I simply do not know where the time goes. I cannot believe that today is the last day of February already. I was thinking about time in general and the constant battle against the clock and calendar... There is always something to do, deadlines to meet, appointments to keep and other drains on our precious time. Time is one of those commodities we simply cannot get back- it isn't a renewable resource, once the moment is spent, it is gone. What if we woke up each morning with the specific goal to make each second count? What could we accomplish? I made this alarm clock a little bit ago. I have never been a "Trekkie" but, I think there is wisdom in the phrase, "To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before".... It speaks about adventure and courage and, most importantly, it isn't something that is NOT easy- we have to make that choice to seek out the unknown; and most folks are content NOT doing that. I do not want to be content with just my familiar world, I want to explore new things and make each second count. Go Boldly today, tomorrow is a brand new month and today is a day you simply will not get back once it is gone.
Every once in a while a really cool event pops up that I want to make sure my students know about. Jacqueline Sullivan is one of the most talented mixed media artists I know. She teaches at retreats like Art Unraveled and Art and Soul. I just got word that she will be teaching a retreat in Italy this summer. This is one of those really cool opportunities that comes around once in a lifetime. I encourage anyone wanting to take their art to the next level and learn from a master to seriously consider going!
Let me tell you, coming from Dana, this is a huge honor. Dana, her husband Steve, and their two daughters (Here is one amazing blog, and here is the other one....) have inspired me and my whole family through their blogs and the wonderful wit and wisdom contained therein. I sincerely hope you will all go and check them out.
So, according to the rules, I must now pick 5 blogs that make me think. This is no small task in that I am such an eclectic blog reader in general and, the blogs I gravitate to usually fall all over the spectrum in terms of thoughtful inspiration. Some are because they are just *that* good others are eye candy and speak to my inner muse.
1) I am following Dana's lead a bit here in choosing my children's blog. The Super Adventures of Ben and Noah have made me think in so many ways that I never dreamed I would. The perspective and determination of these two boys is astounding and the dedication to their "people" (as the lovingly call the folks who read their blog each day) is very touching. I love to see the world through the eyes of a 6, now 5, and 3 year old.
2) Anna's Blog, A Rose By Any Other Name, is another one I would have to have on my list. Her insight and dedication to the troops is something that is both sobering and inspirational. I enjoy popping in to see her and the community of people she has also touched. She is a bright and shining star on the internet.
3) Crafty Synergy is an art type blog. This is a site that mainly interviews artists and other crafty type people. I find it speaks to my inner muse and it makes me think about what else to create and the creative process as a whole as seen through the eyes of many wonderfully talented individuals.
4) I think I would also have to have my favorite Court Jester from Joust the Facts on my list as well. One of the things about thought provoking is that it should be like iron sharpening iron. I really enjoy reading posts from folks that are "meaty" and have substance to them and adding a bit of humor makes it all more palatable.
5) I guess I would have to add another artsy type blog to the mix. I know that the Ready Made Magazine blog would have to be another blog that deserves mention. I have been inspired in so many ways from the projects I have seen on this blog in one way or another. Many of the altered art pieces I have made have had this blog as the catalyst.
Every year as I get ready for the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Convention, I make it a point to update my portfolio and add in new pieces of work. I think many artists get it into their heads that once their portfolio is photographed and put together that it is done. Art and the life of an artist is ever changing and your portfolio should reflect the journey you are on. Professionals wanting to design for the industry must show a body of work that is cutting edge, new, fresh and innovative. I always enjoy creating new "stuff" for the show and pushing the envelope. This time of the year also gives me a fresh opportunity to look at pieces I have made or are in various stages of completion with fresh eyes and enables me to "re-work" them. I always amazes me to see where I have been. I encourage everyone to keep a portfolio- even if it is just for personal use and to make it a point to go back and look at the things you have created as a part of your constant journey.
Nothing is worse in this universe as trying to cut with a dull blade except perhaps cutting with a dull blade and having a massive blister on your finger from the pressure.... Welcome to my world as of late. As CHA approaches, my already over-flowing platter gets a little extra added for good measure. I am very honored this year to be working on a very awesome Press Kit for an amazing company called PageSage. It has been a tremendous undertaking but, I know that when all is said and done, it will be worth it. I will post a picture of the kit itself a bit later after the show to give you all an idea of why this project in particular is so special..... I can't wait!
stuff. I am totally addicted to their All Purpose Ink as of late..... that and the Tack n Peel stuff they make (my stamps will never be the same). It is so funny how I can be drawn to certain things at different points in my career. Because I do a lot of stamping on alternative surfaces, their solvent inks are just plain cool to work with. I just looked at the new catalog and two of my projects using the Brilliance Ink and the Opalite Inks are in it (you can view it online at thi s link
just click on the catalog in the lower right hand corner). It is a tremendous honor to be asked to create some things for them on so many levels. I guess, when it all comes down to it, it is so much easier creating with something you already love to use. Incidentally, in the upcoming issue of Home Companion magazine, I created a really cool mailbox for them that will be featured in one of their ads. Once it is on the newstands, I will write out the directions on how to make your own here in the blog..... Everyone needs a technicolored mailbox to call their own..wink...
Wow, that was a rather long title. I was thinking about this today. My husband came down to the studio and he mentioned that I must be in the "groove" because he heard my "working tunes" playing.... I wondered exactly what working tunes are. I guess I never realized that depending on the task at hand, I do actually pick music that reflects the situation I am in. If I am in an assembly line type scenario putting together kits or making a mega load of cards or something, I do tend to play music that keeps me focused and awake with a faster beat and lyrics that are fun to sing to (little does anyone know, studios rank right up there with showers as the places to sing and, like showers and cars, your voice always sounds good...wink). When I am in concept phase or simply experimenting, Mozart and his crew of Classical Composers or George Winston come out to play. The funny thing is, based on the music I am playing, the rest of the family knows whether or not it is "safe" to come down to bug me. I guess I never realized how telling the music I listen to while working really is. I wonder now that I know my tell if subconsciously I won't change it up? You know, kind of like a gambler who just discovers that he/she has certain tells that other gamblers notice about them.....
In Case You Are Wondering..... I have very eclectic tastes in music..... having majored in French Horn and Trumpet as well as a number of brass instruments, I love classical and jazz.... I suppose it was all those years at Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp and Marching Band..... That coupled with the fact that I would spend evenings dancing to Glen Miller and Duke Ellington with my Grandfather and that his collection included the finest gypsy, blues, jazz and folk music amongst others, I have a deep appreciation for all types of music.
Last night's song was REM's It's The end of the world as we know it ( I have been working on a huge project that includes a lot of intricate cutting with an Excel Craft Knife). The other jams included an assorted variety of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Band Music, 80's tunes, Jars of Clay, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley. I told you eclectic. I am curious what others listen to when they have work to get done....
One of the things I tend to do is overcommit. I don't know why, it is just part of my DNA make-up I suppose to agree to do too many things and stress myself out. I had read a wonderful article in the latest Somerset issue that talked about taking things away instead of adding them to our calendars and agendas. It made such wonderful sense.
Time is our most precious commodity and unless we are good stewards of our time, it slips through our fingers. I am resolved to keep to my resolution of being a better keeper of my time. Part of this is to keep an accurate accounting of where my time goes and what really matters. I took out a piece of paper and in true Sarah style proceeded to doodle and sketch as I thought about all the wonderful things I have done over the past year.... all those accomplishments and milestones. I wrote down the places I traveled, the people I met, the articles I wrote and projects I made. I wrote down the projects that inspired me the most and some of the things I created that were well, not so useful ways to spend my time I suppose. I wrote down my favorite meetings and conventions, interesting discoveries and good books and resources I added to my studio shelf. I remembered the folks who truly touched me and classes that were particularly meaningful. I also wrote down the things I was not necessarily proud of..... the disorganization of my studio after the "Great Flood of 2006", the fact that I once again bought a duplicate or triplicate of a stamp or something, or even the lack of discipline in completing a project or meeting a deadline or something. This is my roadmap. I looked at my list and carefully, void of emotion, tried to find the things that sapped energy from me and were not productive uses of my time and resources. There were shows I did that were excellent networking opportunities but, cost me money out of pocket and showed little in return. I thought realistically about the consequences of that action. The money I spent came out of our family budget- what was it that I sacrificed in order to do that show and was it worth it?
It is always important to know where you have been in order to be prepared to face what is ahead of you. 90% of your business and income as an artist is derived from about 10% of your network. It is necessary to go through your activities and obligations to figure out which ones are worth investing your time into and which are not. It is an important exercise. Simply making a New Year's resolution list of things you want to do is not going to help you become a better business person unless you deal with the issues that dragged your ability to earn a living as an artist down in the past... we need to acknowledge the shortcomings so as to not fall trap to them again. This is not just applied to those in the business of art, it is also for those who just love to create as a hobby....by identifying the things that sap your joy and take away time from pursuing the things that inspire you is just as important. My hope is that we can all resolve to write meaningful resolutions and have the best year yet!
One of the most rewarding evenings of my year is teaching children within the Oakland County Foster care system how to rubber stamp their Christmas Cards. It is a surreal experience to watch children stamp for the first time. There were a couple moments this evening where a child would ink the stamp and put it to paper and do a double take when the image magically appeared on their card. I had one little boy use a rainbow spectrum pad and the moment he lifted the stamp to see the wondrous colors dance across his page, all he could do was run to his Foster parents to show them his handiwork. Many of the kids made cards for their Foster Parents, many made cards for Santa (who showed up later in the evening) and some made cards for family in jail or just "away". It is a sobering moment when you have a couple of 6 and 7 year olds discussing when their parents will be paroled or hearing about some of the awful things that happened to them.
There is a rule at "Ms. Sarah's Workstation"..... we only have happy kids and talk of happy times. I want for the few moments that they are creating to be wondrous and childlike even though many of these children have had their childhood stolen away. I want each one of them to know that they are talented and that in art, they can be in whatever place they choose. I think if anyone truly wants to see how art can inspire, teach a class here or there with people who may not have that color and vibrancy in their world anymore, it is one of the most rewarding experiences I know of. You could be giving a sanctuary to someone and not even know it.
As the tail end of 2006 winds down, I am reflecting on the things I want to accomplish for 2007. Part of goal setting is wishful thinking and the other part is writing them down where others can hold you accountable.
Here are part of my New Year Goals:
* I want to finish putting together my studio. After the "flood" of the great 2006 Summer water hose episode (see an upcoming issue of Creative TECHniques magazine for the details on that one), my studio was left unorganized and in disarray. It is almost done but, I have to commit to finding the time to finish what I started.
* I want to build a display case from recycled stuff to house some of my artwork.
* I want to take a class to learn basic automotive repairs (I know it sounds strange but, I would like to know how to take apart my car and fix it if it needed and, perhaps figure out where these extra couple of bolts came from....wink...
* I want to learn how to Raku
* I want to make time to take classes at Hollander's in Ann Arbor.
In this few weeks before the New Year, I also spend time to reflect on the direction I want to take my business. I think many artists concentrate simply on the artwork they create rather than focusing on how they are going to get that artwork into their customer's hands. I am often asked by students how they can get their own businesses off the ground and move into a designer or instructor type role. I always tell them that they have to have a plan and clear and concise written down objectives they want to meet in their business model. Answer the question, what it is you want from your career and what it is that motivates you to do it. (thank you to MJM; a very special woman who pointed that out to me at one time....) The next step is to constantly look at that piece of paper and evaluate whether or not you are on track.
I am excited about all the new and exciting things coming up in 2007. I hope that you all will have the time to curl up with a Moleskin Journal and a cup of tea and reflect on all the exciting and crazy wonderful things you want to do in the New Year.
I think every artist I know gets this "bug" every once in a while... you know the one that keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning working because you simply cannot put whatever it is you are working on down. It is almost as if you can actually touch the end of your project and you simply cannot stop when you are so close to finishing it....
I had one of those nights for the past week. I am working on a number of different projects (as if you can actually work on only one at any given time.....) and they have all managed to suck me in at one point or another making it impossible to just let them sit for a bit while I catch some zzzzzz's.
There have been the moments where I was actually being "good" and went to bed with the intention of sleeping yet, there it was in my head, the head that simply would not shut off and just go to sleep..... It is weird when you dream in color and textures. I have a notebook and pen handy at my bedside just for those moments where you are somewhere between sleep and being awake where everything is vivid and all these wonderful ideas live (just waiting until you actually get up and forget what the heck you were thinking of....)
It is a funny thing how some of the best ideas come when you are too tired to think logically or let common sense talk you out of a what-if-I-did-this scenario. I am grateful for the quiet in my house when everyone else is asleep and I can create in an uninterrupted solace. Now, I suppose it may not be "technically" healthy to stay up all night (especially when sharp objects and power tools can be involved) but, as long as it isn't commonplace, and in moderation, I can't see it hurting too much (unless you have to get up early to go to work or in my case, take care of the kids....wink)
I know I talk a lot about maps. One, I think they are fascinating. Two, I think they are so valuable and so very important. In an age of GPS and satellite imaging, we forget where the maps we used came from. I was studying about George Washington and his early years as a surveyor. Surveying land is important work and, back then, it was very dangerous as well. They had to go through incredible tracts of land on foot without the amazing equipment we have today and, they faced all sorts of unknown terrain and dangers. I am thankful for those who pioneered and came before me. Why praytell....because they left me a blueprint of where to go and how to travel so I can avoid the pitfalls and detours along my journey.
So, you ask how on earth does this pertain to art? It is simple, we need to go to the source when pursuing direction in our artistic journey. Seeing something on a computer screen or reading about it on a chat group isn't going to give us all the information we need. I would never want to learn something like spot welding from a computer. Rather, I would want to go to someone like let's say, Opie and Linda at Burnt Offerings
and watch them in person handle metal. The point is, we need road maps (those wonderful folks who are experts in their craft) to teach us and, we as students need to not be timid in asking for directions. I am looking forward to taking some awesome classes with some amazing artists this Summer and I encourage anyone reading this to do the same.
Nothing irritates me more than stuff that gunks up my scissors. Unfortunately, I manage to find more substances than not that have a way of rendering my scissors useless. I am thankful for Versamark (rubbed on the scissors before use does help keep the gunk away.....especially cutting unmounted stamps on EZ foam), Goo Gone because it is just THAT wonderful, and for teflon coated scissors that make my life all the more easy.
Scissors are one of those basic things you must have. I was thinking about this today and discovered that I have quite a few pair and they are all for different things. I have teeny tiny ones for the intricate work, KAI and Tonics for all the in between, and metal snips and such for the big stuff. All in all I was surprised to see that I had so many and, that I still hadn't found the pair I was looking for at the time. Funny how that works isn't it