Monday 4 March 2019

Kissing this blog awake with a little one-sheet-mini-sketchbook

Oh,'s been a long long time since I have felt like creating something to add to this specific blog.

Honestly I still struggle with what to share on my other blog, that is more or less dedicated to design team projects and business and also the more fun and superficial blog - means: I spare my blog readers over there having to read about any aspects from real life which is (as we all know) not always sunshine, shiny happy people all around me and feeling strong enough and ready to conquer the world.
I just do not feel it is the place to talk about or muse over my Hashimoto's illness and what it brings (or takes from) me...or how it affects my artistic mojo.
But as I am slowly finding my way deeper into the connections between my creativity and wellbeing, I think it is time now to finally dare make my physical (and as it is a hormones driven illness I struggle with also mental) condition part of my creative work (something my therapist has suggested already long long ago when we talked about how to improve both - my wellbeing and my artwork).

But I am starting with something far from being "severe stuff" - though it still is a project that may be the start of something I might immerse myself in and also use as a means to get closer to those "needs of my struggling artistic soul" ;)

This whole little booklet is made of a single sheet of heavy mixed media paper from an A4 pad.

The cover

For my first try I chose some techniques and motifs that are favourites of mine like using up scraps from die cut left overs from previous projects and incorporating tea bags and coffee pads, making my beloved bugs the stars of the booklet, scraping, splattering and dragging paint...I even dared add my own hand-writing.

The inside spreads and the back cover: 

I signed my work in red stamping paste using a little Jade stamp that I had had cut on my trip to Hong Kong. It is supposed to read "Clau-di-a" (at least the guy said he would try to carve in the syllables of my first name like he hears them ;)

The pages one by one again (because I tried to design them so they can be looked at either way - as spreads or as single pages)

Some details

Cutting dies designs (and some stamps): Seth Apter
Rubber/clear stamps: Moodtape, Tim Holtz (Stampers Anonymous)
Paints, collage medium: DecoArt
Walnut ink (Tsukineko) , PITT Artist Pen, white gel pen
Stamping ink: Ranger
Embossing powders on die cut scraps: Emerald Creek Craft Supplies
MDF wood shape scraps: Calico Craft Parts
Paper: Marabu Mixed Media pad, 300 g/m2

Thursday 1 February 2018

New year's resolutions...

(for my few blog followers: please, read the edited introductory blurb on top of the blog to learn about some changes. If you then decide to un-follow, I can understand and won't feel offended at all).

Just so I don't forget how organised my studio can be at times...and also to mark the start of a new episode on my artistic journey (which is the logical consequence to my resolution to take myself more serious and get more serious as an artist).

I think I will love to have that "fun side" of creativity on my other blog and I also wouldn not want to miss it - but I found I have been neglecting my more earnest approach to expressing myself through art (in words and images) for way too long now and I feel that I can't go on just considering painting and creating as just a hobby or a series of DT jobs. I feel I am in search of finding myself in my art....and that can't be done in fun projects.

So - to start at some point - I decided to rearrange my tools and materials in a more organised part of taking things "more serious" and also making that visible for myself. So I have finally managed to sort through my crammed shelves and bring order to my unbelievable (!) loads of stash. Part of the load still comes from my years as an arts and wood works teacher (which in a way makes you a hoarder and up-cycler by profession), but having been on the DecoArt design team since 2014 (with just a short interruption) has much increased my collection of acrylic paints and media - and also my love for them.

If one would have asked me right after I had left arts university if I could ever imagine myself being a painter or working in colour, I would have said "no" - as I was certain at that time (and had been regularly told so and proven by my teachers at university) that I was no painter at all and would never be - simply due to total lack of understanding colour.

Sometimes I still feel kind of "surprised by myself" and where I have come to, when I enter my studio and see the IKEA trolley crammed with paints and media and sorted brushes (I need them all and I use them all!), palette knifes and other painters this really me using all of this (almost as if I knew what I am doing)? And enjoying it as it feels playful and a rewarding thing to do?

Does this already make me an artist? Me - the one they said would never be more than an arts teacher...knowing about many techniques, about composition and styles and art history, but not being artistic at all myself...?

Every tiny gap between shelves is being used for additional storage options...

The Japanese towels I use like little curtains to hide crammed ugly boxes behind were a gift from my sister and I love these a lot. I generally find Ukiyo-e beautiful and inspiring to look at - both - for the patterns and colours used in them and the imagery.

More DecoArt stuff (premium paints to the left and specialties to the right) alongside coloured pencils and Distress and spray inks and paints - all squeezed between some inspiring books and collected cardboard from old packaging (to the left). First attempts in Encaustic sitting on top of the right tray. I've put them to where I can see them, so I don't forget to continue working on these.

The problem with loving and trying out many different new techniques is that I don't stick with one technique for long enough to get sufficient practice to feel I am mastering when I turn to it again, I find I have to start from almost the beginning...and then I ask myself why I stopped doing it in the first place...but that's one of my flaws I struggle with and that I want to work on, to get better and "more serious" with my art.

Loads of books on various media, styles and techniques on the top shelf there...below my metal and wire work tools. The white and red plastic containers hold mostly Tim Holtz stamp sets. It was the discovery of a Tim Holtz stamp set almost six years ago by the way, that opened to me the door to the world of rubber stamping, tag and card making (more of the first, almost none of the latter to be honest), Distress and die cutting fun - and challenge blogs. All of which helped me a lot to overcome my wrong image about myself as a creative that I had developed at arts university.

Now it seems I am bit by bit returning to "more earnest" fine arts (hoping I can incorporate what I love about mixed media into more earnest work) - which I would never have wanted or been able to without having taken the alternative route via techniques and styles that are simply fun and playful.

My little assistant...

...always alert just in case there's the slightest chance of getting a little goodie (simply for being the cutie she is).

My studio desk with my Big Shot to the left - a gift from my husband, that added a lot of fun to my crafting and that I wouldn't want to miss. The pink plastic bag with roses is for snippets, used baby wipes and paper towels and other waste. I love that I can simply shove these right from my desk into the bag.
The red metal drawers hold my other rubber stamps - sorted by themes as "mark making", "nature", "Halloween", "Christmas", "Steampunk" and such.

In the background there's my husband's work space (and play zone as happy the person who only needs a laptop, big screen and internet to have a happy relaxing time...;).
I love Fridays when he works at home and when we spend the day together - both being creative - him, designing outstanding speech recognition software, me, working on design team projects. Our dog always lying at the spot on the floor that is at equal distance to the both of us.

Throughout the last years I have developed my own preferred procedures and ways of creating (which obviously can only be developed by repeated action instead of logical thinking and planning) - I need to have a paper tray (an old box lid) to my left (oh, I have tried to get rid of it several times, but it somehow always "materialises" there again) - filled with ephemera, snippets from die cuts and paper scraps -, the craft sheet fixed to the table, space for a palette to the right, stamping inks and letter stamps right behind me (as well as my Sizzix dies), all other crafting tools in reach...

I found some older images of my studio from four years ago...

Haha, only two containers for Tim Holtz stamp sets back then...and no trolley as there were no acrylic paints that needed storage (just a few tubes of cheap paint in a plastic container somewhere).

The pink and orange metal buckets on trays that held felt tip pens and such, have gone now. Was this really already so long ago? I can see items there I still haven't used a lot...and others that didn't make it on to following years and re-organisations. But hey, you can only find out what you love doing and what you don't by trying it out. Over the years some techniques, media and materials turned out to have become last I dare say that now. There were times when I felt I needed to do and know it all. An old (and wrong) belief as I found. One of many to unmask, overcome and get rid of.

Thursday 25 January 2018

Tidying up my craft space... always something that is rewarding yet stressful at the same time for me.

I love to browse my stuff and find stash I have already forgotten about (because it has been shoved to the back of a shelf to make room for something new), as this can be quite inspiring, but on the other hand it often also always leaves me quite angry about myself - knowing that I have been buying more stuff than I use up for already too long.

Why can't I simply use and be content with what I already have at home? There's more than enough stuff there to create for decades without running out of material and media.

I have this suspicion that I feel a creative already when buying the new fab, craftsy stuff - which is a lie if you look at it closely. As if "owning" the coolest and latest media and stamps already counts as being creative with them...often these items lie in my studio for months before I finally use them. I often ask myself - when re-finding them - why I had bought them....there must have been something that made me, need them, right?
Then most of the time I find that it must have been a project I had seen on someone else's blog or fb, that made me buy it. As if that would be all that's needed to be able to also shine like a star out there with something just as beautiful. It's a bit as if I try to disguise as someone else...someone who had this brilliantly creative idea and imagination to create that amazing piece of art that made me want that stuff and artsy genius too...

But I am me - and that also shows with my personal creative "handwriting". I could, of course, copy that project and reproduce the style or colour scheme or whatever it was that grabbed my attention, but that's not what I am aiming for I found. I don't want a copy of someone else's project - I want their very imagination, I guess. As if buying the products that artist used, already sparked the same creative genius and images in silly to act and think that way! Even if it is an unconscious thing.

Why not have the courage to discover my very own artistic handwriting and hunt down ideas in my own head? What is it that still makes me hide behind the styles of others and in a way wanting to be and appear like someone else artistically? Wouldn't I just be telling their artistic stories  instead of my own? So why do I think that way? Is it fear? Fear of what? Of showing myself as who I really am? Sometimes I think I act this way because my mind is blank and I have no story to tell as an artist (which I feel especially when I have been struggling with aching joints and feeling exhausted for too long). I believe that you can only create good art if you have something to tell (visually). Something that drives you and that needs to be expressed....what, if I don't have any of that? What, if I am just a big BLANK?

What am I afraid of? What do I expect to happen, if I start following my own road as an artist? That no one will want to see? But shouldn't I be creating for myself in the first place? Have I lost track of myself by giving in to tiny glances of quick and guaranteed "mini-success" out there by following the latest trends, imitating popular styles and using the latest techniques and media?

Maybe I have. And maybe that is not just a bad thing - as it feels good and also helps build up self confidence - knowing that you are able to master techniques and media of many kinds. But the danger with this is that you can easily loose track of your own personal path as an artist and that your inner voice somehow gets silenced by having stayed in ones comfort zone for way too long. And then it is hard to let go of something you have gotten used to and feel safe with.

The courage to create something unpopular - simply because I feel I HAVE TO create it; where do I find that? Can this be approached in small steps so it becomes less intimidating? I hope so.