Thursday, May 31, 2012

Album Cover Collages: A College Love.

I took a drawing class in college once... the instructor's name was Andrea Moreau and she was fabulous. One of the first things she had us do was keep a sketchbook and turn it in every week. She always said she wouldn't read too closely in case the contents were private, but it was very important to her that we saw the value in keeping one. Ever since that class, I have had an art journal. It has become pretty much a part of me. Like I'm pretty sure if my apartment was burning down, I'd run out with a kitty under each arm and my journal in my teeth. 

Another thing I learned in that class was to embrace mixed media; Andrea let us use pretty much anything we wanted in our work. Well... as a poor college student, I needed an inexpensive idea for my final project. I was in this record store one day and they had some boxes of vintage album covers. The art on some of them was really cool; I think I went through the box like five times. The friend I was with came over, saw me looking, and knowing my love for mixed media said, "You know, I bet you could make some really cool art out of those." Suddenly about 1000 lightbulbs went on and a new love was born. And the best part: they were maybe $0.25 apiece. I probably have 50 or so hanging around my studio waiting to be revived. Each one becomes like its own little world. As a very indecisive and impulsive artist (and person in general) it is amazing to have a jumping off point. I can look at an old album cover and almost instantly feel the shape I want it to take on. 

Now that I think about it, it has been a couple of months since I have whipped one of these up. Perhaps tonight I will pour a glass of wine, revisit an old love, and celebrate the fact that it is almost the weekend.

Springtime Inspiration and Thankful Things

When did it get to be the end of May? Even though June 1 is not the official first day of summer, it always has kind of been that way in my mind. Remember being a kid in school and when the month of June rolled around it was like home free? After a very up and down month, I am refocusing my attitude and energy and inspiration. One thing that has been amazing to do lately is go on little adventures with my camera on gorgeous sunny days and try to capture that magical feeling of spring. I am super amateur when it comes to photography, which is kind of nice because there is pretty much no pressure to make things look a certain way. I just do what I want and have been so so happy with the results. I love laying in the grass to get a certain angle, or pulling some sort of contortionist move to capture branches the way I want. Getting weird looks from people makes it even more fun. 

I became very frustrated with myself during the "downs" this month because honestly, it's not that bad. Frustrations at work and a feeling of not having enough time to do what I really want got to me this month, like a lot. Sometimes I would just want to sit on the couch and watch TV, but then feel guilty because I knew I should be drawing, painting, or working on something. That feeling of like I had to do it really took the fun out of something that I otherwise love, yet due to my job I have limited time to work. Pretty much a vicious cycle of frustration.

So to get through the downs, I started thinking of little things that I am thankful for, kind of a reminder that there are about a million good things to notice at any given time. Some of what I came up with...

1) walks in the sunshine with no set destination
2) laugh out loud funny random internet pictures
3) new paintbrushes, markers, paper, art supplies in general
4) cool showers after a long run
5) listening to music by the pool
6) the feeling of 5:00 on Fridays
7) weekend trips
8) pizza delivery
9) a nice bottle of wine
10) air conditioning
11) bracelets
12) nights with 1,000,000 stars
13) having the patio door open and feeling the breeze
14) discovering other inspirational people
15) websites like Etsy, Pinterest, and Flickr... more inspiration than you can handle
16) good books (and being able to read them)
17) music. Spotify. blast a song and sing it loud. instant mood lifter.
18) baby animals
19) a soft bed at night
20) flowers. lots of flowers.

Being grumpy is selfish I think. Kind of lost that knowledge this past month and was a bit too self-pitying. Time to turn it around. Bring it on, June!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Art Journaling and Life in General

Inspiration can be very fickle for me. I remember back in December/January I was never tired. I would stay up all hours of the night and work furiously and had so many ideas that I couldn't get them all down in time. I would get coffee on my way home from work at 5, throw my things down just inside my door, and be covered in paint and glue in a matter of minutes. Then life happened. I can't exactly put my finger on it but know that it was a combination of job stress, personal stress, personal doubt, and just an overall feeling of blah that pretty much sucked every ounce of inspiration out of me. I want to be one of those people who is just inspired all the time. I know that that isn't possible and even the most passionately creative souls can fall into ruts. But aim high right? That way if I'm inspired 80% of the time then that's a great. Learning to turn life's many frustrations into creative energy can be tricky sometimes, but I think I'm getting better at it. AND I keep dreaming of the days (hopefully soon to come) that my frustrations are drastically lowered... :)

So yeah. Art journals. I swear mine weighs about ten lbs now. I have had to add duct tape to the binding and inside cover because it is literally bursting at the seems (Random note: one of my biggest pet peeves is when people misuse the word literally. ie: I literally died. No, you did not, as you are still talking). I love to start with no plan and just glue and paint away and suddenly there is this whole unexpected little world right in front of you. It's like your mind, on paper. And you can see and read and touch it. Imagine if everyone had one. Maybe that is just the nosy person in me, but I'd be very interested to read certain peoples' journals. My pages crack me up sometimes because they are pretty much the perfect representation of my mind: busy, disjointed, vibrant, messy, crazy, indecisive. It's an outlet. It's something I feel strongly about and believe whole-heartedly in. Maybe someday I'll teach a class. Not so much about technique, but just opening a blank page and letting go. What you end up with might surprise you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rant-y Garbage Post.

And I mean "Garbage Post" in the sense that this is going to cover little of everything. You know, like how a garbage pizza has every topping under the sun on it. I guess I just have a lot on my mind at this very moment, and it's all about to spill.

Firstly, road trips. I do not want to offend anyone here (not that I actually have readers... yet), but I do not understand people who have no desire to travel and see the world. I get the comforts of being at home and sleeping in your own bed and using your own shower. But there is just so much to see. How can you appreciate and understand other people if you have only met the people in your own town? For example, I spent last weekend in a teeny tiny town in Minnesota visiting a friend. I have never been to Minnesota. I also realized that I had never truly been to a small town. People waved at each other from cars. They knew the mail woman's name. And her daughter's name. They had those Minnesota accents. And they honestly were the nicest people I have ever met in my entire life; and they all were nice by default. Accepting and generous and kind... it was almost overwhelming. It really reignited that feeling of wanderlust in a huge way. I want to see places like that, talk to people like that, that are different. Beautiful.

There is a map on the United States on the wall in my studio. On that map is a highlighted route of my ultimate road trip, a circular route that covers I believe 43 states and would take about two months to complete ideally. When I created that route (back in October I believe), I had a departure date in mind. That date is not going to happen. But that trip will happen. Sooner than later.

Secondly, inspiration. Lately I have been obsessed with following other artist's blogs, especially the ones who make art for a living. Their message is all clear, "We all need to do more of what we love." Why settle for less? I've found that surrounding myself with the inspiration of others really helps me to stay focused on what I want to do.  A few of the artists and pieces and random beautiful things I have been inspired by lately...

Brooch bouquets. I cannot get enough of them lately. No I'm not getting married. I just think they are beautiful and artistic and all so different. Turning the old into the new is always a good thing. This one is designed by The Ritzy Rose.

Everything about Jessica Swift amazes me. I first discovered her at an art fair in Chicago and could not believe just how much work she has produced. Hundreds of prints, stationary, patterns, it's crazy. She just oozes creativity and vibrance. 

Mae Chevrette is really the artist who woke me and made me realize that it is possible to live your dreams when I read her "Quit Your Day Job" article on Etsy. I love trying to dissect other mixed media artists' processes and could look at her work for hours (and have). 

Cate Parr's use of color is stunning. And don't even get me started on the use of fine details. Swoon.

Bianca Green... love everything she does.

"Dear Earth" by Katie Daisy. Her use of paint and textures and little details fascinates me.

I love keeping up with Katie Rodgers' of PAPERFASHION and her exciting career. She is such a huge inspiration and such a natural talent. I definitely recommend following her on Instagram; it will brighten your day!!

Love Rachel Austin's use of maps underneath her paintings.

The list goes on forever... I need to surround myself with this stuff and these types of people. Inspired people who see beauty in such small things. People who see a flower on their walk to the mailbox and two days later have created a piece of art based on how lovely they thought it was. So many people don't notice things like that. I am very grateful to be a noticer. And yes I just invented that word. And I like it. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Hanging Out In Cemeteries... And Being Potentially Creepy.

Yesterday was one of  "those days" in a very bad way. I woke up in a terrible mood, which almost never happens to me. Don't get me wrong, I get in bad moods from time to time (almost always involving my job), but they are caused by something specific. Again, that something is almost always related to my job. Yesterday I just woke up grumpy. I tried blasting music on my way to work and singing. No luck. I drank extra coffee and piggybacked that with a 5 Hour Energy at lunch. No luck. I made it a point to leave on time for once. Even that did not have an effect. So I decided to bring out the big guns: get my camera and head to Greenlawn Cemetery. I even brought a mobile cocktail because the day just called for it. 

Cemeteries have always had a very profound effect on me. I swear I can feel the energy there in the air. The feeling of being overwhelmed by something that is so much larger than you or what you can grasp is very grounding. Although the magnolia trees have now lost all of their flowers, there are still plenty of other living, blooming things that add of the quiet peace and beauty. I'm pretty sure I was the only person in the entire place last night and had a good hour and a half to walk around with my camera. My mood change was almost instantaneous; as soon as I stepped out of my car and felt the air everything just shifted. 

I guess what gets me about being there (aside from the peace and beauty and calm) is just this astounding realization that this is where we all end up, regardless of what we accomplish or how much money we make or how many people love or hate us. It reiterates the fact that we have a pretty short window to be here and we are the only ones who decide how we want to spend it. I come across a lot of greedy and self-entitled people during my days, people who think they are better than everyone else for no real reason at all. I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes it's hard. And what is the point in acting that way? What gives them the right? It's so dumb to me because we all end up in the same place. Why not spend your time appreciating everything: people, nature, sunshine, a hot shower, a warm bed, animals... once you stand in a cemetery and start thinking about stuff like that, it make it pretty damn near impossible to be in a reasonless bad mood and kind of reminds you where you stand. 

Then to top it all off, I got Chipotle for dinner. Bad day = OVER.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I Want to be Like Flora Bowley.

So after a mysterious two month hiatus, I feel like my inspiration and drive has returned with a vengeance. I can't stop reading artist's blogs, Facebook pages, reading their stories on the Etsy blog, admiring their work. Maybe it's the return of the sunshine, warm weather, and life this spring that has brought my creative spirit back with it. Whatever it is, I'm grateful it happened.

I'm sitting at my desk right now, just taking a quick little break before I dive into a sizable, boring-ass project, and I came across the art of Flora Bowley via Katie Daisy's Facebook page. I am mesmerized by the pictures of her working, hands covered in paint, using her hands as tools, using all sorts of other tools, to make these rich and beautiful paintings. Her work is so free and natural and personal... I am in love. The dreaminess of it reminds me of Marc Chagall, one of my all-time favs. Looking at the picture of her with the paintbrush (in the middle), my hands are pretty much tingling and I suddenly have this overwhelming sense of feeling like "I am meant to do that. That is what I am supposed to be doing, right now and always." I'd give anything to have a canvas in front of me right now. Flora's Facebook page has all sorts of amazing photos on it (that are a lovely distraction from my aforementioned boring-ass project)... and her studio? Amazing. Stuff all over the walls. Paint everywhere. Just oozing with inspiration. 

So now I am off to work with numbers and spreadsheets and formulas and inventory... when all I can think about is someday spending my days with paint-covered hands and classic rock blasting while doing what I love and creating.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adobe Lightroom: My New Best Friend.

Nowadays everyone seems to have an opinion on digital photography, digital cameras, and software programs like PhotoShop and LightRoom... and the consensus from a lot of people is, "Nowadays anyone can be a great photographer." They say it like it's this lost art and almost like it's a sad thing that just about anyone can take a great picture. I kind of tend to disagree with this. Why isn't it an amazing thing that people are wanting to capture beautiful moments and memories? Photography is an art form and art is a way to appreciate the beauty that is around us (that a lot of people take for granted), so in my opinion, the more photographers the merrier. 

That being said, I have been a lover of PhotoShop ever since one fateful class in art school. I have gotten pretty good at it over the years, but when it came to tweaking digital photos I was never too happy with my skills. Then last week I discovered LightRoom. Maybe I live under a rock. Maybe it's because I am still pretty amateur when it comes to digital photography and the fun toys surrounding it. I dunno. But for the past week, I have been Lightrooming my ass off. Into the wee hours of the night, I tell myself, "Just one more photo." Then when I thought that was great, I discovered that you can download presets online... for free. Definitely still getting the hang of it, but I foresee a fabulous relationship between us in the future. I can't wait to print some of this stuff out and collage the hell out of it. Happy Tuesday!