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.

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Playing with Linda Goodwin’s oil pastels

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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.
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White and Black charcoal
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Still loving learning painting with soft pastels via Gail Sibley’s blog, How To Pastel

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

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“Beth” doll is ready for mailing to her new mom in IL. I made her wrapping paper out of paper napkins stitched together.
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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.

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

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

White Rock Lake Artists’ Studio Tour + Etsy Shop

Since retiring from office work I’ve made it my bizness to jump full into art making.  Who knew it was so much work?  Social media has certainly upped the ante in the game.  Not complaining; just sayin’.  I am grateful to have all these avenues.  So, I joined Dallas Area Fiber Artists (DAFA) organization as well as Texas Association of Visual Artists (TVAA), both here in Dallas.

At DAFA last month, I made a spirit doll in the workshop taught by Valery Guignon.  Check ’em out: http://www.dallasfiberartists.org

Fabric wrapped wire Spirit Doll
Doll made at DAFA workshop

Friend and fellow artist Linda Goodwin and I visited TVAA’s “Black & White” curated exhibit at the Plaza of the Americas in downtown Dallas’ Arts District.  Understand that Linda and I are both Dallas natives, have been downtown a gazillion times (albeit separately); both have smart phones, and Linda has a gps, but we still got lost, as per usual.  So as the Gallery was closing, we show up! frazzeled!  excited! and are dazzled by the talent displayed.  Check ’em out:  http://www.tvaa.org

In September, we went to the Lakewood Summer Arts Faire where I bought a bag of little hand dyed silk scraps from Val Guignon, Linda came away with a hand dyed silk top from her and amazingly dazzling pendant lights made from gourds by Le Gourd on Blue.  I had a heartwarming chat with Cynthia Brannum, Art Program Director at The Stewpot, a downtown Dallas ministry; I own a painting by one of her students there, Mr. Cornelius Brackens, Jr.  Check ’em out: http://www.thestewpot.org

Another exciting event was when I learned that artist Jane Cather, whom I so greatly admire, was blogging again after a four-year hiatus!  check her out here: http://janecather.wordpress.com/

My big guy, son Eric Keathley, built this computer for me, turned 41 years of age, and started up his Reverb Nation website.  He rocks! check him out here:  http://www.reverbnation.com/musician/erickeathley

His little guy, Castle turned 13!

Castle is 13!
Castle is 13!

I bought the cutest little embroidered pincushion from my Dutch friend; it’s the orange bicycle cross-stitch on natural linen; check her out here:  http://www.nellyslittlegifts.nl  or search Etsy for nellyslittlegifts

My friend Susan recently ordered an assemblage item for her granddaughter from me.  So I made this little character – no, it made itself! using a plastic bottle that contained an Ensure-like beverage, silk fabric strips, wire, wall anchors, cool paper clips, beads, muslin, embroidery thread, and price tags, which I labeled each with an aspect of personality or desire.  Head lifts out and Katie can write something she wants to change or happen on a note, and drop it inside the body.  I also fixed up a kit for her to make one for someone else.

a mixed media art doll
a mixed media art doll
Her first name was "Aspects"
Her first name was “Aspects”

And then, I opened my Etsy shop.  I have more items to add to the 13 currently listed, but am in the process of cutting, glueing, and photographing/staging them.  What a lot of work!  But so gratifying.  Here’s a peak at a couple things listed:

Ethnic girl
Ethnic girl
black and white stripe
Portrait of redhead + chandelier

find me here;  https://www.etsy.com/shop/ARTYOLOGYbyGenieGeer

Finally, here are images from the White Rock Lake 22nd Studio Tour:

pottery by Marty Ray
pottery by Marty Ray
more pieces by Marty Ray
more pieces by Marty Ray

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Paintings by Richard Ray
Paintings by Richard Ray

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Corner of Susan Giller studio
Corner of Susan Giller studio
Painting/collage by Susan Giller apprx 66" x 42"
Painting/collage by Susan Giller apprx 66″ x 42″
Pottery by Susan Giller
Pottery by Susan Giller
Encaustic paintings by Silvia S. Thornton
Encaustic paintings by Silvia S. Thornton

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OMG  A Frida dishwasher!
OMG A Frida dishwasher!

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American Contempory Artist, Silvia S. Thornton in her studio
American Contemporary Artist, Silvia S. Thornton
in her studio
Studio of Kathy Boortz
Studio of Kathy Boortz
A working studio
A working studio
What a cool workspace
What a cool workspace
Works by Kathy Boortz
Works by Kathy Boortz
Carved wood piece by Kathy Boortz
Carved wood piece by Kathy Boortz
There's a pond and fountain back there
There’s a pond and fountain back there
Fuchsia pink flamingos!
Fuchsia pink flamingos!
Mixed media art by Angie Bolling
Mixed media art by Angie Bolling
Angie Bolling in her studio
Angie Bolling in her studio
A delightful place!
A delightful place!
Susan Giller Orange Rabbit Woman print comes home to my studio
Susan Giller Orange Rabbit Woman print comes home to my studio
Bird by Marty Ray, wood block by Chris Lyons and pinch-pot by Nancy Cole
Bird by Marty Ray, wood block by Chris Lyons and pinch-pot by Nancy Cole
My artsy friends Julia, Linda, and Emily.  Kelly was probably still in somebody's studio!
My artsy friends Julia, Linda, and Emily. Kelly was probably still in somebody’s studio!
Isabelle naps as I work
Isabelle naps as I work

Mixing it up with sketch, stitch, and paint

Commissioned work scares the hell out of me.  And not because I am afraid the piece won’t turn out well, but because some of the magic of spontaneity may not find its way in, that even one limitation to the work’s intuitive process (some specific requirement as requested by the commissioner) will limit me in such a way that I become very uncomfortable.  Never mind that the buyer’s ideas may make my artwork even better, perish the thought!  Clearly, I have control and ego issues.

But I love it when someone likes a finished piece so much he/she must have it, and when this occurs, nothing could be sweeter.  You feel as if you have truly communicated your intention as told to you by the artwork itself.

The photos show recent sketches and a couple of cloth dolls – I’m calling them BodyParts Dolls, as I continue to assemble, or in some cases, disassemble dolls; changing hair, making new clothing bits, faces, hats…..

I continue to draw and paint, usually drifting from one project to another.  That’s a great benefit of having let my “studio” space be the very same as my “living area”.   Can’t separate them.

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Artists, design & decor junkies; spiritual, global awareness seekers: apply within!

I have a plan.  I want to gather it all to me.  Goal setting has come late to me in my life, but it’s coming together, and I needed to get on social media to really begin to understand the powerful potential of our internet.  How we can, collectively, harness its power to reach out to one another, find some common ground, share our talents and dreams and find freedom of self-expression!

So I will be talking about, and linking to, other artists, lifestyle and photo blogs I’ve discovered,  my journey-in-progress and  my art; public figures I admire, writers and bloggers and ….you know how we are….

Shout out! to Loretta of The Art Motel of the Finger Lakes,  Jennifer of JMayerDesign, Beth of caprichostudio1.com, and Linda of LoveGarten.com.  Just as soon as I know what I’m doing, I’ll give y’all a link!