Friday, August 18, 2017

Transformation 47

I seem to have amassed quite a bunch of art works that I haven't yet put online. There are several reasons for this, including the lack of a good camera to take photos of art, too much other stuff going on, and frankly, I forgot about some of them. Also, I thought I should wait until I could put them on my new website, for whatever reason. Yeah, I know - blah, blah, blah - it doesn't really matter, does it?

The Transformations series has been ongoing for a long time. I you want to know how it all got started, go here.

Transformation 47
monotype collage with mixed media, 7 x 7 inches

I can't believe I'm at number 49 now, and still going! I will post numbers 48 and 49 soon. I hope you enjoy, and I hope everyone is having a great summer (or winter)!

Since my website is still down, I probably should add that if you're interested in buying this piece, please contact me through the link on my sidebar, or message me on facebook. Thanks!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Commission Painting Finished!

I don't typically do much commission work, but I am always open to it if I have the time and it's something I know how to do. And, when the clients are your daughter and son-in-law, how can you refuse, right? I actually really enjoyed doing this painting; it's different from what I usually do, and that was liberating in lot of ways. It was also really nice to take some time way from working on the website, which can get (very!) tedious at times.

I had already shared a couple of teasers on instagram, just some work-in-progress details. But now that my daughter and her hubby have seen it, and given it the final stamp of approval, I can share it with all of you!

The Wave
acrylic paint with acrylic ink, 30 x 40

I had lots of fun making this piece. It's been a long time since I've worked this large, or used quite this much paint! I did most of it out on my front porch, since it's shaded during the early part of the day.  I was using the inks and watered down paint in a watercolor-type technique, pouring on puddles of paint and then letting the excess run off the end of the porch. This would not have been practical on the hardwood floors in the studio. Later on, I did some of the foamy parts inside, coving the floor with old throw rugs. Really made me want to go to the ocean, though!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Porkbelly Press 07.11.17

Porkbelly Press has just published a new chapbook, MEXICAMERICANA, (poetry) by Eloisa Amezcua, and I'm super excited to say my work is on the cover! The incomparable and very industrious Nicci Mechler runs Porkbelly Press, a small independent chapbook press in Cincinnati, Ohio. Besides her jobs as editor, designer, and artist for the chapbook, she does about a thousand other things, all while continously producing a steady stream of gorgeous etchings and other artworks. Her blog bio starts off like this:

"Nicci is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University (BFA Studio Art, Masters in English). Between research, novel revisions, poetic alchemy, reading, retreats, and caring for roomies, rescue dogs, and rescue kitties, she makes art, edits the literary magazine Sugared Water, and runs Porkbelly Press (a micro press in Cincinnati, OH). She is also the editor and maker of several zines, including the body image zine LMLMB.

I was very honored when she asked if she could use my work on the cover, and it really does look wonderful. I have no idea how she manages to get all this stuff done. Here, you can read an excerpt from Eloisa Amezcua's beautiful poetry; you can buy a copy of this handbound chapbook, MEXICAMERICANA, here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In My Garden

This is why they call it butterfly weed...

The yellow hostas have a strange pale flower that I like very much.

Coreopsis verticillata blooms all summer, if you deadhead it... I need to do that about a week ago...

Bee balm, also known as monarda and bergamot, is what gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor.

 I love all these perennials...

Hostas, coleus, and ferns in my shade garden.

The echinachea seems especially vibrant this year...

The bees seem to think so, too.

One of the orange turk's cap lilies is dying, but has produced these humongous seeds, unlike the lily's usual seeds. Anyone know why?

Here you can see the regular seeds that appear on the stem.

I chased this tiger swallowtail butterfly around for probably half an hour,

trying to get a decent shot...

                                                                It was pretty camera-shy...

...but I finally managed to get a few good ones.

I hope you enjoyed my little garden stroll. Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

When I Was a Bird

When I Was a Bird
collage on multi-media board, 8 x 14 inches
ingredients: vintage book pages and hand-written letters, image transfers, magazine cut-outs, gampi paper, water color crayons and pencils, stitching

This one looks pretty much the same as the last time you saw it; I just added some stitching, the birds, and tweaked a few other things. Trying not to overwork it, as I sometimes tend to do.

You may have noticed that people with wings, angel-like figures, and girls with one wing appear frequently in my work. I tried to get to the bottom of this obsession in a past blog post titled, "Where Wings Come From", which you can read here if you're interested. Someone once said that all of the figures an artist paints are reflections of him/herself, and in some way, I believe this is true.

detail of first spread from my handmade book, Book of Dreams

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. ~Henry Ward Beecher

a page from Not an Open Book

In trying to find quotes for this post, I came across a very interesting website called Every Pianter Paints Himself: Art's Masterpieces Explained. The home page text states:

Every painter paints himself, a saying first documented in the early Renaissance, has been mentioned by artists ever since. Both Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci used it, as Picasso did too; Lucian Freud and other contemporary artists still cite variations today. Yet despite its great significance to artists, art scholars rarely discuss the saying or its meaning. Those who do seem to have no choice but to deny it: painters don’t really paint themselves, they say, but their sensibility. But why would a phrase that meant so much to great masters, and still does to their followers, require re-phrasing to mean anything? The truth is, as this website demonstrates, it is the images of these visual artists that are veiled, not their words.

Here's an example from the site where they discuss some of Basquiat's paintings in relation to his life. I plan to go back and read what they say about other artists and their work. Just something to think about, you know?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

So Far...

Despite drowning in a sea of product tags, focus keywords, alt attributes, meta descriptions, and SEO titles, I have managed to make a little more progress on When I was a Bird, a collage I had started for an art challenge a few weeks back. I took photos of it with my phone, and they did not upload to my dropbox. I have no clue why, but it is surely aggravating. So I took photos with my Panasonic Lumix, and couldn't get them to upload to the computer! Just one more thing, you know?

But I have managed to grab little snippets of time here and there to work this collage, mainly to keep myself sane. Now, back to work, and maybe a bit of studio time! I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Art Challenge: Birds

When I found out the theme for this week's Art Challenge was "Birds", I couldn't resist, despite the fact that I'm busy trying to build a new website (trying is the operative word here), and I've got tons of yard work and gardening to do, not to mention the normal everyday stuff to keep up with. But it's BIRDS, you know? If you've followed my blog for very long, or looked at my website, it's pretty obvious that birds are a very important part of my symbolic vocabulary. In fact, I did two long posts about birds in art, which you can read here and here, if you're so inclined.

So I thought I'd maybe just take one of my old collages that didn't work out, since pretty much all of them have birds on them, re-work it here and there, and voila! - a new bird collage. Nope. Ideas started whirling around in my head and I found myself starting a whole new collage, which I knew I wouldn't be able to finish in time for the challenge.

Work in progress: When I Was a Bird

But luckily, no one in this lovely group of artists cares much about deadlines or rules, so I'm posting what I've got so far. There's a lot more work ahead, but I think the basic bones of the composition are in place, and you can get an idea of where it's going. I will be sharing my progress here, so check back in a few day for an update!

Eric Adama of Cerulean is our kind host, so head over to his blog for the links to more bird art!

Monday, May 15, 2017

New Work: Temple

Temple, 17.5 x 11 inches, mixed media
ingredients: vintage book cover, monotype, vintage maps and engineering drawings, other vintage ephemera, metallic ink, found objects, brads, brass wire, acrylic paint, artist pens, feathers

So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to thee.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 "Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life."                                                                                                                              - Hermann Hesse

Monday, May 1, 2017

Progressing... a Few Quick Glimpses

Coming along slowly with the new piece I first showed you in this post. It's been quite a while since I completed something; as some of you may know, I've been busy studying business things. More about that later. (You can read a bit about it here and here.)

Most of the basic components are glued down, and I have added some stitching; I think it will be finished in the next day or so. In the meantime, I just wanted to share a few more details before you see the whole piece. (Is that an oxymoron?) Anyway, without further blah-blah-blah:

I kind of enjoy using the hammer and awl to make holes for the stitching.  My dogs, however, do not enjoy the noise - I suppose it sounds like thunder or fireworks to them - and when I start, they quickly find another place to hang out.

My son-in-law gave me these old engineering drawings, which I have since found out are done on silked vellum. We knew they were vellum, but when I tore a piece of it to use in a collage, I saw tiny threads, and realized it was woven. Later I heard, just by chance, that in the past very very thin sheets of silk would be somehow laminated onto vellum to make it more durable. It's a strange material to work with, as it doesn't behave like either paper or fabric, and seems to stretch when wet (or has glue on it), and is very hard to glue down flat.

Here, tree roots have been stitched with embroidery floss - a mix of two different blues. Hopefully, it will all come together soon, and I will share it with you here!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Untitled Post With Nothing in It

Until just a minute ago, that's what this was. For a very long time, started sometime in what seems like the distant past, this post had languished in a dormant state called, "I'm doing too many other things, but I'm planning to do a post at some point, preferably sooner than later." But my brain was so otherwisedly (at least I found time to invent a new adverb - I think) occupied that I had gotten no further than this, and I was stuck there, with no idea at all as to what it should be about. Sometimes if I just begin to begin, inspiration may strike me out of the blue - or maybe not.

I have had this little collage sitting on my press next to the computer desk, but I hadn't scanned it, or thought of a title. So I've decided to call it "Otherwisedly Occupied", which seems to be the best I can do right now, and also allows me to use my newly-invented word.

Otherwisedly Occupied
mixed media collage, 6 x 4 inches
ingredients: vintage book pages and other vintage ephemera, decorative paper, watercolor pencil

I hope you enjoy! Have a great weekend, everyone! xoxo

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trials and Tribulations, and New Work on the Way

I have several pieces that have been laying around my studio that haven't been shared due to the fact that I didn't have a decent, fully functional camera. After much research and thought, I finally bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000. It was more than I really wanted to spend, but I needed something that would take excellent artwork photos, and a DSLR costs that much just for the body; then, in addition, you have to buy various expensive lenses for different purposes. Another point against a DSLR is that I realized that I didn't want to be bothered with lugging around a bunch of lenses, which I would have to be changing all the time, so a high-end fixed-lens camera seemed like the perfect choice.

So now, if the weather cooperates, I will be able to photograph those pieces, along with everything that needs to be re-photographed because I originally used my cell phone, and the photos are seriously lacking in quality. Especially since I'm going to be building a new website, I want the image quality to be as high as it can. I don't really want to upload my current photos, and then have to go back and replace them.

But now I have a new problem; setting up the new camera is somewhat (read: a lot) daunting. I'm afraid it's going to take a while. It has so many features, I'm not even sure what some of them mean! So in the meantime, I'll have to keep using my phone, unless they are flat and can fit on my scanner. Sheesh!

Anyway, I'm finally taking time from my technical studies to make some art! Here are a few sneak peaks of what's happening in the studio. Taken, of course, with my cellphone.

Materials used: vintage book cover, vintage maps, antique engineering drawing, monotype, book pages.  This one has a ways to go, but so far I'm satisfied with it.

I hope you are all having a great weekend, and making some art! Namaste, my friends.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Art Challenge: Ritual/ Routine

When lovely Nadine of tinywoolf declared the theme for this art challenge "ritual/ routine", I knew I wanted to participate. It's such an interesting subject, I thought it would be easy to come up with something good. While I find the concept of ritual to be quite fascinating, I found that when I actually sat down to think about what I would do, I had difficulty narrowing it down to a workable size. I mean, it's a BIG concept; it covers a lot of ground. So I thought looking up the definition might help, give me some clues or spark an idea.

Here is Merriam Webster's definition:
  1. :  the established form for a ceremony; specifically :  the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony
  2. 2a :  ritual observance; specifically :  a system of rites
     b :  a ceremonial act or action
     c :  an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner

Humans are creatures of habit, as are all creatures, it seems. My dogs will wake me up at the same time every morning, and expect to be fed at 5:00. We naturally fall into forming patterns, of doing things at the same time in the same way over and over again. I would suggest that this saves some part of our brain to think about working out more complex problems, because we don't have to re-think when we're going to brush our teeth every day. Or maybe not.

Rituals are also important to the formation and continuance of societies; we agree to elect our leaders the same way at repeated intervals, we decide on the guilt or innocence of people who break our laws by using a set, prescribed, series of rituals. If we didn't have rituals in place for these things, no society could survive, but would quickly descend into chaos.

 Weighing of the Heart Ceremony, Book of the Dead, 1285 bCE

Based on the definition above, the word "ritual" covers everything from the sacred burial rites of the ancient Egyptians to the "March Madness" college basketball tournament to brushing our teeth at the same time each day. (Just to amuse myself, I thought about making a shrine with a toothbrush inside of it; I know - weird sense of humor!)  So I'm probably thinking about this way too much, but my ideas for this piece just kept bigger and bigger, and I realized there was no way I could do it justice in the short time I had left. In fact, it's really still in the planning stages; I'll share it here as I work on it.

Invocation of Tara
ingredients: map fragment, magazine cut-outs, image transfers, artist pens, watercolor pencils

So I decided to use a piece I had already been working on, which does relate to the concept of ritual in an obvious way. Tara is the Tibetan Buddhist Goddess of Compassion, and rituals to honor her have been performed since the 6th century and possibly longer. According to Wikipedia, "Tārā became a very popular Vayrayana deity with the rise of Tantra in 8th-century Pala and, with the movement of Indian Buddhism into Tibet through Padmasambhava, the worship and practices of Tārā became incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism as well. She eventually came to be considered the "Mother of all Buddhas," which usually refers to the enlightened wisdom of the Buddhas, while simultaneously echoing the ancient concept of the Mother Goddess in India.... Tārā is also known as a saviouress, as a heavenly deity who hears the cries of beings experiencing misery in samsara."

The image of Tara I used for this piece is based on a centuries-old painting somewhere; I have unfortunately lost track of the source. By the way, she is not always green; different aspects of Tara are different colors. Green Tara is one of the most popular.

Be sure to visit Nadine at tinywoolf to find out what the other participants came up with for the challenge. Happy weekend, everyone!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Still Undecided...

Okay, I've narrowed down the first lot, chosen my favorites, and added a few more. I'm sure you're beginning to realize that I'm not good at making decisions...  Please feel free to comment or not; you're probably getting as tired of this as I am!

After all this trouble, I still like the one I'm using now. I think it's strong graphically, but don't know if it really says, "Spiritual Art Inspired by Nature", which will be the tag line for my sites.

This is also a favorite, but I had forgotten to leave room for the corners to be cut off, as they will be on Pinterest, so I rearranged the type. I also changed the type face, but may need to go with a sans-serif font for the sake of readability.

This is from one of my favorite pieces, but I'm not sure if it's too visually confusing. I also am afraid the font may be hard to read when re-sized to fit the various sites' profiles.

This one is the same as the one above it, but with a different font. So I have made progress, in that there are three basic designs, which could be tweaked in one way or another.

Again, thanks for the help, dear friends! I hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Choices, Choices

Some of you may be aware that I'm trying to re-boot my (almost nonexistent) art business, and have been researching the best ways of doing so (see my last post for some of the things I've learned). So right now I'm working on branding. I'm not going to try to define branding, as it's a bit of an abstract concept, and not that easy to describe in a few sentences. There are lots of articles that can help you with that; just google "branding for visual artists", and you will find tons of helpful information. I think "Branding 101 for Artists: How to Create a Strong Brand for Yourself and Your Art" by Gregory Peters on is one of the best articles I've read on the subject.

Anyway, I digress. Part of creating your brand is using the same "logo" or image on all of your art sites. Right now, the image I have on my facebook business page, my pinterest profile, my twitter profile, and my blog looks like this:

I like the image; I think it stands out and works well compositionally (not a real word, apparently). The problem is, it comes from one of my collages, and I don't think it really represents my work as a whole. Looking at this, people would probably get the idea that all I do is collage. Also, a lot of my work, even the collages, reflect a strong sense of the sacredness ( is that a word?) of nature, which this image really does not.

So I've been working on creating some new ones, and I was hoping I could get the benefit of opinions other than my own. I would appreciate any kind of feedback: which you like best, how any or all could be improved, comments about composition, color, subject, anything. I hope you'll feel free to let me know what you really think; believe me, you're not going to hurt my feelings if the criticism is constructive. So here they are, in no particular order:








I may do more, but I'm pretty tired of photoshop right now.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Some Things I've Learned

First of all, I have to apologize for not getting around to reading everyone's blogs, and for not posting anything on my own blog for such a long time. As some of you may know, I've been spending most of my time researching the best ways to sell art online. I have also, after debating for some time, decided to build a new website. There is so much to learn; it can actually be quite overwhelming for someone like me, who didn't grow up in the tech age. But I was determined to do my best to figure it out, so I kept plodding forward.

One thing I discovered is that I wasn't labeling my images correctly for SEO. SEO, which most of you probably already know, is search engine optimization, which basically means making it easier for search engines to find your content and be able to understand what it is. I was surprised to learn that google can't really read images, so this is pretty important. Of course, since I have around a bazillion or so images, re-labeling them took a long time. And that's just one little part of this art business thing. By the way, the best article I've found about SEO for artists is by Tom Dupuis at Online Media Masters.

Here is a comparison chart of print-on-demand sites; here is a good an article about print-on-demand by Christopher Kerry. This article compares and ranks the best website platforms.

I won't go into everything I've learned, because there are lots of people who understand it better than I do, and have written great books and articles, and have made really helpful podcasts and YouTube tutorials that explain things very well. My biggest obstacle is that I wanted to make a new website that combines ecommerce, a blog, and print-on-demand. I had questions like, "Which is the best platform for artist websites?";  "How much technical expertise do you need to be able to use the various platforms?"; "How do I move my domain from my old site?"; "Which ones can have a print-on-demand page embedded in them?"; "How can I use social media to drive traffic?"; "How much does all this stuff cost?", just to name a few. Yikes, right!? And with all this business stuff, will I have time to make art?

I knew I needed to do extensive research, and that there would be a big learning curve. So, here's what I did. First, I was lucky enough to find How to Sell Art Online by Cory Huff of The Abundant Artist. This is the best online art business book I have read; it's clear, concise, and lays out all the basics. He also has podcasts, a blog, classes and videos on just about everything pertaining to art and online business. And no, I don't get anything for saying this (I wish!), I'm just telling you what I think. In fact, I'm about as far from an expert as you can get, which is why I decided to share what information I'm finding helpful with others who, like me, might need a little steering in the right direction.

Then, I started taking all the free webinars and tutorials offered by most of the well-known art business coaches, of which there many: Ann Rea of Artists Who Thrive,  sample webinar here); ART2LIFE with Nicholas Wilton; Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizCoachMake Art That Sells with Lilla Rogers; Robert Brandl's WebsiteToolTester , which is great for comparing website platforms, types of ecommerce, etc., with lots of good YouTube videos; Gary Bolyer; Brainard Carey's, which offers free podcasts and webinars; Jason Horejs's Red Dot Blog with links to his extensive offerings of Art 2 Market YouTube videos, often in conjunction with art print and market expert Barney Davey. There is lots more free help out there, as I'm sure you'll find once you start looking around. Most of them offer free information as a teaser for getting you to take their entire online course, but if you take the free introductory ones and then go and watch their other videos on YouTube, you can find a lot of helpful information. Also, many of them offer free pdf instructions or worksheets that go with the webinars. You can print these out or download them onto your computer.
Learning how to target your audience is another important thing to learn, and one that I have particular trouble with. Click the image above to read the article.

I realize that this post is getting rather long, and one of the things I've learned through my research is that people don't want to read online. So if you need to know anything more specific and I can point you in the right direction, feel free to comment here or message me on facebook. Oh, I should also say that I've pinned quite a few helpful articles to my Online Biz How-to board on Pinterest, so you might want to check that out.

And lastly, lets not forget the most important part of all this -

Connections II
mixed media collage, 8 x 8 inches

making art!

Addendum: I just found an awesome site that gives you excellent detailed reviews of website builders, how to use them, and tons of really relevant and clear information about anything and everything to do with websites. It's called Website Builder Expert, and it even has a quiz to help you figure out which website builder is best for you. I highly recommend it!