Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Purist's Artform

So I discovered that I was included in a second treasury (thanks StratusSilver!). The curator's initial comment was that pencil sketch is a purist's artform. I found that to be oddly flattering. I think that pencil artists, particularly those working in graphite, sometimes get overlooked in favor of other more vibrant and colorful mediums. The truth is that I find working with pencil fascinating. It's amazing to me that graphite alone can create such wonderful works of art. Some of the best graphic artists can draw water, or the surface of the eye, or variations of a cat's fur, in such clarity and fine detail that it seems impossible that it was done with simple graphite.

I'm playing around with colored pencils but I'm not drawn to them the way I am with graphite. They're good as a supplement, and I'm happy to use them as such. I've also started playing with water soluble graphite pencils - I officially ruined my first piece over the past week! - but I'm reading up on technique with these unique pencils and I'm excited to give it another go. Hopefully some time this week I'll be able to get some practice in with those.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Pursuit of Excellence

I was reading something this morning about the difference between the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of power, or recognition, or control - basically fill in whatever word here that might make sense in your own life that implies something personally gained. The pursuit of excellence is a God-given desire. It's a need to learn, to grow and improve. There's a satisfaction in knowing that you are strectching your gifts or talents, and an enjoyment in seeing the efforts of your work produce results. It's a contentment at the end of a hard day's work.

The pursuit of power (or recognition, or control), on the other hand, is a desire that others recognize or acknowledge your gifts. It's a self-centered desire, based on the approval of others, and really has nothing to do with improving your work or who you are or what you know. It's a need to be admired, or at least appreciated.

I'm tagging this post with my Left Brain, Right Brain tag because I think for me it has a lot to do with this difference. My left brain is always trying to figure out how to profit from what I do, how to make sales, how to spread the word about my work. My left brain wants to be recognized, admired. My right brain, meanwhile, isn't at all sure it even wants to make a sale - there's a nervousness about expectations once someone actually pays money for something created. My right brain just wants to create, to learn, to improve, and then to create some more. My right brain is satisfied with the process, while my left brain will only be satisfied with a measurable, profitable result.

Needless to say I feel far more satisfied with my art when I'm immersed in the process. On days like today I question the wisdom of even having an online shop - except that I believe hoarding one's talent is also the quickest way to lose it. I release it to the world because creative energy must always be on the move, must be free to ebb and flow, regardless of whether or not I make any sales. I tried the hoarding bit, and I ended up not creating anything. So it's off and away, out into the universe, and I release my expectations of what happens to it after that.

So there, left brain.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Fun with Treasuries

So I managed to grab a spot to post my own Treasury over at Etsy! Since treasuries only last a few days I took a screenshot of it so I could remember and be proud :

And, happy coincidence, at the same time that I managed to get a spot in the treasury lists, someone else posted a treasury featuring one of my prints! Bad Day Ben has a proud spot in a treasury featuring faces, thanks to a seller named MyLadies.

The only thing about treasuries that bothers me is that four of my entries (the four on the right) are alternates, so they don't get seen by anyone but the Etsy admins. I understand this is so they can fill in if/when something on the list gets sold, but it was really hard to make the decision as to who got "real" spots and who had to stand on the sidelines. All of these Etsy artists are very talented!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I just love this treasury, created by netamir:

Weird and wonderful!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Left Brain, Right Brain

Some days I actually miss my job. And it surprises me, but it really shouldn't. Because I'm both-brained, the left and the right sides of my brain demand regular attention. Over the years I've discovered that in order for me to find fulfillment in my life, I need to embrace both the logic and the creative, on a daily or at least almost-daily basis. Ideally, I need to find a life's work that is a blend of both. Failing that, I need a career in one and a passion in the other. Or something close to that.

This isn't easy to find, faithful readers.

Left-brained jobs very rarely have room for creativity. My career included fixing computers, building networks, and even programming for an HR shop for a time. One could argue that there's a kind of creativity in solving problems, and there certainly is... but simply not the kind my right brain was craving. During the days and weeks (ok, months) that I didn't have time for much else besides work, my brain would make up for it at night in the form of dreams - crazy, wild dreams. Argmageddon stuff, or superhero stuff, or men with no faces handing me notes (this one turned into a story that I ended up selling to a small press).

Now that the tides have turned, and I spend my time creating, I find that I'm craving the other side. Last night I rebuilt my laptop, because I felt compelled to do so. I fix other peoples' computers, I window shop for the latest tech toys (irony: lots of time, but now no money), I learn new programming languages (.NET for dummies).

In the Spring, I will officially start working towards my Master's degree in Instructional Technology, a moderately left-brained field that allows for a little more creativity than my previous work. But I think this time I won't abandon my art, no matter how busy I get.

Still learning. Always learning!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Prints are here!

And they look GREAT. I'll be posting them in the next few days, but I couldn't wait so one of them is now up at my Etsy store! Her name is Mistletoe, arriving just in time for the holidays! Find her here:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Etsy-Love!

One of the things I really enjoy about Etsy is when I start digging around and discover a real gem, one that hasn't been on the front page (at least not that I'm aware of). Maybe it's a new shop, maybe it's a smaller shop or just one that isn't widely publicized. Yesterday I went to Etsy's voter page to vote on the best Christmas greeting card (what a hard decision that was!), and stumbled upon a seller called SmallPaintings. This seller is from Romania and they have a small and recently-opened shop, but oh-what-wonderful pieces are found there.

So for this week's Etsy-love post, let me say this little sailor has captured my heart:

I think he would be perfect for my as-yet-unadorned bedroom wall (five years and counting, I just haven't found the right pictures yet... until now, that is!). If SmallPaintings were to produce a few more nautical-themed prints in this same color scheme (hint, hint, wink, wink), I'd probably have to pick up the whole series.

Oh, and to answer the question I'm sure everyone's asking, I also voted for this seller's Christmas card. Find these and more of SmallPaintings' stuff here: .

Monday, November 10, 2008


I just finished the initial scan and edit of Amanda, my latest pencil sketch. She gave me more than a little trouble with getting her scanned in, but I guess I can't really blame her. I drew her on cheap paper that has humidity damage at the top - I didn't notice the extent of that until now - so the paper was wrinkled and extremely hard to scan properly.

But in the end that was a good thing, as she gave me an incentive to go buy quality sketch paper. I figure now that I've fallen back in love with sketching, I should actually work with tools of reasonable quality!

I'm going to experiment with digital color on Amanda, but regardless of what I decide there I will have prints made up of the original BW version of her. Personally I love pencil sketches just as they are, but my husband thinks color might add interest, so I'm willing to give it a try.

For now, here's a peek at her!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hooray for productive nights

Amanda (my pencil sketch) is officially done. She's definitely one of my favorites! I'll post a pic of her once I get her scanned.

Started another "Flower of Power" painting, as yet unnamed - because she hasn't told me her name yet. Some of them wait until the very end to introduce themselves.

Now off to bed... up early for yard sales in the morning :-).

Subject and Technique

I managed to get some work done on my latest project last night (stayed up wayy to late), and I have to say I'm really excited about her. I had picked a different subject for this latest pencil drawing to challenge myself, and for probably the last week I stared at my chosen image and wondered how I would even start. She's a little Asian girl about four years old, so there are no life lines on her face yet, no story there. What's more, she's sleeping, so I didn't even have the eyes to get me going. I thought there was no story there at all.

Boy, was I wrong. Once I started the lines I realized that everybody has a story to tell, no matter how young or old. She's simply beautiful, and I didn't see the fullness of that until I was drawing her. How the shadows play differently over her peaceful face. How her chubby hands reveal that all-too recently she was just a baby, and in many ways she still is. I love drawing hands as much as faces, they're so full of life.

I purposely did two things in my efforts last night: one, I kept my left brain firmly out of the room, opting instead to trust the process without intervention. And two, I kept my lines open and free, maintaining the energy that I think makes a piece live on its own. I prefer sketching with these open lines for that reason, because I feel there's more energy in the finished work. There is of course some editing to finish the piece, and the real challenge lies in knowing where to stop editing to preserve that energy. So tonight (or maybe my son's nap time, if I get lucky!), I'll focus on a very light editing. I think the piece has some terrific energy and I don't want to ruin it (lord knows I've edited the life out of my share of drawings).

I had some interesting thoughts on my choice of subject while I was letting my pencil wander:

A few months ago I took a drawing class, "Multum in Parvo" (Much in Little). The instructor asked us each to pick an object to focus on, and he emptied a bag of items out onto the table. I was dismayed by the choices: plastic toys, metal bolts, bottlecaps. So I slipped outside and picked a wildflower that was growing in the crack between the sidewalk slabs. I just couldn't fathom drawing something that wasn't alive. I can do flowers, people, wood. Anything with a story. When the class was almost over, out of curiosity I picked up a bottlecap and tried to draw it. I couldn't even get past the first line, there was simply nothing for me to grab onto. It had nothing to say to me.

This might be true for a lot of artists, but since I don't know many others I thought it was interesting.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Off to the Printers!

Four more designs sent off to the printer this morning. I'm excited about them, especially the Christmas design! I can't wait to see how they turn out. For those of you who are paying attention, I kept the fifth design home for a little while longer. It's not quite finished, and I haven't decided what direction to take it in yet. It still has something to say, I think.

Aside from that, I haven't been able to do too much this week due to a sick child. I don't think there's anything worse than watching your precious little one be completely miserable and under the weather. Happily he's on the mend.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's Etsy-Love at First Sight

So, I'm going to start a regular series of posts devoted to the things on Etsy that I've fallen in love with, even in the short amount of time I've been an Etsy member. This will be a weekly event here on my blog, although to be honest it could easily be daily, as there are so many marvelous things on Etsy to fall in love with!

I'm starting with a necklace that I decided will be either a Christmas gift to myself (if I can afford it), or an incentive for me for selling X number of items (X is yet to be determined, and changes depending on my mood). For those who don't know me, I'm very picky about necklaces. It must be beautiful but not typical, graceful but not delicate, simple but not boring, and practical enough to wear every day. Silver is my metal of choice (platinum is actually my metal of choice but usually not in my price range). And I want unique. Which is why it always takes me a very long time to find a necklace I love, but when I DO find one, I tend to wear it all the time.

Enter this lovely piece, called the NestEgg Necklace, from allthosethrees (I even love the seller name!):

That little cutie peeking out the top of the silver is a vintage pearl - my birthstone! These are handmade, and I'm just humbled by the quality of craftmanship that must go into making them. I love, love, love this piece. Find this necklace and more at .