Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CVS Birds

Observed inhabiting the sign above my mom's local drug store:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

1000 Cards Project Update

I reached my February quota for my 1000 Cards project with two days to spare. Here's a look at what I artfully accomplished this month:

I got a little more adventurous with the ATCs I quilted this month, and spent a week and a half on an abstract phoenix card I beaded with golden seed beads. During my road trip I discovered ATCs are the perfect take-along project because (unless you're working with something bulky) you can fit all your materials and the ATC itself in a gift card-size tin.

Visiting an art show inspired me to paint a few ATCs this month. I also dealt with another emotion by painting Hatred, that fiery little guy in the middle there, which helped me get rid of my own anger over something stupid.

I cautiously dabbled in more mixed media cards this month, too. I didn't try too many new techniques -- still a bit leery -- but I was pleased with the results.

One rousing success was with some old black and white nautical images I found in a library archive; I used washes of watercolor to selectively colorize them. I've only tried this technique once before, and this time I felt like I nailed it.

I had a mixed bag of results with my beaded cards this month. I was delighted by the way my pearl-and-bugle-bead centipede came out, but struggled with some bicone Swarovski crystals, which don't look as heavy as they are once you sew them to fabric. Will keep experimenting with beads, though, as I think I just have to figure out the right weights and combinations.

I played with buttons for the first time, making a tiny doll and using an old card of buttons to create some found object art. Both were a lot of fun.

Due to time constraints and the road trip I ended up making half my cards with photos I took. 18 of them were taken during one visit to a flea market where I got some amazing shots of statues, antiques and other oddities. I really enjoyed that day, so I was happy to make them into cards to preserve those memories. I also documented moments from two other days, one spent at the art show and another at the hospital to see if my daughter broke her ankle (just a bad sprain).

Overall I think I did pretty well in February; I learned a lot and let myself go more than I did last month. I constantly recycled on-hand and found objects and I feel quite satisfied that I'm sticking to my commitment to go green whenever possible. I am going to give myself the rest of February off, though, so I can think about what I want to do with the project in March. The more cards I make, the more ideas I get, and I want to go with the concepts that both inspire and push me outside my comfort zone.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Insert Needle Here

The beginnings of a digital art project using a quilted ATC and the photo of an antique acupuncture figurine that I saw at the flea market. I'm not afraid of needles, but looking at where all those dots were made me wince a bit.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flea Market Beauties

Oops. Wardrobe malfunction.

Remember Lavoris mouthwash? Tasted like cinnamon and library paste.

Field buckets. Now if I just had a field.

Ye olde VU. Or, if slightly rearranged, ye olde FU.

Sunshine loves glassware.

We finally know what happened to grandmom's good silver.

You just got Smurfed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Beautiful Things

A moth on the wall by the garage. Maybe it laid that little pale green egg-shaped thing under it? Not sure.

Sweet Thang the determined mourning dove is back. This time instead of nesting between or in front of the birdhouses, she's built her nest on top of them.

The sunset my guy and I watched together last night. A truly beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wishing You

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blue Skies

While Mom and I were out shopping I looked up and saw this:

I'd never before seen a blue airship, and I was enchanted. What a gorgeous thing against the sky:

Of course as soon as it turned and I saw the advertisement on the side I changed my mind:

Does everything have to be about the damned TV?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Finding Art

The last two days have been pretty interesting, 1000 Cards Project-wise. I think all last month I had so many doubts about what I'd gotten myself into that I was focusing more on the stress than my vision. Once I finished the 100th card I felt different -- like I could leave that all behind me and just run with it.

So yesterday and today that's exactly what I did, and the ideas just poured out of me. As I am committed to recycling as much as possible, I decided to play with more things I have on hand, and made all my cards from stashed paper, leftover beads and saved/found objects.

This China Doll card was inspired by the tiny face on the button that I used for my doll's head. I found it in an old jar of buttons and always wanted to make her into a proper doll. Which she is now, stuffed and sewn at 1-3/4" tall, which also makes her the tiniest toy I've ever made:

I found a copper metal disk in a box of junk left behind by the previous owners of our house. I don't know why I kept it; it was in pretty sad shape; but so many things I'm attracted to are scratched, damaged or in need of repair.

When I took out the disk this morning I thought, "If you can make this beautiful, it was worth saving all these years." The shape and size was roughly equal to that of an abalone pendant I once sewed onto a crazy quilt, so I tried the same technique with a dark holographic Sulky thread. This was the result:

I deliberately chose the dreary background paper to highlight the object and the threads, and the play of the light shining on it made it look like something precious:

Finally I hauled out my spare bead box, in which I have mismatched and leftover beads from just about every beaded piece I've ever made. I never know what to do with pearls or bugle beads as to me they're not as versatile as other shapes, so I have tons of them. I decided to challenge myself to make them into something unexpected, and came up with a centipede and a spider:

This project seems to be opening up things inside me that I've locked away or ignored. These past couple days I've felt the same rush I used to get when I was in art class in high school, maybe even stronger because it's been so long since I've let myself be as innovative (and strange) as I want to be. I definitely want more of that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The First 100

Before I posted any photos or updates on my progress on my 1000 Cards Project I wanted to see if I was going to be able to handle it, and I set a goal of finishing 100 cards by the end of January. About a half hour ago I put the last stitch in card #100, so here's a look at the first 100 finished cards:

Here they are spread out a bit more on my dining room table:

So far the project has required a lot more work than I expected -- up to an hour a day -- but it has been a endless fountain of inspiration, self-expression and satisfaction for me. One thing I love is that each time I finish a card and log it into my card catalog, I get that excellent "finished that" feeling. Normally I have to wait weeks or months for that when I work on much bigger projects.

Since I'm a series writer it's probably no surprise that I'm doing series of cards. One of my favorites was rescuing the last seven pieces of a painting I cut up, turning them into cards and making an interesting holder for them:

I made eight ATC-size mini quilts, which were a lot of fun, especially when I broke out the beads and embellished some of them (also something that takes forever with larger projects):

I didn't try to innovate too much, as I felt like I should get into a work rhythm first before I started experimenting, but I had fun with a couple of new ideas. I took some old souvenirs from Metro Zoo and made a bagged card out of them; I put together my first piece of mixed-media collage art, played with clip art, and also sewed beads to handmade paper:

My favorite cards out of this bunch are the ten I made for my favorite poem, featuring old pages from last year's calendar, hand sewn to some antique yakuta cloth. I was so delighted with how they came out that I took another day to design and make a special quilted pouch for them:

There were only two cards I didn't care for in how they turned out, but I didn't throw them out or remake them. I think it's just as important to include the mistakes, mishaps and misfires in this project as it is to show off the successes (I also learned things from them, like never try to sew heavy glass beads directly on flimsy card stock.)

I thought I'd make a lot more photo cards than I did -- I figured about half the cards would be photos -- but I ended up making only 26 for the month. I did those on days when I just didn't have the time to do something more elaborate, but as photography has become so important to me over the last couple of years I do feel they are just as much an art form for me as my quilting or painting (so I'm not cheating.)

I recycled so many things in making the cards -- leftovers from other projects, cardboard, tissue paper, calendars, odds and ends that really had no purpose otherwise. This is one of the great things about working in mixed media, as it's such a green-friendly way to create art.

I also found some moments when I got very personal in the creation process. I wrote one new poem, three notes to people I needed to say things to for various reasons, and celebrated with photo card sets a couple of moments from last year that were very important to me. I told one card a secret about myself that no one knows, and wrote a mini-manifesto on another. I never really planned anything in advance with any of the cards except my favorite poem; I simply went along with my mood at the time and the materials at hand.

When I set out to take a new photo every day back in 2009, I started looking at the world differently. I was constantly searching for interesting things to shoot. Now that I'm making the cards, I'm looking at almost everything around me as to how I can make a card about it.

I'm only a tenth of the way toward my 1000 card goal for the project, but I'm working ahead of schedule and I'm not tired of it (I was worried I'd get bored, but that hasn't happened.) I think about the types of card series I'd like to make at times, and occasionally wonder if I can handle less traditional materials (metal, wood, glass, that sort of thing) in making them. In February I'd like to start trying some new techniques from all the mixed media art magazines I've saved over the years, and see if I can discover some new types of art I like.

I was keeping the cards in a gift box at first, but they quickly outgrew it, so I'm using an old chest now. Storage is going to be a challenge, especially with the dimensional art cards, but I'll figure it out.

Every time that I work on this project I feel rejuvenated, and that's the most important effect of all. Doing this like being able to recharge your batteries whenever you feel like it without having to stay plugged in (or unplugged) for hours. Sometimes a card only takes a couple of minutes to make, but even the easy ones give me that terrific sense of satisfaction that boost my spirits and helps me go to back to work in a better mood.