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A Place for Everything

There are several times during any given day in which I find myself muttering, “Now where did I put that…

It’s been said that artists and creative types of people require a certain amount of mess, clutter and decrepitude in their environment to adequately be able to make their art. I don’t know that I totally agree or disagree with that statement. What I know for sure is that I have A LOT of tools, materials and supplies to keep organized. And relatively easy to locate.

My training:

When I was working as an elementary art teacher with a pretty large staff of visual art teachers, mine was one of the names given to new teachers who wanted to learn how to better organize the tools, materials and supplies that they had in their inventories. Organization of a visual art classroom can seem a bit overwhelming. Creating a system for organizing everything just made the job a little easier.

Part of my organizational methodologies regarding tools, materials and supplies had to do with categories and frequency of use within the art classroom. Another part was containers and labeling. It’s a simple and flexible way or getting as little or as much organization to suit your own personal needs.

As a working artist, I rely on the aforementioned methods to keep my personal studio space as organized as possible. These methods feel more important for me at present, because my “studio” is actually just a portion of my living room. Less space requires a few tweaks to my methods. But they still work.

Categories:

My artwork is comprised of several different mediums, with accompanying tools. Storage and organization is required for painting, sewing, paper mâché, wood carving, drawing, jewelry, collage and embroidery just to name a few! There are some categories that have overlap with others as well.

When new materials and supplies are used. And the amount of the supply small. I usually store it with an overlapping category. An example: wire. Until recently, the wire that I was using was simply stored with my jewelry supplies. More wire has been acquired, and now wire has its’ own storage container.

To create your own categories, just stop and take a look at what you have. Break them down into specific categories. This can be done easily during a cleaning of your work area or studio space. You may discover that you have a lot more of some materials and supplies than you thought you did!

Frequency of use:

The more I use a tool, supply or material, the closer it is to my immediate work area. There are eleven containers on my desktop holding pens, markers, pencils, scissors, knives, measuring tools, etc. But the two to my right, containing specific pens (ballpoint and permanent) and a craft knife, small ruler, bodkin (x2), needle nose pliers, a bone folder, a doll needle and a plastic spatula type tool are the ones that I use dozens and dozens of times a day. The other nine  are a little further away.

My paints are stored off my desk. All of my newspaper (for paper mâché) are in a small cubby of a bookcase, as are my buttons, part of my beads, intaglio supplies and empty water containers. Each of these tools or supplies is used at a specific time. Meaning that I need to have something that I need to use them on to need them on my desk. My eleven containers of drawing materials and tools are better kept on my desk than on a bookcase further from my work area.

The right side of my desk is ‘temporary housing’ for some supplies. Right now, I need to have some larger bottles of white glue and paint on my desk while creating some new work. When I finish with them, they go right back to their storage places.

Labeling:

Paint is a large category that requires subcategories. I have acrylic, watercolor (pan and liquid), tempera paints that I use. Each of them is stored slightly differently. Acrylics in cardboard pallets (trays) that can be easily stacked in a storage shelf by my desk. The watercolor and tempera paints are housed in little cases. The liquid watercolor tubes are in an old cookie tin. Each are labeled with what they contain. All are kept in close proximity to one another.

I have an extraordinarily large collection of buttons. They are each stored in second hand metal tins. The buttons themselves are sorted into subcategories of color, material and vintage. Each tin is labeled with what they contain, not just on the top, but on the side so I can easily see them.

The types of labels needed need not be complicated or expensive either. Use whatever small piece of paper I have at hand, including sticky notes. What remains the same is that I use a black permanent marker to write with and I tape the label to the container.

Containers:

With the exception of a few containers, the vast majority that I have are either second hand or recycled. For smaller bits and bobs, like all those buttons I mentioned, second hand metal tins are used. I also have quite a few second hand cookie tins as well. They’re rigid and stack nicely.

I like using clear containers to store my supplies and materials. When I was teaching art, I used the largest clear plastic tubs with lids for most of the supplies for my classroom, as well as my personal studio. One look and you know what’s inside! My work space is much smaller than my previous studio. So large plastic bins just are not practical.

However, I do have dozens of clear plastic bins with lids holding a lot of my art supplies and materials. How did I get them? Easy! Bin candy is very popular here in Finland. The candy is shipped to the stores in clear plastic cube-like, lidded boxes. These boxes are left by the stocking people at the fronts of the store. They’re free for the taking. At most, they require a washing in the sink with some dish soap. The labels are just ignored, or covered with paper and the contents written on with a black permanent marker.

Conclusions:

I’m not perfect. In fact, as I type this blog post, the area around and under my desk has become what my husband calls a “crap slide”. This occurs when my recycled art materials (mostly cardboards and plastics) over-flow their containers (flat bottomed recycled grocery bags) onto the surrounding floor. And yes, I really need to do a major cleaning of my desk and workspace. As well as my supplies and materials. Sorting needs to be done with regard to my supplies and materials. A lot of sorting. So. Much. Sorting.

Guess what I’m doing later this week?!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Tuesday!

 

 

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Working Tiny

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on tiny dolls. The Tic, Tac, Toe dolls (10 dolls) were completed. Then I began creating some tinier dolls (3.5 cm). And then some even tinier dolls (2.9 to 3.3 cm). At some point in the future, I will create even tinier dolls (2.5 cm? 2.2 cm?).

It could appear to some people that I have a compulsion of sorts. Scratch at an artist or other creative makers and you’ll find something similar. Calling it a compulsion sounds a bit uncontrollable. Admittedly, there have been times that even I feel an uncontrollable need to create. But it’s more complicated than that.

So, for people looking at my artwork, and for myself. I’ll outline my creative rationale for the teenie-tiny doll army I seem to be creating.

Where do they come from?

My fascination with tiny dolls started very young. Liddle Kiddles and Flatsie dolls in particular. There was a line of Liddle Kiddle Dolls called Jewelry Kiddles. For the Jewelry Kiddles, you got a teeny-tiny doll that was housed inside a little locket like container. This was attached to a necklace, pin, ring or bracelet.

Some of my earliest memories of are of these dolls. I was so young when they were sold, that I have a feeling that they may have been hand-me-down toys from my older sister. She never seemed to really be into dolls as a kid. So this scenario is a likely one. Well..I also had a rather nasty habit of simply claiming things I wanted as a toddler. So I suppose I could have simply pinched them from her as well.

These dolls absolutely fascinated me. They were just so absolutely tiny! They seemed so incredibly precious to me too. It very well could be that my twin loves of dolls and miniatures was born through them.

Not a recreation:

As you might suspect, teeny-tiny dolls in the hands of a three to six year old child have a way of getting lost. Only two or three of my Liddle Kiddle and Flatsy dolls are around today. Their clothing long lost. And their hair a total mess.

As a visual artist, I have no interest in re-creating those dolls. You won’t see me making moulds of their faces. Or painting them on canvas nine meters tall. It doesn’t interest me creatively to simply make another Shirley Strawberry or Cleo Cola. What those dolls do is inspire me to create my own tiny dolls.

The teeny-tiny dolls I’ve created recently are the dolls that I so achingly wanted to make when I was a little five year old girl and lost my last Jewelry Kiddle doll. I’m soothing that part of me that knows that I’ll never see or hold that tiny little precious confidant doll that I would talk to and share all my little kid problems with every again.

Entrepreneurial POV:

After all of the personal (emotional) intrinsic motivation is laid-out. From the standpoint of a small business, my main objective is to sell my artwork to obtain money so that I can pay my bills. It’s a pretty simple equation. As an art-creating small business entrepreneur, I’m not marketing a labor-saving device, a tasty new food product, or even a novel new service.

What an artist offers is an object that is purely ornamental. Even superfluous. And while there are customers who do purchase my dolls simply because they find them attractive and want to have them. There are other potential customers that see the purchase of a doll as not making sense. This may also have something to do with thinking of a doll as a toy as well.

The potential customer may like my artwork, but feel it has no place within their lives. Creating an object that serves a specific purpose, like a brooch or pin (to start with) may entice potential customers to purchase a piece for themselves, or for someone they know. This might also result in additional referrals from people who do not purchase my work, to people they feel may wish to purchase my work

Resistance:

It’s been about a year now that I’ve been pushing around an idea in my mind. Creating some kind of pins, or brooches that have my small and tiny dolls as a major component. The major reason for my resistance is that the concept removes the component of play from the doll itself. It becomes an accessory.

I was gifted a doll pin when I was little. It was so disappointing that I couldn’t actually play with the doll. It wasn’t a doll anymore. My frustration pushed me to remove the pin back. In fact, I had to destroy the pin back in removing it. But the doll was free. That was all that mattered to me.

The appeal of the Jewelry Kiddles for me was that the doll was removable. The doll could also be returned to it’s little protective plastic see-through locket for safe keeping as well. There was something kind of magical about that for me as a little kid. As an adult artist, I wondered if I could create something similar.

Is this giving in?

Creating tiny dolls, actually teenie-tiny dolls that are specifically for pins or brooches — I think what I have in mind is more along the brooch type of description — is that ‘giving in’ to the market? There isn’t a hard and fast, yes or no type of answer to this question. Perhaps it’s simply better to say that my views have evolved.

If you’ve been following me for a while now, you will have seen some of the artwork that I created for the Matara Käytävä Galleria. This exhibit space pushed me as an artist to create artwork that could be displayed vertically, instead of in the round. I began to experiment with how to integrate my dolls into frames and shadow-boxes. The whole experience opened up many creatively interesting ideas for me to explore.

I realized that part of my fascination with placing my dolls behind glass (or plastic as it were) stirred-up all kinds of different emotional responses within me. Some of which could be traced back to those Jewelry Kiddles dolls. To be honest, I was disturbing myself with my own art. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

Now what?

Well, for starters, I’ve begun the brooches themselves. As with all my artwork, they seem to be equal parts planned and highly experimental. The brooches are being made from recycled materials and will be paper mâché. Pictures are of the various stages of my progress are posted daily on my Instagram.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

 

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A Place for My Brain

(Update: I have created an Instagram Highlights containing photos with captions of my Daily Journal, as well as my sketchbooks and gallery notebooks. You can find them under the title Sketchbooks.)

Using a sketchbook is something that I’ve done since I was in high school. The way in which I use them has changed as I’v changed at a person, as well as an artist. A sketchbook, in my view is like any other tool that an artist might use. My use of sketchbooks has been is something I keep flexible, so that it can continue to be functional for the ways in which I create my artwork.

The type of book:

To be honest, expensive sketchbooks, filled with lovely white paper make me extremely nervous. There is something about them that just makes my brain shut itself off. I can never seem to relax and just draw in them. There is this feeling that I’m going to somehow ruin them by using them.

For many years, I used a small, spiral bound Mead brand notebook. It had lined pages and a few pockets that I could put things in. The large spiral was handy for keeping a pen clipped inside. So I always had something to draw or write with. The covers always had to be dark green too.

I filled these sketchbooks with an endless stream of sketches and ideas. My sketchbooks became even more personal as I also used them for a tremendous amount of personal diary-type entries. The writings fed the artwork, and the sketches fed the writing. Showing my sketchbook to anyone was far too risky a proposition. So it was off-limits to everyone. Even my friends.

Evolving tool:

After becoming an art teacher, I began keeping separate sketchbooks. One for my personal artwork. And another for the ideas I had for potential student art lessons. Dividing the sketchbooks into two distinct entities kept my personal artwork a personal expression of myself as an artist.

The sketchbook for potential student art lessons was something that I could easily share with fellow teachers. Most of the time, this art teacher sketchbook was also crammed full of articles, snippets of this or that, sometimes even partially completed art lessons.

My personal artwork has been greatly influenced by my work as an art teacher, and vice versa. There were ideas that migrated from my art teacher sketchbook to my personal sketchbook, and the other way around as well. I didn’t want to limit myself. Sometimes ideas died after transfer. While others found a creative place to grow.

Currently:

After moving to Finland, money was a little tight. I was surprised at how much the type of notebooks I wanted to purchase to use as a sketchbook cost. Loose-leaf, gridded notebook paper was much more affordable. My knowledge of book binding, as well as some rudimentary sewing tools, went a long way in helping me to create my own sketchbooks.

My sketchbooks aren’t complicated. They’re simple saddle-stitched, pamphlet books. I found an inexpensive brand of large-format, colorful card stock to use for covers. Recycled carton board is used to reinforce the front and back covers. Each of the sketchbooks I make have around 30 pieces of loose-leaf paper folded in half (A4 folded to A5). If I use an inexpensive white drawing paper, 15 pieces of paper are used.

Multiple books:

I have several different small books, some for sketching, some for writing and yet another daily journal. At this point, I’m in the process of figuring out how I want all these books to work together. Presently, in addition to my sketchbook, I also have a book of the same size that I’m using to plan exhibits of my artwork.

Most of the time, I use a few large rubber bands to hold these books closed and together. Especially when I take them outside of the apartment. Making some sort of folio-type cover, perhaps with some elastic bands inside of the folio, is something that I’ve been wanting to make. It seems a little more professional than the wad of rubber bands alone!

The design for this imagined folio isn’t anything extremely fancy either. A cover that will protect the enclosed books. As well as something that allows me to easily swap in and out different books is what I want. Because I like using as many recycled and up-cycled art materials, I’ve been looking around at the second hand stores I frequent. Hopefully I will find something before long.

So, now what?

It’s important to have a place to put your thoughts and ideas. The older that I’ve gotten, the more I believe this to be true. Being able to write and draw and be alone with your own thoughts is important. Writing and drawing allows an individual to reflect, as well as react to the events occurring in their lives. It’s can be quite therapeutic, as well as possibly a lot of fun. The drawing part I mean!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!

 

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Exhibition Art for Sale!

My art exhibit in the Käytävä Galleria at Matara in January generated an increase in the interest in my larger pieces of artwork. And by generated interest, I mean, I sold some of my artwork! It was an instance in which the ‘happy dance’ was done in the privacy of my own living room. Well away from anyone I might blind with my Elaine Benes-like dance moves!

It’s different for a reason:

I’ve added four of the pieces of artwork that I showed at Käytävä Galleria to my shop. These pieces differ a great deal from the artwork that I have in my shop currently. A big reason for this is because the artwork that I created required that it be hung on a wall, and not displayed in a case or behind glass.

Each of these pieces of art have metal hanging hardware so that they can easily be placed upon a vertical surface. Well out of reach of a little person or pet that might find them an irresistible attraction. Adults who may want to touch the artwork are something that will simply have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

New art:

I’ve added y Tragedia, Point of Conception, Sister Bougainvillea and Blue Doll #10 to the shop. Click on their names and it will take you directly to their page in the shop! There has also been additional video added for each piece in my Instagram Highlights. I’ve had to abbreviate the names a little bit though! Some of the titles I chose were a bit verbose I suppose.

If you have any questions regarding these four pieces of artwork, or any of the artwork that I have for sale in my shop, please feel free to contact me!

Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday!

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Time and Organization

I’ve been wanting to have a dedicated series of blog posts that talk about making art for quite a while. There just hasn’t been enough time. Well, actually, there was time. It was just being used up on other endeavors. But that’s just life I suppose. Having lots of ideas of what you want to do. And discovering that allotting the time do accomplish them two very different things.

Time and organization:

Those two terms may not be ones that one would naturally attach to an artist. Or for that matter, any kind of creative person. But I can tell you from personal and professional experience, my ability to manage both of these concepts have proved incredibly beneficial to me.

Part of my genetic inheritance from my father is a fairly good sense of time. I’m one of those annoying sorts of people who can look at the sun and tell you what time it is. As well as being able to basically tell myself what time to wake up in the morning. While my intrinsic sense of the passage of linear time is a handy ability, it does nothing to help me manage my time during any given day of the week.

Keeping track of my time and my artwork is done using a daily journal.

Daily journal:

My daily journal isn’t fancy. And it didn’t cost a lot of money. It’s a small, spiral bound A5 (5-7/8 x 8-1/4 in.) notebook that I picked up cheap in a store bin somewhere in town. The paper is graphed. Which I like quite a bit. As a right handed person, the spiral binding doesn’t bug me like it can bother a left handed person.

Each page is a day. The date and day of the week I write at the top. Each page is divided into three sections. Computer based work, art production and blog. Within each of the three sections, I write it the tasks I want to accomplish that day. In addition, I write in any tasks that get accomplished that I hadn’t intended to do that day.

I’ve used this particular break down for about a year now. And it’s worked well. However, I’m going to be making some small changes and creating additional sections to better fit what I will be working on during the coming months.

What’s included in ‘Computer Work’:

This section contains the most regular daily tasks. This is where I list the platforms that I need to post on daily, like Instagram. I also post to Imgur, but on a weekly basis. My website also needs to be checked on daily. If not several times a day. Staying on top of website updates and shop sales are very important.

Keeping track of my website traffic, as well as my other platforms I frequent are tallied in this section as well. I can track what is working and what’s not working. Sometimes, I get a surge of traffic seemingly out of the blue. Having this section to my daily journal is going a long way in aiding me to discover what works and what doesn’t work from an advertising/social media platform kind of way.

Email and DM information is also noted in this section. I make sure to note when and to whom I have communicated. This may seem a little over the top. But for me, it helps me keep track of what I’m doing and on what day. When I write something down, I remember it. It’s just how my brain works.

What’s included in ‘Art Production’:

Art making, of course! I tend to reference this section in the mornings and evenings the most. In the morning, when I write down what I want to accomplish during the day. And at the end of the day, so that anything I haven’t finished can be moved to the next day.

In recent months, I’ve been working on several different pieces of art at the same time. Having this section of my daily journal helps me to plan out what I’m working on and when. There are times when clay, glue or paint requires time to cure thoroughly before the artwork can be worked on again. While waiting for pieces to cure, I can work on other parts of the piece, so time isn’t wasted.

A new section I’m going to add to this section is computer-based art production. In the past, I tried to accomplish all my computer-based art production on one day. It never worked well. There are several times during the week that I need to work on photo processing, advertising creation and the like. It’s simply easier to include it in the Art Production section. And track it like the other artwork I create.

What’s included in ‘Blog’:

More often then not, it’s a lot of notations about what I might like to blog about. Presently, the way that I’ve been utilizing this section has just fallen incredibly short of what I want them to be. It’s as if I’m throwing jello at the wall and hoping something sticks. I don’t like that. So I’m going to change it.

The first change I’m making is adding a second blog post to each week. Tuesday blog posts will be about the nuts and bolts of being an artist. Something as mundane as how I organize my days to take full advantage of my time is a blog post that will be published on Tuesdays.

In addition, I would also like to write blog posts about materials and techniques. As well as my personal methods of creativity, and/or the methods of other artists and creative people. This will include artists like myself, artists I find inspiring as well as artists from an historical standpoint.

So what does this have to do with Time?

A lot. Working from home requires me to be incredibly aware of on what and how I spend my time working. It’s easy for me to refer to an earlier date(s) to see how long it took me to accomplish a particular task. Or if I had problems with getting something to work the way that I wanted it to.

Journaling has been something I’ve done since I was in high school. It makes sense to me to have a book to keep all of my thoughts and ideas together in. For me, the idea occurs. Then it’s written down, and sometimes elaborated on. And THEN it’s either created as artwork, or made manifest. Mine is just one of many different ways of working.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!

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Inspiration

“Where did you get that idea from?”

“What was your inspiration for this artwork here?”

Inspiration:

I’ve always felt incredibly fortunate as an artist to never run out of ideas. There always seems to be something I want to try or explore. Fortune has seen fit to grant me with far more things that I want to create, than things than I have time to create.

Part of any perceived fortune is completely by design. I have structured my life around the creating of my artwork. Right down to choosing a husband who recognizes how important this is to me. And leaves me to do my own thing, as it were.

For several months, I’ve had this itch to create a larger, paper mâché piece using a chess and/or checkerboard as a base. Both literally and figuratively. I started putting those ideas down onto paper and fleshing them out last week.

Combined ideas:

This may not sound intrinsically interesting. Big deal. I want to create artwork with a checkerboard pattern. Whoop-dee-doo. But inspiration for my artwork is never neat, tidy to to the point. Ever.

Thought processes:

Most of the time, while I’m working on a task, my mind is wandering all over the place. Thoughts and ideas rise and fall in my consciousness. Some stick around for longer than others. There are some that are quickly sketched down, for fear they might be lost. Some of the ideas just will not leave, for whatever the reason.

Everyone does this. Letting your mind wander isn’t uncommon. It’s not some ultra-special, unique ability. People who are not artists might not pay a whole lot of attention to where their mind wanders off to. Or take the time to write down interesting inspirations. They may feel no need to do so. You could say that paying attention to what your mind is getting up to is a thing that a lot of many creative people do.

Dada has had a great deal to do with how I process my ideas and inspirations regarding the creation of my artwork. Nothing is disregarded. I mentally sift through all of the information I come across. Odd juxtapositions have always fascinated me. Couple that with my constantly asking “WHY?!” and it’s no wonder I create art.

Different ideas; same container:

What begins to happen, is that different ideas and inspirations start mixing and mingling with one another. Those that that I might think wouldn’t necessarily ‘go together’ do in fact, go together. They morph. Growing larger and  become more plastic. And before I know it, they’re all smashed together into a final idea for a piece of artwork.

Chess:

Let me walk you through this chess/checkerboard piece I’m currently working on. I couldn’t creatively shake the pattern of a chess board from my thoughts. Ignoring it simply made it far more insistent and even a little angry at me. So, I started sketching.

By sketching either the idea is purged from my mind. Or it becomes a full-fledged piece of artwork that needs to be created.

Many, many years ago, while I was in art school, I had used checkerboard patterns in my lithographs, etchings and woodcuts. It was nigh-on one of my most consistent visual themes. Like any imagery utilized by an artist. It ran it’s course and I stopped using it. That is, until last week.

I found myself returning to some of the ways in which I had drawn those checkerboard patterns. But this time around, I knew it was a chessboard. Not a checkerboard. Huh. I’ve never played chess. I know nothing about it other than the names of the pieces, and Bobby Fischer was really good at it. Oh, the queen can move anywhere in a straight line on black. So I know a teensie bit.

Dolls:

Part of the reason I think I’d been thinking about chessboards or checkerboards, is that the miniature dolls I make, each have their own stand mounts. They do resemble chess pieces. So…I did a little research about chess. (Thank you Kathy for teaching me to do research as an illustrator.)

I now know more about the regulation sizes for chessboards and chess pieces. Again. I still cannot play chess. Nor do I have any inclination to learn to play chess.

Getting messy:

Okay. This is where things start getting messy and weird. And hard to adequately describe. Anyone who has seen my artwork knows that I have a distinct style. Not so much creepy-cute, but weird-cute. To put a finer point on it, it’s really Dada-cute if you ask me.

My ideas and inspiration so far are chessboards and chess pieces, my own miniature doll creations, as well as my own particular style of artistic expression. Enter inspiration #3E, The Yes Album.

The Yes Album was released in 1971. When I was one year old. Some of the songs were recorded the year I was born. It’s easily one of my favourite albums of all time. It’s one of those albums that I can turn on and off in my head at will. Perhaps I’ve burned it into my synapses?

Your Move‘ and ‘Perpetual Change’ were running through my head while I began my sketches for this piece. I’m not an idiot. Your Move has a chess theme in the lyrics. So, I suppose that this is where the chessboard/chess theme may have come from. To be honest, it could be something completely different that inspired the imagery.

Then it all gets way more confusing:

My personal artistic style is very much influenced by objects and toys from my early childhood. Fisher-Price toys, Liddle Kiddle dolls, paper dolls, etc. Sesame Street, The Muppets, The Electric Company, were also major contributors to my artistic style.

Once I had the main two basic visual themes — the dolls and the chessboard. I started to mess around with the three-dimensional visual expression of that. Because, honestly, a chessboard with my dolls isn’t at all interesting to me. It doesn’t make me want to learn to play chess.

I started adding things. Creating recesses. Round pegs. Square pegs. Then I added some cake. And some flesh. Then some dirt. And grass. Flush parts. Hidden parts. Wheels. A pull string. A drawer to store the pieces in.

And still weirder yet:

This part is the hardest to explain or describe, because I don’t really know exactly what it is I’m attempting to recount. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So, I’ve started adding all these extras, drawers and cake and grass and dirt, and so forth and so on. Two questions come to mind: why am I doing that, and how do I know what to add and where?

The short, snarky answer is, “Because I just know. That’s why.” Another somewhat less snarky, and even less adequate answer is, “Because I feel it’s right.” Insinuating that there is some semi-emotional component to these additions. Each of these answer dance around the real reason. I’m basing my choices, all those additions to the main visual imagery, on a fleeting pre-language, non-visual ‘sense’ of contentment/pleasure.

Here’s the even weirder part. The ‘feeling’ that I’m taking about isn’t in any way attached to any known memories of mine. But I can physically ‘feel’ it. I know when I’m feeling it. I know the sensations. And I have absolutely no flippin’ idea what is is, where it comes from or what it’s related to.

My working theory is that the ‘feeling’ must come from when I was an infant. My own memories only become fairly solid around the time I turned three. Prior to that, it’s choppy and blurry. There must be some kind of psychological explanation for this ‘feeling’ that’s the result of some study of individuals.

So…?

This piece of artwork that I’m creating isn’t just one thing. It’s many different ideas and inspirations that reach back to when I was a toddler. All of the things that I have named as inspiration are part and parcel of my personal identity and the culmination of my fifty years of experience on the planet. I’m a single, solitary person, with a never-ending stream of conflicting ideas and thoughts. All of whom are smashing together to create new meanings for myself and those who view my artwork.

To merely identify the individual parts that make up the whole piece of artwork is to deny the artist the uniqueness of their own lived experience. These objects as metaphor are alive inside of me. All at the same time. Working in unison to make me who and what I am at this moment in time and space.

In my artwork, a doll is never, ever just a doll.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

Links

The Yes Album (1971 Original Recording) I love the way that the bass is recorded on this album. There is something about the way that the bass dovetails in with the drumming, especially the snare drum that I just totally floats my boat.

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Discount on New Artwork in Shop!

The Berry Little Ladies!

Oh boy! The name for this limited group of teensie-tinsie dolls came to me while I was working on their little dresses and hats. They just turned out to be so incredibly stinkin’ cute that I thought their name should be just as cute as they are!

I’ve added the ten Berry Little Ladies that I’ve created to my shop. These very special dolls needed a very special debut!

Special Price:

The Berry Little Ladies will have a special price compared to other dolls of this size. For a limited time, each of the Berry Little Ladies will be specially priced at 29€ with specially priced shipping to boot!

These special prices and shipping are only for the Berry Little Ladies!

Thank you all for your continued support! I know that you will adore these Berry Little Ladies as much as I do!

 

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Accomplishments of the Week

Introducing: Henna Haalarit!

I’ve added a new doll to the shop, Henna Haalarit! Alliteration seems to be a theme I’m running with lately. It does seem to make it easier to remember the names I’m giving to the dolls that I create though! Henna is what I call an alpha doll. This means that she was a first try at a pattern or doll idea. Henna and Pastelli Pastel were created at the same time, and have some similarities.

Henna has two teenie companions too! Pippy and Nifty. Her favourite dolls! These two teensie dolls are tucked into the pockets of Henna’s overalls. They are removable too!

Teensie Dolls:

I’ve spent part of the past week working on a group of teenie-tiny dolls. Each of the measure around 3 cm-ish. Some come in around 3.2 cm, while others come in at around 3.5 cm. The reason for the .03mm difference is due to the felt.

Wasting materials is something that I try very hard not to do. Scraps of fabric and felt are saved and stashed away in small bins and used to make some of the tinier dolls I make. The tiny bears, bunnies, ducks, and dolls are all made from these scraps.

Because the scraps are so small, I cannot always tell which way the stretch in the felt runs. Because of this, some of the torsos and legs are cut in such a way that the stretch of the felt is running vertically. This results in the torsos and legs stretching a bit while I’m sewing them. It doesn’t seem like much, but a millimeter here or there is a lot when the finished doll is only around 3 cm tall!

Check out some of the teensie dolls on my Instagram account here!

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you again on Friday!

 

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Creative Palate Cleanser

The past week has felt rather strange to me. It’s reminiscent of how I felt after all my final projects were turned in while I was an art student so many years ago. Suddenly, after so much work and very little sleep, everything was completed. My projects turned in. Or my artwork hanging in an art show. A once completely packed schedule of so much work is now empty. It all takes a while to get used to.

Creative palate cleanser:

Jumping directly into the creation of another complicated piece of artwork did not appeal to me. I wanted (needed) to create artwork. But I didn’t want to start something big. Making something smaller sounded good to me. It sounded easy-going. Just what the doctor ordered!

While cleaning up my work area, I’d discovered a few dolls that had yet to have their clothing or hair styles created. These dolls seemed like the perfect small pieces to work on while I got back into the swing of my regular schedule. And before I started adding the new business tasks that I have had to back-burner for a while.

Large is relative:

The first doll I began working on was Mielitietty. I chose colours and a theme I liked and started working on her. Her clothing wasn’t too creatively strenuous. Because I had already created the patterns for her clothing. As always, I had to give myself a challenge. With Mielitietty, it was her hair. I tried some new things. Some worked. Others didn’t. And again, I learned a lot from the mistakes I made.

The one thing I found incredibly interesting is how working on Mielitietty felt. She seemed gargantuan to me! HUGE! And she’s only around 27 cm (around 12 in.) tall! I’ve become so used to working on very small dolls over the past year. Any doll over 12 cm tall is Godzilla-sized to me right now!

Pastelli Pastel is the second doll I worked on. In addition to challenging myself with her hair, I also decided to use some unconventional felt as well. Her dress is made from a type of felt cleaning cloth sold here in Finland. (I could not remember the brand name) I wanted to know if I could create larger pieces using this felt. Pastelli is proof that I can.

Pastelli Pastel is what I call an alpha-version of a doll pattern. The alphas are my first try at a doll pattern. The beta-versions are the dolls that are sold. My alpha dolls are usually kept for myself.

Something new:

I decided to offer both of these creative palate cleanser dolls for sale in my shop. Like I said, I usually don’t do this. As always, they are each a completely one-of-a-kind creation. I will never make another doll exactly like them. Nor will I ever name another doll Mietitietty or Pastelli Pastel.

I do have one more alpha doll. It’s also a Dia de los Muertos doll. I’m still thinking about what I would like to do with her clothing and hair. This doll, when finished will be put in the shop as well.

So, now what?

There are already ideas that I’ve begun to sketch out for the artwork I want to create for the Käsintyön Museo. In fact, a few of the challenges I had creating Meilitietty and Pastelli Pastel will aid me in creating some of the new artwork. I know that the Käsityön Museo exhibit is a long way off, but as I learned with the Matara exhibit; it’s not that far away. Work needs to begin now!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again Friday.

PS: If you are interested in purchasing Mielitietty or Pastelli Pastel, please note that the shipping parcel post costs from Finland (2 week shipping) may be less than what is displayed. I’m still trying to work out the problems with this. And am refunding unused shipping monies to customers when they have overpaid for shipping. If you have any questions, please contact me though the Contact page.

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Challenges Not Anticipated by the Artist

Hello everyone! I’ve been absent from my regular Friday blog posts for a little while haven’t I? There are some extremely good reasons for this. ‘Busy’ doesn’t come close to describing it. However, my brain is still tired and my thoughts a tad on the mushy-side. So please bear with me as I attempt to explain my short absence.

Work, work, work:

December 2020 and these first two weeks of January 2021 turned into some kind of ‘perfect storm’ of many, many important deadlines and events for myself and my husband. Some of them were the regular holiday-related events. Others were a bit more complicated. Involving a lot of paperwork and scheduling. Oh! And I forgot that I decided to run a sale at my website shop.

I had begun the physical work or creating several entirely new pieces for an art exhibit at the Käytävä Galleria at Matara here in Jyväskylä in October 2020. By December, I was working non-stop at finishing the artwork for the show. Working on them occupied all of my time. It’s all I did from the time by rear-end hit my desk chair in the morning, until my husband told me it was time for bed.

It needs to be noted that I could not have completed the artwork for the exhibit without the tireless mental and physical support of my husband. He absolutely did yeoman’s duty in getting his own work (business, creative and the running of the household) done. In addition to the additional paperwork. AND taking care of me while I created artwork!

Then he went and helped me hang the exhibit! Damn. I knew I married the right man.

Art exhibit:

The artwork I created for Käytävä Galleria at Matara will be on exhibit until 5 February 2021. All of the pieces are for sale except for two. I plan on adding the pieces to my online shop the week after I take the exhibit down in February. The two pieces that are not for sale are ones that I feel additional work completed before I could offer them for sale.

I will be returning to Matara on Monday 18 January to complete a few repairs to a piece that was damaged slightly in transport. Pictures and videos of my artwork will be added to my Instagram and my website, so that those who are unable to see the exhibit in person.

Important lessons:

First, let me say, DAMN. Creating a body of new artwork for an art exhibit is hard work! I’m no stranger to creating pieces of artwork for exhibits either. I

specifically decided to create all new pieces of artwork for this exhibit. Initially because any artwork displayed needed to be hung on the wall. This alone would have been enough of a creative challenge. But there were additional challenges that I had no readily been aware of.

There were two major differences in the way in which I found myself thinking and physically working on the artwork. #1) I was creating an entirely new body of artwork from scratch. #2) I am the only artist being shown in the exhibit.

Clearly there were going to be some lessons to be learned. Important lessons that will potentially aide me in the creation of additional artwork for subsequent art exhibits in my future.

Let’s look at #1:

Being  a solo art exhibit, there was a great sense of freedom and control. I could create whatever I wanted! Creating entirely new pieces of artwork would be fantastic! Ideas that I had been putting off, or pushing to the side could be explored. New materials and techniques could be utilized too. Whoo-hoo! Cool! Let’s get started!

One of the largest challenges for me from the beginning of the physical art creation was the fact that I was working on multiple large pieces at the same time. Over the past few years, I’d unconsciously continued utilizing one of the parameters of the Creative Experiment: Do not start a piece of artwork until the one you are working on is completed.

This became problematic, as each of the pieces of art I was working on for the exhibit needed to be worked on simultaneously. I managed to work on several pieces at the same time during some of the initial stages of construction. Mostly during the cardboard, newsprint and glue portions of creation.

Endless juggling:

As time wore on, and I was working on more details for each individual piece. I was having a harder and harder time putting one piece down to work on one of the other pieces. My mind would become so wrapped-up in working on a single piece of artwork, that I would spend too much time working on it. While leaving the other pieces alone.

To combat this, I created a graph with a section for each piece of artwork. The graph detailed the specific work that needed to be completed for each individual piece until it was finished. This did help quite a bit. But I think how I used the graph requires some finer tuning to be more effective for me as a creative.

I plan on working on these challenges while creating the artwork for an art exhibit that is a little less than a year in the future. The different challenges that I experienced creating my most recent artwork and readying it for exhibition will no doubt be of help!

And now, #2:

Showing my artwork in a solo exhibit is something I’ve only done once in the past. That was at the Jyväskylä Kaupuniginkirjasto (translation: city library). That exhibit contained pieces that I’d spent the better part of two years creating. The fact that it was only my work displayed was new to me.

Prior to the exhibit at the library, I’d only participated in art shows in which I was one of many artists showing their artwork. One of the more comforting emotional aspects of a group show is that you’re not alone. There are other artists there showing their work. You don’t have to shoulder the success or failure of a group art exhibit alone.

While my husband was helping me hang my work yesterday, all I could think about was how panicked I felt about showing my artwork. It went beyond “Will people like my artwork?” and on to “What if my artwork falls off the walls?” and then further on to “What if people purposefully damage my artwork?” and then finally, “What if people who dislike my artwork then start telling other people how much they think my artwork sucks?!

It may sound strange to someone who doesn’t create artwork on a regular basis. But taking my artwork and hanging it up on a wall and letting other people look at it can be an emotionally terrifying experience. When I say that there are parts of me across town hanging on a wall for people to look at and judge. I’m not kidding around. It makes me feel very vulnerable. And at a loss of control.

Closer examination:

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for any length of time, you know that the challenges of detailed above will be more closely examined over the coming weeks. Coping strategies will be formulated and practiced so that I won’t feel at the mercy of my emotional and physical responses.

Methods of planning out my physical art creation and work will also be implemented. In fact, I was outlining what I wanted to start working on earlier this afternoon. I spent a half an hour running them by my husband before I took a much needed nap under layers of warm, toasty blankets while I watched more snow fall outside the window.

So now what?

Well, I have a lot to do! There is now the time to start implementing some changes I want to make in how I create my artwork. In addition, there are things that I have been pushing back that I can now start outlining and working on. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything pans out muself.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.