Thursday, April 30, 2009

Self Taught Artist

Now, those are fightin’ words. When a, well, self-taught artist says those words, it is said with pride. When those taught artists say it, it doesn’t come out so nice.

But, that’s what I am. A self-taught artist. I’m not even sure the word taught is the word I’m looking for. Perhaps I should call myself a self-learned artist. A self-made artist? Well, since I’ve not yet “made” it, that would not be the correct word.

I have a degree from the Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech) in Urban Affairs. The program has since been renamed something more appropriate. I guess the old name sounded too much like Sex in the City. Anyway, my degree is not in art.

It is doubtful I will receive a degree in art. I know – never say never. But I can say “highly unlikely.” Yes, I do live half a block from one of the country’s larger institutions of higher learning (Penn State). But, it ain’t free. And it ain’t fast. (You can see I need some assistance in grammar). I do have a desire to take a week-long art workshop, but the cost for that is prohibitive right now, so I do feel that art school is out.

Can someone practice art without a degree? Well, there are people who can cook without an education. There are those who do it professionally without a culinary degree. I understand that one needs a medical degree to practice medicine. I could kill someone if I practice medicine without a degree. But is my art gonna kill anyone? Highly unlikely.

So why do us self-taught (learned) artists receive such scorn? Yes, I admit I have less understanding of art and probably cannot create to the best of my ability without a degree. So? I remember attending a neighborhood party 3 or 4 years ago and discussing art with a local artist (with a degree). She did not know I was one of those without a degree. She did, however, let me know what she though of practicing art without a degree. Much later in the discussion, she asked where I received my art degree. I downed my wine and told her. Then I put myself miserably to bed.

I like my art better than hers. I like most art better than hers. Uh, but that’s beside the point.

I still find it hard to get past that conversation. Sometimes, when I’m practicing art without a degree, I feel as if I’m violating a law, doing something unethical, something that will make hair grow on my palms.

So, can’t we just all get along?

Are there any unlicensed artists out there to back me up?

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Toy, Oh Boy!!!

I love letters. I know they have become quite trendy in art lately. That is not why I have purchased them.

I've been interested in putting text in some of my pieces for a long time, but I didn't want to purchase alphabet stamps. I don't want to be required to state which company creates a certain stamp. I either want it to be original, or vintage.

I had my eye on these stamps on Etsy for a while. When I went to clear my open windows a couple weeks ago, these popped up again. And they were on sale!!!! If you can call $120 a sale. I guess I could. I am right pleased with them. They seem to be a good size - 1 5/8".

Tomorrow I finish cleaning the studio. Then I will show a new video. Then off to a new project. I hope. I do feel there is more pacing to be done.

Don't forget that I am selling fabric and supplies on Etsy. More will come this week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Weight is Lifting

My studio is getting cleaner and cleaner. The weight on my shoulders is getting lighter and lighter. I took this carload of fabric and supplies to my daughter's art teacher this morning. She seemed very thrilled. I was thrilled too.

Next week, I will have a new video of the studio. No, it won't be as cute and pretty as those in Cloth Paper Scissors, but, hey, that's life.

Please remember that I am shedding my studio of fabric, so please check my Etsy shop for yardage, fat quarters, squares, and flower, fruit and veggie cut outs. I'll be adding several items each week.

This weekend I am going to visit my family in my hometown of Roanoke, VA. We will be including art by attending the Open Studios Tour. It is so exciting to be let into the homes and studios of artists. Hopefully, I will return home ready to create.

I think I'll be in the mood for orange.

20 x 11"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ebay vs. Etsy, Again

Once again, I am weighing Ebay against Etsy.

One of them is starting to tick me off. One of them charges too much. One of them is getting (to me anyway) harder to use.

However, the one that is doing all of these things is the one that has brought me huge sales. In the past. Neither has brought me much in the way of sales in the past six months. I think one of these is going to have to go so I can put more art and energy into the other one.

I checked my number of views on one of these sites this morning. Previous totals have added up in the hundreds. Yes, I know that views accumulate over time, but the auction before last has racked up only 29 views. The auction that ended last night received only 12 views. What the heck is going on?

As I read more and more blogs, I'm noticing that one of these sites is representing more and more artists. What are you bloggers thinking? What decisions are you making? How are these decisions working for you? If you were a approached to give advice about which site to recommend for artists, what advice would you give?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Etsy - Fabric Squares and Supplies

I have finally begun to put up some craft supplies for sale on Etsy.

There are 3 sets of fabric squares and more will be coming every few days. It is time to clean out that studio. Yesterday I bound up 8 stacks of magazines for recycling. There are several more to go. I have some old issues of Quilter's Newsletter magazine from 10-12 years ago, if anyone is interested in them. I also have some early issues of Martha Stewart Living. Yeah, I'm sure I could make some money off of them on Ebay, but I just want that studio emptied ASAP.

The photo above are leaves painstakingly starched and cut from cotton fabric. I did collage back in the dark ages and I have loads of leftovers taking up space. I'm sure plenty of artists out there could come up with a use for these.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Horror Flick

Have you seen any new artwork posted here lately? Of course not. There are reasons, only a few are good.

I have been preparing for vacation, on vacation, and cleaning up after vacation. Always, after a good trip, I am a little down. Then, being more or less between ideas, I do endless pacing and flipping through art magazines.

I was so looking forward to this week. A full week in the studio. Those are rare. I did a bit on Monday, and then less on Tuesday. I went up with great hope and gusto yesterday morning. I felt an idea coming on. I immediately went to stamp some fabric, but before I could get that far, I rammed my head into a shelf. It hurt. I cried. I cursed. I said terrible things about myself. I told myself to grow up and stop it and get back to work. I then stamped the fabric. After that came much pacing and magazine flipping.

I decided the best thing I could do was to run away. Now, here in State College, there is not much running away to be done on a cold, rainy day. I went to the bookstore. There were a couple of things I had in mind to purchase. I was looking for a basic etiquette book and some bookplates. Do you think I found them? Well, unless one is getting married, etiquette is apparently dead, and bookplates, I guess one does not find them in a bookstore. So I wandered off to the magazines. And there the damn thing was. Cloth, Scissors, Paper's Studios issue. Well, how dare these smiling artists have lovely, clean, organized studios. It made me feel quite grim.

So, readers, I decided to come home and show you my studio. I do fully intend for it to be on the pages of the next issue. HA HA HA.

So here it is. Get the popcorn. Remember, this is completely unedited (so obviously). My studio was not cleaned or in anyway prepared for guests. Let's see if you can understand just what my problem is.

I'm one of those people who just hates what they look and sound like on video. Please note: I am a hot babe with a smile that would sell toothpaste.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where are all the Women?

Over the past few days, I have been avoiding the studio and have been blog surfing.

Several art blogs have had links to YouTube bits and have discussions about art documentaries recently watched. All about men.

I have nothing against male artists. I just want to hear and see something, anything, from the female artists.

Why is there nothing out there (that I know of)? Is it because women do not feel the need to feed their ego? Is no one interested? I find that difficult to believe. Is it just a result of the male-dominated world of art? Do women artists just not have the time? I'm sure that after a day in the studio, the female artist doesn't arrive at home to find dinner cooked and the children educated and scrubbed.

I would love to see women artists at work, no matter what the media.

Any info?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some Lovely Photos

There is something so uplifting about being in London. It seems, no matter what decision you make, it is a good one. You order your dinner, the waiter says "Lovely." You choose a tacky souvenir, the clerk says, "Lovely." I love it. I need that ego boost. So here a just a few lovely photos from London.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Some folks bring back treasures from their trips. A few, myself included, bring back bits of garbage, shown below.

We always attempt to travel light, but never seem to. At least not me. We had two carry-on size rolling suitcases, two dufflebags, one tote, one backback and one briefcase for the three of us. Sounds manageable, huh? Well, one tired child can't carry much of a
nything (and wants to be carried herself). Getting these items to the airport, to the baggage check, from the airport, down three flights of steps to the subway, up a flight of steps to another subway, up two flights of steps from that subway, over several blocks, up another flight of steps and through revolving doors, makes one not want to purchase anything on vacation and then tote it home. That $100 cab ride (that I wanted to take) was beginning to look like a bargain.

The best item purchased in London was the Oyster card. You can get on and off the subway and on and off the buses all day long. No cash, no tickets, no tokens, no long lines at booths that dispense tickets and tokens. Love it. Love those double-decker red buses. One could spend the entire day on them, upstairs, looking out the front window. Bargain entertainment. And the subway -- it makes sense. And the people on public transportation, at least the places we went, did not much scare us. Lovely.

And the Oyster card is such a pretty shade of blue.

My next favorite souvenir is really garbage -- a smooshed cup from Caffe Nero. The photo does not do it justice, but it is the most fascinating shade of blue I have ever seen. In a city teeming with coffee joints of all nationality, side by side, I was most attracted to Caffe Nero, just because of their sign. Electric blue. I am not one for loitering in coffee houses, but something about this place made me want to stay all day. I am going to use this cup when I dye fabrics this summer. I must achieve this color. I just wish it would show up properly here.

Perhaps the attitude is different in coffee shops in London, or Europe in general. When I am in a coffee shop in the U.S., I am generally irritated by those around me. No one seems able to, uh, stop and smell the coffee. People are frantically tapping on their laptops or sharing their phone conversations with all. Over there, they drink coffee and talk to each other. I loved it. My daughter is now a fan too. I've got to show her that sloth is good, at least in small, espresso-sized amounts.

Yes, I will eventually share other photos. We each took a camera, and now all photos must be downloaded and categorized by the computer whiz (not me).

I must now continue with the laundry. Apparently, dirt was the largest souvenir we returned with. That and our increased girth. That's what those fish and chips will do to you. And, oh, the beer. Yum.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Home Again, Tired

I would love to post some lovely photos of my trip to London and Oxford. It seems I have taken a couple hundred and need to do some sorting and deleting. Also that pesky laundry stuff is waiting to be done.

More on the trip tomorrow.

One discovery we made over there is the British obsession with perfect grass. A gardener in Oxford had gathered a small crowd. They had never seen anybody comb the grass before. Neither had I. Or perhaps he was brushing the grass. He walked back and forth over the lawn with a five-foot wide brush behind him, leaving a perfect pattern. The day before, my daughter had been reprimanded for running over the grass. She was happily running and a woman comes running, arms waving over her head as if she were instructing the landing of a large aircraft. "No, no, no, keep off the grass. Keep off the grass. Take the paths, keep off the grass. No. No. No."

What's up with that?