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Archive for March, 2012

I’ve noticed that there is a widespread growth in digital art.  Most of the licensed artists out there are digital artists, that is, they create on the computer.  I don’t have anything against those folks (in fact, I admire their digital skills, it’s so intimidating to me!).  But it has made it a bit difficult for me to get my work out in the licensing world as digital art is so, well, perfect and thus suited for commercial products.  Mixed media is anything but.  Mixed media is smudging, blending of lines, often a lack of symmetry, spontaneous…

And I think that’s part of why I love it.  The perfectionist in me can let go, color outside the lines, be messy.

So, you’ll never see me convert into a full-blown graphic/digital artist.  But I am intrigued, so very intrigued.  I love the collaging aspects that can be done in Photoshop or similar programs, adding layers upon layers, incorporating scans, photography and artwork.  Not to mention that I’ve been told that I *have* to learn Photoshop as a licensed artist as there are times a manufacturer may want something omitted from a piece (i.e. wording) or may want to move my subject to a different place on my background.

I’ve dug my heels in the ground and let my fear and feelings of being overwhelmed by a complex computer program hold me back.  But taking it VERY slowly and learning one tool at a time has, well, opened up a whole new world to me.  Ideas are swirling and I’m actually getting excited by all the possibilities!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I will not stop creating art with my hands.  I love the tactile feeling of paper, paint and glue commingling, oil pastels smudging, ink dripping.  I will forever have a veritable paper trail of scraps on my floors.  I am a collage artist and papercrafter at heart.  But I love being able to add the ability to collage digitally to my arsenal.  It’s like learning a new skill to expand your repertoire.

As you can see, I’ve included some pieces throughout this post of things I’ve done.  If you’re a photoshop pro, this will be very elementary to you, but I’m still happy with what I’m producing, love being able to use the postcards I’ve sourced as well as some of my photography.  It’s a process.

Can you tell I have a fascination with hydrangeas?  They are indeed my favorite flower.

Enjoying the process, but will have my hands all up in matte medium, paint and paper scraps today…I have a long list of things to create and it’s “Saturday paint day” afterall!

Have a great weekend everyone :)

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Last Saturday it was a beautiful day.  No, gorgeous day.  And while I’m sure a lot of people headed outdoors, I did what I love to do most when it’s bright and sunny…paint!

First, some updates on previous pieces…

Here’s the finished up and scanned in version of Acceptance Girl:

Acceptance Girl - 11 x 14 x 1 cradled wood; print listed in shop, original will be listed soon

And remember a couple weeks back, I had a mosaic piece that I was stuck on?  Well, I finally became “unstuck” and finished it as well…my first mosaic piece with a girl in it:

Blessings Mosaic - 11x14

Blessings Mosaic - 11 x 14 gallery wrapped canvas; print listed in shop, original will be listed soon

And last week I gave a sneak peek on a sweet looking girl; here she is completed:

Embrace Girl - original sold; print is listed in shop

As for new pieces, I made some “lollipop” flowers with simple themes:

Lollipop flowers - 5x7 canvas panels; starting to list prints in shop

I wanted to create some vintage photo ACEO’s too but then my back gave out.  I typically only have Saturdays to paint, so I try to bang out as much as possible.  Need to rework my schedule so I can have more painting days throughout the week.  Egads, that probably mean getting up earlier and sleep is so, so cherished right now.  Hmm…

I though you would all find this funny.  Why is it that with this decent sized dining room table…

Do I only give myself this much space to work?

Because I have all of these to touch up or finish!


Signed,

Messy, cramped artist ;)

_______________________________________

p.s. fire update: we have been fortunate to be able to stay at home and though the fire is so near, it continues to move in the other direction; unfortunately 2 deaths have been reported and over 20 homes lost; praying for those folks directly in the path and affected by loss ♥

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Photo Credit: michpalm on Pinecam.com

Yesterday morning I heard the local meteorologist speak of extreme fire danger and as the wind roared all day, I had a bad feeling.  The trees were whipping side to side and it was only 4% humidity.  Perfect conditions for a fire.

As I went to my post office to drop off packages, I could see smoke in the distance and as soon I got home, David said, “did you see the smoke?”  Sure enough a fire had sprouted nearby.  Only 7 miles away.  And the few acres blew up to 100+ in a little over an hour.

Photo credit: Will Probeck for 9news.com

Then we got the call.  The dreaded reverse 911 call.  In the 6 years we’ve been up here and of the countless fires in the area, we’ve never never received a reverse 911 call.  Luckily the mandatory evacuations were not for us and the fire was moving in the other direction.

Photo credit: Kit for 9news.com
View from front range

Last year it seemed like fires were happening every other day for a while, so we had our evacuation bins set by the door.  But it’s only March and well, there hadn’t been any fires yet.

Photo Credit: 9news.com

The worst part of the evening was listening to the fire scanner (David used to be a volunteer firefighter) and hearing dispatch tell the crews that a family of four was trapped by fire on all four sides of their house and fire was beginning to enter their house.  I thought I was going to lose it at that point.  Can you imagine that fear?  There has only been one confirmed death, so we can only hope they somehow made it out okay.

Photo Credit: 9news.com

The wind was on our side and from the views north of Denver, you can see how the wind was blowing everything East (and we were 7 miles west of the fire).

From my TV, courtesy of 9news.com
Yes, that's Denver there being shrouded by the smoke

But as the evening progressed, we heard of embers lighting up locations closer to us…so we packed up and gave ourselves a zone on the map that if it moved any closer too, we’d bail.

Thing about our road is that it’s a tiny dead-end road and the main road that gets to our tiny road is also a dead-end road and from our house to the end of that main road (which then takes you out to the main highway) is 3 miles long.  Last thing we want is to get trapped with nowhere to go.

That picture at the beginning?  We are actually located between the fire and the person who took that picture.  Makes for a scary perspective!

So what do you grab if you are evacuating?  Lets see…on our short checklist is:

  • important documents
  • backup hard drives
  • wedding photo album
  • food/water/medicine for the dogs
  • basic toiletries and change of clothing for us
  • laptops, cell phones and chargers for all
  • extra water
  • pillows/blankets in case we have to sleep in our car (not many places will take in 3 dogs!)

And well, that’s about it.  Most of the other stuff can be replaced.  I scan all my paintings and backup to carbonite so that if a fire ever happens and I can’t grab my laptop, I have them stored elsewhere.  Most of my photos are also on my computer and backed up as well.

But what’s most important to me is that David, the dogs and I get out safe.  Nothing else really matters at that point.

Photo Credit: michpalm/pinecam.com

As you can imagine, we barely slept last night.  We had the scanner on and every time they talked about more evacuations or the direction of the fire, I was listening to hear.  Made for a restless night.  As of this morning over 3,000 acres have burned, along with 15-25 homes and 0% has been contained.  Winds are quiet now but supposed to pick up this afternoon and possibly change direction toward us, so we’re not clear just yet.  Luckily David is on his weekend right now and home with me (as we share one vehicle and being home without a car when a fire breaks out is always in the back of my mind).

We know that we assume certain risks living in the mountains, just as those on the East Coast know they have hurricanes, those on the Pacific Coast have earthquakes, those in the middle of the country have tornadoes.  It’s just par for the course.

For now, we are safe and fortunate to have each other.  And that’s all that matters.

 

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The weather is wonderful and though it doesn’t get green here until mid-June and flowers arrive even later, I thought to share some pink florals to put a spring in your step this week:


Wishing you a lovely week!

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So last Monday I said I was going to take the week off away from my shops to charge my batteries and get some tax/inventory/admin stuff done.

Ah, the best laid plans…

My week was actually very busy.  I had a bunch of unique and/or large orders that were still in the queue when I shut my shops, so it wasn’t a clean break.  Turns out I worked full days all this week as if it were any other week; it was just light on the email as it’s not uncommon for me to get 20 inquiries a day between my different shops.  So that really helped.  But as I was wrapping up my Etsy orders, a lot of off-Etsy orders came through and that also kept me busy, so next thing I knew, it was Friday afternoon and I had a whole week behind me and was no further along on taxes or inventory (or cleaning my studio that I started 2 weeks ago!)

Sunday…I’ll bang it out on Sunday I told myself.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, I threw my back out shortly after I put up yesterday’s post.  I knew something was up on Friday.  I was working on something in my studio and when I stood up, I felt a sharp pain and it was hard to stand upright.  Not a stranger to back pain, I rolled on our thick styrofoam roller (it really does wonders on loosening up your back!).  Still no luck.  When David got up, he massaged my lower back, applied a topical back medicine and I was feeling good.  Even worked out with no pain!

Woke up Saturday morning feeling really good (sleep the last couple of nights had been fantastic after a rough couple of weeks!) and problems didn’t arise until after I was painting for a bit.  I got up at one point and had the familiar ache from the previous day.  Repeated same routine with back massage and topical cream.  But then it got worse as the afternoon and evening progressed.  Now sitting was uncomfortable, getting up from a sitting position was painful and spasms started happening at a rapid rate.  One little tweak in one direction sent electrical pulses of pain in my lower back.  Standing upright seemed to be the only comfortable position.  And bending down meant keeping a perfectly straight back while bending with my knees to reach for anything low to the ground.

Things quickly declined and soon I couldn’t stand comfortably.  So now here I am propped up in bed in a semi-comfortable, semi-painful position and not going anywhere.  Funny how the universe gives you what you need (and sometimes what you ask for, hence the “watch what you wish for, you just might get it” sentiment).  I was hoping for some down time last week and now I’m getting it (though, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind!) ;) 

So…I may or may not reopen tomorrow…hopefully this is fleeting and will be healed soon, though David had this same thing happen about a month ago and he was out for a full week and even then was still in great pain for another week.  Oh geez…

If worse comes to worst, I have PLENTY of admin. work to do that could fill up all of next week’s working hours and then some, so perhaps this is what I need.  Forced time to do paperwork.  Though I hate to keep my shops closed an additional week, particularly my supplies shop.  But what can you do? *shrug*

In any event, my head is in a good place and I feel balanced (I tell you, having good nights of sleep make such a difference on my emotional state!), so I’m just going to take it one day at a time and heal up.  Besides, Sundays are good for that. ;)

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God, I love a good chocolate cupcake.  In my attempts to make a new cupcake every week or so (I’m freezing half of my batches so I don’t gain 5 lbs. a week!), I decided to make a german chocolate cupcake last week.  I had a boxed cake mix in my cupboard (must have purchased during a sale and I’m really trying to use up food in my cupboards/pantries right now) so I decided I would use it up and then wow it with a homemade frosting.  Just as I anticipated, the cake was meh…bland and boring.  But the frosting which I found here on AllRecipes.com was outstanding (a bit time intensive to cook, but worth it).

In the end, I decided the frosting wasn’t enough to carry the cupcake so I didn’t blog about it and frankly ate a couple and was done.  So this week, I decided to go back to scratch and create a through and through chocolate cupcake.

I poured over a variety of recipes but decided to go back to my ol’ favorite chocolate cake recipe: the one on the back of the Hershey’s can (and can also be found here).  This recipe doesn’t disappoint and while the frosting doesn’t yield a huge amount (in other words, too little to pipe), it’s so rich, it’s like a sliver of ganache atop these mini cakes and is plenty enough (may not be the prettiest cupcake, but it is goo-ood!).

Of course I didn’t get that beautiful rounded cupcake either, but I’ve given up that hope being in the high altitude.  I’m just happy if they’re edible and these were beyond edible.  They are addicting, I’ve already had two three today and wanting another!  As she breaks out the Wi Fitness…

While I had these cooling for frosting, I started on a big pot of tortellini soup with veggie broth I made last weekend.  I’ve talked lots in the past about the DIY veggie broth I often make.  It just kills me how easy this is and with this last batch I not only used frozen scraps, but also tossed in some leftover parsley that had been sitting in the fridge too long and a couple mushrooms that were beginning to shrivel.  That’s what I love about veggie broth; it uses up items before they go south.

This was after only boiling for 30 minutes; it was so potent and flavorful, I poured out, refilled the pot and boiled a second batch using the original scraps for another hour and a half and ended up with a little over 2 gallons in all.  I froze half and used the other half to make my soup today:

And while digging in my pantry, what did I find?

I had these potatoes hanging in a nice, breathable tote bag hanging on the inside of my pantry door and conveniently forgot about them for about 2 months!  The longer shoots measure about 18″!  I was sad to see food go to waste, but it did provide a bit of comic relief to my day, LOL!

After cooking/baking, I was able to enjoy the beautiful sunny 70 degree weather while painting…what an awesome day!  Come back on Wednesday to see what I worked on.  Now go make cupcakes and broth, pronto :)

 

 

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An early sketch for a Spring Girl I'm working on

I know, I’ve been quiet.  The last 2 weeks have been challenging for me.  They say business is business, but when it’s your business, it gets personal really quick.  I know I need a thicker skin to run a business, but the reality is I’m a sensitive soul (don’t think I could be doing the kind of artwork I do without being one!) but it’s really hard to brush things off when people get picky, snippy or say things that crush my spirit.  So, I shut my shops.  That’s what I did (and that’s why I strictly stay with running an online shop, I can shut it down when I need to).

Actually, I need this week to not only take a breather, but finish taxes/inventory, catch up on administrative tasks, and meet deadlines on unique pieces, custom requests and wholesale orders.  So I think I was getting a bit overwhelmed, getting to the point where I was feeling run down and unhappy with what I was working on and lots of changes and cranky sentiments were wearing me out.

This is why I rarely do custom orders, especially paintings.  It’s soooo difficult to create someone else’s vision and I really take it to heart if they’re disappointed (or I drive myself crazy trying to make it just so).  So while I’m always flattered when someone asks me, I almost always turn down commissions, less it be for a very close friend or family member and only if they let me have creative control of the piece.  It’s just too stressful otherwise and if something is not up to their vision, I take it too personal even though I know I shouldn’t.  But I guess that’s the upside of being my own boss, I can choose what I want to work on and what I don’t want to work on, even though I’m trying to still create healthy boundaries and the people pleaser in me is still learning to be comfortable with saying no to certain requests.  It’s all a process and I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this!

Okay, enough yappy…here are some of the things I was able to work on this last Saturday.

This is a “body image” girl that I’m still working on; need to do some color balancing on her and some editing. Think most of us women could afford to be kinder to ourselves, especially when looking in the mirror, right?

Some custom collaged frames I was asked to make…these are actually pretty easy for me to take on because it doesn’t involve painting a girl!

A sneak peak of something I’m working on…really loving her, she’s so sweet!

I’m pretty excited, a big package of wood blocks arrived at my door today and those mounted prints I spoke of months ago I’m actually going to work on this week while my shops are closed and hope to have them listed when I reopen…sizes as small as 4×4 to as big as 11×14.  It’ll be a way to own something that is ready-to-hang artwork, yet less expensive than an original own a piece of my artwork and still handmade by me.

So, that’s what I’m up to in a nutshell.  Hope to have more material to write about this week, but don’t blame me if I keep quiet for a little longer…just trying to build my reserves.  ;)

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I haven’t posted in a while but I’ve been having a challenging couple of days that have been leaving me cranky and uber frustrated as an artist and small business owner (not to mention I’m still struggling with sleep).  And as such, blogging has taken a back seat.

Even though mercury is in retrograde for a couple more weeks (which is equivalent to 3 weeks of a full moon and makes people crazy, things go wonky and situations all messed up) I’m hoping to get off on a better foot this week and will start by posting some of my favorite imagery – red rocks.

Yes, the rock really is that red and the sky that blue in the dry climates of Arizona and Utah.

Now join me…positive energy in, demons out.  Ahh…

 

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I haven’t been able to paint since last Wednesday, but it was then that I finished up two of the girls I shared sketches on a couple weeks back.

16x20 Starry Girl

 

11x14 Content Girl

Here’s a piece I’m working on about enjoying simple pleasures and counting blessings, but can’t seem to figure out what to put in the middle…so I’m kinda stuck right now!

Usually if I get a block, I put it away for a couple days, but this one has been stored for weeks and I keep looking at it with no ideas…in time…

I have another busy weekend ahead with 3 big wholesale orders to work on and I’m already feeling drained this week with busy, long days followed by really bad sleep (restless dogs, changing the clocks, mercury in retrograde?) so I know I’m going to need to paint to have a release and have a couple ideas percolating, so hopefully I’ll have more new material to share next week.

Speaking of changing the clocks, I must say that the longer sunlight later in the day is a nice surprise (especially coupled with the beautiful weather).  Captured this lovely sunset tonight:

Now, off to an early night of (hopefully deep, restful, undisturbed) sleep.  Wish me a luck (because I’m turning into a bear without good sleep!)

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Yip yip!

Oh dear, I’m behind, but I’ve been just trying to keep my head above water since the weekend.  Today we went down the hill to run errands (it’s been almost 2 weeks since grocery shopping and we had no eggs, no milk, no bread – oy!) and it was a gorgeous day and many happy prairie dogs were spotted sunning away.  With that in mind, I’m sharing some more prairie dog pics from the past:

They are really cute, especially when they jump around, yip to communicate and bow to one another.  It’s quite comical!  Speaking of comical, here’s a funny picture I captured about the dangers of coyotes…a little fuzzy but it’s the best I could get before this fellow scurried away:

And here’s why the caution…we spotted these coyotes looking for prairie dog snacks!

I swear I smell prairie dog down that hole!

It was in the 70′s and gloriously sunny; nice to drive around with the windows down (though I’m not opposed to more snow and being that March is the snowiest month in Colorado, followed by April as the 2nd snowiest month historically in CO, I know this kind of weather is fleeting!  Still a nice change!)

Happy Tuesday all…I’ve got a crazy day ahead (remember that small biz emergency I spoke of with wrong/late backordered cardstock?  Well I have more than 400 cards to make by tomorrow morning, so I’ll do my best to get my Whimsical Wednesday post up.  Not enough hours in the day!!

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