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Back-Up

What brought me here today:

My insane need to document every step in my creative process with photographs. Actually, I had intended to write something else entirely. But here I am, banging away on my laptop about my bizarre habits as a creative. Well, I’m doing that while periodically glancing at my phone and wondering why Instagram is not uploading the seven photos of my work in progress that I just took and created an Instagram post of.  All the while wishing that all of the above was not causing me as much agita as it is at this very second.

BREATHE.

Some recent history:

Long time followers of my Instagram account (katie_kinsman_artist) know that I take a lot of pictures. Until a year or so ago, I posted pictures of my artwork in process several times per day. Every day of the week. I decided to reduce this to posting once per day on my personal Instagram account. What I’d discovered was that I was losing a chunk of time during my working hours just creating posts for Instagram.

Reducing the amount of posts to Instagram was not the result of taking less photographs. I would still take a lot of photos, but only publish a few. Now that I have Twitter and Imgur accounts, some of those additional photos are published on those social media platforms. If a person from any of my social media accounts finds me on another one, they’ll more than likely see some new content.

History from further back:

As a graphic design student in the beginning of the 90’s, I learned the hard way to back-up everything I created on computer.  I lost an entire magazine layout for a design course once. And it wasn’t really an entire layout! I had to create the entire thing again. I had to use a very early back-up copy that was nowhere near finished. The whole thing just made me so mad at myself. It was all my own fault. Creating a back-up can be time consuming, but it can save your like (time) when you have it.

Everyone who works with a computer on a daily basis, or for whom the computer and its documents are of paramount importance can identify with the need for a back-up copy. When I worked as a secretary, I backed-up everything that I thought I would need in case of some kind of catastrophic computer crashing incident. I also kept paper copies of important things as well. Everyone needs a CYA file, right?

My peculiar idiosyncracy:

Even for a trained graphic designer, I take an un-godly amount of photos. I use my cell phone for much of this photography. My photography skills have never been stellar. And I know this. As I said, many of the photos I take aren’t posted or displayed anywhere digital or physical. About 70% of the photos I take are just for me. So why take them at all? It’s not like I’m documenting anything of historical importance.

One of the reasons I sometimes placate myself with is; so I remember how I created a certain piece. Or perhaps, a reminder of the specific technique I used. There are times in which I cannot, for the life of me, remember exactly how I created something. Or at least all the steps I use. Photos can make remembering those steps a little easier.

I also think that there’s a part of me that knows I might need proof that I was the creator of a specific piece of art. I’ve had artwork copied/stolen and no credit/money given to me. This kind of thing really sucks. Having the proof that it was me making the piece gives me a certain peace of mind I suppose.

Yeah, psychological reasons:

Part of my identity is being an artist. A creative person. The artwork that I make are the parts of my insides that I pull out and make real in the physical world. Therefore, my artwork is me. For someone to take my work without concent or compensation feels like a personal violation. Having the photographic proof that my work is “my work” seems to be a small thing I can do to give myself psychological peace of mind.

Physical ramifications:

Well, that’s great, until I end up in a digital avalanche of photo files. Honestly. I thought that creating some back-ups of my photo files from my phone and computer would be a cake-walk this morning. But here I am, writing a flippin’ blog post about it instead of finishing, proofing, and posting the other blog post I wanted to post today. (It’s okay. The other blog post wasn’t very good.)

This morning, I discovered that I had not just a few hundred photos to back-up, but around 59 megabytes of photos to deal with. OH! And not just photos, videos too! Okay. No problem. I’ll just get them sorted. Do a little file compressing and get them all backed-up to the 4 terabyte back-up drive.

Nope:

That was what I was thinking this morning as I got everything set-up. I grabbed a book to read while transfered the files around between my phone, laptop and external drive. Four hours later, I was still nohwere near completing this set of tasks. I did finish two chapters in a Neil Gaiman book though. My frustrations burbled-over at about the midway point. So I decided to write a blog post instead.

The thing that’s killing me right now is that I’d rather be working on the four Imp Dolls instead of farting around with backing-up my files and photos. Or even writing a blog post. Being a small business owner who can be an emotional bag of squirrels in a Katie-shaped suit is not all that it’s cracked-up to be today.

So now what?

This is just one of those days in which some things have gone sideways in a way I hadn’t prepared myself for. I’m feeling rather crabby and I just need to put some things down and walk away for a while.

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

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Background Noise

What brought me here today:

I know that there are people who prefer to work in an almost silent environment. They find noises not connected to what they are working on as distracting. On the other hand, there are people who much prefer a more cacophenous work environment. With music, movies, people talking, etc., going on around then while they complete their tasks.

I’ve worked in both types of environments. As an elementary art teacher, I was once told by my boss Janet that I “tollerated a high level of noise in my classroom”. She also noted that the children were all actively engaged in their work and explorations. Janet chalked-it up to this tollerance being my own personal work style as an art teacher.

When I was much younger, and doing a lot of clerical temp work, the levels of noise would vary. Some offices were quiet as the grave, while others were a hub-bub of voices and office machinery. I was not encouraged to bring my own headphones or music to listen to while I worked by any of the agencies I worked for. And the office radio would never have been something that I would have touched either.

At first:

While we were still in Finland, my husband and I worked in very close proxilty to one another. My husband tends to ‘run hot’ temperature-wise. This makes wearing his large, sound-dampening headphones difficult. Especially during the warm parts of the year. I usually put my headphones in and attached them to my laptop. That way I wouldn’t bother him with whatever I was listening to.

I must admit, I rather liked wearing the earbud headphones. They were lightweight, and it helped to get me into the frame of mind to work by wearing them. My only complaint was that they had a very short cable. Sometimes I ripped one or both earbuds out of my ears when reaching for something just a little too far out of my grasp.

Wireless earbuds that would work with my MacBook were something I couldn’t justify spending money on. My MacBook was old. And I had no plans on replacing it with another Apple product. I did purchase an inexpensive pair of bluetooth headphones to use with my mobile. They worked well in the winter when my cap kept them snuggly in my ears.

Music:

I have a metric tonne of music on my old MacBook Pro. When I first started wearing my earbud headhones to work, I mostly listened to music. That didn’t last long. I have the irritating habit of singling along with the music I’m listening to. This includes keeping the beat with my hands, feet, and whatever is on my desk as well. My poor husband tried t see if he could get used to it. But in the end, the music had to be changed to something else less noise-provoking on my part.

Somthing different:

I turned to YouTube to find something else to listen to. At first, I listened to a lot of documentaries on subjects that I wanted to learn more about. Many of them history documetaries. I discovered some presenters that I enjoyed and listened to their entire library of videos. I listened to a lot of American Experience documentaries as well. That is, until YouTube took a bunch of them down.

There were also old television shows I found, like Fireball XLR and Supercar. Then there was Captain Scarlett and Thunderbirds. While I thought these shows were immensely cool, they all have terrible instances of misogeny, racism, and blind nationalist furvor that are just so wrong. Sometimes I was blown-away by the fact that these shows were for children!

I then discovered that YouTube had all the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes episodes. As I type, I’m listening to one right now, The Solitary Cyclist. From there, I worked my way through all the Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple  and the Hercule Poirot series. The majority of what I’ve listed above are things that I’ve listened to once and have been done with it. (with the exception of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes)

Watching or listening?

You may have noticed that I say I’ve listened to these videos instead of watching them. Yes. I listen to them instead of watchinging them. Some people might think that I would be better off listening to audio books instead. No. For me reading is something I enjoy doing with a physical book. I need the physicality of the book to get into reading and processing the information.

What I’m doing by listening to videos while I work is creating a sufficient and comfortable level of background noise. This background noise allows me to concentrate on what I’m creating. Having the background noise also lets me slip into a nice flow state as well. My own thoughts simply become one of the levels of noise, albeit closer to the surface.

Two sides to a coin:

There are two large categories that I’ve divided my background noise into: murder and humor. Perhaps more aptly put, comedy and tragedy? These two categories are filled mostly by any kind of true-crime. Even the really horribly produced ones from the early 90’s. Now that we’re in the US, I’ve been plowing my way through all twenty-three back seasons of Dateline on Peacock TV. Prior to moving, I’d already devoured every crime documentary that YouTube had available.

There always comes a point during the day in which I find myself completely disgusted with the actions of the criminals on Dateline. I have to turn it off. This is when I switch over to the humor category. And back to YouTube to listen to Mystery Science Theatre 3000. I’ve also added Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic and The Mads to the rotation as well. All four are part and parcel of one another. Sharing creators and writers.

I’ve been a huge fan of MST3K for a long, long time. I think it’s interesting that I know the dialogue of these shows so well. Sometimes when I sit down and actually watch the movie I’m surprised at how much that can be missed when only listening, instead of watching. After watching how wantonly cruel humans can be to one another on Dateline, MST3K is a great palate cleanser.

Present day:

The apartment that my husband and I have moved into is rather long. His office is at one end, connected to mine via a hallway. The construction of the building is such that if he tries to talk to me from his office, while I’m in mine, I cannot hear him at all. For the first month we were here, I continued using the earbud headphones with my laptop. So I didn’t disturb my husband. The temperatures were in the middle 30’s and he was having a rougher time than I was. There was no way I would make him wear his headphones!

Once I had my desk set up and started working in my little studio, he told me that I didn’t have to wear my earbud headphones anymore. He couldn’t hear anything that was being played on my end of the apartment. This meant that my talking back to the computer during the time I listened to my “murder shows” wouldn’t bother him. Many times, I’m saying “Get there faster.” and “That’s because you’re dumb.” to the people who thought they could get away with murder.

What does any of this have to do with creating artwork?!

I’m not actually sure. It does help me to generate names for the pieces I make. Which I suppose is rather macabre when looked at from a certain point of view. It’s much easier to see how MST3K and Rifftrax influences my artwork. Thinking that my “murder shows” have any kind of influences on my artwork is a little disturbing. Perhaps if the influence was to show me how not to be a horrible person would be okay I guess. However, I figured out a long time ago that murder was really super-wrong and icky. And had no plans to embark on some sort of career in murder anyway.

So…yeah. Hmm. Not gonna murder.

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

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Burning Question

What brought me here today:

Two of the final pieces that I finished prior to leaving Finland were Honey and Bizzy. I used my 12 cm Little Lady doll pattern, with some modifications to create both pieces. These two dolls have slightly longer torsos, arms and legs. They also have multiple heads. Honey and Bizzy’s predecessor, Arete was given four heads. Arete and Bizzy have been purchased. Honey still waits for a home.

As an artist, I vacillate between keeping some of the inspiration for my artwork to myself, and feeling as though I must explain my artwork to potential buyers. Part of the reason for the later is that perhaps a person might have a connection with the same inspiration I did. Thus making the person a little more likely to maybe purchase a given piece of my work.

The flip-side of that kind of thinking, is that any potential buyers will look at me like I have two heads when I ineptly try to explain my artwork and it’s inspirations. Then walk away muttering something about all artists being incredibly weird, after not purchasing any of my artwork.

First, a brief recap:

I’ve written about how most of my artwork begins. Almost all of the time, I feel as though I get fixated on something specific. It could be an element like shape or colour. Other times, it’s something that I see in my environment, buildings, leaves, insects, fabric, etc. Sometimes, the inspiration is from my life. There are other forms or elements I get fixated on that I can’t exactly pinpoint, and only discover what they are and where they come from while actively creating the piece of art.

Motif, theme, inspiration:

Part of the mental fixation for me as an artist is that whatever I’m fixed on, it’s not enough for me to manipulate the fixation within my own mind. I need to explore it more within the physical world. Jim Dine is an artist who I admire who create artwork in several different mediums. He’s an autobiographical artist. His artwork is created around who he is and the life he’s lead.

There’s a fair amount of autobiography within my own artwork. I suppose I could argue that all of my private artwork is autobiographical, as well as therapeutic. For me, fixating on an idea, form, or colour, is how my brain works in it’s entirety. The major difference for me is that the art-side of my personality create art by fixating. The non-art-making side of me ends-up getting mired in quicksand, and nothing is produced.

Seriously, why so many flippin’ heads?

In a nutshell, I find stacking the spheres that will be the heads to be creatively satisfying. When I was teaching elementary school art, I had a sculpture lesson for younger students in which they created a snowman*. Crayola Model Magic clay was used to create the snowman. Each of the three spheres the students created were to be of different sizes. Large, medium, and small.

I think I loved this lesson as much, if not more, than my students. Creating spheres that were balanced in such a way so that they could stand on their own. I don’t know. It just never ceased to satisfy some unknown creative urge within me. I know this must sound strange. Please remember, I’m trying to explain something that is more than a little opaque to even me!

Take this strange love for stacking spheres of squishy clay, and add the movie Spirited Away. In it, there are heads that live with Yubaba, the Kashira. Of all the characters in this amazing film, I find myself fixated on a minor character that consists of three heads that roll around and do odd jobs for Yubaba.

Eventual outcome:

This is the point in the conversation with the potential customer when they look at me like I have two heads. I have about seven seconds left until they sigh heavily, say something like “Well…yeah…so…” and then walk away muttering about how weird artists are.

These people aren’t my audience. I know this. Believe me. I know this. I cannot explain my artwork to a person that is either unwilling, or unable to make connections between themselves and ideas from outside their own personal experiences.

Easy fix:

The answer to this could simply be, stop making artwork that’s too weird for people to understand or want. Then maybe you could solve your I’m-not-making-any-money-as-an-artist problem that you wrote about last Friday. It seems like the easiest of fixes. Right?

Kinda. A more accurate answer might be, diversify your creative output and online shop items. With an eye toward those untapped groups of potential customers. While at the same time, keep making the artwork that some people think is too weird, or makes their head hurt. But that’s a blog post for another day this week. Say, Friday?

So now what?

Better said, so now you know a little bit about why I, the weird artist, is so into making dolls with multiple heads right now because of a snowman lesson and a Hayao Miazaki film. That’s not all the inspiration behind the multiple-headed dolls. Just the ones that I felt okay disclosing to people that I may or may not know.

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

*While teaching this lesson, I used the term “snow person” instead of snowman. Students were encouraged to make their snow person in any way they wished. For purposes related to clarity for the readers of this blog post, I used the colloquial snowman so that any English as second language speakers would know to what I referred specifically.

 

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Past, Present, and Future

What brought me here today:

Creative block is something that I’ve never seem to fall victim to. The ideas that I have always seem to exceed my ability to create them. Most of the time, what that really means is that it takes me a long time to create the larger, sculptural paper mache pieces. While I’m working on a given piece, I still get ideas and create sketches of specific pieces I would like to create in the future.

That all being said, there is a part of me that is hesitant to begin creating larger, more complex pieces of artwork in my new studio space. Putting a finger on exactly what is making me hesitate has been a difficult process. Even using the term ‘hesitant’ somehow feels incorrect. For those who follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve created twelve tiny doll brooches in my new studio space. It would appear that I’ve solved my own problem, right?

The past:

This may sound strange, especially for people who may not be creators or artists, but the artwork I made in Finland belongs in a different place. It’s linked to a former version of myself that is in the past. A lot of money was spent to ship my artwork from Finland to the US. This was done for a few different reasons. Chief among them being that I need to have artwork to show in displays and galleries.

The body of work that I brought with me represents a lot of creative and emotional learning for me. I discovered a lot more about myself than I thought possible while creating the artwork. If for that reason alone I made sure to keep the artwork, it would have been worth the money spent on shipping.

All that being said, that artwork, and the ways in which I created it belong in my past. My extremely recent past. But my past nonetheless.

Between now and when:

The teenie doll brooches that I created were started in Finland. The doll bodies, arms, and legs were sewn together at the desk that looked out onto Myllyjarvi lake. I felt no hesitation in sewing on each dolls hair, or in giving them names. I used some of the felt that I brought with me to create the brooch bases. New embroidery floss was used to add the decorative elements to the brooches and the doll dresses.

The brooches that I created were planned previous to the move to the US. I knew that I wanted to create some tiny doll brooches in the near future, so I got the tiny dolls started before leaving Finland. It was nice to have something to physically work on after almost three weeks of no art creation.

There was no hesitation in creating because I had already done the lion’s share of the designing and planning prior to moving into a new studio work space. It may sound strange, but in my mind, the artwork was already completed. I could go on and create something new.

Be here now:

I suppose that I could blame some of my hesitancy to begin constructing a large, sculptural paper mache piece on the fact that I’m still missing some important materials and supplies. No newspaper as of yet. And I still have not found a glue that I feel is strong enough. There are also a few orders for felt that I need to make. I need a large cutting mat as well.

It seems like I’m attempting to make excuses for not jumping right back into creating large, sculptural, paper mache pieces. Doesn’t it? I think in part I am. There’s another part of me that is processing the new environment I’m living in. Pulling out elements that I find interesting and stashing them away in my sketchbook. There is something creatively coalescing in my mind. I just can’t quite see it yet.

The future is now:

Acknowledging the fact that I still wish I was in Finland and not in the US has helped me a great deal. Now that I know this, I can start moving forward. That might sound strange, but it works for me. There’s nothing I can do right now to be back in Finland. I am right here, right now. And it will do me no good to winge and whine about where I wish I was.

For me, the act of creating artwork in a place tethers me to it. The influence of my immediate environment makes itself present in my finished artwork. I can’t help it. For me to sit down and continue creating exactly the same artwork that Finland inspired in me would feel incredibly wrong to me. Any artwork I make in this new space will have Delaware as an influence.

Flow:

While talking to my husband, he mentioned that he was still having problems getting into a flow state while working. I’ve written about flow state quite  few times in the past. It’s one of those things occurrences that can be hard to describe. Suffice it to say, that to be able to get into a flow state while working, one of the key requirements is that I feel mentally and emotionally comfortable. I need to feel safe.

My new workspace is still new to me. I’m not done figuring out how I will operate within the space. What tools go where. How my supplies and materials will be stored. And, even things like, I’m not looking out a large window onto trees and a lake. These things have a lot to do with disrupting my creative flow state. This is where my sense of hesitancy springs from.

The more settled I get within my new workspace, the easier a time I will have getting into a creative flow state. This is just going to take some time. In the meantime, I will continue working on smaller pieces. Smaller dolls. And see where it all takes me.

So, now what?

I have several smaller dolls that I want to design and create. These pieces go in a direction that didn’t quite feel right to me until I arrived in the US. I’m going to start work on them in the next week. There are also other irons I have in the fire right now that I can begin fleshing out as well. Like I said, I’m never at a loss for creative ideas, so I count myself incredibly lucky.

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

Mason Jennings, Be Here Now; Boneclouds (2006)

I also know that Be Here Now (1971) is a book by Ram Dass, about yoga, meditation, and spiritualism. I have never read the book.

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There’s a Distance Between*

What brought me here today:

I remember having a small, internal melt-down the first time I shopped for art tools, materials and supplies in Finland. There didn’t seem to be any store that had anything like what I was used to in the US. And when I did find tools, materials, and supplies, more of the time, they were priced too high. I couldn’t afford them.

Returning to the US has also proven to be more challenging. Especially when attempting to locate and procure the materials and supplies that I grew dependent on while living in Finland. It is easier to find ready-to-use art materials and supplies in the US. But not everything I want or need requires a ready-made art-related item. Recycled and upcycled items have become a mainstay of my art practice.

Finding recycled items so far:

During my years of teaching elementary school art, I learned a great deal about repurposing all kinds of items into art materials for my students. While living in Finland, I applied this knowledge. I looked at what kinds of materials I could find easily and then let the materials guide me in shaping the artwork I created. Cardboard, carton board, and newspaper were three items I had in abundance. More cardboards could be found at local grocery stores at no cost. Newspapers were delivered to my mailbox.

At present, I’m swimming in corrugated carboard. Even though we didn’t purchase a lot of furniture, I have a great deal of recyclable cardboard. We’re trying to eat less processed foods, so accumulating carton board may take a bit more time for me. Newspapers are something that I simply have not seen since we moved. Hopefully I can locate some soon. It’s an important material for me. Paper mache will not work without it.

Second Hand:

The second hand shops in Finland were incredibly cool. They always had a little area that would have all the yarns, fabrics, buttons, all kinds of sewing notions, etc. in it. Lots of the items that the second hand shops had were vintage too. I found some of the coolest threads, buttons, fabrics, and sewing books in these shops. Jewelry, beads, and storage were also things I could easily find second hand.The best parts of purchasing second hand arts and crafts materials were the uniqueness of the items and the low price points.

I also purchased clothing that I would pick apart and use the fabrics to use in the creation of my artwork. Sometimes, the cloth was used to create clothing for a doll. More recently, I’ve begun using the fabrics to cover the outsides of some of my larger, paper mache pieces.

Just a click away!

I didn’t do a great deal of ordering tools, supplies or materials online while living in Finland. Although I did order from Buddly Crafts and Wool Warehouse in the UK prior to the Brexit becoming finalized. I preferred to spend my small art budget in the local shops, including the second hand shops, around the city I lived in. Even when I knew that I was paying a bit more for a specific item, like embroidery flosses and pearl cottons.

I’m getting ready to place an order for felt with two different companies in the next week. Some of the felts that I’m ordering are ones that I used regularly prior to leaving the US. Today, I received an order of new thread. The order was placed only two days ago. An additional order is coming tomorrow evening. It feels so odd to me to just be pointing and clicking and then POOF! The materials are on my doorstep.

Sensory overload:

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a US chain arts and crafts store. I was completely overwhelmed by the huge selection of art materials and supplies they had for sale. A few purchases were made. Some Aleene’s Tacky Glue, pom-poms, and a dozen and a half or so skeins of embroidery floss. The embroidery floss was .62 cents each. I almost burst into tears on the spot. Embroidery floss was so much more expensive in Finland. (2.60 Euros each)

Looking at materials and supplies online also gives me a sensory overload. There are just so many different things that can be purchased so, so, so easily online. I get so overwhelmed with the seemingly limitless choices that are on offer. There have been lists created of supplies and materials that I would like to purchase, but haven’t as of yet. Part of me doesn’t know what I’m waiting for either.

That certain something:

I need to purchase felt. There’s no part of me that feels bad about placing an order for a material that I have used in the past, and am using in the present, to create my artwork. After all, I make a lot of dolls! Being able to purchase embroidery floss at such an incredibly low price is something that I plan on taking advantage of a lot in the future too.

That all being said, there are still some things, or should I say, some ways of procuring materials and supplies that I miss a great deal. I have yet to find a second hand shop locally that can compare to Ekocenter or Fida. The stores are either not easy to get to by foot or bus, or are open for two hours on a random day of the week. In addition to being difficult to get to by foot or bus. I miss Eri-Keeper glue desperately, and am trying to figure out how to get my hands on some here in the US.

The sense of being overwhelmed by the choices of art materials and supplies that I can easily order online, as well as fairly easily after a bus ride, makes me feel incredibly uneasy. I liked knowing that when I purchased items from a local shop in Finland, the money stayed in my community. There was a feeling of creative satisfaction I gained from buying second hand items, supplies, and materials and creating my artwork with them.

So, now what?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve only been here for a short time. There have to be interesting shops and businesses that I just haven’t discovered yet. I also need to remember that there is still a pandemic going on, so ordering materials and supplies online can be seen as beneficial to reducing the spread of the Delta Variant (as well as any other variants that may exist). My husband and I are fully vaccinated, but are being careful.

ANYWAY. I’ve missed being able to create artwork for the time we were moving. Part of me still feels a little ‘out of phase’ with my own mind. Creating new artwork will help me to anchor myself better in the here and the now of living in Delaware.

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

*The Devo song, Out of Sync from 1982’s Oh No! It’s Devo has been running through my head a lot lately. Unlike the lyrics, I have accepted that I feel out of sync. Time and some mental and emotional work are what will get me back into sync. The first step for me was acknowledging to myself that I still wish I was living in Finland. And the place that I find myself in physically is not exactly where I wish I was.

 

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Fixing, Sorting and Giving Away

Dental procedure update:

My root canal is finished. I will need a crown by the end of the year. That will kind of suck. But, at least the hardest and most uncomfortable part of the entire process is over with. The process in the chair with all the drilling and poking about with needles and whatnot, didn’t hurt. Most of the time it was merely uncomfortable. Now I’m not having any pain at all in that tooth. And that’s great!

As an American, I kept putting off the trip to the dentist because I was terrified that it would cost thousands and thousands of euros. I can’t say that this dental procedure was cheap. It was far less expensive than I had feared. And the dentist, assistant, and staff at both dental clinics that I was treated at were knowledgable, professional, and extremely considerate people.

I do still need to have a crown. That will be more expensive. I’m not really looking forward to it either. I have until the end of the year to have the crown done. This gives me some time to save (hopefully) enough money to have this last bit of dentistry completed.

Online shop update:

My online shop will be closing on 12 June. I have no plans for reducing any of the prices of the artwork listed in the shop. Many of the pieces have already had their prices lowered a month or so back. Offering discounts or attempting to conduct a sale isn’t something that I have the time to do at present.

To be completely honest, I need all the money that I can make from the sale of my artwork in my online shop for the move. I write this not as some sort of passive-aggressive guilt-trip aimed at potential customers. I’m merely being upfront and stating a clear fact of my current situation. So if you’re waiting to buy my artwork in the hopes of it having the prices reduced, I’m sorry.

Organizational updates:

The organization is basically me picking up an art supply, material, or some other item and saying to myself, “Gift for ____? Donate to _____? Trash? Recycling? and Save for ____?” I can assure you, it’s not the most exciting process. I do try to make the gifting and donating of items as easy as possible for the person who is taking ownership of the items. Reusable grocery bags are one of my best friends right now!

Packing up my artwork:

Some of my larger, paper mâché pieces are being taken apart and boxed up so that they can be sent through the mail to myself. Many of my largest pieces either come apart, or I can carefully disarticulate them for easier packing and shipping. Many of the smaller dolls will actually be used in lieu of bubble wrap or tissue paper to keep the paper mâché from getting too bashed around in transit.

Packing up other stuff:

Moving to another residence, and all the packing and donating does not really make for riveting blog reading. Of this, there is no doubt. It’s not a super fun process to go through either. There are times in which I’m actually kind of having fun sorting things and getting ready to move. Then there are other times in which I hide behind my computer writing boring blog posts in an attempt to put off going back to the sorting, planning, and organizing.

So…yeah. Hmm. I guess I need to wrap up this post and get back to breaking down my desk materials storage. Super fun times.

Thanks for reading, and I will see you again next Friday!

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In Between Again

What brought me here today:

I’ve finished two dolls that I’ve been working on for the past week. Honey and Bizzy are now both available in the shop. These two dolls are the last of the major pieces that I will be creating in my current work space. Creating is something that I do daily, as a means of therapy. So I cannot imagine completely stopping while preparing for the move that is coming next month.

I’m still trying to figure out what I will work on while completely taking apart my work space. Creating artwork while dismantling my work space seems like a precarious thing to attempt. I can’t quite remember if I worked in my studio up until the last few days before we departed Albuquerque or not. I remember that it was the last room that we dismantled though.

Creating art until…

I have a short list started for what I need to accomplish in taking apart my work space. The most important tools, materials and supplies will be set aside first. Those will be the things that are required so that I can create the artwork that I’m currently creating. Other tools, supplies and materials can be sorted and figured out from that point.

Sometimes, I wish that my needle work and sewing was more two-dimensional. That way, I could transport the tools, materials and supplies, as well as the artwork in progress more easily. While I can appreciate that kind of needle work, I need to work in three dimensions.

I’ve contemplated cutting out dolls and simply having them ready to assemble. But I’m not sure. I’m going to create a few new sketchbooks so that I have ample space to write and sketch ideas for pieces that I may not be able to create for a month or so. Whatever I end up doing, you’ll be sure that I will be writing about it here.

Diverted:

Go Marielle will probably be getting more of my creative attentions while we are actually nearer the end of preparing for the move. A lot of what I do with Marielle is done on the computer. As long as I have my laptop, camera and an internet connection, I can create and post stories for Go Marielle. Hopefully these new stories will not be boring.

There’s also several different projects that I am so itchy to start, but can’t until the move is completed. This makes me feel as though I’m in a hurry-up and sit still kind of mode. My sketchbooks and my daily work journal will be helpful in allowing me to flesh-out my ideas and plans. So when I do finally get to work on them, I have good plans to implement them.

So, what now?

Well, for one, it’s a short blog post. With each passing day, I feel as though I have more plates beginning to spin. Remember that my online shop is going to be shut down after June 12, 2021. When I open it up again, there will be some items that are no longer available. If you see something in my shop that you really want to purchase, it’s a good idea to buy soon!

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

 

 

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Here and There

What brought me here today:

I’ve been thinking a lot about my continuing evolution as an artist. That happens when you arrive at my age. Realistically, I have more living behind me than ahead of me. Looking back at where I started my artistic career, and then comparing it to what it has become today is only natural.

I was so completely positive when I was in art school that graphic design was all I wanted to do with my life creatively speaking. Looking back at my much younger self I have to laugh. The complete naivety and total belief that I would have what I wanted if I just worked hard enough at it. It makes me wince a bit inwardly. I was such mess with so much learning yet to do about the world and myself.

Starters take your mark:

Like many artists, I started drawing. I loved the illustrations in the story books that I had. My father and older brother were both talented artists. They encouraged me and gave me instruction when I needed it. I tried to draw like I saw famous artists draw in art history books. Drawing was a lot of fun when I was was little.

As I grew older, other art instructors and artists became more important to me as a baby artist. I discovered the artists and cultures that inspired me. When I was in art school, we were encouraged to discover (create) our own unique style in the illustration courses I took. I never felt as though I really had a style pinned down while I was there though. My style needed longer to evolve.

After art school is when my own style began to develop. I would say by my late 20’s I had a creative/design style. It was also within this same time period that I began to pull away from working two-dimensionally. My artwork became more sculptural. I began using a needle and thread again.

A-ha moment:

In my late 20’s I began seeing a therapist for some mental health issues that were becoming hard to manage on my own. The therapist had an office in a local church. The waiting area had a large, semi-abstract, fabric banner hanging on one wall. I remember looking at the banner closely over a few weeks. I liked it quite a bit, but couldn’t put my finger on why exactly that I liked it.

It finally occurred to me one afternoon that it was the materials I was drawn to. The entire piece was made from felt. There were beads and sequins sewn onto it. And a lot of embroidery work. It reminded me of some vintage Christmas ornaments that I had seen as a child. They’d been made out of felt too. With beads and sequins on them. I loved them.

I drove from that appointment to a craft store and purchased felt, stuffing, needles, thread, etc. Everything I would need to make…I wasn’t quite sure. I just went home and started cutting and sewing. Soon, I had created a doll. Then another doll. And another. Then a lot more.

Contents may shift during transit:

I never looked back. As of this year, I’ve been creating dolls for twenty-one years. That’s not to say that I’ve totally given up on working with two-dimensional media. Over the past few years, I’ve been working on larger scale paper mâché dolls. These pieces have lead me back to using a lot of what I know about drawing, painting, and illustration. In fact, I view a lot of my dolls as illustrations in three-dimensions.

The years I’ve spent living and creating artwork in Finland have left their mark. I work with more recycled and up-cycled materials. I’ve discovered that second hand shops are a treasure trove of art materials and supplies just waiting to be discovered and used. And I’ve also learned that I can create artwork in a fairly small space with a limited budget.

The move that is getting ever-closer is not going to be fun, and I know it. There is this part of me that’s kind of eager to get it going and over with. Because that means that I can begin work on several different creative projects that I had been postponing. Part of me also knows that my artwork will change yet once again as a result of the move. And I’m curious to see what the changes will be.

The only constant:

I’ve been enjoying the artwork that I’ve been creating in the past few weeks. They aren’t a wild left turn for me in a creative sense. But they are different enough to make me stop and ask myself why I’m creating them. For me the question seems to come back to the question, “What inspired me to create this?

Sometimes the answer is easy. It’s because I like a shape, or am attracted to a colour. Perhaps the answer is that because I want try out an idea for a dress pattern. Sometimes the answer is harder to pin down. Right now, my dolls have more heads because I feel like I could use the extra brain power right now. Part of it is that I like making sets of tiny heads, each smaller than the previous one.

Is it really greener over there?

Sometimes, I wish that I could hit on a type of artwork that would sell well, to a wider range of people. I sometimes view my artwork as kind of ‘all over the place’. Yes, there is a style. But most of it just doesn’t seem to make people want to purchase it. I sometimes compare myself to other creators who have a much larger clientele and thousands more followers and feel like a failure.

Part of me is quite jealous of their success. They have found that idea, that concept, that item that they can create and market to a wide variety of people. And they get money for it! Cool! Meanwhile, I’m banging away on a ten year old laptop and gluing additional heads onto my already not-selling dolls.

I have to stop and ask myself the problem that I’m solving for. Yes. Making more money from the sales of my artwork would be super-duper nice. However, I do not create my artwork with the sole intention of making money. It’s around number three or four on the list of my prime intentions. Expressing myself completely and totally as an artist through the creation of my artwork has always been number one on my list. It’s my prime mover.

So, what now?

I go back to work. I have to finish Honey and Bizzy. I just started their stands. They need their hairdos completed with some ribbons. And I’m still mulling over hats for some reason. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again net Tuesday.

 

 

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Wishful Thinking

What brought me here today:

These Friday blog posts are ones that I use to detail what I’m artwork I’m creating. I’ve begun some new, smaller dolls based on my 12 cm doll pattern. These dolls are among the last that I will be creating in my current workspace. Writing that feels odd to me. Perhaps more precisely, a bit bitter-sweet.

My husband and I currently in search of a new living space. And I’m trying to imagine what it will be like creating new artwork in that new space. I know that my artwork will continue to adapt and evolve to where ever I live and work. But part of me isn’t quite ready to let go of the creative space I’m sitting in as I type this.

Additional parts:

The biggest change to the overall doll design is that I’ve given each of these dolls additionally heads. I’ve had some fun adding more arms, and lengthening limbs and torsos as well. Pinpointing the creative need to do this has been elusive. But I think I’ve begun to figure it out.

There is something I find quite satisfying about making these dolls. There’s an indescribable feeling I get when I get to a certain stage of making a doll. It’s as if the piece has come to life within my hands. There’s all kinds of emotion mixed into this too. I begin to feel protective towards the doll. For me, it’s now it’s own being, separate, yet still connected to me.

On the surface:

May and June have been packed with a lot of change for me. A part of every day is now devoted to accomplishing a task that needs to be completed before we move. I’m not in any way complaining about these tasks. Nor am I finding them difficult, yet. However, they are becoming more numerous. And they have hard and fast deadlines.

The frequency, number and importance of these tasks is being manifested within my current series of semi-altered 12 cm dolls. They are the manifestation of insecurities and anxiety that I’m experiencing regarding the move. I’m either not able to articulate these feelings. Or perhaps even recognize them yet.

Frames of mind:

What could more heads mean? If I’m being as straightforward as possible, it could mean I wish I were smarter. Or perhaps I simply need more brain power to accomplish all the tasks that require my time and attention. Each of these dolls has the same face and head, only replicated.

Some of the heads I’ve added are looking backwards. Other times they’re looking in all directions. Still others, like Honey and Bizzy, have their additional heads facing forward. Penelope’s extra heads face completely backward. Arete’s extra heads faced off in all different directions.

Time keeps on slipping:

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine. She indicated that she felt like it was just yesterday when we first met. Then she detailed some of the huge things that had occurred during that time. It really does feel like yesterday when we first met.

I can still see her long legs sprinting ahead of us in the snow and dark to stand in front of the last bus going downtown. She wanted to make sure the bus wouldn’t leave any of us behind. I remember saying to myself, “This one’s a keeper.” and we’ve been friends ever since.

Right now, I’m sitting at my desk. The large window in front of me looking out onto the beautiful early summer growth on the trees. I can barely see the lake right now. I’m drinking my afternoon tea and wondering exactly where I will be this time next year. More than likely, it will be in a similar situation. The view will be quite different. So will the tea.

Hamlet-like dilemma:

The situation I might find myself in may be similar to what I have right now. A work space, with a computer. And lots of artwork being made. A cup of tea sitting to my right. Any anxiety I may feel comes from not knowing exactly where I will be. I cannot imagine how this move will change the artwork that I create either.

The move is my ‘undiscovered country’. I’m extremely fortunate though. I can return to this place if I wish to. The rub is, that even if I do return to this place, it will all be different. Where I am and what I do in this space is uniquely ephemeral. Nothing stays the same. And that’s the way it should be.

So, now what?

Well, for starters, I’m going back to working on Honey and Bizzy. They need to have their hair completed. Then I will attend to other tasks that require my attention. I’ll keep moving and I’ll keep changing. Sisu.

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

 

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Coin Flip

What brought me here today:

I’ve touched on the subject of relocation (moving) at least twice in recent posts. Some readers may feel as though I’m being purposefully coy with regard to specifics, such as where we will be relocating to. I’m not attempting to create a cloud of creative, magical, mystery about any of this. I simply prefer to keep some things to myself. Until I feel  people need to know anything about it.

In this day and age, we all share so much of our daily lives with complete strangers through social media platforms. It might seem odd to want to actually keep some parts of the personal and private parts of your life, well…private. I’m not usually someone who you might think wishes to keep some things private. But I do.

Two sides of the same coin:

I have two public faces. One being an art teacher, and the other being an artist. These two public faces overlap quite a bit in the Venn diagram. Art teacher and artist are both performative. Both intended for a specific length of time and audience. And each of them draw inspiration and motivation from my personal life.

Art teacher:

As an art teacher, I’m extremely (over-the-top) extroverted. My passion for the subject I teach is something that I do not attempt to contain. I talk openly and honestly with my students about a variety of subjects. Including my life and experiences in and outside of the art studio space. Creating art can make a person (child and adult) feel emotionally vulnerable. I want to convey to my students that they are in a safe space to explore their own creativity. Sharing who I am as a person can help create the trust that is needed for this space to be created.

When I teach art, I am creating a lesson, an experience, a tutorial that is geared specifically to the persons I am teaching. Minute changes and course corrections are made-on-the-fly while I am teaching. These actions are to facilitate a better overall experience for the person(s) I am teaching. These changes are possible because of my own efficacy as an art teacher, as well as an artist.

Artist:

My creative focus as an artist is on the artwork I am currently creating. And the artwork that I want to create. Unlike teaching art, I create my own artwork alone. I spend hours on end hunched over my work table sewing, sanding, cutting, shaping, and drawing. Most of the time, I would forget to eat, bathe, or sleep if it weren’t for my husband.

As a working artist, I utilize online spaces to market my artwork. You’re reading a blog post I’m writing for my website blog. There is a certain amount of ‘putting myself out there’ and wanting/needing enough attention from people wholly unconnected with myself so that I can make generate funds from the selling of my artwork.

I do share some of my artistic process online, but not all of it. The photos of my process are curated, allowing people to have a glimpse of how I create. But not the entire process. I rarely show my own face online. Again choosing to curate. I’ve never been comfortable having my photo taken. Any why would you want to look at me when you could be looking at the artwork I just created?!

Similarities:

I share much of who and what I am as an art teacher with my students. I also share a great deal of who and what I am as an artist with people in online forums like this blog. My students know what I look like because they’ve actually spent time with me. Those who know me online might be able to pick me out of a line-up if pressed on it. I would wager a guess that they would better be able to recognize my artwork instead of my face.

Times and places:

Part of the public face of being an art teacher is being in the classroom, face-to-face with the students. I talked earlier in this post about creating a safe place in which students could be vulnerable. I must be face-to-face with students to create this space. They need to be able to read my face and body language to make assessments of me as a person.

As an artist, I’m the one being vulnerable. I create the artwork. Share some, but not all of the process. I detail in writing what mental and emotional things I’m working through in one of my pieces. Then put it online and have the audacity to ask people to give me money for it.

My artwork is the physical manifestations of my own vulnerabilities. It’s my daily therapeutic mediation that helps me to keep myself intact. I suppose that there are some people who only see the surface levels of my artwork. They don’t need to know that there is anything deeper than the surface level presented to them. And that’s okay. But I’m reminding you, my artwork isn’t just a bunch of cute dollies. It never was.

My anonymity:

Just because a person is a student of mine in the art classroom, or someone follows me through online social media, does not mean that they are entitled to know everything about me. I keep hearing the line “one must put up barriers to keep oneself in tact” from the Rush song Limelight.

Granted, Neil Peart was talking about what it’s like to be famous and having people who he doesn’t know think that he’s their best friend. Because the lyrics he wrote spoke to them on a like, really deep level. I had an experience a number of years ago in which a woman whom I had never met seemed to know a lot about me personally and my artwork. And I had no idea who she was. None. It scared the bejesus out of me. I couldn’t get away from her fast enough.

I don’t have any problems keeping things like where I will be moving to in the next month to myself with regard to my online, social media facing artist side.

So, what now?

As always, back to work. I have a lot do accomplish before the move. And that does include making a little more art before we go.

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