Sunday, May 31, 2009

Old Dog, New Tricks?

Sweet Songs of Birds II

Chirp Chirp Tweet Tweet

I always thought that, if I make it, they will come. And it kind of worked that way at first.

I made a “product.” I took it to my gallery. The gallery sold it.

Boy things sure have changed in the last 8 years. Yes, I had my work in a local gallery. I liked them and they seemed to like me. They sold my “products”. A lot of them. Times were good. My confidence level was high.

Then I placed my work on Ebay. My Ebay business was built slowly. I tied my website to Ebay. Times were good. For me anyway. I considered my earnings growing from year to year to $6,000 was good. And it could only get better, right? I was getting more commissions. I did nothing to get these commissions, other than put the phrase, “I do commissions” on my website. It seemed so easy. Only open road ahead, right?

Things slowed. Then stopped. I involved myself in Etsy. Had a few sales from that. Had.

Now here I am, back down at the very bottom again. Say the phrase “very bottom” out loud. Cup your hands around your mouth and make it sound as if you are at the bottom of a very deep well. I did it. Chills went down my spine.

So what am I to do now? I am so behind the marketing learning curve. Sure, I blog. I write and take photos and leave comments on tons of other blogs. I got used to that and then I heard the word Twitter. I once told another blogger that the word sounded like something you got when you didn’t have quite enough money for a full lap dance. What an unattractive word. Something that a nasty little bird would do to another nasty little bird.

I have read the twitter posts (tweets?) of other artists. Seems to me it’s kind of like eating a pinch of sand for each tweet. Dry. Tasteless. I have yet to read a tweet that I give a darn about. Sorry. And by forcing others to eat my own little pinches of sand, I am going to set myself apart from the rest of the creative world and sell my work left and right?

I am now reading Social Media Marketing, an Hour a Day by Dave Evans. My husband will also read it so he can translate for me. We will see if it will help get me “out in the world.” I put that phrase into quotation marks, as I don’t feel it REALLY gets me OUT in the world. Once I give over to the internet powers that be, will I ever have the time to leave the house again? Or will I be hunched over my computer in a dark office, typing such things as,

“I’m enjoying a cup of shade-grown coffee right now.”
“I’m Neflixing for Green Acres reruns.”
“I’m doing nothing.”
“I just passed gas.”

I try to never say the word “never”, but I’ll have to say “not now” to Twitter.

Right now, I'm feeling a bit like an old dog.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Typical Day

After calling myself an artist of some sort for the last 14 or so years, I have come to the conclusion there is no typical day in the life of an artist.

I know that to live and prosper as an artist one must do more than create. One must learn. One must learn how to create. And then one must learn how to deal with the artwork that piles up. I know there are (at least) two solutions. Create more storage space. Market. It is far easier to create more storage space. I now have to buy books to learn how to market my work. I now have a book on "Social Media". Good God what is that? So my typical artist day begins with attempting to read this book.

My husband says it is a good book. I proclaim it dry. I know I must suffer through this. Will I have to twitter now? Art + Twitter = ? Isn't this like oil and water?

Then the piano tuner comes to work on the out-of-tune piano. The dog doesn't like it. So now I have to be creative with a piano tuner and a barking dog for a couple of hours. It is hard to be creative when I am grinding my teeth in irritation.

The good news for being creative is . . . . I have more room to create. My sewing machine is in the shop and that frees up room on my worktable.

The table is quickly covered. That must mean I'm being creative. Ideas are forming. Perhaps I should go back to that house shape I was using a year or so ago. So far, so good. Things would go a bit easier if I didn't have to go down two flights of stairs and climb over the piano tuner and his equipment to wash my brush every time I stamped a fabric. But it does give me a chance to console the dog who is whimpering in his crate.

Soon it is time for lunch. There is nothing to eat. Good excuse to go and get a milkshake. That'll be good for me. And while I'm out I might as well . . .

- cruise Ann Taylor Loft
- check Target for kids clothes
- drive by that house with the big rhododendrons

Soon (ha) it is back to the studio. I paint some more fabric. I watch it dry. It dries. I paint some more fabric. I do something else while it dries. I am feeling a circle coming on. A red circle. Hmmmm, could this be leading anywhere? I guess I can only get so far with this, being unable to actually sew anything together.

You know, I have not watered the porch plants for a while. I really need to do that while I'm thinging about it. And fill the birdbath. And remove those pesky weeds. And now that I'm back in the house, I should check for phone messages. Except that the phone is dead. I don't know why. I guess I should have this problem solved.

Actually, seems to be to be a pretty typical day. Except for when the new Modern Craft Museum called and wanted me to do a solo show. Oh, wait. That was a daydream. Well, back to typical.

Now, off to blog surfing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fear and Sorrow

Blech. It is one of those days.

Actually, it started yesterday afternoon. I am almost finished with the Wise Women piece. All I have to do is satin stitch around the last shape and add a dozen or so beads. Two hours work at the most. Maybe far less. But, no . . .

I kept hearing funny noises from my machine, then the thread would get hung up. I cleaned out the feed dogs and the bobbin race. Tried again. Same problem. I changed needles, cleaned again and rethreaded everything. Same problem. I changed bobbins and scraped out the inside of the bobbin case. Then I rethreaded everything and left the studio until this morning.

While talking to my mom early this morning, I see a bird fly into the back door. Poor birds chirps and flails a bit then is still. I wait, hoping it will fly off. I go to the studio. Same problem with machine. Now I am scared of the darn machine. It always scares me when the thread or needles breaks & it takes me a bit of time to trust the machine again. I'm finally terrified to approach the thing. There's only one thing left to do . . .

Bury the bird. When I picked it up, I could tell its neck was broken. And what if it is a mama bird with babies in a nest?

And its raining again.

I guess I will have to approach the machine one more time. I'm sure it won't kill me. If I don't post again, you will know what happened. I just wanted to get this piece done!!!!! I have nothing else I'm working on, so I could deal with it being in the shop for a bit. Couldn't it have gone just a few more inches before breaking down?!?

Wish me luck with the darn thing. And send some peace for the little bird.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Favorite Things

The long weekend is over. We must all get back to work now. This is why I'm blog surfing long after I should have gone into the studio. I've done all I can do on Facebook. But first, I must tell my readers important stuff on my blog.

The good new is, in about two hours, I will have Medicine Man completed. I'm hoping to have it photographed and posted in a day or two. The bad news is, until then, I will just have to tell you more things about me that I've probably already revealed before.

Thanks for your comments on my last post. I'm however, proud to be a square. I guess I have labeled myself and that probably is a bad thing. I'm just attracted to squares. Squares of all kinds.

Put three men in a room. One of them is built, bearded and has a motorcycle helmet under his arm. The next one has just climbed out of a swimming pool after an Olympic event and is wearing a gold medal. The third is wearing a plaid shirt with a pocket protector. It's going to be man #3 for me.

If there are several books on a table, I'm going to reach for the square one first. I always want to buy the square greeting card (until I realize extra postage is required). I like square windows, square houses, square boxes.

And just a bit more filler until I can come up with a more profound post . . .

My favorite things:

Squares (duh)
Good dogs
Pencils and paper (although I can’t seem to get them together often enough)
Cute little houses
Kids’ artwork

This week's Ebay auction is Gingko in Amber.

Is everyone out there being productive today?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Rerun #1

My mind is on other things this week instead of blogging. I am reading blogs. But I just can't whip up something exciting and new to post for you guys. So I'm going to do what they do on television - rerun old episodes.

This is one of my favorites in my autobiography series. How did I get to be where I am today?

In Junior High School, I made a D in geometry. I did not go further in the world of math than that (it was much easier to get into college in the old days). So, at times, I am surprised I am able to quilt. Pioneer women who never learned to read had a far better grasp on geometry than I will ever have. Most of those women quilted. Using triangles and other shapes that I do not know the names of. They made eight-pointed stars out of cloth!

I like squares and rectangles. They generally like me. We get along. I like the challenge of limiting myself to these shapes. It makes me grow as a person. I'm going to rationalize it that way.

Years ago, I went to a seminar called "the business of art". The speaker asked us to raise our hand when our favorite shape was called. First was "triangle". 40% of the audience raised their hands. The second was "circle", 59.5% raised their hands (there were approximately 200 people in attendance). The third was "square". I raised my hand. I was alone. Then the speaker told us what our favorite shapes had to do with our personalities. The "triangles" were go-getters. Nothing could stand in the way of these brilliant, creative people. The "circles" were also quite creative, but in a more contemplative way. They were relaxed, popular people and easy to be around (no pun intended). The "squares" (me and me alone), were not creative and were unable to think outside of the box. We should be accountants. The room was filled with laughter. I felt shamed. At that time. I feel shamed no more.

I love the square. I am a square. They did not give the option of choosing "rectangle" at the seminar. I probably would have chosen that over the square. Just marginally. The rectangle is more versatile. It fits almost everywhere. But, I am a square. I accept that.

Have any other artists out there been pegged in such a way? Are you circles? Are you triangles? Are there any other square artists?

Monday, May 18, 2009

More of the Same?!?

I am still working under the same theme, but for these two, I have omitted orange. I have surfed some blogs lately and read art magazines and am surprised at the number of times I have read that people hate orange. How terrible. That's just being, uh, colorist. I guess that is not quite as bad as being racist or sexist. But I implore you to broaden your views on color. Just give orange a chance. To show support for the color, this afternoon my daughter and I are going to plant some orange pansies. I hope they do not succumb to the possible frost tonight. Jeez, mid-May and I have to hustle some plants into the garage.

These two as of yet unfinished pieces will be "Medicine Man" and "Wise Women". I still have to sew these pieces together, then quilt and add the add-ons. My add on buffet for these two pieces are shown below. The dark figures actually have brown patterns stamped onto them. Hard to see here.

This week's Ebay auction piece is: Sweet Sounds of Birds III.

See, no orange here!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fine Art

After a year or so of hunkering down and working on art, I'm feeling it is time to get my art work out there. I've not attempted getting into galleries or entering shows in the past year. But now that sales have slowed down on Ebay and elsewhere, I've got to figure out where to go next.

One option is art festivals. Upscale art festivals. I find the information. Read the information. Determine that my work is not acceptable. The information does not directly say that fiber art is not allowed. It is just not mentioned.

The info. will read, ". . . the blankety blank art festival. All fine arts media welcome. Painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media." I wonder where that leaves me. Do I call and ask? I guess that would be the cheapest way to find out. Do I apply anyway? When the rejection letter comes and states that fiber art is not accepted, do I make a big issue about it? Why don't I just go on and be a painter.

I could also enter juried shows. I find one that looks promising and print out the prospectus. I will see a long list of categories. Fiber art is not mentioned. Do I apply? Do I call? Do I raise a big stink when I find out that fiber art is not included.

Another option is to send my portfolio to galleries. I do some research on the internet. I find the info. The info. states what categories the gallery represents. I usually do not see fiber art listed. Do I call? Do I send my portfolio. Do I bitch and complain when I discover they do not carry fiber art and never intend to?

Who sets the definition for fine art? If you google it, the first result to define fine art is Wikipedia. What do they say?

Wikipedia states that:

Fine art describes any art form developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than utility. This type of art is often expressed in the production of art objects using visual and performing art forms, including painting, sculpture,music, dance, theatre, architecture, photography and printmaking.

Wikipedia also lists another category “Other” which includes textiles, including quilt art and "wearables" or "pre-wearables" are frequently considered fine art if part of an art display.

Go ahead and Google “definition of fine art” and see the many definitions. Do these definitions exclude textiles?

In my book, an art quilt is fine art. How do I convince others of this?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


This is Storytellers I with detail. It is 31 x 9". Storytellers I and II are now for sale on Etsy.

Here is the blurb I wrote for Etsy:

In our information saturated society, all we are learning is new. What's happening now? What will happen tomorrow? We are forgetting our past. We need to listen to the storytellers in our lives and learn the history of our families and communities. We need to become storytellers ourselves. Our rich histories are important foundations for our futures.

The figures in the detail are what provoked a post the other day about artistic intention. The two figures did not come out as dark as I had intended. I could try to make them darker by stamping over them -- something I knew would not work well. I could paint them further with a brush. I could leave them alone and come up with a new interpretation. I chose the latter. I think it was a good choice. Now my piece shows that the role of the storyteller in society is fading.

So, make my day. Go over to my Etsy Shop and have a look.

This is Storytellers II and detail 31 x 9".

I am also considering extending this series with a few small pieces, perhaps 10 x 10".

I also have two similar, but larger, pieces in the works. Hopefully I will be able to post one of them next week.

I sure do wish there were more people out there who love orange. What a fantastic color!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Facebook Fright

Midlife Crisis II, 20 x 20"

Before I get started, I wanted to share more orange with you. Another piece showing my true colors.

Now, back to the subject.

I have recently latched on to Facebook. Slowly I’m gathering friends. I’m, um, picky. Yeah, that’s it. Picky. Anyway. . .

I have twin nieces that turned 18 this month. Just yesterday, really just yesterday, they were learning how to spell. They are fantastic kids, yet, as teenagers, they have secret worlds that only they and their close friends know about. So in order to find out a bit more about them, I looked up their profiles on Facebook.

The first thing I discover, is that they do speak a different language. The combinations of letters and words mean little in my mid-forties mind. And those musical groups, I don’t know who the hell they are. I did discover that they like many of the same movies I like. Jeez, they shouldn’t be watching those things. They're waaaaaay too young. “Kinky Boots”? Great movie, but man, don’t you need to be 25 to watch it?

Then, I look at the line that tells what they are doing on Facebook – what they are interested in. You know what both of them put down? Men!!!!!!!!! No!!!!!!!!!!! Men are older. Men are experienced. Men have flecks of gray in their hair and wrinkles around their eyes. Boys, I tell you, are what they are looking for. BOYS!!!!! Even though I am a young 45, I would not consider a male to be a man until he is at least 27. More likely 30. Sometimes older. And that is just way too old for my oh-so-recently-turned-eighteen nieces.

Men, indeed.

Is anyone else out there being sucked into the black hole that is Facebook?

Friday, May 8, 2009

True Colors

Planting Seeds IV 15 x 15"

For those who have been following my artwork and blog for a while, do you know what my true colors are?

My last post showed two pieces that I am in the process of completing. One reader commented that they remind her of autumn and pumpkin pie. I suppose one could say they look rather Halloweenish. I would say that. Halloween is way up near the top on my favorite holiday scale. I don’t know if my work resembles Halloween because I love the holiday, or if I love Halloween because I love the colors associated with it.

I would say that these are my true colors.

Not that I don’t like other colors. There are few colors that I dislike. Perhaps salmon, and wimpy yellows. Eeeww. The stronger a color, the more I’m going to like it.

It has been said, by many, that one should create from one’s environment. So, if one lives in Seattle, I imagine that they would be encouraged to use green and gray. Santa Fe? Orange, red, ochre, blue. Central Pennsylvania? Gray, brown, dirty blues, murky greens.

Physically, I live in central Pennsylvania. Emotionally, I live far, far away. My emotional country is full of heat and sun and rhythmic music. People laugh and sing. Vivid animals scurry and play. In my country orange is everywhere. Orange sun, orange flowers, orange birds.

I secretly long to drive an orange car.

Aside from my dependable jeans, my closet is filled with brown, black and orange.

I do create in other colors. I was asked by a gallery owner several years ago to keep bringing in work with blues, pinks and purples. They sold well. They still do. I do love those colors. They just don’t speak to me.

What are your true colors? What colors do you consistently create with and live with?

This week's Ebay auction, Baroque Artichoke II. See, I do work in other colors.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Before, During and . . .

Here is a photo of before. A whole tabletop of ideas, ripe and ready to go. What to make of this?

First, I stamped some hands. Nice, but that didn't do it for me.

Then I stamped male and female figures. Male and female together, male and male together, female and female together. This was going to be "A More Perfect Union." That did not happen. It may yet, but it didn't gel.

Then what? Perhaps all it takes is a bit of music. Since the New Orleans series, I have been listening to Cajun and Zydeco music, and have removed the brass band-style tunes. I started thinking of swampy, mysterious things. I focused on a couple of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas songs (go to itunes and check out "Old Man's Darlin" and "Don't Worry 'bout the Mule"). Hmmmmmm. Voodoo? Not really. Gumbo? Maybe. Storytelling by a flickering fire? Very possible.

Here are two pieces in progress. Graphic. Perhaps a bit scary?

Today I stitched them together. I need to decide if I will do any decorative stitching. I have some red fabric bars I will apply with black stitching. And then I feel these pieces will require beading.

Hopefully I will have the finished product(s) next week.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Artistic Interpretation

I was just in the studio, adding the final “scrap” to a piece that had already been cut out and arranged. I stamped two figures onto a striped fabric. It didn’t turn out quite the way I had expected. I tried to put on some extra paint, but still wasn’t getting the desired result. I placed the unsatisfactory piece in with the rest of the pieces, and suddenly I saw new meaning.

I did not have complete control over my work. My art did something not expected, and I adapted by coming up with a new meaning for this scrap of fabric.

Does that mean I am less of an artist for not having enough control over my materials? Does it mean that I am more of an artist for being able to interpret new meaning from an “accident”?

What are artists? Do artists inflict their meaning onto others? Are artists the ones that can take an event or an object out of their control and find new meaning in it?

Are artists doers and creators? Are artists seers and interpreters?

Am I making any sense?