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Creative Boredom

What brought me here today:

I recently watched an episode of Bill Making Stuff on YouTube that I thought was very well done. In my opinion, all of his videos are well done and funny. Plus I learn something new in almost every video he produces. But this video dealt with what to do when you have no idea what to create. Everything that Bill suggests in his video are the things that I do if I feel creatively bored with my artwork. There are a few things that I do a little differently. Those differences are just a matter of personal tastes though.

I’m extremely fortunate in not having creative blocks, or running out of ideas. What I want to create always seems to exceed my time to create it. There are times in which I find myself mired in the ‘creative blahs’. I attribute this to creative boredom concerning ideas and techniques mostly. Sometimes I just plow through it and keep working. While other times I just want to stop working entirely. This gets me into a weird grey area of knowing when and where to just sisu myself through a piece or project I’m working on.

Put a finger on it:

It’s hard sometimes to know I’m in the creative blahs until I’m up to my rear-end in them. Sometimes it’s just a creeping suspicion that something just doesn’t feel right to me while I’m working. This can mean that the work I’m creating isn’t going the way that I thought that it would. There are other times that challenges keep getting in the way while working. I may be missing a material or tool that would make the entire process easier.

There can be times in which I just want to push the unfinished artwork off my desk and start something completely new. I rarely, if ever, do that. I hate wasting supplies and materials. The finished piece may not be what I would consider acceptable, but there may be important lessons to learn in the completing of the piece. These lessons can be applied to future artwork. And it makes me feel just a tiny bit better when completing sub-standard artwork.

Moving forward:

Okay. Now that I know I’m being creatively jammed by a severe case of creative boredom (blahs), or incorrect materials, or my own poor planning, I can do something abou it. Assess the situation. Can I even keep working on the piece? Is it a total and complete lost cause? Perhaps I can set it aside until I can lay hands on the correct supplies or tools?

It’s also important to remember that my own emotions can affect how I create my artwork. I don’t mean that I’m being adversely emotionally affected by working on a piece of artwork. Most of the time, my mind is wandering all over the place while I’m working on a piece. Sometimes my mind stumbles around and stirs up thoughts and emotions that cause me useless agita. In those cases, I just need to let it pass. Then I can get back to work.

During the past nine days or so, I’ve had a head cold. It was super-annoying. And it prevented me from working as much as I wanted to. Working myself to a nub while sick isn’t doing myself any favours. I gave in and took naps and tried to take it easy so I could heal up and get better. Forcing myself to work on a piece while coughing and sneezing isn’t good for anyone.

It’s not that:

If I’ve gotten through all of the above and am still at a loss as to why I’m just not wanting to work on a piece of artwork, then I need to try some other remedies for the creative blahs. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Bill from Bill Making Stuff had some good suggestions in his video.

Sketchbook:

I keep a sketchbooks and notebooks. The sketchbooks are for the ideas I want to create. The notebooks are for how I plan and design installations of my artwork. As well as useful information regarding materials and supplies. When I feel as though my artwork is getting stale, I just start drawing shapes. Then move on to forms. And then the forms are combined to create something new. I more or less just let my mind take me where ever it thinks looks interesting.

More often than not, new ideas start banging around in my head. They get me curious and excited about new ideas. Sometimes I combine older ideas with newer ideas to create something completely new to me. I use different media in the sketchbooks too. Watercolor paints, markers, chalks, crayons, etc. Whatever I have on hand. And most importantly, whatever excites my imagination.

Clean:

I’ve talked before about my ‘art midden’. There are times in which I’m tripping over my recycled materials and supplies. If I’m creatively bored, cleaning and organizing my materials, tools, and supplies can spark enthusiasm for me. When I’m cleaning and organizing, I’m taking inventory of what I have to create artwork with. I try hard to have a neat and organized workspace. But no matter how much I try, it gets messy and cluttered.

Along with the cleaning and organizing, I sometimes change-up my work space so that I can use it more efficiently. I’m currently still getting used to this new studio work space. A few weeks ago, I did do some shifting around of some tools, supplies, and materials that I use on a daily basis. This did help me a great deal. It also made me decide that I do need some very specific shelves for my work space. Now I just need to find them!

Daily journal:

When the creative blahs are firmly entrenched, I just need to work on something that won’t take-up a lot of bandwidth. Organizing the upcoming month in my daily work journal can be just what I need. I’m still working on something that will benefit me. While at the same time not stressing my brain out too much.

My daily journal is an important tool in my business-building machine. Because of this, I use it in conjunction with the sea of post-it notes I have on the wall in front of my desk. Giving myself some time to work within my daily journal and on my larger business plans can also spark some creative interest for me. Especially since I have specific places to add now ideas for projects and pieces of art.

Distance:

Sometimes nothing seems to work. I’ve cleaned and organized my supplies, materials, and studio space. My daily journal has been worked in. There are three new ideas that I’ve added to the giveaways section of my Patreon plan. Heck, I’ve even tried just pushing through it, and just kept on working on a piece. Nothing has worked.

This is when you have to get away from your work space and go elsewhere. This could mean taking a walk, running some errands, or doing a different activity. Sometimes that distance can be in reading a book, or meditating. I’m not particularly good at meditating, but I do try on occasion. Mostly connected to yoga and relaxation techniques.

Other creative outlets:

If I feel as though I’m creatively bored with working on physical artwork, I sometimes just switch-up the art that I’m creating. There is always work that I could be doing for the Go Marielle stories that I create. This ranges from taking pictures, to writing stories, to organizing the files. I’m working on a house plan for Marielle and her friends at present.

Another creative outlet is my twice weekly blog posts. I can always brainstorm and plan topics that I want to write about. In fact, this blog post today has been just that. Me exploring a different creative outlet in the hopes that I can pry myself out of my creative blahs. And look! At the end of this, I have something creative to show for it!

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

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Bland Blog

What brought me here today:

This past week has not exactly been a terrifically exciting week. I’ve spent time working on my artwork. Making plans for upcoming pieces and projects. At times, having to ‘sit tight’ while waiting for other things to happen. Which is incredibly annoying. Planning can only take me so far creatively speaking. Then I want to actually work on the project!

I’ve had to make due with creating smaller pieces of work to take my mind off all the waiting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The pieces that I’ve been working on have been a lot of fun to create. And they have generated some income for me as well.

New in shop:

I’ve finished two new witch dolls, Minerva and Marlene. I’ve added them to my online shop. They’re pretty cute little witches, even though I say it myself. For some reason, I decided to make twins. I don’t do that very often either. Minerva has a dress made of a lovely shade of aubergine. While Marlena’s dress is purple. Each doll is wearing an indigo coloured witch hat and boots.

I’m having a lot of fun creating these little witches. One of my first Halloween costumes was a witch. I wore a store-bought mask that had a green face, and black hair highlighted with purple and orange. I had a little black skirt and loose fitting top with black fringe on it. A pointy, black hat. And I carried the small broom from our families fireplace set.

I have another Halloween-themed idea that I’m incredibly eager to start working on. By the end of the day, I should have it started and will post pictures of the progress on my Instagram.

Art materials:

I’ve begun picking through the recyclables that we regularly have for specific materials that I want to use in my artwork. This can only mean one thing; I’m edging closer to creating some larger, paper mâché pieces. And yes, that is exactly what this means. I’m glad that my husband is an understanding soul regarding my magpie-like behaviours. He’s now keeping items back that he knows I will want.

Two of the recyclables that I’m not used to saving for art materials are plastic beverage bottles and aluminum cans. We saved them and returned them for  deposit at the grocery store in Finland. They ranged between 10¢ and 30¢ depending on the bottle or can. In Delaware, there’s no plastic bottle or can return. So I’m free to use as many as I would like. I suppose the same could have been said about the plastic bottles and cans in Finland, but I really wanted the deposit back!

More stuff; more problems:

I’m now trying to figure out how I want to store these new recycled art materials. My small studio room is directly off of the bedroom. It was originally used as a walk-in closet. We have consciously purchased as little furniture as possible, so the only thing in our bedroom is our bed. It’s a large bedroom too. I’ve stored my corrugated cardboard there simply because there’s not enough room in my studio room. I’d like to create a storage solution for all my recycled art supplies that doesn’t look and act like a crap-slide!

I’m not a fan of over-the-top bedrooms. I don’ think of my bedroom as a spa or a retreat. It’s a room that I spend 99% of my time in with my eyes closed. A comfortable bed. A warm comforter and clean sheets are all I need in a bedroom. The only things we want to add are two lamps, so it’s easier to read in bed.

So, now what?

As always for me, back to creating artwork. Remember that idea that I’ve been wanting to work on? Yeah. That one. I’m going to start that one. I’m also going to continue my research for a paint purchase. Dick Blick is where I think I may be placing an order for paint.

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

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Tick Tock Tick

What has brought me here today:

Doo doo doo doo!

This is getting close to the end of our time here. The move will be completed before the end of this month! The second hand place is scheduled to come to make a pick up of what we aren’t taking with us. A wonderful picnic with our close friends has been planned for this weekend. The last of my shop orders will be sent this coming Monday. My tools, materials, and large finished pieces of art are getting packed up to be sent on ahead of us as well.

It’s getting a little messy and rather nutty around here! There is so much going on. My husband has said that he feels as though he’s floating around in a weird place. Existing in several different places all at once. This is understandable. As midsummer approaches, 21:00 feels more like 16:00. The only reminder that it’s late is the fact that we’re tired!

Blog Posting:

I’m going to post my last regular, biweekly blog post here on 18 June. There is just so much going on with the move that I don’t think that I will be able to write anything that makes much sense at all! If I do post, it will be sporadic. I will resume my regular biweekly blog posts by Tuesday, 6 July 2021.

This gives me some time to get settled into the new living space. As well as getting my studio set up and running again. My online shop will re-open on 19 July 2021. It’s at this time that I will be able to send out orders. Just writing that makes my head swim a bit! I have so, so, so many things to do before then. At the same time, it seems so, so, so far away in the future!

And now for something you’ll really like:

We have found a new place to live and work! The lease has been signed and we will get the keys the day after we land. My husband and I are incredibly grateful to have found this specific location in which to rent. It’s exactly what we have been searching so hard for over the last few months.

We had become a bit disheartened. Most of the rental properties that we looked at were just not what we were looking for. We’re both creative people. Living in a wall-to-wall carpeted beige box just made us so sad. Those types of rentals are perfectly okay. They just aren’t to my personal taste.

The new residence has so much character and ready access to public transit. Multiple green parks are within an amazingly short walk too! I’ll have a small studio space with a door that closes so I won’t disturb my husband so much while working. There’s also a laundry on site. A small grocery, and multiple restaurants, coffee shops and a library are all within walking and bus distance. I love not having to worry and fret about a car!

So, what now?

Well, we’re down to the wire. Packing is still on-going. I’m sending out the last of the orders from my online shop on 15 June 2021. Today is actually a ‘chill out day’ for my husband, He has been doing huge, immense, Godzilla-sized work on our end getting the new place secured, as well as all of the budgeting for our expenses.

Money always makes me nervous. I start to freeze-up mentally and emotionally. He loves accounting and budgets and the like. I’m in constant awe of his saving and budgeting abilities! This move is going as smoothly as it is due in great part to his hard work. You can read his work here.

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

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Incredible Kindness

What brought me here today:

Regular readers of my weekly blog know that my husband and I are moving. It’s been strange and stressful. Also a but sad. Pulling up stakes and rearranging your entire life isn’t supposed to be easy. I’m glad that I have great friends and an amazing husband to help me through this weird period of time. I know I’m not alone in all of this.

Incredible kindness:

I wanted to take moment to thank all of the incredible people who have purchased of my artwork. And all of those who have contributed (money, time, support, abilities, advice, etc.) to helping us get through the unforeseen snags that our moving has run into. I am completely and totally awestruck by the incredible kindness of the people who have stepped-up to aid us in our time of need.

When I asked one friend how I could ever possibly repay their kindness, she simply said, “Pay it forward.” I only hope that I’m up to the challenge. The contribution from this friend will allow me to expand my small business. And begin working on many of the projects that I have planned for the upcoming year. I’ve now added new project ideas to that list that will allow me to pay it forward too.

Doubting Thomas:

There is a part of me that is always suspicious of the aforementioned kindnesses directed toward me. There’s a part of me that always thinks that there MUST be some kind of string attached to the offer. No one would ever want to do something nice to or for me. Remember, I assume that people don’t like me or want me around because I’m loud and annoying. Oh yeah, and fat.

Being born and raised in the United States doesn’t help either. You know the saying, ‘There’s no free lunch’ right? As an American, I assume that nothing is ever free. And if it appears to be free, then there must be some strings attached to the offer. Sometimes, those strings don’t even have to be a specific term or condition. It could be the removal of friendship, love or approval. Or the threat of using it against me in some imagined future situation.

Yeah, I know exactly how messed-up that sounds. Such is some of the baggage that needs no packing when we move.

Additions to shop:

This part of the blog post may seem a bit odd. Why would I possibly be adding more artwork to my online shop when I plan on closing it in four short days?! Part of moving is deciding what to keep and what not to keep. I hate making these kinds of decisions. I’ve thought more about what art supplies, tools, materials, and artwork to take with me to the new residence than any of my clothes, shoes or other possessions.

The three dolls that I have added to my online shop are ones that I never intended to offer for sale. Each of them had some slightly experimental creative aspects to their design and construction. All three of the dolls have a lot of appliqué and embroidery work on their bodies and clothing.

Adama started out as a clumsy little drawing in my sketchbook. I created a hairstyle and method of attaching the hair to the head of the doll that I continue to use. Cielo and Xochitl were both created because I found myself missing the Day of the Dead celebrations in Albuquerque NM. Each of their skirts has a double-headed serpent on it. I used a piece of Aztec artwork as inspiration.

Now what?

Back to businessing the business. Packing up orders to get mailed out tomorrow. Working on some Go Marielle stories. Packing and organizing for the move.

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

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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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Goodbye November

Where I am right now:

There was no regular Friday blog post last week. Part of that was due to being mentally a day behind. Another part of that was from being so focused on the artwork I was creating. As I sit perched on the beginning of December, I foresee many instances of forgetfulness like this one.

There are thirty one days left for me to complete the new body of artwork that will be exhibited at Matara in January. All of my attention needs to be focused on finishing the ten pieces of artwork. There’s also a lot of peripheral work to do as well. Signage needs to be written. An artist statement. The artwork also needs to be kitted-out correctly so it can be hung on a wall. Oh, and lots of “Please Do Not Touch” signs to be made.

There’s more to do. But right now. My brain is a little glob of newsprint and glue.

Why I blog:

The two blog post a week that I post are mostly done for myself. It’s a place to put my thoughts about whatever is running rough-shod through them. It’s nice to know that some people do read my blog. And maybe even enjoy it a little. Although sometimes, I think it’s in more a rubber-necking kind of way! Ha! “Look at that crazed woman! She’s so messed-up!”

Writing and posting twice a week during the month of December is just not do-able for me. Looking at everything else I have on my plate, letting go of one of the blog posts a week would allow me a little breathing room. Changing the remaining blog post into an update on the progress I’m making in the creation of the artwork for Matara seems logical to me.

So, for the month of December 2020, I will only post on Fridays. And those blog posts will be an update on my artwork creation and preparations for the January 2021 Matara art exhibit.

What I’m working on right now:

I know it’s not Friday, but I’ll give an update anyway. Currently, I’m working on a doll I’m calling #10. She’s come together quite quickly. I’m already at the point in which I’m adding several layers of newsprint and glue. I would like to be painting her white by tomorrow evening. And have her gessoed and prepped for a finished surface by the end of the week.

Unlike many of my other dolls, she ‘came together’ in the oddest way. I made her legs first. I used an Erittäin Hieno Suomalainen shampoo and conditioner bottles. We’ve used their shampoo and conditioner since moving here. The blueberry is the one we use. It smells wonderful!

There was a little question in my mind that the newsprint and glue might not adhere to the plastic bottle the way I would need it to. Creating the legs first made sense. If it worked, I could continue. If it didn’t, I’d have to come up with something else.

You can take a look at my progress in my Instagram.

So what now?

Well, right now, I have to get back to work. There is so much artwork to make. So many things to write. Insane amounts of things to do. As you can see, I do not take the offer of showing my artwork to the public lightly!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again on Friday…and several Fridays after that.