camkniOn my four year old grandson’s last visit I attempted to teach him how to knit. I don’t think he is quit ready yet. But he will get there. Baby steps, baby steps.

1964791_10152215647541291_490657685_nPlants in the studio are reminding me that it is almost spring! Officially it starts this week, March 20th. Raise those hands in the air! WHOOT WHOOOT! This has been a long hard winter for sure.

 

 

How to stay motivated in the art studio

I am juggling painting new pieces for a small show to finish a book, with making one shawl a month for the 2014 year for a future project. I am doing this with a part-time day job and other responsibilities of my home studio business. I am not complaining. I know I am a lucky one to have this problem!

It is not so bad to feel free to use things and events around me that I love, to influence my work. I look out my window and I see birds, plants and every so often a deer or fox in our yard. I live in a small town where walking down the road for a fountain drink also means being waved at by locals in trucks and cars.  Many wave whether they actually know me or not.  The clerk ringing up my purchase will briefly chat about whatever is the current local hot topic, and it would not be unusual to speak with someone that knew my husband since he was a small child.

I come back and settle in with my to-do list and calendar and am thankful for where I am in the world.

 

 

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Misc. Lace Swatches

One of my goals this year was to create a shawl each month. Well, February got away from me, and I finished it the first week of March.

Orenburg Lace Shawl I decided to create an Orenburg (Russian) Lace Shawl.  Yes, the shortest month of the year I decided to do the most difficult one I could for my skill level. What was I thinking? But in my defense I did get it completed!

The pattern I used was by no means the most difficult of Orenburg Shawls. I wanted to be sure to understand the construction first. I hope to conquer a particular one at a later date.  The one I did do came from Knitting Traditions – Spring 2012 issue, “Romashka Scarf From Orenburg”. I used Patons Lace, Vintage Antique, (498 yrds) 2 skeins.

Orenburg shawls are created by a sort of jogging around method. Here I made a short border end, created the first corner, picked up the stitches along its straight edge then turn the second corner.  The length of the shawl is made by simply following the chart for the borders and panel. Once you get to the other end I then made the third corner, picked up the stitches along the top while making the top border and finished by creating the fourth corner. Then standard finishing techniques were used so I could call it complete.

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Deer just outside my studio window Tuesday.

2014 is here! It gives us a fresh start, a clean slate, to begin again.  There will be changes this year in the blog and website. The biggest one being that I am going to start including knitting projects. This of course will be reflected eventually in a new banner etc…

As some of you may know I work a part-time day job at a local Public Library. One of the perks of working there is I am surrounded by intelligent crafty people every day. At some point, I am not sure when exactly, I decided to get into knitting. We have a very strong knitting group at the Library, and local college. It is a skill of mine I wanted to improve. So I tapped into this amazing resource of people and information.

And then…..

She. was. never. seen. again.

I am obsessed.

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Completed in December, shawl in merino and silk. Started it on my birthday and completed it on Christmas Day. Pattern from a Interweave publication.

I still paint. It will never go away. I still have a book on painting I need to complete! It is just on hiatus at the moment. It has taken a bit, but I have decided to not fight the urge to create with fibers and just to go with the natural creative flow. So days in the studio are split between writing and knitting.

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Lace swatches currently on my work table.

Over the years I have gotten very deeply into drawing, painting, polymer clay, beading and photography. Each tends to feed off the other. Knitting I am sure will be no exception. The website will reflect this instead of trying to force it into something it just is not.

Just a quick recap of the past week:

This past Saturday was the opening of my show at The Bowlus Fine Arts Center. A collection of oil painted portraits on stretched canvas.

Exhibit At The Bowlus Fine Arts Center

Panoramic View – Exhibit At The Bowlus Fine Arts Center

I can not say enough good about the staff at The Bowlus! The day we were to hang the show my back was out, and I was walking like a bent-over-little-old lady. It reminded me of a “Evolution of Man” chart.  The more vertical throughout the day, the straighter and more upright I became. But the employees were all extremely helpful, positive and dependable.

Oil Painting Portrait Exhibit

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We had a decent turnout and other than my social awkwardness things went smooth.  Note: I am much more comfortable in front of an easel than I am in front of a crowd.

Tip: I forgot to designate someone to take photos that evening. I wish I had! Hubby and I were so caught up in everything we both overlooked it. So if you can find a trusted friend to take some candid shots during a reception it is a good idea.

For a long while now I have thought, “If I can just get this show together it will be smooth sailing for a bit”. HA! Was that ever a chance for God to laugh at my plans.

The very next morning (Sunday) my Dad was admitted to the hospital, in ICU sixty miles away. By the time I got there, an hour later, he was sitting in bed joking around with nurses. By Tuesday he was released and going for his daily walk at the local Wal-Mart. (SMH) Thankful, but NEVER boring around here for long!

What is next? I want to finish up a couple of pieces that I wish I had had completed for the show. Try to take things up a notch as far as size and skill.  The immediate time pressure is off on these two so it will be interesting to see if they come out as I envision.

Still obsessed with knitting, and now that it is getting cooler it is calling me louder. I am sure lace will not add much warmth in a Kansas Winter, but that is what I am hooked on of late. It helps me clear my head. This is particularly true of knitting shawls. They are large enough to hold my interest between painting, but small enough to carry with me.

Also, if there are any writer’s reading this I am sure you are aware that as of today it is National Novel Writing Month! If you are not familiar with NANOWRIMO, it is a non-profit program that encourages people to write fifty-thousand words during the month of November. I have participated in the past, and want to this year. But my want, and hours available are not cooperating. I have not openly committed to participating yet this year.  Then again, November isn’t over yet either.

Last but not least, in a little over a week I have vacation time from my day-job in a public library. Nine days in a semi-open time frame to paint, knit and write! Aside from a day trip to Wichita and perhaps KC, I plan on being in full hermit mode the entire time. Ahhhh bliss!

Today was spent boxing up all the work that is ready for a show that will be hung Monday. I also updated inventory lists and made sure marketing materials are up to date.  There are still three paintings I could not pack up as they are still drying in some fashion. But they will be ready to go and walk out the door by Monday.

Below are two items that will be included.

16X20" Oil on canvas

16X20″ Oil on canvas

9X12" oil on canvas

9X12″ oil on canvas

So the big question now, what is next?

  • Well hopefully I will have some sales (or LOTS!) at the exhibit, perhaps line up some more commission pieces?
  • Then to line up more exhibits over the next year. There are some small galleries in the area I have not shone in for years so perhaps at least one will be on the agenda.
  • I now have ties in Wichita so I need to look that direction for possible opportunities. I keep thinking KC also, but Wichita is calling me.
  • I also need to have reproductions made: Something else I have not looked into for years.
  • Finish writing that book, the one that I now have a multitude of notes on from research!

But for now, I need to get this studio back into shape. Every surface in here is covered with books, photos, notes and painting supplies. Then I want to just sit down and knit for a few days, without interruption. To clear my head and further challenge the analytical part of my brain…..while eating chocolate. Who knows maybe I will design a thing or two while I am at it. :0)

In a little over two weeks I need to hang a show.  So this means right now I am busy putting eye screws and wire on canvases for hanging, considering doing a few last minute pieces and wishing I had more time.

Stack of oil paintings on canvas

Stack of oil paintings on canvas

I have known I was doing the show for over a year now.  But as is often the case I think of things to do at the last minute!

Last month I showed how to make a simple light box with a cardboard box.  Here is another example, made from manila file folders.

A light tent can be purchased, but of course I prefer to just make my own.  Here I started with 2 discarded manila folders taped together so that they would stand as shown.  The extras are lying in front of them but only two were used for the main frame.

Folders are not terribly strong so you may want to use a thicker cardboard if you will be using it a great deal. Foam core works well, is inexpensive, comes in white and can be cut down to size.

In order to cut down on the yellow color coming through I covered the surface with 11” x 17” white printer paper by folding it over and taping it to the back.

Next a large piece of white fabric was laid down and over the top edge, press out wrinkles as you do.  I put a cloths pin on the top edge to keep it from dropping down, then folded it back over itself to drape over the top. I have seen folks use white trash bags, paper, tissue paper or whatever was available to get the desired effect.

I set up the tripod as shown in the camera testing example and then draped the material over the top of the camera.  This created a ‘white container’ to take the images inside.

After taking a few shots similar to the previous test, the image below was determined to have the correct setting at ISO 80, Macro setting, -1 flash.

Not bad, but I would like to get rid of the grayness of the white fabric.

 To do this I need to play with the exposure index.  After trying out -2 through +2 test shots this is the end result. I have to say that I like the change in the second photograph.

  

Continuing to experiment and see what works.

 

 

Just for comparison the image above was shot with Macro, -2 exposure, -.75 flash and a view of the image in black and white

  In my opinion the diffused light from lamp, on black, and same settings as above makes it appear much more three dimensional when compared to the other example. But I found some people preferred the images taken in the light tent and found it ‘softer’.

 

   

Hand blown glass paperweight shot in light tent compared to taken with flash on white background (paper towel)

Of course with some tweaking I am sure one could get much better shots here!

Writing an Artist’s Statement

I just heard a Country song, “I’d Like To Check You For Ticks”.  Pretty much says it all doesn’t it.  It speaks to a specific audience and gets the point across in a few words that he would like to see more of her, in that special way’.  How does this relate to art? Well as an artist you should have an Artist’s Statement on hand that says what the audience needs to know. It needs to be short, no more than a page in length and to the point.

Have your audience in mind when you write it. If it is for the general-public, avoid ‘art speak’, and use language your viewer will understand. The best thing is to use the KISS method of ‘Keeping it short and simple’.  You most likely would not like to veer into the Tick area….but you get the idea :0)

Write a draft of your Artist’s Statement and try to have it reflect the real you. Then let it sit for a bit.  An hour, a day, a week, whatever you need to come back to it with a relatively fresh eye.

Sample Artist Statement

Herb R. Ian

Artist Statement Draft

In the turmoil found in today’s world, many find themselves returning to what they know best.  They begin examining people and things with new eyes, as Herb has also done.

Her current work of oil on canvas, explores the personal meaning of items she surrounds herself.  She uses art materials or Raku pottery (an ancient Asian process of firing ceramics) created by another local artisan, John Audley, as subject matter. She blends the pottery into a setting, that includes either art materials and/or more commonly found vessels with a dramatic light and shadow.

__________________________________________

Then divide it into three paragraphs;

1. What you do

“Her current work of oil on canvas, explores the personal meaning of items she surrounds herself.  She uses art materials or Raku pottery (an ancient Asian process of firing ceramics) created by another local artisan, John Audley, as subject matter. She blends the pottery into a setting, which includes either art materials and/or more commonly found vessels with a dramatic light and shadow.”

2. Your Background

Herb has a Master’s Degree in Studio Art and has won a number of awards for her work over the years.  She began working as an artist during her teen years, and over the years she has worked in a variety of mediums from polymer clay to oil paint.

3. How Your Work Affects Others

Because of her vast interest in different mediums and techniques she has begun to turn her attention to putting the information in writing. A virtuous reader she sees this as a way to pass on what she has learned over the years to those that come after.

_________________________________________

The length of your Artist’s Statement should be no more than one page.  Keep it updated to reflect what is accurate.

Use the information to pass out at shows, to clients, on your website, and ‘elevator speak’.  That thirty second blurb to keep in mind for when someone ask, “What kind of artist are you?”

Go back and edit your Statement at least twice before releasing it to the world.  Read it aloud to yourself and have a trusted friend read it before you consider it complete, to see any errors you may have overlooked.

Then put it all together.  I will want to continue to edit this, but at this point it would be alright to release to the world.

Artist Statement

Herb’s current work of oil on canvas, explores the personal meaning of items she surrounds herself.  She uses art materials or Raku pottery (an ancient Asian process of firing ceramics) created by another local artisan, John Audley, as subject matter. She blends the pottery into a setting, which includes either art materials and/or more commonly found vessels with a dramatic light and shadow.”

She began working as an artist during her teen years, and over the years she has worked in a variety of mediums from polymer clay to oil paint. She has a Master’s Degree in Studio Art and has won a large number of awards for her work over the years.

Because of her vast interest in different mediums and techniques she has begun to turn her attention to putting the information in writing. A veracious reader she sees this as a way to pass on what she has learned over the years to those that come after.  She can be found conducting workshops, creating art and working in her Kansas home that she shares with her husband of 15 years.

Now go forth and create that Artist Statement! You will be glad you have it on hand.

Things to keep in mind as your writing:

  • Avoid Jargon
  • Use simple sentences
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Describe your intentions
  • Avoid cliche’s
  • Choose descriptive language

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