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Category Archives: process

>Where’s Your Brain At?

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For the past two weeks I have been participating in the Right Brainers in Business online video summit.  This course is offered by Jennifer Lee, author of the fantastic new book The Right Brain Business Plan.  Each day a different creative entrepreneur offered their insights and advice on ways for people who are more right brain oriented to overcome their stuck around creating a workable plan for their business.  The presenters have included the wonderful Danielle LaPorte, Tori Deaux and Goddess Leonie, and have inspired all of the participants to get their hands dirty and have fun while planning our various businesses.

One thing that I’ve been playing with in my head is taking my designs out into the world on a larger scale.  Licensing my work is one avenue I intend to explore this year. Another path I am looking into is to follow Natalie Chanin’s model, and supply work to the people in my community by offering them the opportunity to assemble pieces in their home.  I live in a rural area, without a lot of opportunity for traditional jobs, and I believe this could work.  I am especially excited about being able to help people who may not be able to take a job outside the home, either due to transportation restraints or because they are taking care of small children or ill relatives.  I also want to keep as much of the process local as possible.

Of course this all scares the pants off me.  After all, who am I to think so big?  But after spending time with Jennifer’s book and with the online community at the summit, I am ready to allow for the possibilities.

With that in mind, I created my first right brain business plan.  It’s an accordion book, which I made using a strip of Arches Cold Press watercolor paper, torn down to size.  I painted the background with acrylics and then silk screened and stamped on both sides.   Here is what I have so far:

right brain business plan 1

The whole plan.  I used images from magazines as well as color copies from some of my more traditional work to lay it out.  One of my role models is Mary Engelbreit, whose colorful, inspirational and whimsical images are licensed on products from fabric to puzzles and greeting cards, and I put an image of her at the beginning of the plan. 

right brain business plan 2

Jennifer talks about finding what values are important to you, and I keep realizing that “Fun” is something that is important to me.  I want to create objects that make people smile, even while going about every day chores such as shopping or working at their computer.  I also wanted to remind myself that it’s never too late to start, and that there will never be a shortage of ideas.  The crayons and markers represent the fun tools I can use in creating the designs.

right brain business plan 3

In order to see this vision through, I will need a team of people to help bring it about.  I included images of this in the middle of the plan, including one of a group of women sewing together and a sewing machine.  I hope for the business to grow, and also to have fun while growing it.

right brain business plan 4

Finally, how is the finished product going to get to the people who want it?   I love this image from a UPS ad, because packing and shipping generally freak me out.  Eventually someone else can be in charge of “expediting” (or is it “logistics”? I can’t keep the terms straight LOL), but this image reminds me that it still can be fun.  The best part of creating is the dialogue that happens when someone loves a piece and purchases it to take home with them, and these smiling faces remind me of that happy feeling.

There is a lot more content in the book and I will be sharing my process with you in the coming weeks and months.  The next step is to work on the details, which go on the back of the pages shown here.  I highly encourage you to look into getting a copy of The Right Brain Business Plan if this looks like a process that could work for you. 

And remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a prize pack of Kathy Cano-Murillo’s novels!

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>From Start to Finish

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Sometimes art takes a long time to be created.  I drew this bird of paradise twenty years ago while finishing my undergraduate degree.  It is soft pastel on Mi-Tientes paper.  I still can remember the piles of pastel dust that formed on the easel as I worked.  Having a toddler at the time, I was concerned about her safety, and so the pastels went away.

bird of paradise drawing one

Two months ago, while cleaning in the studio, I came across the original drawing, as well as some photographs I’d taken of it at the time.  Since I’ve been working with machine embroidery on photo transfer, I decided to revisit the image.

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I printed out the picture onto Avery transfer paper, after flipping it in my paint program so that it was a mirror image.  I ironed it onto some white twill that I got at Dharma Trading Company, and backed that with several sheets of interfacing designed for machine embroidery.  Here you can see the piece in process.

bird of paradise embroidery 1

The piece, stitching complete.

 bird of paradise I detail two

A detail of the stitching.  You really can see the bird in the flower in this segment. 

I chose to finish this piece differently than the small water tower pieces, and chose some fabric from my stash to sew borders onto the piece.  Then  I stretched that over a 12” x 14” pre-stretched canvas I bought at Dick Blick.  I preferred to use a pre-stretched canvas because the fabric on the piece would be protected from any acids in the stretcher bars.  If I used plain stretcher bars I would seal them first.

 bird of paradise I

The finished piece, available in my Etsy shop

I once told a friend that time is never wasted making something we love.  This certainly was true for this piece.  Even though I never exhibited the original, it still makes me happy to see it and has inspired several pieces over the years.

 

>What Color is Your Thinking Cap?

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duck tub

You’re the One  crochet and knitting with found objects

One way to cope  have fun with the switch between doing chores, whether they be household, or the daily to-dos for your art career, is to have different costumes.  Remember in grade school when your teacher would tell you to get your thinking cap on?  I was so disappointed that there wasn’t an actual thinking cap for us to wear.  Maybe it was just me, but I thought the idea of having something fun to wear could help a boring or difficult task more fun.

Who wouldn’t have a bit more fun if you did your errands dressed as a samurai?

tibetan temple

Tibetan Temple knitting and crochet, wool, soy silk and acrylic

Maybe did your thumbnail sketches under the boughs of a beautiful oak?

walk in the forest

A Walk in the Woods knitting, crochet and found objects, wool and cotton

Or even did your household chores dressed a little like Jackie Kennedy?

Jackie

Jackie wool and acrylic, knit and crochet

There is  something to be said for costumes.  Even Havi wrote about them at her blog.  Having one can help you be brave, to act as if (I am thinking of my “New Job, Model Citizen” dress slacks that I wear when I want to project that air of confidence and competence at events such as art openings).  Having one can help your brain transition from mundane work stuff into art making time. 

alice repose

Alice’s Repose crochet, i-cord, found object; wool and acrylic

I have a small wardrobe of aprons that I keep in my studio, and when I am having a hard time getting into the work on any given day, I put on an apron, even if I am not planning on doing any messy work that day.  This tells me that it is time to play, and I can feel my body relax and stop fighting the urge to have fun.

cake

Just Desserts wool, alpaca and cotton; knit and crochet.

Whether it is a thinking cap, an apron, or something more elaborate, a costume can add a lot of fun to your daily routine.  What roles do you play, and how could you dress them up?

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in inspiration, play, process

 

>Time Travel

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Twenty years ago when I was in graduate school, I wanted to do a series on water towers.

I took reference photographs.

water tower route 33

Water towers on Route 33 near The Plains, OH.

andrews water tower master copy

Water tower on the grounds of Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

I took my two toddlers out and parked in the parking lot of the local credit union and drew in the back seat of the car.

water tower drawing one

Water towers, Route 33, Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on Arches Cover Black paper.

water tower drawing two

Water towers, Route 33, Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on Arches Cover Black paper.

And I drew from reference photos, in my studio.

Gaffney SC drawing one

Gaffney, SC, Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons on Arches Cover Black paper, 40” x 30”.

(I couldn’t find my reference photo to put in this post.  Ironic, isn’t it?)

That’s as far as it got at the time.  There were a few false starts at paintings that ended up covered over, but these images were all that I had for a very long time.  Then I decided to revisit the imagery in my quilts (blog posts here and here).

And, while searching for a way to make some images that fit the parameters of a show calling for pieces no larger than 5”  in any direction, I remembered a technique described in the book Freestyle Machine Embroidery by Carol Shinn.

Carol took her source image and printed it out onto transfer paper.  She then ironed it onto a stiff fabric and filled in the image using machine embroidery.

Which I decided to do with the old drawings.

route 33 autumn afternoon

Route 33, Autumn Afternoon  Machine embroidery and photo transfer on twill.  5” x 5”

route 33 summer afternoon detail one

Detail, showing the layers used to create the feeling of the undergrowth.

gaffney sc embroidery one - Copy

Gaffney SC II, still in process.  You can see the twill on the borders.  I also use several layers of interfacing to stabilize the fabric and minimize distortion during stitching.

gaffney sc embroidery detail one - Copy

Here you can really see the texture of the stitches and of the twill underneath the iron-on.

I am using Golden Extra Heavy Body Gel to adhere the finished stitching to the canvas, pressing the work between two boards weighted down with paint jars.   Once the gel is dry, I trim the image close to the canvas and then paint the edges of the canvas with a coordinating color of acrylic paint.  In the future I may experiment with making the edges of the canvas covered in machine embroidery as well.

I really enjoyed working this way, and am eager to make new source drawings (of various subjects) to work from.  What treasures do you have in your studio that could provide a springboard for new creativity?

 

>What is Your Definition of Success?

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This topic came up in a friend’s LiveJournal this morning.  She wrote how she didn’t view success in terms of how much money she made from her work (whether as an artist or her previous career in social work), but rather in how she made people feel (through her beautiful work or how she helped her clients).   I don’t think it has to be an either/or type of answer (and neither does my friend), and I believe it is possible to have both, and in the case of some people it does seem that the better they make people feel (whether through their art or writing, or other pursuits such as being a sports or movie star) the more money they make. 

Last year one of my goals was to submit for a grant from the Ohio Arts Council.  I have learned over the years that when writing goals you need to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Which is why the goal was to submit the work, which is an Achievable target. Actually getting the grant is another thing entirely.

With that in mind, these are the images I submitted for the grant application.  All of the pieces had to be created within the last three years of the application.  I chose to submit the work from my water tower series.

Gaffney SC

Gaffney, SC 2007 40” H x 28” W 

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Route 33, Summer Morning  2008 47” x 44”

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Marilyn 2008 62” x 76”

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What Lies Beneath 2009  76” x 42”

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White Lies  2008 83” x 48”

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Night Moves 2008 32” x 31”

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Abundance 2008 15” x 22”

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Winter White 2009 60” x 50”

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Ophelia’s Sisters 2009 22” x 40”

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Garden Party 2010 44” x 45”

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Twilight 2010 38” x 40”

Andrews AFB

Andrews AFB 2010 80” x 54”

Because I had consistently created work over the past three years, filling the required image part of the application was easy.  Writing the artist statement, which I usually find painful and difficult, was easy, thanks to techniques I’ve learned using Havi Brooks’ Dissolving Procrastination book. This year I actually had the application in two weeks before the deadline, and I felt really good about it.

Then I got the email on January 4th, telling me I did not get a grant.

Was I disappointed? You bet.  I feel this is the best application I’ve submitted for this grant in the ten years I’ve tried for one.  I love my artist statement and I love my work.  It would have been nice to have the validation (not to mention the money) of receiving one of the grants.

But I still consider myself a success.  Because I put the work out there and applied. 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in goals, persistence, process, water tower