Online Artists’ Challenges Spark Exploring Techniques and New Avenues of Expression

Online challenges are a new passion of mine, having stumbled upon a free one a few months ago….maybe via Instagram?  Somebody’s blog?  I am losing track of how I found – and keep finding, such great talent on the web to learn from, maybe emulate, and share with.  Then of course, you get chummy with the other artists involved in that challenge or class.  You’re hooked.

I found more artists whose work I wanted to see more of, via a big clean-out of my many art books and periodicals.   I will be downsizing even further in the next few months, and I needed the cash, so off to HalfPrice Books I went with a load.  Before letting a good book go, I found it necessary to peruse it thoroughly; keepers were set aside and some pages torn out of various Stampington publications before trashing the rest of the magazine.  Even so, there were plenty of pristine issues intact left to sell.  You can find  ’em at the HPB store on Northwest Highway.

Now I have roughly half the art and decor books I moved in with; which gave me the courage to toss a big trash bag full of fabric scraps.  I’m not done ferreting around in my stash;  I’m determined to be tough.  I’ve had this stuff for many years.  I used to enjoy popping in to the fabric store for the odd remnant but haven’t had that pleasure for a long time, ’cause I just didn’t want to add to my piles.

Last week I let my favorite doll that I made go; and it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would!  “Beth” is with her new mom now up in Glen Ellyn, IL.   I listed her on Etsy and she wasn’t there for long, so I am encouraged to keep going with dolls and other artwork for sale.  And selling at lower prices than I offered before; I am trying to find that sweet spot between what’s affordable for a buyer and gives me some profit, too.  It’s the sharing of my work, and the recognition, and joy the buyer experiences that mean the most to me now.

I love Instagram for its ability to satisfy my need for instant gratification.  I follow close to 200 artists world-wide now, and have some followers of my own.  It keeps me on the creativity path.  The online challenges have you upload your “homework” onto Instagram, and all the artists in the challenge view and comment on everyone’s work.

Shout out to Tara Leaver, a young abstract painter in Cornwall for her Art Notes news and encouragement!  She has online classes in addition to an occasional free challenge.

Tara Leaver Freedom Through Art

Now for photos of my artwork since last May.

IMG_0777
Playing with Linda Goodwin’s oil pastels

IMG_0743IMG_0683

IMG_0682
Black gesso smudge, white charcoal and oil on small canvas paper. I didn’t plan it, I just pulled the imagery out of the black smudge.
IMG_0670
White and Black charcoal
IMG_0624
Still loving learning painting with soft pastels via Gail Sibley’s blog, How To Pastel

img_0744

img_0792
I fell in love with a business card featuring a photo of A Little Company stoneware/porcelain sculpture of these delightful characters
img_0764
I wanted to see what would happen if I held two different tip size pens and made a quick sketch of a still life.

IMG_0499

IMG_0795.jpg
“Beth” doll is ready for mailing to her new mom in IL. I made her wrapping paper out of paper napkins stitched together.
IMG_0804.jpg
Little fabric collage, or samplers. Using up favorite scraps, and loving the zen relaxation of making them. Just instinctive; no plan. Addictive. Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth got me onto this.

IMG_0799.jpg

IMG_0575
Pamela Hastings Book and the little figure I made from one of her patterns
IMG_0809
I wonder if I should quit while I’m a-head?

Time to Try New Things! New Worlds Open Up…..

Discovering the joy of Instagram

Wherein I begin to post all my new (and older) artwork and find a variety of artists and creatives and makers from all over the world, who post their expressions…..and you can communicate with them in real time!  I need more real time!

Genie Geer’s Instagram account

Creatives I am currently following on Instagram

A couple photos of what I’ve been working on.   Or click on the link above to my Instagram account.

I am still a little challenged on uploading photos from my Flickr page to my blog via downloading them first to this Windows PC…..I find Flickr difficult to use and Instagram is my new crush.  I can upload photos from my iPhone to Instagram in a snap, and tell it to share with Facebook and Flickr.  Done and Done.  I haven’t attempted to upload my phone data to this computer yet.  I hope I learn that soon.

34680355736_19b1a4e34f_o
Final version of pastel, “The Dollmaker and Her Doll”
Imaginary Sam
Final Version, “Imaginary Sam”

On the Bookshelf

I’m always reading / studying several publications at a time.   Sometimes it takes me a few months to finish any one of them.  Who am I kidding.  Sometimes over a year.   As is the case of Proust’s tomes; I love them for their descriptive prose, it’s like looking at a series of beautiful paintings.  I’m a slow reader, maybe because I visualize every little thing.

Louise Penny “The Brutal Telling”, #5 in the Chief Inspector Gamache novels.  I love her characters and the Quebec backdrop.

Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun “Memoirs of Madame Vigee-Lebrun, Illustrated Edition”.  This is the autobiography of the prolific French artist whose many clients spanning many decades, included Marie Antionette.  She traveled and worked all over Europe until her death in 1842.  Wow!

Barbara Gold’s “Loving Courageously…First Me, Then You, Now Us”.

https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Courageously

She has a YouTube interview, here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPuEHCeNlNw

Barbara draws on over 35 years of psychotherapy practice to help readers develop a self to love and take good care of as we re-write the script we’ve learned.  Knowing me well, and some of the issues I struggle with, she recommended I read:

“When Food Is Love”, Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy”, by Geneen Roth (also on Amazon).  I’m only in the second chapter, but I can tell you that silent tears streamed down my cheeks all through Chapter 1.  Many years ago I had to give up booze and cigarettes and looking for love in all the wrong places.  My son grew up to have serious dependency problems of his own.  No dad around.  Now, I can’t live without artmaking.  And comfort food, primarily Blue Bell Ice Cream.  I wonder if I will cry during chapter 2 of Roth’s book?

Carole Katchen’s “Express Yourself! with Pastel”.  The Art of Carole Katchen

I glommed on to this artist through one of my favorite blogs,  “How To Pastel” by Gail Sibley.   I’m using what I’m learning through Carole and Gail’s techniques to create my own pastel paintings over the last few weeks.  Here’s the link to her blog:

Gail Sibley, pastelist

Pastel Journal, http://www.pasteljournal.com.  The only magazine I subscribe to these days.

And then through all these great learning sources, I can’t forget YouTube, because many generous artists of all genre share their expertise online.  There aren’t enough hours in the day!  Yipee for retirement!  A friend of mine was shocked when she found out how many hours a day I devote to social media plus my artwork.  One wonders how I even have time for ice cream.

Katherine Dunn’s “Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed Media Artists”.  I found this gem at HalfPrice Books.  I first saw her work in one of Cat Bennett’s books.  There is a whimsy and similarity in their styles, I think.

Katherine Dunn

Cat Bennett

Lastly, two “In Easy Steps” how-to reference books on Windows 10 and Word 2013 because I had to retire my old and small, MacBook.   Because I sometimes get to work with a couple of friends involving using a computer, and they use Windows, and mainly because I could not afford to upgrade my Apple OS, I made the decision to purchase a used, refurbished Toshiba laptop.   And this sucker is big, for ease of use.  This  post is ‘Shiba’s virgin foray into the blogesphere  of Artyology and friends.  I am also using Google Chrome for the first time.  Having a little challenge with curser control.

Stitch with Friends

It was a fun evening at Kelly’s with our friend Linda, and Kelly’s darling dogs, Gypsy and Elsa.   I was really rusty since no actual fiber arts have been accomplished over here lately, just lots of looking at various textile artists’ blogs.  I want to start some more dollmaking with simple patterns, smallish in size, and with some drawing on the fabric plus little “samplers” stitched onto their simple clothes….

33265964104_9cb899d120_o

That’s all for now.  I’ve got a buncha blogs to read!

 

Letting Go and Moving On in Retirement. May It Lead to New Artwork, at Least.

It happened to me, what was unthinkable…..running out of money and resources in retirement; this Boomer who never planned for the future and was blind-sided by job losses and home equity losses, et al, blah blah blah.  Now made the tough decision to sell my cottage on a tree-lined street near my beloved White Rock Lake, and – ohmygod, will rent an apartment for awhile.  Perhaps a long while.  After ten years of ownership, my equity is non-existent due to the housing crash, and this old cottage now needs upkeep and repair I cannot make.  I dreamed of hanging on long enough to get a nice reverse mortgage, but the bathroom floor will have long caved in before that ever happens.

To my chagrin, I find that I qualify for subsidized housing for a one bedroom apartment.  So that’s what I have to do.  The For Sale sign went up in my yard today, and there have been three showings already.

My grandson will move back home with his mom and sisters and her boyfriend, and my son will have to find someone else besides me to stay with.  I’ve done all I can do, and now it is time to let go and move on.  I can’t help but think about everyone who rails against entitlements for the poor and ashamed to admit that in my callous youth, I was a snob.  I wasn’t priviledged,  just ignorant and naive.   I wasn’t smart with money, and I gave most of my inheritance away or made bad investments during the recession.  But I always worked and supported us, and paid my taxes.  Now it’s my turn to hold out my hand for help from the government.  There you have it.

So I made this little sampler cloth that had a horizontal piece up top, and it looked sort of like a pagoda, or perhaps an irregular cross.  I had another piece of brown and cream toile by Laura Ashley and I cut a section out that had a female profile with an outstretched arm on it.  After that, I drew a larger profile beside the printed toile one.  She wanted boots for walking, so a periwinkle pair were stitched and stuffed, trapunto-style.  Hands outstretched, she is garnering the courage to journey forward.

IMG_2594

 

Paintings by Claudia McGill

Here are photos of little paintings by Claudia McGill, whom I discovered by linking into blogs here on WordPress.  I adore her work!  She is very generous, and had a giveaway on her blog.  In exchange, I sent her a sampling of my work and am tickled to learn that she’s keeping them together like a little art journal.  So cool.

IMG_2388
Claudia McGill original acrylic paintings on canvas panels. displayed temporarily along a kitchen backsplash ledge

IMG_2581

 

IMG_2572

Reception and Gallery Walk at theSmall Gallery and Slant Gallery in Midtown

I took photos of every piece of artwork (well, I think I got it all) that was on display at theSmall Gallery and Slant Gallery recently and will share them with you.  To start, here I am at the Reception attempting a selfie against my cloth head-ladies dolls.

IMG_2490

IMG_2519

IMG_2492

IMG_2493

IMG_2494

IMG_2495

IMG_2498IMG_2497

IMG_2499

IMG_2500

IMG_2501

IMG_2502

IMG_2503

IMG_2505

IMG_2507

IMG_2508

IMG_2509

IMG_2496

IMG_2491

IMG_2541

IMG_2542

IMG_2543

IMG_2547

IMG_2550IMG_2551

IMG_2552

IMG_2553

IMG_2554

IMG_2510

IMG_2511

IMG_2512

IMG_2514

IMG_2515

IMG_2516

IMG_2517

IMG_2518

IMG_2520

IMG_2521

IMG_2522

IMG_2523

IMG_2524

IMG_2525

IMG_2527

IMG_2528

IMG_2529

IMG_2530

IMG_2531

IMG_2532

IMG_2535

IMG_2536

IMG_2537

IMG_2538

IMG_2539

IMG_2540IMG_2546

That wraps up the Midtown gallery tours for April.  If you made it this far into my blog post today, I hope you enjoyed it!

I am musing now…..does it matter where I live as long as I am surrounded by art that sustains me?  I still have friends, family, and a host of folks to admire in social media and the blogesphere.  But….Hopefully a view of leafy green or at least a flowering hanging basket from apartment windows.  Pride, pride go away….give up the dream of home ownership.  If it is a burden, then it is too much for me to handle.  Been there, done that, as we say.  Time to move on.

 

Women Artists in Dallas Rock the Galleries

This is a thrill, indeed for this Dallas gal-artist!  I’ve got 5 cloth dolls and one portrait oil painting in the show!  For a sneak peak, visit:

the Small Gallery

 

Here on my blog, I’ve updated some pages, As well as the page that features pics of various artisans’ work in my private collection::

In the Gallery

Dolls

In My Collection – Work by Other Artists

I’m inspired to make my own little stitch works by fiber artists in the blogesphere and learning so much from Jude Hill.  I updated my page, here:

Fiber Art and Stitch

Visit my “Blogs I Follow” l to see where I get my inspiration from!

 

Layout 1
Genie Geer has 6 pieces in the show

 

 

 

 

 

Making with Humble and Recycled Materials

Over the holidays I obsessed over Santos cage dolls, finding lots of inspiration on Pinterest. My interest comes from my love of art dolls, so my interpretation of a Santos is probably stretching the concept. I began with sketches and then assembled some favorite materials to make her:
* cardboard
* brown paper
* leaves
* strips of photo paper left over from trimmed prints
* masking tape
* black duct tape
* burlap
* gouache paints
* alphabet stamps
* twine

santos sketch 1
Santos sketch 1
santos sketch2
Santos sketch2
santos pieces
Santos pieces
santos assembly
Santos assembly
santos back
Santos back
Isabelle kitty helps paint doll
Isabelle kitty helps paint doll
finished doll full view
finished doll full view
finished santos head and torso
finished Santos head and torso
portrait closeup
portrait closeup

At the same time, a cloth doll I made 20 years ago called to me for repair and resurrection. With her head now firmly secured by adding a ruff and collar of cotton trim and lace, and her old mohair long locks cut off and replaced with dark brown curly yarn, she now reminds me of Lady Cora Grantham on Downton Abbey, albeit dressed more like a 19th century servant than a 20th century aristocrat. Always the kind and hopeful lady of the house.

Lady Cora cloth doll
Lady Cora cloth doll

Another project is my first collage in many years. As leaves fell from my tropical plant, I painted the backs with leftover black house paint. I tore strips from one of many copies of Mom’s poetry and pasted them onto a black painted canvas board; they overpowered so I tore most off; added the leaves, burlap and fabric, masking tape; wrapped with twine and sealed all with gloss medium. The twine doubles as hangers.

painting leaves
painting leaves
horizontal hang
horizontal hang
vertical display
vertical display

Finally, a little cardboard plaque with one of my scanned sketchbook drawings of a still life with owl pasted on, little patches of burlap, and hung by attaching a wire to top. I enjoy ripping off the brown paper on the cardboard to expose the corrugated ridged bits.

still life on corrugated cardboard
still life on corrugated cardboard

The Boomer Digital Learning Curve + Self-Doubt = Just One More Challenge

Hip hip hurrah!  During Thanksgiving week, a woman in New York purchased one of my paintings from my new Etsy site!  My God, I was so proud and pleased (still am) because this was validation that my art mattered, it spoke to someone besides me, it gave someone so much pleasure to see that they were compelled to buy it.  I’m like a proud parent sending a cherished child into the world.

Even so, a big funk recently overtook me (for days and days), and I began to doubt my ability, my path, and worse:  I felt I didn’t deserve anything good, much less recognition and validation.  Who did I think I was, anyway?  And my gawd, look how old I am!  A retired Boomer, washed-up old hag…..blah blah blah.

In my very long experience with this issue there were too many times I got close to my goal, backed away, gave up.  Pouted and indulged in despair (and things that weren’t very good for my health).  So OK, this time I did dig in to the Blue Bell ice cream a whole lot, but I remembered to turn to my collection of books on creativity for help.  One is Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way Trilogy’, and since I do believe we are guided, closed my eyes and let it fall open…..and the page it fell open to featured the section on ‘Creative U-Turns’.  Damn!  Magic, yet again.

And then there’s the what I call The Boomer Digital Learning Curve.  I have been in computer hell for a few days, figuring out  how to make a watermark to apply on my pics of my artwork ‘cuz copyright infringement is a hot topic and maybe, just maybe, some idiot would download one of my pieces and slap it in a frame, bypassing actually purchasing it from me.  I don’t think so!  This means I have been notating all my digital work, uploading new photos to my Etsy shop, and taking some off my Pinterest site, finally realizing Pinterest is not really the best place to post your own work anyway; and on it goes.

Here is my mixed media painting that was my first sale on Etsy:

Ethnic Girl collage in acrylic & tissue paper
Ethnic Girl collage in acrylic & tissue paper

One of the gifties I sent to Cousin Julie in Virginia, is this print of my sketch, “Tablet Guy”.  Julie says her iPad is her ‘constant companion’.  This coming from a lady who, not too long ago, was not eager to tackle the Boomer Digital Learning Curve and now she could probably teach a class on it.

Cousin Julie displays one of her Christmas gifts from me:  a print of my sketch, "Tablet Guy"
Cousin Julie displays one of her Christmas gifts from me: a print of my sketch, “Tablet Guy”

To make my life easier and less angst-full I think I will blog more regularly instead of saving up too much chatter in my head.  I can release it into the blogosphere, thereby freeing more space in the brain for creative thoughts.

Sketchbook drawing of a  cloth doll I made for myself expressing relief that the antidepressant meds had begun to work.
Sketchbook drawing of a cloth doll I made for myself expressing relief that the antidepressant meds had begun to work.

The Big Leap ~ or, How to Change Your Life just short of having a nervous breakdown

Apparently, I like change as evidenced by recent events.  Of course it is hard, but worth the challenges and serendipitous happenings.  Last year I was stuck trying to rearrange my studio; but when my son moved in 6 months ago, my studio space (almost effortlessly) moved to the living room area which is a much better location anyway!

Last November, I had the honor of participating as a vendor in the winter Art Mart Underground at Bath House Cultural Center on White Rock Lake here in Dallas.  The weather was unexpectedly frigid with ice storms causing hundreds of shoppers to stay home.  But a thrilling experience nevertheless.

After 3 straight years (no paid time off) at a fast paced high pressure low wage customer service call center, where constant policy and data changes and criticism was the norm, I recently no winfound it necessary to bail out.  Family and friends are encouraging me to press on with my Aryology project.  So, I’m opening an Etsy store soon.

almost overwhelmed
almost overwhelmed
a hot mess in the studio
a hot mess in the studio
New reads
New reads
this studio reorganization works
this studio reorganization works
I painted the hallway orange
I painted the hallway orange
We customize Linda's cloth doll
We customize Linda’s cloth doll

Before & After & During

As one thing leads to another, I can’t help sort of drifting from one project to another.  The behind the scenes stuff is too irritating to mention.

cardboard &burlap

NewGuy came together from assorted body parts,  pants made from linen napkin, Tshirt knit remnant & a hat recently rejected from Nikol's doll.
NewGuy came together from assorted body parts, pants made from linen napkin, Tshirt knit remnant & a hat recently rejected from Nikol’s doll.

 

early springmore remnant rollsArtyology Spoonflower fabrc

silky remnants
silky remnants

 

summer curtainImageImageImageImageImageImage

Before and After: My Art & Craft Studio-Workplace

I “work” for months in my head, sketching, planning, making notes about how I think I want to re-organize my whole in-home art studio before anything actually gets done.   Lucky to have an open floor plan so that I can play at all sorts of things all at once.  This is key: I must have access to my tiny TV even if I am not actually watching it.  And CDs.

So the process of setting up my work space in it’s current configuration has taken a few months.  Which recently included sorting, washing, and rolling into remnant bundles, my little fabric stash.  I ruthlessly tossed anything I don’t adore.  Purging of fabric scraps is necessary and freeing.  Of course, there is more to do: always.  Especially in my office area.  I hate paperwork but if you are alive, you are probably drowning in it.

So here is the record of the Great Before And After Project…….ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

 

A Quest for Balance

L&R window 5413castleKindleMorgana designs dollrootbeer fizzies up the nosemocha kit

cube & plotnew dollsAcceptanceSpontaneous

cat and dollC S Julie & GenieBurnout 1IMG_0747artistMChin

Clark 0303spot for artclothDoll made for Hoffman fabric challenge '90sartistZittel 1artistZittel 2artistZittel 3

20s figureface studiesGiacometti

yellow sprayThere was this nice list of links of sites and blogs I dig but couldn’t get everything to load correctly.   Hope I will have that figured out pretty darn soon!  I fear I’ve let too much time go by without a blog post, even if that’s only important to me.  Dust accumulates around the house as experiences roll by and then I feel overwhelmed.  And I wanted to learn to link and add a blog roll; I’m still learning blogging etiquette and technique.  In future, I hope to post twice a month.  Short ones.  With pictures.

This weekend, grandson and his little sister stayed with me.  It could have all gone terribly wrong, as I tend to get a bit stressed and anal, or I could hope to plan the time in such a way so that we would all be pleasantly occupied.  Eleven year old Castle is into Nat Geo, his Kindle Fire, and movies.  Morgana, age 6, is very pink-centric, curious, and energetic.  They have different fathers.

My home is filled with mementos handed down plus all my books, dolls, artwork and supplies; it’s only natural that a little girl would want to touch and know about these treasures.  And what a glorious way to get my dusting done!  Even when Morgana chided me on how thick the dust was, I didn’t mind.  Side by side we “swiffer’d” the whole house as I told her histories of my things.  Castle cooked for us and enjoyed his down time.

A highlight this spring was “Cousin-Sister” Julie’s visit.  When we’re not cracking ourselves up we are discussing serious subjects and marvel that other folks might disagree with our opinions.  Since I couldn’t take time off from my part-time job, Cousin-Sister finished painting my kitchen the mocha shade, and put a lovely light grey paint on my guest room walls.  We power washed my siding and freshened up the golden-orange shutters outside.  She delved into my newest books on decor, and we shopped for new fabric for kitchen window curtains she will make for her townhouse in VA.  Oh!  What a glorious time we had!

Two years ago I almost lost this beloved cottage.  I treasure my 3rd generation White Rock/East Dallas roots.  Julie and I always go visit the family at Grove Hill Cemetery when she’s here. We catch them up on current events and ask for guidance.  This year we felt Nannie was most assuredly there for us. I introduced them to my Cube; they must have been surprised to see I’d finally let go of my little red Chevy.

Change is so hard but often necessary, don’t you agree?