Friday, December 2, 2016

What Do You Do After Season?

     It took me a few long cold winters to get used to life in the Midwest, after living in Florida and doing the show circuit there for 25 years. In the south, shows start up in September and wind down in April, and by then it's too hot. In the north, it’s just the opposite: May to October, and after that it's too dang cold.
      I know there are road gypsies out there that can pull off the year-round art show circuit, and I tip my hat to them. As for me and my house, I am glad to have my in season as well as my off season. It helps me stay organized with my work and stay focused on production.

      So here’s my plan for what I lovingly refer to as “winter work":
1.    Make a new show piece or two for the coming year. This for me is the project that gets me in work mode. Coming up with a new show piece takes sketching, designing, contemplating, and planning. The whole process requires that I get my ducks in a row. The show piece needs to be similar yet different from my previous show pieces. Judges of juried art shows look for a harmonious body of work that looks like it’s made from the same artist “DNA”.

  2. Revamp the inventory I have left from last season. Every piece is fair game to be dismantled, repurposed, tweaked, upcycled into some new and current wearable masterpiece. Attack this with vigor and be resolute and decisive. Don’t get sentimental about keeping favorite pieces. It can be cathartic to tear old stuff up and make it new.


3. Check out the hot Pantone colors for the New Year. The new colors are announced in September, and designers utilize the Pantone colors in their lines. A dominant color for 2017 is called Niagara, and is a denim-like blue. Then there is a great red-orange called Flame, which is gregarious and fun-loving. I find that staying with the Pantone palette helps me stay in the lane of what my customers want. That being said.....

4.  Embrace nature's color combinations. I use the seasonal palettes for all my inventory. Even my Etsy store is categorized into the four seasons. Autumn’s palette is warm and muted, like mustard yellow and ruddy red.  Winter is cool and clear; its colors are jewel tones and pure. Spring is warm and clear, like pink and yellow and lime green. Summer is cool and muted. Think grayed down lavender and cool sage green. Why do these color combinations work? Hey, I didn't write the book, or design creation, but the Creator did, and I think it makes sense to imitate Him.

5.   Make lots of components. For me that means rolled paper beads in the seasonal color combinations, painted pieces of canvas, hammered copper toggles, textured handmade papers, and all shapes and sizes of clay beads. Making the component parts ahead of time is an artful experience in itself, and once I am in production mode on jewelry I don’t have to stop the creative process to make  the perfect bead or toggle. It’s already done.

6.   Commit to learn a new technique or application. Last year for me it was learning to make resin over copper forms. Before that it was enameled paper beads. This year my new endeavors will include using a torch and copper wire, as well as a leather stitching machine for leather cuff bracelets.

7.    Put yourself on a production schedule. The only thing that's gonna scratch that creative itch is to make your art!! So figure out a workable schedule that keeps you in forward motion. Pretend it’s your job and you have to clock in, if that’s what it takes for you to produce.

8.    Have a dedicated work space that is specifically for making your art. Don't let it get cluttered with non-art-making parts of life. There's other places for all that. It doesn’t matter if it's a card table in the corner of your kitchen or a whole studio inside a pole barn out in the country (for which I fought long and hard).  Just have that space where you can make your art and then go make it.

9.    Rethink, repair, restore the booth. The booth is just as important as the artwork. Your acceptance into juried art shows totally depends on the four or five jury images you submit, as well as your artist statement. Those four or five images are what the judges utilize to decide your fate! And one of the four images is your booth! Time spent improving and maintaining the booth is definitely time well spent. Imagine how awesome it would be to start your new season with a whole new booth! Make it happen!

10. Lastly, although perhaps most important, is to mentally picture yourself and your artwork in your upcoming shows. I love, love, love doing shows and meeting the people who purchase my art.  When I am in off season, I visualize being at the shows. I picture the new pieces I will have on display, and people’s reaction to the work. I imagine new styles, color combinations, designs on display. I picture  the right people coming into the booth and finding the perfect piece, the piece I made for them before I ever met them. I even picture how I am going to package their piece and hand it to them! Playing it out in my mind helps to keep me focused and productive. It gives me fuel and motivation to keep plugging away at the winter work for weeks and weeks.

So, now that I’ve put in words how I plan to spend my time, it’s off to the studio for winter work!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Aliens and Autumn palettes

      So you know it’s autumn in Indiana when you happen to see one of these guys. It is a praying mantis, called that because they appear to be praying when in repose. This one however, was not praying. We noticed as we got in closer for a good look with our handy smart phones that this poor guy is missing a front leg. No wonder he can’t strike the praying pose! However,  he did seem to be posing for a photo shoot,  so I kept getting closer and snapping pictures until, BAM! It flew right at my face!! And no, I did not get that moment on film, I was too busy shrieking and dropping my camera and nervously laughing and saying “OMG he scared the crap out of me” to get that on film.

      A fun fact about the praying mantis is, although it is a carnivorous predator, it will not harm a human. Whew, that’s good to know, because they are lightening fast when their little alien body comes flying at you.

    I appreciate how the praying mantis is colored with the hues of autumn. It’s a built-in camo suit, so he can fit in to his autumnal environment and thrive. 
    So speaking of the hues of autumn, here are some other palette choices that will help you thrive with the season.

These can be found on my Etsy store,  along with lots of other autumnal treasures.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Making of a Show piece

     Earlier this month I made the decision to compete. The competition is for a monetary prize that will be awarded in an upcoming show. This is an art show in which I have participated for the last three years, and, for me, the awards are fairly substantial. I am not usually one to go after awards, but I figure I’m going there anyway, so I might as well compete. 

    The other motivator for me is that I need a new jury image or two. Somewhere along the line I learned that jury images need to show a constistency; the pieces need to look like they are all from the same DNA, so to speak. I have had a concern that my jury images are too dissimilar, and someday I need to make them more cohesive. 

       So someday arrived this week. I had three days off work, so I scheduled studio time to design and build a show piece that 1) could possibly win a prize, and 2) be photographed for a jury image for next year’s shows. 

       I thought I would show you some photos of the work in progress, as well as share some of my thinking as to what goes into a show piece. 

         I always start with a sketch. It may not be detailed, and it might get paint on it, because I build the piece right on top of the sketch. The sketch is a very important part of the process. It’s like the backbone of the piece. Even if I don’t exactly follow it, it still gives me direction and focus.

      Here is the sketch. Actually I started with a strip of dried acrylic paint that totally got my attention. I layered it on silver hand made paper and then on canvas painted black. It became the focal pendant for the piece. From this piece being the focal point,  I did the sketch.

       Here’s me at my work table, interpreting the drawing into an art piece.  Listening to my chosen music on Pandora is an important part of the design process. 

      Here are some of the component parts, ready to be added to the work. They include thick slices of dried acrylic paint, handmade paper layered on canvas, silver and black chain. 

        My “limited palette” of beads, laid out with the colors I am going to use.

       It seemed like black chain would be a good way to connect the components. The problem was once I got it done, it looked too Goth, not airy and light. It was just too predictable, and not at all what I was after.

    It’s next to impossible to objectively see your own work the way a judge might see it. It’s always a guessing game. That being said, at this point I take myself back to design 101. 


         It occurred to me within the design process that the contrast I am after is between bold and delicate. These are my notes on the bottom of the sketch. I went for a walk at this point to find a spiderweb and learn from nature. Not that I want to go all spiderwebby (that would really be Goth!) But I want to strike a balance between bold and delicate. And spiderwebs totally strike that balance. You got the web, all delicate and breezy, and then you got the big old black heavy spider right in the middle of it. Poetry in motion. 

      So I removed the black chains and replaced them with airy strands of seed beads in silver and clear. I think this achieved the more airy yet strong look I was after. 

Once this piece was completed I made earrings to go with it. 

I would love to hear your feedback on my soul-baring design process. Please leave your comments here. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Just can’t wait to get in my studio...

      My dear sister recently reminded me that of us three children, I was the one who was most content to stay inside and color while my siblings craved being outside.  Okay, she was right. I remember being 6 or 7 and spending time in the closet. And by closet I  mean the toy closet, so it was a cool place to hang out. But I wasn’t in there just to play with toys; it was mostly to make art. Once a friend of my mom’s came for a visit and her young daughter was with her, so the girl came into the closet with me and we made jewelry out of newspaper. Go figure, it was fun! 

       Now don’t get me wrong. I spent plenty of time outside. We lived at the end of  long dead-end street. Between our house and our neighbors there was a vacant wooded lot, across the street there were two vacant wooded lots, and behind our home was a huge open field.

      It really was the perfect place to grow up and be outside. My sister and I were bona fide “daughters of the woods”. The outside world, in our own neighborhood, provided a whole realm of exploration and wonder. So it wasn’t that I never went outside; quite the contrary. It’s just that I was also quite content to find a small place inside and make art. 

     I remember going somewhere on a family vacation. To this day I have no idea where we went, because in my little 8 year old imagination, I was totally enamored by the large walk-in closet in our hotel room. I just wanted to hang out in there! By the end of that vacation I  had filled up a whole notebook with drawings and plans for the grand opening of the Acorn Club, and it all started in that beautiful walk-in closet. 

     I wonder now what my parents thought, and if they were just  a little concerned about me and my social development.

     Fast forward a few years. In the late 60’s my parents built a large home a few miles away from the dead end street. It was a great house with all the modern conveniences, but my favorite part was a corner of the basement that my mom curtained off and furnished for me with a sleeping bag, big pillows, stereo and a bookcase. Eventually I hung a poster of Donovan and of course the requisite 1970’s Lava Lamp. It became “my corner”, and it is where I would spend time drawing, writing, and sneaking cigarettes from my dad’s downstairs office. 

      With this by now well established pattern of finding a space of my own, it should come as no surprise that I dearly love my corner of the art studio. The studio is the workspace I share with my husband and two cats, and it is the space dedicated to making our art. 

     This year I have revisited my childhood love for the woods. Now I go out in the woods on our country property to photograph, sketch and do color studies. Then I take all this wonderful material to the studio and express it in paint. I am presently engaged in a series of paintings and mixed media collages with the theme of “Cabin in the Woods”.

    Here is a peek at what I have been working on lately.

I can’t wait to get back in the studio again! 



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Another perfect match

       It was a summer art show in southern Indiana. We were set up in an open field in a park on a very hot muggy weekend. There was not a great turn-out of visitors, and those that did come were just too damn hot to try on jewelry. The artists in the booths next to me and across from me were grumbling, as artists tend to do when it’s not the perfect show. I spent my time drinking large quantities of water, cooling myself with cold washcloths, and doing my best to not give in to the negative vibe around me.

      And then along came this wonderful lady, all sunshine and smiles. She took a real interest in my jewelry and wanted to see everything I had in her color choices. She seemed oblivious to the heat. For the next 30 minutes or so she tried on and oohed and ahhed over several pieces, ultimately deciding on a bracelet and two pairs of earrings. 

      Once again, it was as though I had made the pieces just for her before we met! 

       In my studio, I squirrel away for hours on jewelry pieces that originate from dried acrylic paint and are embellished with leather, canvas, beads, and whatever else happens to be in the studio that lends itself to the work at hand. Sometimes, once I come up for air and look at what I have made, I think, “My God! What was I thinking? Who would want THAT thing?!?!” But then, lo and behold, I put it out there at a show, and then here she comes. LOVES it, HAS to have it in her life, can afford it,  and it fits perfectly! Like I said, I made it for her before we met! 

It is so gratifying to me when this happens. It inspires me to keep on doing what I do. It also reminds me not to second guess my process or my inspiration, but just keep producing my art and putting it out there. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Taking it on the road

      I always tell folks when they purchase a kit from me to send me a picture of the finished earrings and I will post it on my blog. I even tell people that they will be FAMOUS!! ( to all 5 people who read my blog!) So occasionally I get pictures of the earrings that are made from the kits. Here is the latest entry, and here’s the story of the artist: 


      This past June I was set up at the Old Mill Festival in Noblesville, Indiana. Across from my booth was a very cute, very old school camper that was artfully decked out and looked inviting. I had to go check it out. What I found was two lovely ladies that have taken their passion for art and their love for teaching on the road. 

Look at what they’re doing!!

      How fun is that?! I want to take one of their classes just so I can hang out in the cool camper with kids! 

     I love that one of the ladies made earrings from one of my kits, and that she only used a little bit of the stuff in the kit. I wonder what she will do with the rest....

       Want to make some earrings for yourself? Feel free to 
visit my shop  here. And by the way, you don’t have to be a traveling gypsy artist to make the earrings; they come with a link to a video that shows you how to make them. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Chaos vs. Order in the Artistic Process

   In my art I use a lot of stuff, and by stuff I mean paper, beads, canvas, leather, wood, clay, and of course the requisite dried slices of acrylic paint. I have a wonderful work area devoted to  jewelry making, and as soon as I sit down at my work table I can dive right in to the work of making new pieces. In the artistic process there tends to be much shuffling of stuff. It is easy to  get so involved in this process that the work area becomes a chaotic mess of stuff. 

    There comes a time in my work process that I simply need to 
stop, put everything back in order, and start up again. Curiously, I  find that this brief time of setting things back in order is also the time when I get my best ideas and inspiration. It’s like getting a breath of fresh air. Once that occurs, I am eager to dive in and start the work all over again.

     I know artists who seem to thrive amidst the chaos of their work. For them it’s "the messier the better." I know other folks who won't even allow themselves to delve into the artistic process because they don't want to get messy. Somewhere in between these two extremes there is a balance, and that balance is where I need to be in order to produce artwork of quality. 

   Art is, after all, an organization of elements to bring about a visual representation. It's all about bringing order to chaos. “Art is the triumph over chaos” according to John Cheever.  As such,
an art piece can be a reflection of balance and order, or the lack thereof. 

    I derive satisfaction and grow in anticipation from the simple routine of setting up of paint, textured papers, pencils, brushes and water dish in preparation for painting. With jewelry making, as I set out of the color groups of beads, papers and paint films so all is at my fingertips, the inspiration starts to flow. The setting up process is akin to setting the stage for a great production. (Of course my cat tries to help by taking over my newly restored and organized work space. Sometimes that is a problem.) 

   At the end of my work time, I always take the time to clear off 
the table so that next time I can have a fresh start with a clean slate.
Before leaving for a weekend show, I clear the table and leave 
myself a card that says "Welcome back". For me this is all part of working in the balance between chaos and order. 

    In what order do you set up your work space? Is there a relationship between your physical set-up and the outcome of your work? How do you best function in the balance between order and chaos? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Words and colors


   I am a huge fan of words and the many shades of meaning between words. I also love to describe and name my art pieces according to their color group. This is why I was delighted to find a lovely chart called the color thesaurus by Ingrid Sandberg.

     Seeing the color thesaurus brings up the question “ why would I describe a jewelry piece as white when I could paint a imaginative image in the reader’s mind if  I call it eggshell, porcelain or chiffon? After all, if you’ve ever strolled the aisle of paint colors you know there are a zillion shades of white.

     Once a friend asked if I would come help her decide a color to have her living room painted. Being a student of color and an ambitious professional artist, I agreed to meet her in her home. All the way over to her house I was drilling my mind with everything I could remember about colors and their psychological effects. I got to her house and she showed me the room, then presented several swatches of paint samples she had considered. To my dismay, all the paint samples were WHITE!! I’m thinking to myself, she had me come all the way across town, missing a day of work in my studio, for THIS? Yeesh!

    We looked at each color, considering it for her walls, and I started to see how each white offered its own effect and mood. We even made a separate trip to the paint store to consider more options of white.  The effect she wanted was warm, welcoming and quiet.
We discovered there is a big difference between pearl, alabaster, snow, ivory, cream and cotton, to name a few. Some whites are too clinical, others too stark. Our color search became a project that required more energy and focus than I ever would have thought.

A few weeks later when I visited her in her newly painted living room, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm and inviting feel of the room. We definitely chose the right white!

At first blush some of the paint films I peel and upcycle into jewelry have very little interest. At other times I look at the dried paint and am reminded of my friend’s living room. It was just white,  after all, what’s the big deal? Here’s some of my recent favorites and their descriptive names:

Carmel bracelet

Dove earrings 

Dove necklace

Cafe au Lait necklace 

It’s all about words and colors, and what is evoked in the mind.

For more information or to purchase a 
Parts of Art piece, visit my online shop here. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fish bowl vs. privacy

    "The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing......and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of other people" Fred Rogers

     That must be why successful artists are always looking for their next show. That’s where they get to love it in front of others.

I personally really love and look forward to my upcoming shows for that very reason. It's my time to tell my story!  

     I often thought in making my art, that I need to work in a "fish bowl" where people could see me work. Of course the other side of this coin is the need to work in my private studio, which is where most of the work gets done.

      I once had a shop that was about the size of a large closet, which was also a fish bowl of sorts. It was 1988 and hand painted clothing was popular. In the front of the shop, right across from the front door, was a beautiful oak drawing table. I would put a solid colored shirt, coat or dress on a wooden board, and it became my blank canvas.

      So women would come in to my shop and watch me paint. They would try on this or that, and sometimes come up with something for me to custom paint for them. I would show them the clothing pieces that I could order and then I would paint them a one of a kind outfit. Watching me paint worked: they got to see me “loving what I do in front of them", which motivated them to make a purchase.

      My little shop at the beach is long ago history. I no longer work in a fishbowl. I now spend many hours by myself in my country studio, squirreling away at jewelry pieces and collage.


     My biggest satisfaction comes when someone sees my work and “gets it.” They may not see all the thought processes that went into it or the decisions I made to design it this way, not that way. They don’t see the way I had to juggle my schedule so I could sit in my studio and produce. They won’t know the expense or the fatigue, frustration or the coming up dry that occurs in a cycle. What they do see is the hand-crafted finished product, which hopefully tells a story and captivates their imagination. And when they get it, they get my obvious delight coming through! The biggest compliment I hear at shows is “Oooh, this jewelry is FUN!” Yep, it IS fun, because I absolutely LOVE what I’m doing, and I love it in front of you!

    Why do we artists go to such lengths to make our art, with little or no regard for worldly acclaim? Why do we have such obvious delight in what we’re doing, even to the extent of loving it in front of other people? Do we require working in a fish bowl to get that need met? What do we do when no one is watching?

I expect that at this year’s shows I will show some of my best work ever!!

Here’s my 2016 show schedule:

May 21, 22         Riverside Art Works Riverside Illinois.
June 4                 Old Mill Festival, Noblesville IN
June 25, 26         Columbus Art Fair, Columbus IN
July 30, 31          Glenview Art Festival,  Glenview, IL
August 6             Noblesville Art on the Square, Noblesville IN
Sept 10, 11          Downer’s Grove Art Fair, Downer’s Grove, IL
Sept 17, 18          Park Forest Art Festival, Park Forest, IL
Sept 23-25           Funky Ferndale, Ferndale, MI
Oct. 8                  Monument Circle Art Fair, Indianapolis, IN

I hope you will stop by and see me, so that I can love what I’m doing in front of you !

For a preview of my new work please visit my  online shop.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Harmony 101

Harmony, that wonderful balance when there's not too little, not too much, when visually it's just right. 
At times it eludes us, and we have to get back to the basics. 
So here it is: Harmony 101

Friday, February 26, 2016

Do it Yourself!

       I have these fun little kits I sell at my art shows. They  each contain everything you need to make one pair of earrings. Actually there is more than enough parts and pieces, because I like to give you lots of options.

     The kits come with a link to a video where you can see how to make them.

  Whenever I sell one of these kits, I tell my customer that if they will send me a picture of the finished earrings, I will post them on my blog and they'll be FAMOUS  (to all 10 people that read my blog!)

Finally, someone took me up on it. Drum roll please....... 
Here's what she sent: 

      So a big thank you to Ginlee from Etsy who is now a famous jewelry maker!
      The kits are packed with beads, canvas, paper, acrylic paint films, fabric, leather, and findings. I pack them myself, so each kit is actually one of a kind. I'm just giving you the stuff; it's up to you what you do with it. 

     Want to try your hand at making some earrings? They are available my Etsy store and come in a variety of colors. You can even convo me if there is a specific color combination you want.