Now, I’d love to hear about any organizational items you use or want, or tips for how to organize smarter. Include links if you can. One commenter will receive a $5 Amazon gift card!

Trying new things… (Contest)
Friday, October 21st, 2022

UPDATE: The winner of the Amazon gift card is…Amy Fendley!

So, first—that’s a horribly unflattering picture. 🙂

Had to get that out of the way. We dressed for messy fun, and it was cold outside, so…layers!

What is this? A big painty mess! The local art guild that I’m a part of held an acrylic paint pour. Most of us had never tried it. Mine turned out an awful mess, but I had a blast and learned something new.

When I first started writing and publishing, I tried all kinds of genres. Over time, I’ve found my groove, but I had to experiment a lot. Now, that I’m there, I’m just a little bored with the entire process.

Thank goodness for art! I’m obsessed learning new media, playing with color, making messes… All of it is a learning journey. Is paint pouring for me? Probably not, but it did teach me how fluid acrylic paint can act, and I have some ideas for “mini-pours” that might be something I could work into collaging or pendants… See? My mind won’t stop. And that’s a good thing.

Anything that keeps us excited and engaged is good—especially as we grow older. It really does keep us young.

So, my question to you is, do you have anything new you’re trying or want to try? Have you taken steps to DO IT?
Comment below for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Pictures from the Art Festival!
Monday, September 26th, 2022

Friday and Saturday, I was part of the local art festival! The city board did well with the setup. The tents were lovely and provided shade. They had portable airconditioners pointed down the rows of tents to try to offset the heat. But the heat… It was killer this weekend. 88 degrees on Friday. 97 on Saturday. And we were there from 10:30 to 7:00 both days. I wilted.

Can you see how flushed I was? Both nights, I came home, showered in cold water, drank a sh*t-ton of water (see the bottles next to me?), and I was in pretty good shape compared to some of the more elderly artists who had to close early or limit their hours to prevent heat stroke. I guess all those years in the Texas Army National Guard trained me how to survive—don’t move around too much, keep out of the sun, and drink, drink, drink.

There were so many intrepid art enthusiasts who came. Maybe they were there for the live graffiti artist painting a mural, or staying for the food trucks and live bands, but they strolled through the tents. I can’t imagine how much more foot traffic we might have had if the festival had been held in October. But still, it was fun. And something to trade “war stories” about. 🙂

My dd was there, popping in, or having one of the girls keep me company so they could run for iced drinks or food, or just to make sure I wasn’t fainting from the heat. LOL

She was also responsible for setting me up, bringing in some fall decor to spruce up my tent.

My favorite piece was the first sold.

The postcards and bookmarks were very popular.

I sold those blue pumpkin earrings very quickly, too. See the wooden box? I found it at a flea market. It was yellow and very dirty. My dd painted and distressed it, then used chalk paint on the front so we could use chalk to write in our pricing on the little items. Cool, right?

And paintings were sold. I still have many, many items to bring to December’s craft fair and to post on Etsy. I have to get photos ready and then open up my Etsy shop. I made a ton of bookmarks and still have some left, so I will be thinking about how to gift them away… (Psst… Susan…)

But I still “feel” like a real artist. I’m glad I did it, but next year, if they schedule it for September again, I might not be there. Unless the forecast is for actual fall weather.