Last week I was privileged to teach to an AP Art class at our local high school. We had a great time pulling prints from the Gelli Arts printing plate, as well as plain old paper to paper printing of hand-cut collagraphs. After amassing a pile a papers, they created a small journal or a grid collage, or both. I will show photos from the event next week. Below is a practice print I made to get warmed up for class - using a stencil that is having it's three year anniversary today!
Not long ago I started paying attention to the changes at Pinterest. They seem to continually change their format - just when I think I get how it works, it changes. It's likely they don't actually change it that regularly, but seems like it since I don't visit very often. One new feature seems to be that they have figured out how to compile close-to-accurate numbers for how often a photo/graphic is pinned. It used to be that you would see an item pinned from your blog with a quantity of 10 or 20 next to it, then see the same item further down the page with a 15, 30, or 50. There was a photo montage from my blog that had registered over a 1000 pins and I thought that was pretty cool, until I visited it this week and discovered, because of the new calculating wizardry, that the pin is now on over 12,200 boards. (see HERE if you're on Pinterest) HCIT?
I can't believe it's been three years TODAY since these stencils came out. Designed in October 2013, they were released with Stencil Girl Products on January 27, 2014. Here's an abbreviated posting of my original.
On the newsstands now or very soon, the Jan/Feb Somerset Studio - with my article: Silver Linings. Made with gelli prints that were painted back in October 2013, I decided to finally USE THEM as they were in peril of being pitched. Pages are stitched together - a tip I got from my friend Julie Prichard in one of her online classes. I'm a Silver Lining seeker - trying to see the good in every situation, no matter how difficult. Quotes of affirmation, collected over time, now reside in this new journal. See the article for more about the process.
Don't miss out on the early registration discount for CreativeJumpStart2017. Offer good through the ball drop on Saturday night. Join in for a full month of creativity videos and giveaways - from 27 artists. Last year was so much fun - my first time as a presenter. Happy to be back again. Come along!!
My friend Nathalie, host of Creative JumpStart, has prepared a video that is a visual interview. She asked the questions, I sent her graphics for my answers. I love this kind of interview. Check it out. You can sign up for a month of motivational tutorials from 27 artists, to get you plugged in to making cool stuff HERE. I hope you'll join us!
When you get to the end of the video it will show you some of the other interviews that have been posted so far - click on those too. Super fun!
I'm excited to announce that I'll be a participating artist for Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2017, hosted for the 6th year by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2017.
Learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with other artists and crafters.
Throughout January participants get access to 27 downloadable videos from 27 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:
Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and to learn more details:
If you sign up before November 30th (11:59 pm EST 2016) the cost is only $40.
Afterwards it will be $45 until December 31st, 2016 before it goes to its regular price of $50.
Treat yourself and jumpstart your creativity for the new year - a full month of inspiring posts to get you plugged in to making art!
I participated last year - with my first video! It was super fun to see how each jumpstart artist interpreted the prompt of the theme, and I learned a lot of really fun techniques (from artists I knew and artists who were knew-to-me) and it definitely got me motivated for the new year. This will be my second year, and only my second video - I know! I'm a dinosaur....eventually video-making will become more of a habit...I hope! I am grateful to my friend Nathalie who pushed me out of my comfort zone to make these videos.
I love the theme for 2017 - MIX, MATCH, & MASTER and I have translated it with a quick and easy project that everyone should try!
So what are you waiting for? Sign up here at:
Chime in below if you are coming along for the ride and we will get excited together!
AND..........if you're a cyber shopper (who isn't?) Stencil Girl Products has deals all day long TODAY.
Stencil savings up to 35% on my SGP designs!
Official shopping details: www.stencilgirlproducts.com
Save 25% off all* stencils Use code: cyber25
Monday, November 28, 2016 from midnight until 11:59 a.m. CST (Central Standard Time)
PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!
AND orders over $100 get a FREE large stencil of Mary Beth's choice!
SHOP for my designs HERE.
Save 20% off all* stencils Use code: cyber20 Monday, November 28, 2016
from noon until 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time)
PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!
AND orders over $100 get a FREE large stencil of Mary Beth's choice!
SHOP for my designs HERE.
Lots of really amazing designs at Stencil Girl Products - stock up for yourself, and double up to get some gifts!
Just in - newest Somerset Studio. My Make It Your Own column for this issue is Draw The Line - got the title from a sign that hangs over my desk. We get so jazzed about stencils with paint, ink, gelli plates, spray paint....we often forget to just use with pencil or pen. Into the coloring book trend? Make some pages of your own with the assistance of stencils, and some freehand mark-making. Love the stencils you already have? Pump up the contrast by adding outlines - draw the line! Magazine hits the stands this week.
Day 6: I told you I've met some new friends I'm going to tell you about soon, but I also have some old friends who have taken up the crusade to show us their manhole covers. First up is my good friend and fellow artist Julie Prichard. She's an amazing painter, photographer, workshop instructor and author. You can find her online classes HERE + blog at TheLandOfLostLuggage.com. Her book, Acrylic Solutions: Exploring Mixed Media Layer by Layer is available on Amazon HERE. She is going be in a show at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park next month! Meet the Artist November 12, 6pm ~ Show runs through December 3rd. If you're in the area stop in - you'll get to see and buy amazing paintings, like this one:
Julie is sharing all the covers she found in her neighborhood and on her travels in the San Diego vicinity. How cool are these? Thanks Julie!!
Funny story: as Julie and I were on the phone discussing manhole covers, and where they were located on our own streets, we both pulled up Google maps and were "'walking" down the streets looking for their locations. You can actually see some of them when you arm-chair-travel that way.
EDIT: See Julie's blog post about her guest COVERage HERE.
The current issue of Somerset Studio has arrived. If you've been following me for a long time you'll be familiar with the subject of my article - collecting dirt, which evolved from collecting sand. See the magazine for the full story. They left out the final photo of a tip I offer of how to secure a cork on a bottle to keep the contents safe, so I've included it here. Thank you to everyone who wrote me about the previous article highlighting Sam's new venture. I really appreciate hearing from you and that you took the time to reach out and share your enthusiasm. We've had a lot of orders recently so I'm going to be refilling the shop this weekend.
Oh my...it's been a while since I blogged. A sign that's it has been a busy and fun summer! Can't believe it's September already. Fallon will be starting at Rutgers next week. I love the beginning of a school year, even it if doesn't have a direct impact on my personal daily life anymore (packing lunches, driving carpool, monitoring homework....) However, I always regard this time period as a chance to start anew. Three quarters of 2016 is over but we still can view this month as returning students do, with sharpened pencils and fresh perspective. Shake off unfinished projects, clear off the table, open your mind, and begin learning something new. Change of season, change of routine. That's what September means to me - although I do try to hang on to the last pleasures of summer a little longer.
My next two classes will be at Pratt in NYC. See my WORKSHOPS page for the particulars. Hope you'll come!!
I had two terrific classes at The Ink Pad last month. It's always such a treat to see how the artists interpret the projects. I always leave feeling so energized and motivated when I see the magic of creativity at work. Thanks for joining me!
I'm off to float around the pool again while catching up on my reading. Have a great holiday weekend!
Oh my, the temps have been very red recently. This very second it is 95 degrees here and the heat index is even higher. It's going to be a very warm week. So it was a pleasant surprise when Sam shifted his color palette from warm to cool. The previous batch of cards were reds and oranges, and last week he chose blue, purple, and teal. I love seeing all the cards together. This is the stage where he labels the backs and packages into sets of four. Typically we have selected cards that are similar to be in a set but I'm thinking this time we may offer a variety of colors. New offerings will be posted this week.
As always, thanks for your support and your enthusiasm for Sam's new enterprise. We've received many lovely emails about the article in Somerset Studio. I've been printing out all the comments, notes, and Etsy reviews to put in a binder and we read them together. It's been a beautiful experience.
Check us out on Etsy later this week for these new cards.
Last week the new Somerset Studio arrived. My column in this issue features our son Sam and his new venture: Painting with Purpose. Look at this face - it says it all. He was so excited to see his work on the pages of the magazine that regularly arrives here. Our thanks to Stampington who recognized it was a worthwhile story - art making a difference.
We've already gotten some lovely emails about the article, and a handful of orders from new customers! We are adding more selections this week.
Thanks for sharing your kind words and enthusiasm for our story and our project to create purpose for our special guy.
Link to our store: ETSY: ForYourSpecialNeeds
If you missed the post about our shop, see HERE.
A new class for August 13 - FLIP OVER NYC. Get it? It's a flip-style book you will flip over. Ha! Super fun to work on this one. Come take the class with me at The Ink Pad. Call (212) 463-9876 to register. Then on August 14 we will be making a Frond Chronicle Journal. Learn how to make your own stencil/mask sets (from four different materials), then use them as tools with paint. This one is a favorite and often requested. See samples below. Hope to see you in class!
Full disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to review. To be perfectly honest, I probably would never have seen the book if it didn't arrive in my mailbox. As you know, last year I went on a massive studio purge and since then I not only don't buy new books, but I don't even shop for them. I do admit that I love books and I'm not opposed to adding to my library, but there is no longer a book store convenient to home - in addition, it seems that my last few out-of-the-way trips to look at books left me frustrated that there were less and less actual books in the store. You gotta love that as an alternative you can visit Amazon, who offers you a preview of contents, a nice deal, and great shipping options. For more on the book I'm going to talk about, or to order, click here: The Mandala Guidebook: How to Paint, Draw, and Color Expressive Mandalas by Kathryn Costa.
I'm not sure of the exact date that I "met" Kathryn online, but I know it was through the Creativity Crusades I hosted back in the day. Kathryn participated in many of the challenges with her own personal flair and was always a generous and thoughtful commentor to other crusaders. For my review, I've decided to interpret this book as a prompt, as though she is hosting a challenge, and see what happens when I run the information through my own filters, and make it my own. You can scroll down and see the results.
I love that in the bio section of her book she describes her passion in three words "create and connect". That's a perfect summary of her creative journey as she's been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration through several blog platforms - CollageDiva, True North Arts, and most recently 100 Mandalas. She intentionally creates from the heart and deliberately and genuinely makes connections within the art community. My impression of Kathryn is that she would feel like an instant friend should we ever get to meet in real life. It did not surprise me to learn she had authored a book on making mandalas - sharing her verve for the unique topic, with user-friendly teaching methods, vibrant illustrations, and authentic encouragement to discover personal style and ultimately, joy, from plugging in and applying the process in your own way.
I've always been intrigued by beautiful and intricately drawn mandalas. I also resonate with mandala-like structures created from natural materials, and have been mesmerized by watching videos of mandalas formed by patterns of colored sand. As a person who had never tried drawing or designing one of my own I decided to read through the book, gather all the step-by-step instructions into my mental vault, then have a go myself. Kathryn breaks down the process with clear illustrations and offers many wonderful examples of her own, plus a gallery of mandalas created by guest artists. She has a gentle yet enthusiastic voice that walks you through options for designing, embellishing, and adding color to mandalas with many demonstrations, and invites you to dig even deeper moving from decorative to meditative.
Before committing to paper, I had an opportunity one afternoon to mess around with temporary mandalas. I filled a basin with sand and sprayed with water so the surface would hold designs I marked with sticks and embellished with stones. It was really a pleasant practice to try something, then wipe away all evidence, and try again. Eventually I grabbed a few more tools - circle cookie cutters, a stencil, and other mark-making devices. I documented compositions made in minutes - such a quick and easy introduction to building off a circle. Next, I went from nature basics to high tech - and manipulated some of my artwork into digital mandalas. It was addictive to work on an axis and move elements around then experiment with color. The results are also below. I always have a takeaway from play on the computer - this time I recognized that I'm not into the coloring part. I'm more interested in the fine lines of design. So I moved forward with pens and paper.
I had to laugh - in chapter one, page 13, Kathryn admits to being a "recovering perfectionist". I can relate. Since I'm educated as an architect, my initial approach was to get out the templates, protractor, compass, ruler and triangles, with the intention of creating precise, perfect circles and segments on graph paper. I did use these tools with pencil for a preliminary layout, then set aside and free-handed everything with black and white pens. I didn't even use the graph paper! I love the results on kraft and the imperfection proves that they were conjured up by hand, not machine. The wonky black lines kinda bugged me until I started highlighting with the white pen and then the tension washed away and I finally began to enjoy myself. Not only that, but I also couldn't stop! I will definitely be carrying on with this simple interpretation.
If you have considered jumping into mandala making then I recommend seeking out Kathryn's book. It's a wonderful introduction to the unique art form. Thank you Kathryn, for prompting me to try something new. I can't wait to get back to discovering additional ways to work with black and white starting from a circle and a few basic shapes. Maybe I'll even venture into color!
Visit Kathryn's site: 100 Mandalas and again, the link at Amazon:
I will be at Pratt in June with one of my favorite classes: Roll With It. You can see a great evidence shot from this class below the announcement. I will also be teaching at Pratt this Fall. October 8: What a Relief, and November 19: Compose Yourself. See all current postings on the workshop page HERE.
In August I will be returning to The Ink Pad. Classes still to be determined. I have a few new ideas....working them out this week!
As April approached I had a grand plan to blog each week under theme of autism awareness. Turns out the month got away from me. Here we are on the last day already. It's been busy, but oh so fulfilling. Thank you to our friends who have supported our new shop. 73 sales is pretty good for our launch month. We also had two commissions - just mailed the second one off today. I had a meeting with our DVR counselor this week. That's a state appointed person who tracks your progress in securing a job - she had referred us to two different agencies to assist with the process. As you know, after three years with no prospects we decided to go out on our own and build a business. She was very kind and went to bat for us with her supervisor to see if they could support us in any way - thanks, but we don't need anything. We got this. While I appreciated her effort, it ended up being a frustrating experience. Because I couldn't supply her with a tax ID and financial reports they regard our enterprise as a hobby, not employment,and have earmarked his file as a non-success. I left the meeting feeling deflated because they don't get it. Profit is not a goal. It's Purpose we are after. And Purpose we created. And Purpose fills our days and brings satisfaction and happiness. Who cares what the files say, we are doing it our way.
On launch day Sam received a bouquet of roses from our friend Janet - a sweet lady I only know through this blog and our email conversations. Thank you Janet - not only for making April 1st a very special day, but you've introduced us to a really fabulous enterprise: Roses for Autism. If you ever want to send roses, this is the place. Visit the site to learn more about their exceptional staff, HERE.
Just after Sam's birthday, he participated in a talent/fashion show at our high school with his peers. It was the most amazing evening seeing these special kids parade across the stage, and sing, and dance. Sam had a display of his cards with two other entrepreneurs; a friend who makes candles and air fresheners, and another artist who paints and illustrates. Super fun night and utterly heartwarming.
As I mentioned, in addition to painting cards, we were commissioned by friends to create special packages. Veering from our usual routine was something Sam took in stride but he can't wait to get back to painting next week. He whizzes through the labeling and packaging because he knows that once that is done he can get back to the easel.
Tomorrow is May. I remember making May Day offerings out of construction paper and filling with leftover Easter grass and a handful of treats to leave at the door of friends. Ring the bell, hang a surprise on the doorknob, and run! It was a tradition in my neighborhood that we continued with our kids. Anyone else do May Day cones or baskets?
The May/June Somerset Studio has arrived! If you subscribe you may have it by now - hits the shelves around May 1st. My column is about using up items from my stash, and venturing into stitching. I really loved working on this fabric book and have finished additional pages which I will show you sometime soon. You'll recognize that my topographical interest made its way onto a spread, of course! My friends Lynne and Mary Beth have colorful fun articles for their columns - be sure to get a copy.
SAM AND I HAVE BEEN BUSY!
We are excited to launch this new venture together, and are making our announcement today,
the beginning of Autism Awareness month.
SPECIAL NEEDS is a phrase that has a double meaning. Yes, Sam has 'special needs' in the way most people think. He has autism. But don't we all have special needs? Rather than shy away from the term we are embracing it to remind us that sometimes you just need a little something special. We hope you like our offerings and will choose to purchase when you want a card to send a personal message.
PAINTING WITH PURPOSE: Our goal is not to make profit but to cover our costs, and more importantly, give us a daily purpose. Our products may not be perfect, but that's the beauty of being handmade with heart. We will be donating a portion of our profit to make a difference in the lives of families who are affected by autism.
CREATING OUR OWN DESTINY: After years of working with agencies trying to find appropriate employment we've decided to create our own destiny with the self-imposed ambition to have a daily purpose. Painting with Purpose has become one of our mantras. Sam loves to sit at the easel and paint piles of paper everyday. Painting, cutting, sorting, counting, labeling, packaging and mailing will be a fun way to insert productive activity into our day.
RIPPLE EFFECT: (And the secret behind our logo) We hope that our choice to open this shop will have a ripple effect and inspire others to do something similar. If you know of a family that is also trying to gain employment for their adult child with special needs maybe you could suggest they find an item that could be handmade and sold too. When there isn't a clear path of what to do after graduation, this could be a worthwhile endeavor. I welcome any questions on how to get launched.
See our brand new shop, HERE.
As I mentioned here on the blog, a little while ago I had an epiphany. It wasn't a lightning bolt idea, it had actually been simmering for some time. After meeting with our sixth job coach in nearly three years, with grand hopes of finding appropriate job placement for Sam, it was becoming clear that we needed to invent our own plan for daily purpose. Sam has great skills and has had some work experience, but the applications and interviews were going nowhere. We couldn't even secure a regular volunteer position.
My first vision was to come up with a project that Sam could manage on his own, giving him a routine and a schedule - something that he loves. I purchased a die-cut machine with the intention that he could make sets of gift tags and sell them on Etsy. I buy tags from there all the time so it made sense. The endeavor would be a chance for him to be productive, and see results. Cut, sort, count, package. We began. Then, to explain better what we were doing this for, I pulled out some painted cards Sam had made back in middle school with his class. His teacher, Mrs. Reiss, had her husband make the boys some tabletop easels, and they painted papers which were made into card sets. The boys sold the cards from a table at school events, and even had a display at the church holiday bazaar. As I was reminding Sam about the handpainted cards he got really excited, and it was a *sign* we needed to drop the die-cut tags and focus on painting. So painting it is - and eventually we may circle back to tags, but we also have a few more project plans that will debut later in the year. Sam has purpose. Mom and Dad are proud. Family is supportive, and cheering, and tolerant of the dining room take-over during the painting sessions (he paints 30-40 sheets at a time!).
A few photos from 2007 when Sam's class was selling cards. Thanks to my friend Maureen Reiss, and the other teachers who got the boys started with the process of painting with purpose. Who knew this would become a daily focus? Awesome.
And a re-cap of our adventure - it's only just begun! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm with us. It's made the process really fun!
Ready to ship! See HERE.
EDIT (June): See my story in Somerset Studio (July/August) HERE