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New Daily Journal

In the first blog post of this series detailing how I organize my time, materials and ideas for art making, I wrote about the daily journal that I maintain. Having my daily journal keeps me mentally focused and moving in one direction. At a glance, I can easily see what I’ve gotten done, and where I need to apply more of my time and energies.

My daily journal is last thing that I touch on my desk at night, and the first thing I touch in the morning. It’s important that it be at my right hand when I sit down to work in the morning. This morning, I finally had to come to terms with the fact that my current daily journal will ‘run out’ as of the 31st of March. My new daily journal would have to be put together. The sooner the better!

New daily journal:

A few weeks ago, I picked up a new blank journal at Suomalainen Kirjakauppa. It’s a little different from my current daily journal. The book itself is a little larger. The paper is thicker, nicer paper too. There’s also a dot graph, instead of a grid on the pages.

The covers are hard book board, with a large wire spiral as a binding. The spiral is large enough for a pen to fit into, which I like. There are red roses illustrated in red ink on the covers, which I’m not fond of. But, it’s not a big deal, because I can just cover it with something I like better.

Large wire spiral bindings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. My husband detests all spiral bindings. He’s left-handed, so they can be terrifically frustrating for him to write in. I like how the spiral binding allows the book to lay completely flat. I just can’t seem to trust the bullet journals bindings. There’s a part of me that feels as though it’s going to snap shut while I’m writing in it.

Additional parts:

This particular blank journal holds only four months of the year. Believe it or not, this was a point in the books favour. I knew that I would be adding a few new features within my daily journal. These four months give me some time to see if I like the new categories and slightly altered layouts without committing to an entire year.

I’ve added a page at the beginning of each month that is simply a list of the days of the month. There’s also a sticker with the month for 2021 for reference as well. One of the things that I wanted to become better at was long-term planning for the different projects that I work on. This page will let me know (again, at a glance) when I need to post the twice weekly blogs, Go Marielle, a new monthly newsletter as well as other yet to be revealed projects.

The layout for each individual day has also been altered. I’ve added new, separate sections for Go Marielle and the monthly newsletter. And I’ve changed around some headings for each of the different sections so that they better reflect what they actually are about. “Computer Work” was too broad a term. It’s now “Social Media and Marketing”. This just makes more sense.

Colour coding:

Colour coding has always been something that I delight in creating. My favourite element of art is colour. I know when I see green in my daily journal, it has to do with art production. I’ve made yellow the colour for the blog entry category. There are a few new colours have been added for the new categories too.

When putting together my new daily journal, one thing that I wanted to make neater was the colour coding for my categories. My previous daily journal was a little scribbly and less precise than I wanted it to be. I use Stabilo highlighters to colour code my daily journal. Sometimes the highlighters smear the ink if I write first, then highlight.

The solution was to create a template that I would use to add the coloured highlights to each individual page first. Creating the template wasn’t difficult. A page from the back of the new journal was removed. The grid on the page allowed me to easily see where I wanted to create the rectangular holes in the template. The paper template was transferred to a heavier piece of paper and was ready to use.

Blue, green, purple, pink, yellow, yellow, repeat:

The template came together quickly. It took much longer to add each colour to four months of pages. The template was cut so that I just had to align the bottom edge and the first vertical row of dots. Then I added the highlighter colours. While the colours are applied in a much neater manner than my current daily journal, it doesn’t bother me that they aren’t perfect.

The paper is thicker in this new daily journal, so the highlighter doesn’t show through. This made me happier than I thought it would. I use the bright shades of Stabilo highlighters. Sometimes the ink can pop-through the paper a little, especially when you go over something twice or more.

Writing in everything:

By the time I had finished using the template to add in my colours for different sections, they were dry enough to write on. Here again, I decided to make some changes. Stabilo Point 88 Fine Line pens in colour are being used to write over top of the highlighter in each section.

I’ve written each individual day of the month at the top of each page in black permanent fine line pen. I’m also using this same pen to write the list of days as well. I need to add the numbers of the week on the individual pages. As of the time that I’m writing this blog post, I have a lot to write into my new daily journal still!

So, now what?

Well, I need to finish all of the writing for starters! There are also some additional design elements that I want to add, like divider lines between different categories for one. I’m confident that I’ll be ready to use my new daily journal on 1 April 2021!

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

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Time and Meaning

There never seems to be enough time to get the amount of work completed that I want. Even when working every day of the week, there is always something that isn’t as far along as I would like. Or feels stuck in one specific stage of creation. Having more ideas than time in which to create them is better than having all the time in the world and no ideas at all.

Four bottle dolls:

These four dolls epitomize my feelings of being stuck in one specific stage of creation. Application of the sealant to all of the paper mâché surfaces takes such a long time to complete. Just last night I finished the arms and legs. Once they were completed, I decided that the bottle-shaped torsos required additional coats of sealant to better match the surfaces of the arms, legs and heads.

I use a mixture of water and Eri-Keeper glue as a sealant for my paper mâché pieces. It protects the painted surfaces extremely well. The difficult part of using this mixture is that it takes multiple layers to achieve the surface look that I’m after artistically. Eri-Keeper isn’t as shiny as acrylic semi-gloss or gloss that I’ve used in the past.

When multiple layers of the Eri-Keeper sealant are dry, they take on a sheen like an M&M candy. Incidentally, it’s when I want to actually take a bite out of my artwork that I know I have enough layers of sealant applied. For some pieces, especially small pieces, anywhere between six and eight coats is sometimes enough to achieve this effect. I’ve applied about two dozen coats to all of the pieces of the bottle dolls.

Button components:

The button components were made earlier in the week. Making them didn’t take very long. I think I completed them in around four hours. The most difficult part was creating shapes for the button components, then bending and shaping them over and around the different forms. Then they were left to dry over night. After drying thoroughly, they needed sanding, painting and sealant.

I’m still using the air dry clay from Flying Tiger. It’s the best air dry clay I’ve ever worked with. Many air dry clays I tried to use with students in my art classroom have been total rubbish. They crumbled, dried out and seemed to break with the least amount of handling.

By contrast, the Flying Tiger air dry clay stands-up to some rough handling. Including a tremendous amount of shaping, via sanding. Strange as it may seem, it actually took several hours longer to sand and shape the button components than to actually make them!

Doll stands:

The idea finally came together for the doll stands a few nights ago. Once I started cutting patterns and working with the cardboard, all four came together incredibly quickly. These stands will not be covered with paper mâché. Fabric will be used to cover the surfaces of the stands.

I learned a lot about using fabric as a covering for some of the pieces that I showed at Matara earlier in the year. Hopefully, those lessons will serve me well when I begin the fabric work on the stands.

New meanings:

Part of the learning for me as an artist is in how the artwork begins to become its own ‘thing’ as it’s created. This applies to how the physical artwork is created, as well as the thoughts, meditations and ideas that come about as a result of the act of creation. It sounds strange, but that’s how a large part of my personal creative process works more often than not.

I saw the influence of kachina in the ways I had formed the heads, arms and legs of these four dolls. I say ‘influence’ in the design of some of the parts of the dolls. The meaning behind the kachina that the indigenous people of the southwestern United States create is NOT something that I would ever attempt to copy or emulate. I would never use a culture and a history that is not mine as a stylistic choice.

What I did begin to think about was how I as the artist imbue my artistic creations with an element of my own identity. That part of my identity that I do feel is connected to the divine. These four dolls are specific to me. They’re like my own personal guardians. This got me thinking…

Lares:

I remembered reading about how the Romans had a classification (?) of guardian deities or spirits that were called Lares. These lares didn’t have specific names, but they were associated with ancestor worship, hero worship and protection. You can read more about them here.

The concept of the lares gives me latitude to decide what exactly I would like my four bottle dolls to be. If these four are to be akin to lares, then what or whom will they protect? And how can I show that in the artistic representation? There are so many possibilities swirling around in my mind. I’m sure that the four bottle dolls will help me along.

Well, crud:

Today I learned that an art workshop that I was to teach this upcoming Tuesday has had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions. I cannot say that I’m not disappointed. Teaching art is my second favourite thing to do besides creating art! The person who contracted me to teach a Worry Doll Workshop has rescheduled the workshop for early May. So, I’ll still get to teach! And it’ll be so much easier to wheel my suitcase full of supplies to the venue! Right now everything is sloppy-squishy-slush!

Now what?

Well, for one thing. I’m going to add the last half dozen coats of sealant to the torsos of the four bottle dolls. Then I’m going to start planning the colours for the insides of the torsos. Oh! And I need to make a pattern for the clear plastic windows too! Well, you all know what happens after, ‘now what?’ I get back to making art!

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

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Wanted: Art Criticism

Last night, my husband and I were talking about artistic criticism. Specifically, the types of criticisms that come from outside the sphere of creative peers. During my time as a graphic design student, I learned how to critique my classmates work, and in turn how to receive artistic criticisms myself. Even when feelings were bruised, I knew that the critiques were coming from an informed, experienced argument of a peer.

In time, my graphic design work became a means to an end. A designed grocery ad meant that I would get paid. The design work that I was creating wasn’t meant for any greater purpose than conveying pertinent information as to what items were on sale at a specific place and time. After that, it was chucked into the recycling bin, or used to line a bird cage. I exchanged a service for monetary gain.

Simple truth:

There is some great graphic design work done by some fabulous graphic artists out there. But mine was not, and would never be that. Time and experience taught me that. Over the last twenty years, whatever graphic design or illustration work that I created was simply an exchange of goods and services for me. While I might derive a degree of enjoyment in the creation of the occasional graphic design freelance work. It’s not my only creative art outlet.

My creative ego is now not dependent upon it being a spectacular success as a graphic designer. Having it bring me loads of money or heaps of praise for my unique and innovative work. No. I’m no Neville Brody. And that’s a good thing. Because we already have one of those, and he’s pretty good at Neville-Brody-ing.

The struggle is real:

The difference between my graphic design work and my personal artwork, is that I’m extremely emotionally invested in my personal artwork. My personal artwork is part of my identity. Receiving positive feedback regarding my personal artwork is great, but doesn’t always translate directly into increased sales. I wrote about this almost a year ago in this post.

Personally, I felt as though I was just being a big, fat, whiny baby because the thumbs up, or hearts or nice words were not being reflected in the sales of my artwork. This is something that I am in some way, shape or form always struggling with right beneath the surface.

Sometimes, I think that if I were an artist fifty or seventy years ago, when there was no computers, internet or social media like we have today. I would have been one of those women labeled a spinster. Who worked some day job, and made a lot of personal artwork in her off hours. Only to have a horder-like apartment full of my artwork discovered by my nieces after I keeled over and my cats ate my face.

What?!

There is a point to all of the above backstory. Recently, I decided to step outside of my (somewhat) predictable positive artistic criticism chamber to post my artwork in a completely different environment. I wanted to see what people who don’t know me, or perhaps who are not creators would say about my artwork.

Let’s say, I don’t think I’ve handled it well. I don’t think I approached the posts and my comments correctly at all. In the echo-chamber of positivity mentioned above I think the only weird critique I’ve ever received was that some high school kid thought that the arms and legs I made for some dolls looked like cat poops.

Over the past few months, I’d begun posting more of my artwork on a platform. There wasn’t a lot of feedback being generated. Sometimes I would get some nice bits of feedback. But nothing specific. Then today, I just totally stuck my whole foot squarely in my mouth.

Digging for a compliment much?!

For whatever insecure reason I attached some rather sad-sack paragraph of whiny-ass-ness to a set of pictures I posted. And someone, quite rightly, jerked a knot in my tail about it. Suggesting that I was just digging for a compliment. I had mentioned that some of my previous posts had been down voted. Apparently, my posts were not as down voted as I had thought. Or, they had been up voted since the last time I looked.

Regardless, I feel like a colossal boob for the post and my poor-pitiful-me up-vote-grubbing ramblings. I’ve resolved to edit the post. And make clear what I’m really looking for: critiques of my artwork from people outside my peers and affiliated groups.

My husband isn’t quite sure why this matters to me. There’s some logic to his argument. Someone who is not an artist, or even interested in art probably isn’t going to give me any kind of critical feedback that I would necessarily take to heart. However,  it might possibly help me in discussing (explaining?) my artwork to all kinds of different people.

Now what?

Well, I’m going to do some more thinking about what I will post next. It needs to be clear and to the point. No Uriah-Heep hand-wringing and aw-shucks-ing about it.

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

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Computer Filing

Keeping my tools, materials and supplies relatively organized is easy for me to accomplish. The deluge of photographs and graphics I create is another matter entirely. While the aforementioned tools, materials and supplies are three-dimensional and more or less, in my face all the time. Computer files are formless little strings of numbers that I only see when working on my laptop.

I freely acknowledge that I need a better ways of organizing myself in the digital realm. For heaven’s sake! I’m still working on an old MacBook Pro I purchased used seven years ago! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not belly-aching about wanting/needing a new laptop. My laptop has done yeoman’s duty for me. And I’m very thankful for Omena (Her hard drive name).

For me, it’s not necessarily about the computer I have to work with, but what I can accomplish with said computer. The big question is, how can I do what I want to do right now, with the equipment that I have. Not the equipment I ‘wish’ I had. So, here’s how I do what I do.

Laptop:

From the ‘About this Mac’ window, my computer is a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010), with a 2,4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It has a 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3 of memory. And  NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256 MB graphics. I’m still working with OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite.

To be totally honest, a lot of the above just looks like gibberish to me. As a trained graphic designer I feel as though it should mean something to me. The memory bits do…to some extent. And again, being as honest as I can be, as an artist, not being able to touch or feel the aforementioned computer ‘stuff’ means that it’s completely abstracted to me.

Fortunately, I have a husband who does understand all of this stuff. And he guides me when I require assistance or explanations. It’s his jam. And I’d rather be sewing or painting anyway.

Files:

To say that I have a lot of photographs could potentially be the understatement of the century on my part. Between the photos that I take of my artwork (finished and in process), items that I have for sale in my shop, and Go Marielle, I have a lot of photos to organize and store.

To keep myself as organized as possible, I try and harness my love of filing and the contentment I feel when I put things ‘where they live’. There are two main file folders; Website and Go Marielle. Within each of those files are subfiles.

Website files:

I keep anything that I use for my website, including my online shop, in this file. Files for my inventory, pieces listed in the shop, photographic elements used in the design of my site, coupons, and miscellaneous items. Finding these files is easy. I prefer to use the icons instead of the list to find my files. I’ve also made the icons a bit larger, as my eyesight is getting a little wibbly.

When it comes to the items I have listed in the shop. Each of them belongs in a separate sup-category. Little Ladies, Creative Experiment Dolls, Tiny Animals, etc. Because each of the dolls I create has their own individual name. Their photographs are filed in a folder with their name on it. If I need to find Beanstalk, or Alice or Bernard T. Honkstorker, I just look for the name.

My inventories are maintained in a computer file (Excel) and in paper form. Changes are made to the paper version, then updated in the Excel file. I keep backups of this file in a separate hard drive used only for file storage.

Go Marielle:

The files for Go Marielle get a little more complicated. If you have read the stories that I post on Instagram, you know that I post a daily single panel, and a weekly 10+ panel story every week. There are an average of 80 to 100 photos taken for one 10+ panel weekly Go Marielle story. Each single panel daily post takes 3 to 10 photos.

So, how do I organize and store it all? Well, the first division is between the daily posts (I call them singles) and the weekly story posts (I call them long posts). Each of these categories has their own file folder. The subfiles within them are each named according to what they are. So, within the daily posts file, there are files named Marielle and the Frost or Marielle at the Bus Stop, etc. The same goes for the once weekly longer stories.

In addition to having separate files for these two types of posts for Go Marielle. I also attach a color tag to each file. Red for ‘posted’ and green for ‘not posted’. My rationale is red is for stop and green is for go.

Go Marielle complications:

Go Marielle is much more complicated than a single photograph of my finished artwork, or for an item in my shop.Each of the photos has to be processed. This entails choosing the photo to be used, cropping and color correcting it (GIMP and a Preview). Then story boarding the photos. Sometimes I need to add or remove a photograph to make the story flow better.

My rule is that if a photo is removed from the original story boarding session (meaning, it’s been cropped and color corrected), it goes into a file called ‘Photos not used’. I do this just in case I change my mind. No one wants to do a job twice. Any photos not selected for cropping and color correction go directly into the trash and are deleted.

So at this point, I have between 5 and perhaps 20 photos depending on whether it’s intended for a single panel post or a long panel post. Now it gets even more complicated.

More complicated:

The photos are run through GIMP and the faces are removed from the dolls used in the photos. Sometimes there are other bits of correction I need to do as well. It’s a lot of clone stamping and magic wand kinds of work. I also do any additional color correction work as well. At the conclusion of this, I now have two versions of the same photos. One with faces and one without faces.

I separate these photos within the file. With Faces, and Without Faces. Now, the without faces are ready to upload to another platform, Canva. One of the reasons I use Canva is because it’s cheaper than Photoshop or Illustrator. I don’t have to think about the dimensions of the pieces I’m creating either. It’s also off my computer, so it’s not a program taking up space on my hard drive.

Once is Canva, I use a palette of facial features that I drew myself. And processed through GIMP. I lay in the story as well. Sometimes I do the faces first, then the story. Other times it’s the other way ’round. Once the panels are finished, I download them to my desktop. I run them through Preview again, and make them a little smaller. This makes it easier to send them to myself via Gmail.

EVEN MORE COMPLICATIONS:

The finished Canva files. These are the ones that I will post in Go Marielle. They are the third set of photos that need to be placed in a file. They are kept in a separate file. Labeled with the story or post name. At the completion of any Go Marielle single or long post, there is a veritable set of Russian nested doll of files.

The individual panels for Go Marielle also hang around in my Gmail account for a week or so after posting as well. I do this in case something goes wrong with initial posting. And I need to do it again. They are eventually deleted. Usually two weeks after the initial posting.

Back-ups:

I have an external drive that I back everything up to. I tend to have a lot of copies of files in different places. Most of the reason for this can be traced back to my time in art school when I lost a ton of work and had no back ups at all. I had to build the entire project almost from zero.

Because of my Canva account, I can leave a lot of graphics there. Most of the announcements for Instagram Stories are created in Canva. I still back them up to my external drive. Always as a ‘just in case’.

So, now what?

The ways in which I work on computer isn’t by any means meant to work for anyone but me. I suppose that I wanted to show those who are reading this post that you don’t have to have all of the expensive computers or programs to get started on your own personal creative journey. Decide what you want to create, then figure out how to do it with what you have right now.

There are computer and periphery equipment that will at some point in the future will be purchased. Again, I’m very glad to have my husband’s guidance on the subject. But until then, I will continue as I have, with what I’ve got. It’s better in the long-run I think.

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

 

 

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In Between

My artwork never travels in a straight line. The way in which I’ve been creating since the completion of the Creative Experiment has been the greatest influence upon that. I would also add that I’m a fairly impatient artist. Wanting my artwork to ‘get done faster‘! This is especially difficult when working with glue and gesso.

Half of the artwork that I’m currently working on seems to fall rather neatly into the above description. At times, I need to remind myself that completing my artwork quickly isn’t the main goal. My artwork needs to take the time it needs to help me create it and myself.

Bottles:

My fascination with Erittäin Heino Suomalainen bottles has been documented several times in my blog. They were used for the legs of Blue Doll #10. There is just something about them that speaks to me on a creative level.  Perhaps it’s because they are so distinctively shaped?

About a week ago, I decided to cut one of the bottles I had on hand in half. Then add paper mâché and gesso to the surface. One bottle, cut in two, became two bottles cut in two. Part of the reason for my doing that is because I wanted to have options for the artistic ideas I wanted to use.

Here’s the interesting thing; what these pieces are becoming is not exactly what I initially had in mind for them.

Between:

Just as it’s difficult to satisfactorily describe how I “just know” what do create as an artist. It’s equally as difficult to explain how I change the direction of a piece of artwork mid-creation. Again, it comes down to something similar to “I just know“. Which, even as I type it seems as if I’m not being truthful. Because I don’t always know.

Between the “I know” and “I don’t know” for myself as an artist is the place in where the creative decisions are made. My knowing and not knowing exist simultaneously. With a lot of space between the two, linking them. This in between space is where every artistic outcome is completely possible. Being ability to navigate this strange space is where the artwork is created over and over and over again. Each time with a different end product. My job as the artist is to choose one final shape and bring it in the physical world.

For anyone looking at the final, physical artistic creation, this is what the artist wanted to make. For me, it is only one of infinitely different outcomes. Knowing this propels me as an artist to go back to that in between space to explore more options for the artwork that I create.

Evolution:

The original idea I had for these bottles didn’t seem like it was ‘enough’. The imagined finished piece wasn’t what I felt it needed to be. Within that in between space, is so much stuff. By ‘stuff’ I mean basically everything. There are portions of this space that I actively attempt to bypass too.

There are hard and fast reasons for bypassing some of these places within the in between space. Some of it has to do with styles, some with design. And there are some things that are too emotional. So I just bypass them. They aren’t locked away. I see them. They are acknowledged. I just choose to leave them floating around.

One of the designs that I had been bypassing were fixed, rigid legs. From what I can understand about myself creatively, this comes from a deep childhood desire to have some of my own toys have articulated heads and limbs. These design elements are ones I find so satisfying to look at and manipulate that they have become fairly standard in my doll design.

What’s in that bypass?

The fixed, rigid leg construction for the four bottle dolls just would not let me go. No matter how much I thought about it. This type of leg was the answer. I let go of my fear and just decided to go with it. Then, I started looking at how I would design and create the heads for the dolls.

The “I know” part took over. Each of these dolls would have geometric forms for heads. Period. No more thinking about it. It’s just how they much be created. I made a few sketches to see if I really, really wanted to make heads like this. And the answer was yes.

As I began creating the arms and legs. Then the heads. Some of the bypassed places in that in between space began to come to the surface of my thoughts. That’s when it hit me. What I was beginning to create was similar to the memory of a doll-like toy I’d had when I was very young. The toy kind of freaked me out a little bit. But I liked it a great deal. I was cheap and plastic. More than likely, it was tossed out before I was 10 years old.

Sticky thoughts:

I knew this had to be true, because I had the “I know” feeling. Again. I cannot explain it well. It’s a physical sensation. It’s mental too. Ha! While writing this, I gave it all a test. I thought about the pieces I’m working on. Pulled in the bypassed plastic doll memory, as well as the bypassed rigid, fixed legs. And yep. Totally got the “I know” feeling.

For quite some time, I have believed that the reason I make the artwork that I make, specifically dolls and toy-themed artwork, was because I was making them for the child I was. That somehow, I would have chosen them as my toys instead of mass-produced dolls and toys. But I think it may go a bit deeper than that.

Why specifically would I spend so much time in an extremely specific and short period of my childhood? While the above reasons are true. I think that a greater portion of my rationale may have to do with control. Control of who and what I am. How I think. Where I go. Who I interact with. Perhaps control is too limiting a concept. Perhaps autonomy is a better descriptor.

New meaning:

All of the above being said, and to make a long story just a little longer, I feel as though I’m working in the correct direction with regard to the four bottle dolls (as I’m calling them right now). Working on them is helping me to create myself. Or perhaps know myself in a greater sense. Man. That in between space is wild. I never know quite what I’ll find in there!

Abrupt change of topic:

Gesso. While I’ve been working on the four bottle dolls, changes have been made to my homemade gesso recipe. I decided to try using chalk instead of plaster in my mixture. I’m quite pleased with the results so far. It’s far easier to sand than the plaster based gesso. There are still places in which the paint surface is bumpy. But I’ve found some solutions to this problem that I will be trying in an upcoming batch of gesso.

I’ve also added some talc to the mixture. I like how it gives the gesso added body. And it makes the gesso smoother to paint onto the surfaces worked on. I’ve also finally realized that I need to actually create a recipe for my gesso that can be replicated. Presently, I’ve just been creating the gesso from ‘feel’. As in, it needs more water, it’s too thick. Or I need to grind the chalk a little more, it feels to lumpy.

So…now what?

The concepts and designs of the bottle dolls are working well. And in a direction that I find extremely satisfying. I’m getting my gesso recipe closer and closer to what I want and need it to be for my artwork. OH! And of the four boxes for 12 cm dolls and the 10 tiny doll brooches have been painted! I’ve set them aside so that they can dry completely (five to seven days) and then I can add more paint and drawing to the surfaces of them.

So…yeah. My work is progressing. In the physical world and the emotional world.

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

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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.

 

 

 

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A Short Blogging Break

I’m going to take a short break from blogging until 9 November. There is so much going on right now (sits back and gestures at basically everything). A short break is needed to help me deal with my rising levels of anxiety. It feels like someone is standing on my chest most of the time. Working on the new pieces of art for the show will give me a sense of control. It will also alleviate some of the physical symptoms as well as giving me a task that requires attention.

Man. Even typing this message has ramped-up my anxiety levels.

My shop is still open! There are lots of dolls that are looking for good homes! Take advantage of the one and only sale that I will have this year! 20% off every item in my shop!

Thank you for reading and I will see you again on 9 November 2020.

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Contents May Have Shifted

Strange:

I feel as though there should be more for me to write a blog post about. But the thing is, my thoughts and energies are in a lot of different places right now. There are several different projects that I’m working on at the moment. None of them seem to be in any sort of exciting spot that requires a blog post devoted entirely to them.

It would be a lie if I didn’t admit that events in other countries (the US in particular) have been gnawing at my thoughts. Stirring-up all kinds of emotions. Emotions that aren’t exactly productive in any way. These events are laying on my ‘fight or flight’ responses. Living with this button crammed into the on-position is just exhausting.

Exhausting to the point that there’s no need to elaborate. If you know. Then you know. If you don’t. Then contact me and I’ll let you know.

What I’m doing:

Writing, designing and creating the Go Marielle posts and stories continue to take-up a significant amount of time. I’m going to be changing around the amount of longer multi-panel stories that I post through November and December. I plan to post only one story a week instead of two. This post will be on Wednesday.

There are a few reasons why I’m doing this. Go Marielle takes a lot of time to create. Some of that time is needed for the creation of artwork for an upcoming art show.  Another reason is that I don’t want to burn-out on creating Go Marielle. I’ve got some fun things planned for future stories. And I don’t want to be grumpy and unhappy about making them because I feel tired of creating the stories.

Creating new art:

I’ve been in papier maché land for the past week or so. Five pieces have been started, with another six to seven that I want to create. Each piece has so many moving parts! So many little details!

This morning, while I was working, I was suddenly struck with some themes that have kind of snuck-in under my creative radar. These themes I had not in any way consciously been aware of while I’d been working on sketches and designs up until that point. It made me wonder if I had not been devoting enough thought to the artwork that I’m actively creating.

Hopefully, some of the time I’m freeing-up regarding Go Marielle will help me to focus a bit more on the themes of my new body of work.

20% off Sale:

The 20% off all items in my shop sale is still going on here on my website. There are lots of new items in the shop that I’ve never offered for sale before. So make sure you take a look at everything! As always, if you have any questions, please use the contact form to send me a message!

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