New Series and The Symbolism of Color

I’ve always been interested in the social significance of color, both in cultural symbolism and in the psychology of how color can affect our emotions. Showing solidarity for a specific cause through a group of people all wearing the same color on a certain day or for the attendance of a specific event has become a common practice. My partner has a viscerally negative reaction to the color yellow, and will be caused agitation if surrounded by a bright yellow environment (so basically he just loves the bright yellow flower print wallpaper that was complimentary with the bathroom in our home upon move-in). I have received shocked reactions even from people in my own young-adult age bracket at the mention that if I ever get married at some point, I probably wouldn’t choose a white wedding dress. These are just a couple of examples of the strong reactions people have to color as a form of communication, tradition, and emotional influence in both our exterior environment and more personally in how we choose to adorn ourselves and present our bodies to the world.

Of course, I will be working on other separate projects in between but my main focus going forward will be on a new series exploring the symbolism of different colors worldwide, taking the significance of specific colors from regions all over the world and integrating these often opposing meanings into a single story about that color. I will be focusing on 5 main colors, the 3 primaries of red, yellow, and blue and then black and white. The first color I have represented is white.

Depending where you are, white can symbolize new beginnings and a clean slate, or endings and mourning making it very much a bookend sort of color. It symbolizes traits that are considered more docile like purity, innocence and virtue, but also more courageous sentiments like protection and sacrifice. White is also a color that across cultures is often associated with femininity.

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For “The End Is Also The Beginning” I used a mixed media approach, choosing the mediums that would lend themselves best to the look I wanted to achieve for different parts of the piece. I used watercolor for the ice figures, snow, clouds, and water. I used prismacolor pencil (including metallic silver accents) for the figure, rabbit, and areas of fine detail like the blossom trees and patterns in the sky. I used scrap fabric for the pattern on the dress (actually left over from the hemmed curtains hanging in my art room. This is why you never toss scraps!), and flat-back acrylic pearls and beads for the decoration on the neckline of her gown, and her earrings.

I have a couple of juried shows coming up, and this will be one of the pieces getting sent off, so wish me luck!

On Creativity & Leadership: New Year New Perspective

Though new year’s resolutions can be cliche and oft forgotten, using the turning of a year as an opportunity to refocus can’t hurt. My ongoing goal for this year is to not let the fear of others’ perceptions make me question my decisions either in art or as a leader. Not that I should never question why I am doing what I’m doing; questioning oneself is healthy and necessary, but only if done for the right reasons.

A quick background blurb for those new to the blog – My day job is running an inclusive creative classes program geared towards adults with disabilities and mental health, and I am also a freelance artist.

I was hit with this the other day when I came home from the first week of the program’s new semester on a high, because a new student had taken me aside and let me know that they had not been out in public to participate in group activities in a long time, and that I had been a stabilizing presence that kept them calm and made them feel safe. As I was browsing through facebook while waiting for dinner to cook, I came across an article (mainly aimed at women) that stated that being called reliable, stabilizing, nice, or accommodating were not compliments and were basically code for being a complete doormat. As an independent minded person, this horrified me. Immediately, every time I’d been called any of those adjectives by others rushed through my head and halfway through creating a plan to deconstruct and rebuild my entire personality, I suddenly stopped and asked myself why I was doing this. I don’t know the person who wrote this article personally, nor do they know me. Why does this opinion suddenly hold so much weight? Should I instead be unkind, stubborn, leave a path of division and stress in my wake? It makes no sense for either women or men to live their life that way.

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Though it may not be fierce or glamorous or fit neatly within an awe-inspiring superhero persona, I don’t really want to be the leader who is kicking ass and taking names ;). I don’t want to be the leader that refuses to see the progress and can only focus on past mistakes in the people I work with. I don’t want to be the leader that kicks an employee when they’re down; I don’t want people to come to me with vulnerability, saying “Hey, I may need some extra support this week because I’m having a tough time with____________, or this hard thing just happened in my life, or I’m having this mental health struggle right now,” etc. and my response is, “That’s not my problem, leave your issues at home.” I can still hold people accountable without tearing down their self worth, and I don’t need the approval of those that are on the outside looking in that don’t know my group like I do.

I realized that without knowing it, I’d slipped into these same bad habits with my art … I’ve mentioned before how it was hard knowing what direction to go in after completing my last big 12 part series I’d worked on for around 2 years. When trying to come up with new concepts, I found myself constantly questioning myself based on how a new project may be perceived, and getting nowhere. If I start using more bright colors than usual will people think I’ve lost my edge, if I use my more dark imagery will I come across as an aging Hot Topic shopper, Will men feel left out since I draw mostly women, If I draw men will they think I’m trying to speak for them … ??? I’d gotten a lot of commissions done in the time since and some just-for-fun personal projects, but nothing with a strong direction.

When beginning your next creative endeavor for 2019, whether on your own or leading/educating a group, keep yourself in check by asking the right questions:

What kind of creator do I want to be? This question sounds simple, but is an ongoing process. I remember taking a fascinating hybrid philosophy/law class in college to fulfill one of my freshman year gen eds, and we started by discussing the tombstone question, basically when you’re gone, what do you want written on your tombstone? How do you want to be remembered? Now let that answer be in the back of your mind and guide your decisions, because our daily choices determine who we will become. Once you decide what kind of creator you want to be, the steps you need to take as a creative, the events you need to participate in, the programs you need to donate your time to, will no longer seem so up in the air, and won’t be so susceptible to changing with the wind the minute you hear a bit of noise.

Who am I trying to reach with this project? Oftentimes creative projects won’t be all about you, so there are indeed times you need to consider others’ possible responses to your work. But, if you are trying to appease everyone you will end up running yourself in circles, leading to a sub-par result that in trying to say everything to everyone, says nothing. Think of who you want to speak to with your project – It’s ok for you to create something that isn’t intended to resonate with everyone. Chances are, there will be others outside of your target that will end up getting something out of it, too.

What experiences am I drawing my ideas from? Creation flows most easily when it comes from the fount of something that the creator is passionate or knowledgeable about. Think about what in the world gets you stirred up, either positively or negatively. Think about what experiences you’ve had that have impacted you, that you remember every detail of; again, positive or negative. There may be an artist out there whose aesthetic and ideas you really admire, an artist you wish you could create exactly like, but it likely isn’t possible since they have a different story than you. Find your own voice rather than trying to retell another person’s story. And, if in the end you do want to use your voice to tell the stories of others, make sure you do your research and ask questions!

How would I want to be guided? Methods of leadership or teaching aren’t one size fits all as different styles are more effective for certain personality types, but this question is a good starting point. It pretty much boils down to the golden rule, and asking in each situation, “How would I want to be treated?” I’ve heard horror stories of art instructors sending students away in tears after a critique of their work. Yes, the work of a student or a fellow artist you are collaborating with may not meet your expectations, but how is destroying their enthusiasm for creation or any hope in them that they can improve going to help them get to where you want them to be? In leadership, treat others how you would hope they’d treat you, it’s really that simple.

What is distracting me from my purpose right now? Be mindful of what is going on when you feel yourself getting derailed like I described happening to me earlier … Stop yourself and note what activity was going on when the switch occurred, and what stimuli you were taking in. Is it criticism from toxic people in your life, comparing yourself to others on social media, taking opposing views personally without the lens of evaluation, forcing yourself into a box that is antithetical to who you are … Write it down if you have to, and when you start to notice a pattern do your best to remove or lessen that thing in your life, whether it means taking a break from certain friends or family members or spending less time putzing about online.

I have to decide for myself what kind of leader, and what type of creator I want to be… and so do you!

 

May Artsnacks Unboxing!

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This month’s Artsnacks box came with something scary – a calligraphy pen! Calligraphy pens are my mortal enemy, mostly because I don’t know how to use them properly. I played around a bit, and still don’t know how to use it properly and mainly treated it like a normal liner but – hey look! – it’s a tiger!

Now for the breakdown…

In my May box, I received a:

flat800x800075f-u1So, first the scary thing which is the Copic Multiliner. I’m sure it would be a fantastic product if I knew anything about calligraphy, and that is about all I can say as I have no basis by which to judge calligraphy pens. (Appropriate image by Nathan Moore on Redbubble.)

Now onto the Tombow MONO Graph pencil … I have professed my undying love for Tombow in past unboxings. This pencil is unique because you don’t have to push a button for the lead to extend, you just shake it and then click a lock on the side when you have the amount of lead you want … Which means you still have to push a button haha. I found this feature a bit useless and gimmicky, but it is a nice pencil otherwise and claims to feature the most popular eraser in Japan. I can corroborate that this pencil has a damn fine eraser.

ddSpeaking of erasers, the next product was the KUM Correct-Stick eraser. I just now realized this product was hiding and didn’t make it into my picture, but here is what it looks like …  This eraser did work really nicely and had a comfortable ergonomic grip, but I feel like it will lose its precise, pointed shape with use. As far as fine detail erasers I think my favorite will always be Pentel’s Click Erasers.

The Faber-Castell Big Brush Pen was my favorite product in this box.  The color is smooth and bold, probably owing to the fact that the ink used is India Ink. Though it was great for filling in large areas, the brush tip made it perfect for filling in details and making thin strokes as well. I struggle with sensitivity to strong smells so for me an added bonus was that this pen didn’t stink like alcohol markers do! I will definitely be getting more of these.

Last is the Liquitex Paint Marker. Not surprisingly given the quality of Liquitex paint, this marker was excellent. Of all the paint markers I have been sent since January, this one was my favorite. I liked that it didn’t look like solid acrylic paint when applied to paper, but being water based had a degree of translucency to it, probably because I am partial to watercolors over acrylics. Overall a decent box, while not necessarily my favorite one thus far.

Now, for those of you awaiting pictures of the progress on my Painted Piano Project, wait no longer …

It’s getting there, but still more to do – Guess what I’ll be up to this weekend? 🙂

 

April Artsnacks Unboxing!

IMAG8922I am a bit late on my Artsnacks unboxing again, but better late than never after missing last month! In this box I received:

Tombow never disappoints me, and this brush pen with a dual tip – one side black, one side light grey, is no exception. Despite being a brush pen, it is still quite firm and allows for super thin lines which I appreciate. Being completely waterproof so I can use it in conjunction with watercolors is another bonus. I have no doubt in my mind why this was marked as a staff favorite!

I honestly never use watercolor pencils aside from in a classroom setting at work while teaching a watercolor class. In my own work, I prefer watercolor markers though lately I haven’t been using those either. As far as watercolor pencils go, I really enjoyed the variety included in the April box. The fact that it is lightfast is great since a huge problem with watercolor pencils and markers is their susceptibility to fading over time. I also preferred this brand over others I’d tried because of its softness – it blended completely without leaving any indications of the original pencil strokes behind.

I had always seen acrylic inks like this while out shopping at art supply stores and been intrigued, but never tried them for myself. As one who enjoys working with watercolors, I loved the acrylic ink included in this box and will definitely be purchasing some more colors in the future. It works similar to watercolor when blended with water, but the pigment is bold and once dry, it is resistant to water which is a quality that could certainly come in handy. Used without water, it layers on like a luminous, translucent acrylic and can be dry-brushed to create texture. Very versatile!

IMAG8926This was a very successful box for me – I loved the brush as well. The firmness and shape allows it to work well for both filling in tiny detail areas, and covering larger areas depending how you tilt the brush. It worked excellently for applying shading. Another success was the watercolor paper, which I expected since I already quite like the Canson brand :).

In other news, remember how I told you guys I was going to be painting a piano? It arrived this week! Yikes, it’s big. Wish me luck!

 

 

No More Boring Gifts!

One of the great things about the internet is that artist made products are literally EVERYWHERE, both original items and printed or graphically designed wares. I actually have a couple shirts I ordered from Threadless in college that I’ve kept for 8 years and can’t part with, though they are now either disintegrating or have super attractive sweat stained armpits. I’m planning to do fabric wrap canvases with them and use them for cool wall art because the designs are so gorgeous, I just can’t abide by throwing them in the trash.

Plenty of artists are out there on ebay and etsy and multitudes of similar platforms willing to customize their work to that special someone you may have in mind. I myself have just finished up an eclectic variety of custom requests, from hand drawn pendants to dolls to an artsy floral arrangement, which was definitely a first.

Basically, there is no excuse for giving a boring gift.

My day job (a pretty cool day job, if I do say so myself :)) is working as Program Coordinator for Express Yourself Artshop, an inclusive arts program geared towards serving all adult students, including those with disabilities. Many of the students are learning how to sell and market their work, and with Spring here we are beginning to prepare for multiple art and craft fairs.

With Mother’s and Father’s day coming up, it’s always best to start early. Creative gift guides are awesome, but oftentimes everything listed is in the 3 figure range …  I’ve put together some affordable guides that are a little bit of what I have to offer, a little bit from some of my amazingly artsy aquaintances, and a little bit from artisans I admire throughout the web.

Mother’s Day

Original Watercolor Seascapes $20 / Stained Glass Jewelry $47  / Artist Designed Mugs $15 / Artist Designed Hardcover Journals $20Hand Painted Votive Decor $6Hand Painted Wine Glasses $6Artist Designed Tote Bags $20 / Artsy Personality Dolls $15 / Handpainted Personalized Wooden Peg Family $116 / Hand Crocheted Pendant Necklaces $20

Ok, so the personalized wooden family is kind of pricey, but it’s just so darn cute!!!

Father’s Day

Artist Designed T-Shirts $25 / Steampunk Assemblage Desk Sculpture $15 / Superhero Bow-Ties $24 / Retro Sci-Fi Decor $20 / Artisan Wooden Boxes $30 / Artist Designed Tech Cases $45 / Artist Designed Travel Mugs $25 / Artist Designed Coffee Mugs $15

There are plenty of regular neckties to be found on etsy as well, but as the 11th Doctor says…

I hope you’ve enjoyed perusing. Now, hop to it! Time waits for no one ;).

 

 

 

Updates On Art and Life – Babies, Cake Homicide, and The Fear Of Yellow

I know I’ve been terrible at keeping up this blog lately. I promise to do better! Honestly though, I’ve been working on a plethora of fun projects which is the main reason for my lapse (Also, it’s the holidays. No one has any spare time right now, do they???). This post will be kind of a hodgepodge of everything that’s been going down in the past couple weeks while my blog has been silent.

First and most importantly, a new year coming up can only mean one thing … The grand reveal of Pantone’s new Color of the Year! I’m a huge dork, and honestly do look forward to finding out what the new color is each year … I hate not knowing things!

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In my opinion, it’s ok. I was kind of scared while watching the reveal video where they add one by one the different pigments to stir together for the big reveal, because they were dumping a WHOLE LOT of freaking yellow onto the palette first off. I’m so glad it’s not yellow – I am not a fan of yellow. Gold, ochre, fine – but crayola crayon yellow? Yikes. I read an article awhile ago that featured a test gauging how many colors in the spectrum your eyes could detect. People who could detect the largest amount of colors possible tended to be irritated by yellow. I did decide I wanted a bright yellow sports car in 8th grade, but that was just because I wanted people to think I was cool and glaring, eye-offending color seemed the proper type of vehicle for a devil-may-care attitude. I ended up with a silver used car with sparkly blue “gothic flame” decals on the side and a hello kitty license plate holder once I got to high school, so I was still kind of a badass at least in my own mind. This pondering over the color reveal sent me down the internet rabbit hole, and of course I had to go back and check what year the Pantone Color had in fact been a yellow. It seems there was a shade of yellow in 2009. 2009 was quite a strange and tumultuous year filled with all manner of general awkwardness and unpleasantry now that I think about it. Perhaps the color was to blame.

I have also been working on a new piece for my ongoing series I hope to show in ArtPrize next Fall.

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I must have been crazy to do another piece with more damn butterflies. Detailing the wing patterns is all great fun … until it’s not. The process can get a bit tedious, though the end result is worth it.

My other butterfly piece that was shown at Studio 23 sold after the show! I’ve never had a piece go the first time it was exhibited. I was of course over the moon excited, but also felt a bit of sadness since I’d just finished it only just a month before. We were just getting to know each other … I suppose this is how parents must feel when their kids go off to college or something.

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I also did something I never ever do … I worked all November on a collaboration with former art student and all around cool girl Heather-Dawn Deogracia. We got into the upcoming “Dynamic Duos” exhibition also at Studio 23. Look what happens when we put our minds together. We didn’t end up killing each other or getting into a fistfight, and we  didn’t even yell and rip our project in half, so I’d say it was a successful venture. How would you interpret the story in this piece? Feel free to comment! I’d honestly love to know everyone’s thoughts. This is a fun one for hearing others’ interpretations.

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I’d also been doing a lot of crafting for a holiday art fair I attended 2 weekends ago. I went crazy with inventory and have a ton of cool stuff still left, so be sure to visit my ebay store for last minute gifts! Everything is 20% off this week through Sunday at 12 am, so check it out.

I wasn’t kidding when I said a lot has been going on … in addition to all the art stuff, I had the pleasure of meeting the new baby of one of my best friends from high school last weekend! She is the first of my core group of friends to reproduce, so it’s still super surreal at this point. I never know what to do around kids. At my boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to him in the living room and his niece kept hovering around me, backing up against my knee. I hissed to him, “Why does she keep rubbing her butt on my leg?” He responded, “She’s trying to get onto your lap, pick her up.” I responded back in whispers, “How do I do that, will I break her?” I tend to be clumsy with inanimate objects like dishes, so I’m always scared of picking up tiny adorable children, though I’ve heard they’re far more resilient. When my friend passed her daughter, Darshini (Isn’t that an awesome name?), to me to hold she of course immediately started howling. She was hungry and had  a dirty diaper allegedly, so totally not my fault. I held her later and she was calm and didn’t think I was scary.

I hope you’ve all been well! I have a couple more projects to share, but some are Christmas gifts so they must remain a secret for now :). So long! Now that the craziness has died down, I solemnly swear I will be writing more often again.

 

Exciting News From Midland Artists Guild Exhibition 2016

Time has been flying, and I can’t believe the Midland Artists Guild annual juried exhibition has already came and went as of last night. There was such a diverse collection of amazing work. I think the shows get better every year, and if you are in the Midland area it is worth stopping by the Grace A Dow Memorial Library mezzanine to check it out. I was beyond excited to find out my piece “On My Mind” won one of the Merit Awards!

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This art nouveau inspired mixed media was so much fun to work on, and you can visit one of my previous posts to view the  step by step process .

My two other pieces that made it into the show were “Wonderland” and “January: She Is Far Away“.

All of these designs are available as art and ACEO prints in my ebay store, and prints on mugs, bags, pillows, notebooks, and all kinds of fun stuff in my redbubble shop. Next up, the Express Yourself Artshop fundraiser show and the Saginaw Township annual juried exhibition! Of course there will be many, many pictures :). Follow to stay in the loop!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I know I will be enjoying the rest of mine by drinking copious amounts of tea and not leaving the house.It may be Spring everywhere else, but not in Michigan! In fact, we’ve had four snow days in the last two weeks :P. So long for now!