Monday, December 24, 2012

Long Time, No See...

Happy Holidays everybody!

It has been an entire month since I last posted, and if you are still here then thank you very much for staying loyal! So many things have happened over the last few weeks, I hardly know where to begin....

The Grand Opening Art Show for my little shop was a huge success. Our town and all the creatives in it responded positively and made me feel very welcome. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but content. It was also a good day to collect ideas and suggestions as to what I should carry, so another order was quickly made. In fact, I have been fine tuning the supply list and ordering items pretty regularly. This is sometimes difficult to do, each company has a minimum order and some of them are quite high. My pockets are not that deep, so I have to be very careful about the items I choose. I have since added supplies for fiber artists, ceramic artists and a much larger line of children's art supplies.  

Requests for classes have been overwhelming, I am trying to keep up, but there are many things that I am no good at, and need to find other artists to teach, So I am focusing on the things I can teach. The little 5" x 7" canvas above was my first class. The idea was to make a Christmas Collage and then scan them and make them into greeting cards. It took two sessions instead of one, but some very lovely pieces were created. I am teaching a weekly private drawing class with a family, and that has been wonderful. It has been a learning experience for me as well, fine tuning the lessons to match their ages and abilities. Keeping the younger ones excited and engaged will be a challenge I hope I am up for.  I have hosted two birthday art parties, and they were a huge success. Each little girl received an 8" x 10" canvas panel, and made their own collage. Moms brought in the treats and we had a quick photo session at the end, so their work can be posted on the shop's Facebook page. Everyone had a wonderful time, and I have another one booked for early January. 
Plans are in the works for many more classes to get the shop through the down time of January and February. I am thinking of a Tangle Tuesday (zentangle), Art Journaling, Mixed Media Medley, Book Binding, and Expedition Art: Exploring Your Creative Potential. I plan to instigate an Open Studio Play Day a couple days a month, to encourage artists to gather and socialize. Mr. How2 and I are heading to California to the Craft and Hobby Association Convention, for a few days in January, and I am hoping to bring back all kinds of tips and samples.  
On a personal note, we had the proud and sad task of watching my beautiful daughter head off to boot camp two weeks ago. She joined the Air Force and the job she wanted came open about three months earlier than expected. It was a whirlwind time, catching up on all that she needed to do to back out of her life here and prepare for being gone for eight weeks. I am missing her especially for Christmas, she has only been allowed one phone call so far, and she sounded tiny, lost and alone. I know my job and said everything I could in a two minute conversation to cheer her up and keep her strong. I write her a letter everyday, and add little doodles that I think will make her smile. I have the care of her cats for now, making this a FIVE cat household! Before you ask, yes, it is chaos.

Well, that should just about catch you up on everything happening here, I thank you again for coming by for a visit. I plan to get back into the swing of this from here on out, so check back when you can. 
Until next time...enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Page Banner and Some Words of Wisdom...

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. I am spending the day in my shop, even though I am not open today. I have already found it nearly impossible to set up displays, let alone spend time in my studio, during normal open hours. Not that I am saying there has been a flood of sales yet, just that I am a new thing in town and everyone wants to stop by for a chat. This is a wonderful thing, it is just the type of vibe I want here!

I have been working on a few displays for the holiday season, but I haven't set up my little tree just yet. I need to shake off fall, before I can face winter! But I was able to play on the sewing machine a bit, and came up with this little pretty;

I am not sure I will sell these here, but I love how they look and plan to make more. I used old book pages and was tickled to finally find a use for my many packets of vintage seam binding. Seems nobody uses it anymore, so I find it at thrift shops all the time. This book page banner is so light, all I used to hang it was a couple sticky backed hooks from the dollar store.
I also repurposed this sign into a black board, and added a few words of wisdom I am fond of;

"Art is not a destination, it is a journey."

I was somewhat cautious when I put in my first order, and only picked out a few of each item. Now I find I already need to put in another small order, the journals are selling quickly. 
So I have already found the biggest downfall and irony of opening an art supply store. I have no time to actually DO art! I have to admit, I am getting pretty twitchy, and have a need to get my artist paint on my hands, as opposed to house paint. I am sure after all the initial set up is done, more of my time will be art related. But for now, the ins and outs of small business management are all consuming, and I am a babe in the woods when it comes to the details. 
I have had some amazing advice from my Flytribe, as well as all their encouragement and support. Let this be my official thank you to all you lovely creative souls! 

Well, I am off to paint another sign, and get that next order in!

Have a great week, and until next time...enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lonely Little Shop...

Good Morning!

I am posting a few pictures of the shop, though I still haven't received my shipments, so the cupboards are bare, so to speak. The extra time has given me the chance to organize and arrange things, maybe a bit more than absolutely necessary...

The classroom is set up...
 The beads that I already had are priced...
and the few vintage items I couldn't resist setting out are ready in their special place!

Though Monday is a day I don't normally plan to be open, I still needed to come in and wait for deliveries. Even in this modern world, there doesn't seem to be a good way to determine when they might arrive. The main shipment from the warehouse, that one I can track, but the drop shipments from the manufacturers, they are a mystery, and I can only pray they find their way to our little remote town in a timely manner.
So here I sit, price gun in hand, a wallflower waiting to be asked to dance...

No worries, though, there is still plenty to do, including plan and create the prototype for my first class, and make the flyers announcing it. I think I will start with something for the holidays, that can be scanned and turned into Christmas cards. Who knows, I might actually get to paint today, something other than displays, that is.
In case the shipments do start arriving today, and I don't get a chance to post later in the week, 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time...enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Coming Along...

Just a quick post this morning, so sorry to be out of the loop for such a long stretch! The shop is only five days away from opening, the inventory is on it's way and most of the displays are ready to go.

I am still dealing with tiny details, like finding out the brand new strand of Christmas lights I just draped all over the ceiling, encased in tulle, are none functioning! Arrrgh! Note to self, always plug lights in before stringing them, even if they are straight out of the box, it will save HOURS of work!

I am still scrubbing floors and table tops, and keep finding interesting things around my house to drag down to the shop. I am at the point where it would make more sense to just bring a bed down there and move in. Most nights I am only going home to feed the cats and sleep. If  I could find a way to have three cranky kitties in my shop at the same time, I would certainly give it a try.
I am taking the camera  today, so I can take pictures to share here and on the shop's Facebook Page,, and will post as soon as I get a chance to breathe!

 We had our first snowfall last night, and it took me by surprise. I mean, of course I knew it was coming, but I still had snapdragons blooming in my flower pots!
The leaves had just finished falling, the ground was solid gold with them, and then gone. I never even touched a rake.

 I used to like the first snow, I would start baking, planning snow days with the kids, start singing Christmas carols...But now, not so much. I am just anxious about driving in it, worried about my grown children being safe in it, and generally just thinking that Arizona might not be such a bad idea after all. But the sunny states are not in our future, I have a shop to run!
 I haven't had a lot of time to create art, but I am still hanging on to the monthly ATC swap I participate in with my clever FlyTribe. So here is my contribution for November. The sketch is done in colored pencil, and the text in her dress is a poem about Thanksgiving by Ralph Waldo Emerson;
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used a bit of digital manipulation to add the text as her apron, and behind her, and I am pretty pleased with the results. Just one this time around, it was all I could wrap my mind around, and even that was only because I got hit with a terrible cold and had to stay home for a day! Thanks for sticking with me, and for stopping by!

Until next time...enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Little Shop of Horrors...

Well no, not really horrors, but it has been a crazy ten days! Here is my little store front, ready for it's transformation. It has been raining non stop, so I still haven't been able to rent the scaffolding and install the sign, but the sign itself is almost finished. It is awaiting a couple coats of poly. 
Here are some of the displays I have been working on...

 Right now they are all over the place, but a theme is starting to come together. The downside to having vintage and individual displays are that they all require some time commitment in prepping them, unlike a commercial rack I can just pull out of a box and set up. But this is the look I want, so there you go...

I am still putting together my first order, the sheer volume of items is incredible! You can't just by some brushes and paint and set them out. There is all the support paraphernalia to go with! Quite the learning curve, but I am figuring it out. 

I have a wonderful local artist ready to do a Grand Opening Show in December, and there is a lot of buzz in town, people are excited about an art store coming. I have kept it on the quiet side, and covered the windows with white freezer paper, but added this little spot...
I swear there are nose prints on the glass every morning!
I started a Facebook page for the new shop;
Log in for more frequent updates.
Until next time...enjoy!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Last, But Not Least...

Welcome to Blogtoberfest Day 19!

Here is my last Halloween ATC, they are bundled and sent to their new homes...
Here is where digital collage can really shine. I love the way this image from a vintage dress pattern could be manipulated to look so ghostly. I had a lot of fun with this one!
But I am glad I am finished, I have a new and exciting project coming up, and all my energies will be pointed in a different direction for a while. 
Last week I was inspired by one of my fellow Flytribe members announcement that she was finally realizing her dream of opening a retail store. Linnie Blooms Shop & Create.

  As I read her announcement, and her description of all she plans for her shop, I realized I had waited long enough. I too have always wanted a brick and mortar store. A place to sell the many things I make, as well as host art classes and sell art supplies. I have a passion for all things vintage, and my collection from over the years would give a certain flair to the displays. 
The very next day, I drove into our little town, looking at empty storefronts. I found the perfect spot, and had a lovely morning chatting with other shop owners up and down the street. I was so excited about my plans, I called immediately for a showing. That night, I went online and applied for my business license and registered my trade name; Hidden Talents! Three days later, lease in hand, I am equal parts ecstatic and terrified, and having the time of my life! The first order of business was to pare down the essential mission statement to something that would fit on a sign and business cards. 

Yesterday was my first day shopping for furnishings, and it was very successful. I found a sweet vintage desk and a changing table, both will make wonderful display shelving. The next few days will be consumed with prepping the sales floor, and arranging for all the business end of things like phone, WiFi, banking, etc...
Then the ordering and stocking. Somewhere in there, I have to figure  out how to get this sign painted onto two 8' sheets of plywood to replace the previous tenants dog grooming sign. I may be learning how to use scaffolding this week...I will keep you posted as this project progresses. 
Until next time...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Halloween ATC...

Welcome to Blogtoberfest Day 17!

Just one more after this, and I can get back to other things...
I have been collecting ideas on Pinterest  lately, of  how I would want my own shop to look. If you have never tried Pinterest, go take a look. So much fun, so many ideas, so addicting...
Over the years, I have collected piles of magazine clippings, and filled a stack of notebooks with craft ideas, color schemes, and how to's. Now Pinterest has streamlined the whole process, negating the need for scissors and glue. But I warn you now, once you get started, and fill a board with things you love, you may find yourself losing hours at a time. Try to pull your self together occasionally at least to eat and to let the cat out, OK?
Until next time...enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Purple Polka-dot Witch...

Welcome to Blogtoberfest Day 16!

I worked on a fun little sketch yesterday, just some practice with faces...
 Her features and hair are painted with acrylic paints, and her dress and headband are paper collage...
When I was done, I decided to dress her up as a witch for Halloween, and put her on another ATC.

Until next time...enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Leafing Out...

Welcome to Blogtoberfest Day 15!

 This weekend, I worked on the leaves and branches of my big painting. The leaves were blocked in first with a dark green and after they were dry, I used a lighter green to sweep a highlight on one side of each leaf. This looked pretty good, but not quite done, so I lightened that color up even a bit more with yellow, and dabbed another highlight over each of the first. At this point I was almost there, but not quite, so a bit of white, tinted with yellow was just the thing to give them a nice glow. The same multi-layered technique was used on the branches to give them some shape and depth and I began blocking in the olives with their base coat.
That's all I had time for over the last couple days...
Except to create my "ocean" inchie for Every Inchie Monday!
Until next time...enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Halloween ATC 3...

Welcome to Blogtoberfest Day 12!

Here is another Halloween ATC for you to see, I am certainly having fun with my digital collage. The hunt for  just the right graphics is a big part of that. It has been great practice, since I am not entirely comfortable using technology in this way. 

I like this combination of the cheerful happy children, and the more serious ghostly lady haunting them. Of course the cat, being able to see spirits, is keeping a close eye on them all...

Until next time...enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween ATC 2...

Welcome to Blogtoberfest Day 11!

I am in a hurry to get outside and work on the yard clean-up, prepping everything for winter. So today I only  have another ATC for you to see. 

As I have been cleaning and raking and rummaging through my storage/tool sheds, I am amazed how much clutter and junk can be accumulated over time. It is especially bad for Mr. How2 and me, because we remodel houses and own a couple rentals.  We end up with useful looking scraps, extra fixtures, and abandon items all the time. It isn't in my nature to be wasteful, so it all goes into my overflowing sheds, until we find a need for it or it is destroyed by pack-rats. 

This is a habit I am trying hard to break, but it has taken years to build this kind of jumble, and it is consuming months of my life to rid myself of it. I haul off truckloads to charity and post items on Facebook to sell or give away. I have been moderately successful. I try to celebrate this by calling my best friend and doing what we have dubbed, "The Empty Space Dance". We sometimes take it a step further, and reward ourselves with a trip into town for an espresso shake. 

But every time I open another door, there is another pile, waiting to be sorted, cleaned or thrown. I have a dream, that someday the sheds will be all but bare, and what is left will be carefully sorted and labeled. But at times like this, I wonder if that dream is achievable. Right now I am not feeling the joy, more like a grim determination to trudge through this before the snow flies...

Until next time...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Halloween Fun Begins...

Welcome to day 10 of Blogtoberfest!

Today I figured I better get started on my ATCs for this months Flygirls Swap. The theme this month is Halloween and I worked on my backgrounds in preparation for them...
I will be needing six, so I used some scrap foam-core from an artist friend, and cut them down to 5" X 7". This is double the size I will need but it is easier to work with the larger pieces. I will be assembling these digitally, so re-sizing is quick and simple. For me, Halloween means black cats, witches, pumpkins and oddly enough, vintage. I have already collected different elements and clip-art, and with the backgrounds scanned into my computer, I am ready to create...
Here is my first, a mixture of images from vintage postcards, magazines and an advertisement for a funeral home. I just love this ladies costume, all ready for the Halloween Ball! 
More to follow in the coming days...
Until next time...enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

All Packed Up and on Their Way...

Welcome to day 9 of Blogtoberfest!
Today, I finally finished and packaged my second submission to the Art-o-mat Project. I have been slow to finish, summer is just such a busy time, but today I brought the box to the post office...
 This project can be time consuming, there are a lot of little steps necessary to getting the blocks just the right size and thickness. They start with a piece of 3/4" MDF, but need to be 7/8" thick, so a layer of 1/8" Masonite must be added to each block. I came up with quick way to evenly apply wood glue using a small roller from the dollar store...
and clamped the layers 7 deep. These dry fairly quickly, and are then ready for the table saw. I carefully set the fence on the table saw at 3 1/4", and run the now 2-ply boards through, then reset the fence at 2 1/8" and run them through a second time. This sounds complicated, but really you can whip out a LOT of blocks quickly this way. I tried cutting the MDF and Masonite first, then gluing them together, but was left with uneven edges and gaps where the glue didn't fill. This is much quicker, I ended up with enough blocks for almost two shipments! ( They ask that you send 50 at a time.)
Then comes a light sanding, which smooths the MDF beautifully, and a light scuff to the surface of the Masonite, to give it some tooth for gluing on the artwork...
Next, I paint each block with a base-coat color. At this point, I am starting to group them by ten. It makes the time commitment more manageable when I work on only ten at once. After the base-coat, I use a brayer to grunge a second color over the first...
Then I start adding extra detail with stamps and ink. Now my blocks are that old, grungy, interesting look I like, and ready for my artwork...
I have been working on the art steadily over the last few months, so I have a decent variety to offer. I try not to include more than two of any one design. I use GIMP to re-size and enhance my art, as well as add some lettering. Then I cut it out and use Mod Podge to glue it to a block. I like to use the brayer again at this point, to make sure there are no air pockets. A bit more ink applied to the edges give a nice finished look to each piece...
The last step is wrapping each block in a band of cellophane, and boxing them to ship. They are fairly heavy, when you get 50 of them together, but they fit in a Medium Flat Rate box from the post office, so postage stays around $11. 
I hope that if you ever considered participating in the Art-o-mat Project, this little tutorial can help you streamline the process a bit...and should you be traveling and come across an refurbished cigarette machine selling tiny pieces of art for $5 each, I hope you will indulge yourself and give it a pull!

Until next time...enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Owl Collage...

Welcome to Day 8 of Blogtoberfest!
Weekends are pretty busy around here, it is the only time Mr. How2 and I can get together and do any needed repairs on the rentals and that's exactly what we did. Along with catching up on yard work and getting things ready for cold weather, I harvested at least thirty huge birdhouse gourds out of my tiny garden. I am now trying to figure out what to do with them. Needless to say, I did not spend a whole lot of time in my studio over the last two days. 

Since time was so scarce, rather than work on my larger canvas, I focused on the small collage I started at the same time. I completed the owl, with paint and paper, and painted her onto a branch. I was not happy with just the cut and paste, so I used my Inktense pencil to add shadow along the cut paper edges, and I am pleased with the way it blended them back into the canvas. Turns out the watercolor paper was great for painting and collage, but a real challenge to glue down to the finished background. I ended up using a stack of books to weigh it down as it dried. Next time, I think I will simply scan both layers into the computer and assemble them digitally, I am kind of angry at myself for not thinking of it earlier!

I also finished my inchie, for Every Inchie Monday, the theme of which is "eternity" this week.
Tough subject, so I tried my hand at Chinese Calligraphy, which I imagine looks like it was done by a child to anyone that actually has any skill in this art! 

Until next time...enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Little Side Project...

Welcome to day 5 of Blogtoberfest!

I am going to take a small detour at this point and leverage the owl painting I did yesterday into another small collage. I liked the way that extra canvas turned out, so I will collage an owl to finish it.
Here, I have reduced the original drawing down to 75%, a size that fits my 8" X 10" background, and have it  on my clipboard, along with some graphite transfer paper and a piece of watercolor paper. Since I plan to paint and collage, I need something heavy to work on. Next I trace the owl onto the watercolor paper. Now, I only need the most basic outlines here, this is to be more of a pattern than a painting. Eye and beak placement, just a suggestion of the branch and the feathers, especially, as they are the pattern I will follow for cutting the scrapbook papers.
Here I have blocked in some color, no detail yet, and started piecing in the feathers. I won't collage the entire owl, just the feathers, eyes and possibly the beak. I am using colors that blend nicely with the background I made yesterday, so this is not an attempt at a realistic representation!

I have errands to run today, so I will have to leave this project for a bit. Pop by in the days to come for further step by step progress on this and my larger painting...

Until next time...enjoy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Just Start Adding Paint...

Day 4 of Blogtoberfest finds me with some color smeared on my large canvas. I hemmed and hawed and had a moment of uncertainty. It is so easy to freeze, worrying over things like ruined canvas and wasted paint. All I can advise is "Just start adding paint!" Don't worry about things like value and worth. I have paid more to see a movie than I spent on this canvas, so Hey, it's just for fun, right?

I like working in blue and aqua, and I do have a habit of lightening the intensity towards the center. 
 I also worked on my owl element, on a separate paper. This is why I like mixed media collage so much. I can work independently on a single element, until I have it just how I want it to look, before adding it to the final piece. I will often make color copies at different stages of the drawing,  then do finish work on the color copies, especially when working on details like eyes and expressions. It saves a lot of heart ache over ruined attempts.
 This little pretty is sketched, then colored in using ink, color pencil and oil pastel...
Here she is, along with the basic branches, that are currently just blocked in with their base color. I haven't yet decided if I will use strips of paper to add texture to the branches, work solely with paint, or, most likely, a combination of both, along with more oil pastel.

I usually have more paint on my pallet than I like to waste, so I spread some onto an extra 8" X 10" canvas I had. That lead me down this path...
It is hard to see in this picture, but I added a flourish cut on my Sizzix. It blended in a little too well, so I started adding a bit of shadow using a bark colored Inktense pencil, and smudging it with a wet paint brush. It visually lifts the flourish up off the canvas, and adds dimension. On the lower left side, I tried the shadowing effect on the torn layers of paper. I like it, so will do that on the rest of the piece.

Well, that's my time in the studio today, until next time...enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Now For Something Really Big...

Welcome to day three of Blogtoberfest, and thanks for following along. 

If you have been visiting here for any length of time, you may have noticed one thing about my art. I work small. My most common canvas size is 8"x10", then 5"x7", 4"x4", ATCs at 31/2"x21/2" and all the way down to inchies, at 1"x1". I am most comfortable with these small sizes for a number of reasons, including their portability and my ability to scan them using my own home equipment. 
Here are two more small pieces of digital collage, completed yesterday...

  But the other day, I got a hankering to do something big, I mean BIG! So I dragged out the easel I bought a full year ago at a yard sale for $10, and set it up...
 This is meant to be a travel easel, and has a very complicated series of knobs and hinges that took me a while to figure out. But I love the brass lined drawer and compartments...
Then I went rummaging around in my basement storage, looking for the larger canvas panels I purchased years ago, and never used. This one is 22" X 28"...
I love how the upper bar of this easel can slide down and lock tight, holding the canvas firmly in a couple of grooves designed for that purpose. Now I can really go to town, scrubbing and smooshing the paint without it falling off! 

  I think this will be the perfect surface for my Athena painting, with an olive tree and some mountains in the background, and an owl on her shoulder. I think it will be a fun experience, working with bolder strokes and more detail. Come back for a visit to see it as it progresses. 
Until next time...enjoy!