So much Gratitude {after a mini heart attack}

August-17-Mandala-smallThank God/The Universe /Whatever else you might call The Powers That Be for friends.

Seriously.

You might have noticed that the site has been down for the last four or five days . I’ve had this space since roughly 2011.  During that time it’s gone through multiple revisions, changes, fixes, facelifts, etc, but it’s always been my place to post my work, dump my thoughts, share and connect. I’m met some really cool people and had the opportunity to do some great commission projects because of this site. It’s a space that’s very dear to me.

So imagine my panic when I opened my email the other day to find an email from my web host saying that they suspended my site “for possible hacked content.” Did it tell me any specifics? No. Did I have any clue about what I needed to do to fix it? Not really.

So I did what anyone would do. Put out a plea for advice on Facebook (Come on, you know you’ve done it).

And guess what? One of my awesome friends from High School deals with internet security for a living. And not only did he offer advice, he fixed the entire thing for me.

GRATITUDE. SO MUCH GRATITUDE.

Speaking of gratitude, what a crazy week. I created the image at the top of this post (as I do) posted it to my Facebook art page (as I do) and then shared the image with a bunch of different Facebook art groups (when I’ve only started doing over the last few months).

Well, the thing went crazy. It was shared more time than ANYTHING I’ve EVER posted, likes all over the place, and because of it, I increased the number of likes on my art page by 33%! Yes, my little page is still pretty small as far as Facebook pages go, but I was thrilled. And the funny thing is, here I am talking about gratitude, and I fell like that image illustrates the emotion pretty well.

Celebrate the little things, right?

 

 

Quilt Mandala {new artwork}

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This ended up being really different that what I normally do, and I like that. The funny thing is, that looking at it now, I’m not even 100% sure how I ended up here. All I know is that I started with a completely different kernel of an idea, but the design kind of took over and decided to do it’s own thing. It all felt very intuitive at the time – lots of repeated patterns and layering of shapes, tweaking of colors and rearranging things until they felt right. It took a couple of days until I finally stepped back from the computer and had that “Eureka! It’s done!” moment.

I’ve recieved a couple of comments on Facebook that it looks like some sort of crazy psychadelic quilt. I would absolutely love to somehow turn this into fabric – how cool would it be as a wall tapestry or silk scarf? Maybe the side of a tote bag? Yet another set of bullet points in the never ending and ever growing notebook of ideas.

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As always, you can find this, and my other new prints, here in my shop.

Have you ever created something that had a mind of it’s own? What was it?

Happy Summer Solstice! (new artwork!)

Summer-Solstice-2014-smallLiving in the suburbs of Chicago, as I do, we suffer through some brutal winters. Snow piles up to your waist, frozen fingers, minus twenty degree wind chills, cold that feels like it simply sucks the air out of your lungs…it’s ugly. FUGLY even. And sometimes, it feels like it will never end.

Except it does. And the summers are glorious.

Now some people will complain about the heat. I am not one of those people. I am the first to throw out the phrase “POLAR VORTEX” and promptly tell you to suck it up.  I love the heat. I love the summer. I love the sunlight warming up my skin, green growing things, farmers markets, warm breezes, afternoons at the pool, summer thunderstorms, backyard barbeques, flip flocks, and long hours of daylight. I love being outside at eight o’clock and having it feel like the evening has only just begun. I love waking up to full sun (as an official bad-at-morning person, I find waking up to my alarm infinitely easier in the summer and I am much kinder to those who try to communicate with me when I’ve just woken up).

Today, if you didn’t already know, marks the Summer Solstice, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the longest day of the calendar year. It’s kind of strange, because it feels like summer really only just kicked off, and the days start getting shorter from here.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a new piece or artwork for the occasion. Because Summer, I truly do love you! I meant to make something last year but time got away from me. Better late than never. :)

This, and the other new pieces I’ve created in the last few weeks should be finding their way into my Etsy shop very soon.

Summer-Solstice-2014-detail3 Summer-Solstice-2014-detail2 Summer-Solstice-2014-detail1Enjoy the longest day of the year everyone!

New Artwork {Space Mandala}

space mandala copyI’m a person who goes through phases. I find something that works, I hit my groove, and I settle myself into a nice comfortable rut. At once point in high school I went through a two bowls of cereal for dinner every night phase. Right now I’m in an iced coffee phase (venti with 2% milk and 3 pumps of sweetener, thanks), a gin and tonic with a splash of lime at the end of the night phase, a same pair of black sandals every day phase, a Mexican food for dinner way more often than I probably should phase, and a digital artwork phase. It’s kind of my thing that I do.

space-mandala-detailGetting stuck in a rut with artwork isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you make variations of the same thing over and over, it forces you to experiment. What if I try this effect? What if I change the shape? What if I chance the opacity? What if I blend these colors? It’s kind of fun to just keep rearranging the elements until an idea until you’ve completely exhausted all of the possibilities, and then move on. It’s a great way to learn new things.

space-mandala-detail2Why “Space Mandala?” I guess it reminds me of outer space. I showed it to my boyfriend, who took a look and said “that’s cool, it looks all Dead Space.” That led me on a Google search of Dead Space (it’s a video game) to see what the connection was, because although I know he had the game at one point I never really paid much attention to it, because I think watching another person play video games is the most boring thing ever. If he’s playing games, I’m usually painting or making something on the computer. It works out very well actually. Anyway, all I could figure out from my Google search is that the color palette is the same, but I’m going to choose to take it as a compliment. :)

Product Review: Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Markers

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I’m participating in a barter market later this summer. People are bringing all kind of different things to trade; home brews, crafts, baked good, etc, and I wanted to  come up with something a bit different to bring outside of printed artwork. I don’t have a lot of “craftiness” in me outside of drawing and painting, and with my crazy-busy schedule creating a bunch of original drawings to trade just didn’t seem feasible. I racked my brain for a couple of weeks trying to come up with something unique to bring, and I finally landed on the idea of hand decorated ceramic tiles.

I was pleasantly surprised by how cheap tiles actually are. Obviously I have never been in charge of remodeling a room before or I might have known this, but I went to my local Home Depot and discovered that plain white ceramic tiles were only twenty-five cents each, and large tiles were about sixty cents. I’m sure that if you’ve covering the entire surface of a floor or wall the price adds up pretty quickly, but I walked out with a nice stack for less than twelve dollars. I was pleased that I’d be able to make something awesome with a relatively small investment.

With the tiles carefully stacked in my trunk, my next stop was Blick to figure out what paint to use. I didn’t think acrylic paint would work very well. They had almost too many options; porcelain paint in tiny jars, two different sizes of porcelain markers, and porcelain paint in tiny squeeze tubes. I settled on Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Markers markers, since I wanted to decorate the tiles with tiny intricate details. The paints/markers were not cheap – almost six dollars each. With visions of beautiful colorful hand decorated tiles in my head, I grabbed one in each color.

Once I finally had a night with the house to myself, I assembled all of my materials, parked myself at the table, and settled in for a night of tile decorating

It was a total bust. (insert sad trombone)

The first marker I used was dead. Totally dead. I shook it for about thirty seconds like the label suggested, and repeatedly pressed down on the tip to get the ink flowing. No matter what, no ink would come out. After testing the marked on a spare tile, a blank piece of paper and a piece of cardboard, I gave up. Sometimes when you buy markers you get a dud. I get that.

I noticed that when I shook the second marker I got a rattling sound, like when you shake a can of spray paint. The first marker hadn’t done that – even more reason to think I got a bad one. Shake, press down….and we have INK! It actually flowed really beautifully on the tile. Nice thin, clean, crisp line….for about a minute. Then the ink stopped flowing. I put the cap back on and shook it again, wiped off the nib on a paper towel, and tried again. A couple more lines, and it gunked up again. Shake, clean, gunk, shake, no line, shake, repeat. Frustrating.

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Third marker. Same deal. Worked like a dream for a minute, then all ink flow stopped. No amount of shaking or pressing on the nib would restore it to that nice line I got the first time. In fact, with a lot of the markers I’d get a giant pool of ink gushing out after a couple gentle presses of the market to the file. So either no paint flow, or giant puddles of pain. Not the look I was going for.

You can see the blobbiness I experienced on my test tile below.

test-tile

Another problem that I had is that the colors could not be layered. Once the paint began to dry at all, if I had to go over a line a second time to clean it up. the marker would rub the paint away. If you can picture what happens when you’re writing over something on a dry erase board, it was exactly like that.

The squeeze bottles worked much better. In fact, I had no problems with them, other than that they weren’t really suited to my project. That however, is not the products fault. I was able to apply nice even, think lines with the tubes. The only problem I noticed was that it was difficult to make curved lines, and at the start and stop of every line I got a little blob of paint (think back to using puff paints as a kid) For decorating large areas without a lot of details they probably would have worked great.

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I looked up other reviews of these markers on Blick’s Website (this might have been smart to do before I dropped over sixty dollars on them) and noticed that after several negative reviews was this comment:

Merchant response: We believe the pens you received are defective and would like you to know that you are entitled to a return/exchange or full refund within 30 days of purchase. Please contact our Customer Service team at 1-800-723-2787 for assistance. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused you.

It  sounds like I wasn’t the first person to have this problem. I called the customer service line, which turned out to be only for online orders, and they provided me the number to my local store. I called the Blick where I purchased them and they said that I could do a refund or exchange, so I definitely feel better knowing that I’m not completely out all that money I’m still a little bummed that the really cool project I was so excited about didn’t quite pan out. In retrospect, I wish I’d purchased the little pots of paint and used a brush to apply the designs instead. I really would like to give the markers another shot, because when they did worked they worked great, and there were enough glowing reviews about how great projects look after you bake them to set the design that it makes me want to try again.

For now though, my rating is:

Paint Markers: D

Squeeze Bottle Paints: B +

New Artwork {Sound Mandala}

design-copyHave you ever seen that video on You Tube where they place sand on a surface and then use different pitches of sound to manipulate it into different geometric patterns? It’s incredibly cool. If you haven’t seen it, you can find the video here.

For some reason this piece made me think of that video, even though when I went back and watched it again the patterns really aren’t the same at all. Also….this color palette! A little bit outside of my usual arsenal of blues, teals and  purples but WHOAH! I’m really digging it. This combination has an energy to it that I really, really love.

design-detail1 design-detail2I’ve been feeling incredibly inspired lately. I’ve joined a ton of different art groups on Facebook, and I’ve also been posting to my own art page a lot more often. Between getting some great positive feedback on my own work, and seeing the incredible things that other people are creating, I’ve been riding a great creative high over the last week. I’ve never been very good at self-promotion, but when you put your self out there and get a positive response…it’s a great feeling. There’s joy in creating, there’s joy in sharing something that you’ve made with love, and there’s an even greater joy in forming a connection with someone through it. Not to sound cheesy and sappy and lame, but there’s an indescribable happiness in that.

 

The Creators of Things {for people who can’t turn it off}

20140412-175055.jpgSome people are just born to be creators of things.

It’s not so much of a conscious decision as it just IS. You can’t help it. If you don’t make things, don’t release that mental pressure valve in your brains, too much builds up. It accumulates like a house sagging under the weight of too many old treasures packed away in the attic. It makes it hard to think, to focus, to walk around concentrating on anything else. It needs to regularly emptied out.

It’s a calling, a requirement, something that wells up from deep in your heart. You have to do it. it doesn’t matter if anyone sees it, doesn’t matter if you post it online and it gets shared with the entire world, doesn’t matter if it immediately goes into a drawer never to be seen again by another human being. You’re going to keep doing it. You don’t care.

It’s a compulsion. It’s intensely personal and private, simultaneously and an ache to connect. It’s smearing your heart across the canvas and hoping for the best. It’s the terror of setting it free in the world, released to opinions and judgments or even worse….silence.

It’s that ache deep inside you when you go too long goes by without putting pen to paper, brush to canvas, hand to mouse, whatever it may be. It’s the yearning to exist without limitation, without rules, without regulation. It’s anything except “by the book”. It’s being utterly perplexed by rule-followers and those who just don’t understand that.

It’s discovering the creation of another and reaching out across time and space to find a kindred spirit. It’s love. It’s fear. it’s polished. It’s raw. it’s a masterpiece or it’s a disaster but it doesn’t matter as long as it’s released.

It’s infusing your food with spices and love. It’s doodling in the margins during a business meeting. It’s eating a bag of M&Ms and pushing them around into patterns on the tabletop. It’s drawing on the side of your filthy car with your index finger. It can’t be turned off.

But why would you WANT to turn it off?

Some of us were born to be creative, the creators of things. Maybe you’ll make a fortune and maybe you’ll starve in the streets, and maybe you’ll toil away at a daytime job and obsess over spending every spare moment on your craft. It doesn’t matter if you’re recognized or not. You’re going to do it anyway.

I get it. I get YOU. I wouldn’t want to be wired any other way.

What do YOU create?

Rainbow Geometry {don’t go cross eyed}

rainbow-geometry-smallI keep staring at this and thinking that it looks like something made with a Spirograph. Remember those things? I loved mine. My daughter got one a few years ago, and although she like to mess around with it, she wasn’t nearly as obsessed with hers and I was with mine. I dunno, maybe I was just a weird kid. Maybe she’ll grow up one day and have a daughter who’s only moderately impressed by Hello Kitty and she’ll think her daughter is crazy. Who knows.

It’s been quite a while since I did a really cool piece of digital art. To tell the truth, I didn’t even create this one from scratch. I took an existing half-worked file and messed around with it until something pretty happened. Lately, when I have a minute of free time, I’ve been all about either reading, or painting. It’s all post-its stuck between book pages or acrylics under my fingernails. I tend to go through phases, and I guess the digital art must be at another spot in the rotation right now.

I think that this would made a really pretty large format print or tapestry, something two or three feet across. I would love to have large things like that available in my Etsy shop, but it doesn’t make sense to have something so large just sitting around unless someone wants to buy it. If you ever see something in the shop that you want in a a larger size let me know, and I can send you some prices. I’m always happy to working something out with customer orders. In fact, I kind of love it.

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Another Animation Attempt {8 + hours later…}

Talk about a loooooooooooooong process.

This animation project took me about eight hours altogether. Seriously. For about forty seconds worth of video (and THAT’s with the second half of the video being just a reversal of the first half!) Between creating the designs, creating the filler frames, an unsuccessfull attempt at exporting the designs from Illustrator to Photoshop (the file was way too big and almost put my seven-year old Mac into cardiac arrest), converting every single one of the one hundred and nine layers to make the file smaller, exporting it to Photoshop AGAIN, playing with the timing of each frame, and then exporting again to Quicktime and the uploading it to YouTube….you know basically know what I did all last weekend. But you know how it goes…catch the bug on any project and there’s no stopping until it’s done.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the first time I tried to export the video I was informed that my Mac’s startup disk was almost full? (I wasn’t 100% sure what that mean other than the fact it sounded rather ominous). That led to another two-hour side trip sifting through my bloated archives and trying decide what could be purged. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total digital pack rat, and I hang onto pretty much EVERY version of EVERY project I’ve ever created. Zillions of Photoshop and Illustrator files, ten billion photos, thousands of songs, files that I had no idea were still in my download folder going back to 2011….. poor computer. No wonder it’s been so clunky lately.

This project is actually a weird offshoot of another series I’m working on for a friend of mine. I was working on a few different versions of a design for her and after lining them up in a row, I commented that it vaguely reminded me of a cell dividing. I made a mental note that someday I would have to come back to the design and play with it, then promptly forgot about it for the next five moths.

I was sending her some designs last Friday night (don’t judge me), and I came across the images again. I put in a couple of hours of work Saturday morning, and since I had Sunday wide open (you know, except for the cleaning and laundry and four other half-finished painting that I probably SHOULD have done) I managed to get it finished.

Just for fun, here’s the original set of images I made.

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All I can say is….WOW. I have major respect for people who are actually good at this and do this for a living. I’m going to venture out there and say that there’s probably a way more efficient I could have/should have done this (I know you can animate in Flash but not gonna lie, it gives me horrific flashbacks to Web Design 2 in college and I HAAAAAAATE Flash) but still, making something seamless takes a heroic amount of time, effort and patience. Still, for a first attempt by someone who had no idea what she was doing, I think this is pretty cool. (Although I’m already itching to go back and fine tune it).

Spiral Hawk {higher perspective}

geometric spiral hawk artI think a lot when I’m in the car. Sometimes a little too much. I think about life, and my job, and my dreams, what I hope to accomplish, what I haven’t accomplished… If I’m along in the car for an extended amount of time I can think myself through hell and back. I say this, because a few years back I started noticing hawks all of the time when my mind would land on certain topics. All the time. You know how some people complain about being weirded out by not being able to escape repeating numbers? It was kind of like that.

It happened so often, that I hopped on the internet (as you do) just to look up and see what the hawk symbolizes. I’m big on signs, and that if your eyes and ears are open to them that they are everywhere (side note and funny story – at one point I was agonizing between two jobs – one being my dream job but not enough hours, then other being great benefits but not very creative. I was driving, desperately thinking “I don’t know what to do….I just need a sign.…” I looked up, and there, on the corner at the stop light, was a cardboard advertisement that said “Do you need a sign?” I burst out laughing. And the jobs? I took both).

So the hawk, supposedly, is a reminder to look at the big picture. It symbolizes insight and higher perspective. I have adopted it as a sort of personal reminder when I see one to stop, take a mental step back, and try to take it all in. That there’s a message and a meaning in it all somewhere that’s being overlooked.

I made this picture about a month ago after I went through another spell where they kept popping up everywhere. Coincidentally, also a week where I was spending entirely too much time caught up in my own head. Of course, we were in the middle of a polar vortex and I’m sure they were also all out hunting for food, but it seemed as good of a subject as any. I wanted to capture the way they spiral on the air currents, drifting, circling, diving….

Another bird image. Geometry and birds. I guess that’s my thing.

blue hummingbird digital art

Remember when I said that if I didn’t make a conscious effort everything I created would end up in shades of blue and purple? This is what I was talking about. Actually, someone saw my other hummingbird image on my Etsy shop and asked if I could create a companion piece to go along with it. Of course I obliged. :) Oh well. I is what I is, and I is a girl that looooooves her cool colors. They’re just so peaceful and calming…and to me, they’re happy. Low key. Not passive, but also not all up in your face. Blue and purple are the color personalities I would most likely want to befriend.

Anyways…..

I’ve been absolutely horrid at keeping this page updated. If there’s one recurring them in my life it’s trying to find BALANCE. Balance between family, two jobs, keeping the house un-destroyed (organized is one level beyond what I realistically feel I can accomplish) and then trying to find time to create things is tough to manage. Usually I’m failing at at least one of them.

blue hummingbird close upI also tend to flip back and forth between creating mode and consuming mode, and the last couple of months has been all about consuming. Sometimes you just want to absorb and process the things OTHER people have come up with. When my youngest was really small I has basically ZERO time to read anything without being interrupted, but now that she’s bigger I’m finding these pockets of time here and there that I can actually stretch out on the couch with a book, and I’m loving it. For Christmas I received a hundred-dollar Visa card and blew the whole thing on Amazon. So far I’ve only made it through three of the six books I purchased, but I’m slowly working my way through them. Right now I’m alternating between the works of Rumi (be still my heart… so, so, SO achingly exquisitely GOOD it makes me want to cry) and this rather dense but fascinating book called The Perennial Philosophy that basically talks about the core tenants of Truth that all the world’s religions have in common. I’m not much for fiction lately (although once in a while something will grab my attention) but throw something in my hands about art, history, geometry, astronomy, spirituality….I’m hooked. Oh, and cookbooks. I love to read a cookbook. Seriously, read it cover to cover. I’m such a dork.

Oh yes….and since I went way off topic….here’s the image that the new hummingbird image goes along with. What do you think?