Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paper Tole

Paper tole is not a new idea. I recall it had some popularity in the 1970s, and I remember having a Holly Hobbie plaque or two with this technique. Basically, take several copies of the same image, cut them so you have several pieces you can layer using foam tape or cardboard, etc., so your layers are raised up from one another.

I used what I hoped would be a simple enough image that it would be clear where my different layers were. Since I was just playing, to see if I could make it work, I printed my mandalas (4 of them) onto white cardstock.

I found some foam tape that I was able to cut into small pieces, and assemble, and I started with the smallest (highest when finished) piece first.

One of the mandalas yielded two different pieces: the hexagonal "ring" and the six-pointed central star.

I think it turned out well for something I more or less dashed together. Trying this with photo paper will be next.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yesterday's Art

As part of 30 Days of Creativity, I have been trying to make at least one thing every day. Here were yesterday's contributions:

Felted Egg with Tiny Birds

Wish Box

The Wish Box has been in progress for a while, I just needed to finish it. Finish it, and mail it to the person for which it was intended, in fact. Mulberry paper collages the top of a repurposed candy box, the sides and bottom were painted with random patterns, then covered with tissue paper. The whole exterior was then varnished. The sun is recycled paper, pulped and molded into a flat dome, and separate "arms." It was glued onto the inside of the lid and varnished. The words wonder, faith, love and hope were painted in the bottom and varnished.

Today I went to a local art fair, and hung out for a bit with arty friends who were exhibiting. I am counting it as part of the 30 Days (plus 2 weeks, since I started early), because being around creative people is good for me, and I don't do it often enough.

Friday, May 20, 2011

30 Days of Creativity

So I decided to do this 30 Days of Creativity thing, which doesn't actually start until June 1st. But I was jazzed so I started early.

First thing was actually finish up something I'd started a few days ago. It was inspired by something I saw in a blog post and I decided it was finally what I was meant to do with the single vintage clip-on earring I've had for more than 20 years (found at an antique mall, maybe; it's been a long time).

Felted Egg
My egg is plastic (the blogger who inspired me used real eggs), wool roving felted to the outside, embellished with tulle, moss, ribbon roses, string pearls, and that marvelous vintage earring I had to have.

Then yesterday I was pretty laid up with a migraine. Then this morning I made this (still headachy, but the hell with it):

Dance of Creation

I'm pretty pleased with it. She's made with painted twigs, fibers (fancy yarns), a molded paper pulp face, and beads, pinned to glitter felt set into an oval frame (glass removed). She was really fun to make.

And since I was unable to do anything on Thursday because of the migraine, I made a second thing Friday to make up for it:

Copper Mesh Egg Cradle

The free-form mesh egg cradle was made by taking a rectangle of copper mesh, folding over the edges (in an attempt to protect my fingers from the pointy edges), pushing it down into a lid for a start, then gently folding, rolling, shaping the sides into graceful (hopefully) ruffles. I was trying to get the metal to look like fabric. The copper's a nice contrast with the green egg, I think. (The egg was given to me by a friend, who told me it was petrified dinopoop, AKA coprolite. Must've been a vegetarian... *ba-dum tschhh*)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Art & Fear, Thoughts

Perhaps I did myself a bad turn by reading Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell (a fascinating book that is going to make me question pretty much everything, ever, from now on) and then reading Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. And also by being a rather avid fan of Regretsy...

You see, Blink reminded me how very manipulable the brain is, how we can be primed to accept something (or not). I'm also reminded of a piece I heard on NPR some years ago, about the riots that occurred when Stravinsky's Rite of Spring d├ębuted. (There's a biological/psychological side to that: the brain needs to hear new music more than once before it can "accept" it as music and not noise. Most new things, truly new and innovative, are heard as dissonant until they've been heard more than once. The brain needs to learn the new patterns.) So the brain is both malleable through intentional leading through word choice (classic eyewitness study by Loftus and Palmer shows this so clearly, and ad execs know it all too well), and through repeated exposure. Which brings to mind what Bayles and Orland talk about in their book, that innovation is an essential part of artmaking, but that it will invariably be met with criticism (and derision) until people get used to the new pattern. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. (Attributed to Mohandas Gandhi, regarding nonviolent protesting.)

Like Stravinsky, you must simply wait out the criticism, let everyone's brains get used to the new patterns you're providing, "and then you win," Though they don't really discuss it in those terms, Bayles and Orland talk about how just the wrong words from a teacher to a student can end an artistic career before it even begins -- priming the pump. Something else they don't mention, but I will because I am cynical and nasty: Telling people they are "special snowflakes, just like everyone else" does everyone a great disservice. If everyone is special, NO ONE is. (See Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron.) Not everyone can write an opera, not everyone can paint/sculpt/etc./ad nauseum. But we persist in telling people "you can do anything if you put your mind to it!" (demonstrably not true), and then praise their mediocre and misguided efforts when they've created a "masterwork" from chewed gum and bits of string.

While I praise the efforts of Bayles and Orland for helping assuage the terrors of being an artist by reiterating the idea that all artists feel that way, all the time, forever... sometimes the "artist" in question simply believes they're special, no one understands their art, or "you're just being mean!" Frankly, there are people on Etsy selling items they have no earthly reason to expect to be paid for - it's not that I don't get it, or that I'm mean, it's that the piece is poorly executed, badly rendered, childish (at best) and, frankly, crap (I love how she calls herself a "new artist" in reference to that piece, as if it excuses the smudges and awfulness of it). There are also people on Etsy who are undercharging for very skilled work. I don't agree with everything Regretsy posts as a Fail, and I don't agree with all of the critics there who gleefully snark away on those pieces. I don't have to. My opinion is mine alone, but sometimes it really is that bad.

But I'm probably overthinking it all...

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Two I've Finished

So there they are, my first two mixed-media art quilts. I have plans for more, but I also want to try an art doll or two, using a print-to-fabric technique. I want to try it so much, in fact, it's sort of distracting me from other things. (Anyone else have this problem?)

Maybe I'll get to it later this week... 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

There is no right and wrong in art... is there?

I've been reading a couple issues of Art Quilt Studio for inspiration, looking at some really amazing textile arts, looking at my little quilts (the second one is 99% complete) and wondering if I'm doing it "right." My husband, when I commented that mine didn't look like any of those I'd seen, asked if I was trying to copy someone else or make my own. (Bless him and his blunt impatience.) But I can't help but wonder - am I doing it right? I guess I sort of am, since I'm creating as close to what I see in my head as I can.

It's maddening and baffling, so unlike the photography I've done so far. There's a project for that I have in my head, not sure I'll make it work, make it happen ever, but with that, it's more than simply framing a shot - there's lighting and things to consider that I don't normally have to fuss with, since I usually choose flowers as my subject. (And one of the reasons I like to shoot nature is because it doesn't show up late, doesn't argue, and doesn't expect to be paid...) But with textile art, there's a sense of "is this right?" even when I know I'm not sewing a wedding gown that has to be just so. Recently I've been told over and over to be "kinder to myself." Perhaps that also includes giving myself permission to let go of some of these doubts and play.

My husband is nothing if not honest: When asked what he thinks of the little quilts, he tells me that they aren't really his thing, but that he's sure someone will like them. I guess it's really not even fair of me to ask him. God knows there's plenty of artists that I just don't get or appreciate - it may be genius, but I simply don't like it, so how to comment?

So many ideas... so many ways to play... I just need to let go of the idea of "right" and "wrong" and DO it.