Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's the ART, Stupid

It's officially over, the smARTist telesummit... and it was so worth it. The panel of 13 diverse presenters was amazing; each brought their perspective to the table, and even though alot of the information overlapped, I found I responded to different people in different ways, so I was able to get so much out of the event. All of the information about "balancing your life" and "marketing your art" was inspiring and makes me want to go out and try everything at once.

But wait! I can't do that. In fact, I can't really do ANY of that. Yet.

Which brings me to my point:
it's the ART, stupid!

Okay, I've known this. I can't go out and promote something that doesn't exist. And while I HAVE made alot of artwork, I still don't feel I have that somewhat elusive "body of work". In other words, I've got to make more art, the result of which will be a better sense of my self and my art. Sounds good.

So the real work right now is the work.
(I knew that.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Art with A View...

...of snow! Between the snow that's fallen, and the snow that's fallen off of the roof, this is the view from my art studio now... it's almost cave-like in there. At least there's a lot of light coming from the south side, with it's sliding glass door.

Here's another glimpse of the art helmets; they should be finished up today. I'll post photos of the full helmets when done, probably tomorrow. In the meantime, there's lots of shoveling to do!

Monday, January 28, 2008

For the Viking Who Has Everything

My new Art Helmets are themed for Valentine's Day! They're papier mache and mixed media, with a smidge of Shakespeare thrown in. (My cousin cringed when I told her I ripped up a book; but it was a weird edition from the fifties with some REALLY bad fifties-style illustrations; it had to be done.)

These helmets are heading up to Riverside Studios in Truckee for their "Cupid's Courtyard" art show during the month of February.

These photos are of the helmets-in-progress; visit later this week for the finished pieces and the titles...

Friday, January 25, 2008

SmARTist Telesummit continued...

I'm dashing off to the gym but because I listened to Claudine Hellmuth's telesummit class yesterday, I'm sitting down here, first! Listening to Claudine was like chatting with a good friend; now it's time to take some of her advice, and tweak a few things on the blog. Without being obsessive, mind you!

Gotta run; Underground Artist meeting here later this morning... think I'll listen to some more of the telesummit on my iPod while on the treadmill, instead of the usual kick-ass music...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Artist Person

I feel a little bit like Mr. Rogers this morning...
going out to my art studio in my "regular person" clothes, and changing into my "artist" clothes. It's only about 4 or 5 steps from the back door, but it's snowy and cold and I hate being cold, even for a few minutes. So I trot out there in my UGGs, and switch into my cheapo-Converse-rip-offs and sweatshirt... and become... "Artist Person"!

I haven't posted much this week, I'm too busy keeping up with the smARTist Telesummit. It's an over-the-phone lines conference on art marketing. So look for some (hopefully) innovative approaches from me this year....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Artwork-A-Week #2, Finis...

mixed media work by Melissa Lanitis Gregory

My second 2D mixed media piece of the year was really just an excersise, and like all excersise, it wasn't pretty. (Actually, that's not true, I just said that...although I am still sore from my workout on Saturday...)

But I learned a few things, and I did have fun using my mom's ancient pastels. And this time of year, I just need time to work back into working.

One of the things I learned, while doing this little piece, is that the Artwork-A-Week idea is not the best fit for my working style. I tend to want to work on a few pieces at a time, and even though it was a construct of my own doing, I felt bound to work on that one piece only. Silly, huh? Well, I'm not very good with rules, but I love a good deadline, so when I found out that Riverside Studios is doing a February show, I decided to go for some Cupid Helmets... deep reds, maybe some fringe?

So I'm shifting my focus, (I do this an awful lot) off of a single 2D mixed media piece each week, to just getting into my studio every day and working like crazy: 2D, 3D... maybe even the Fifth Dimension? I'll still post photos of the work weekly, and aren't you curious as to what a Cupid's Helmet might actually look like? Check back here next week.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Artwork-A-Week #2, Begun

Or, Art Workshops with Myself...

Aside from the "artwork-a-week" project, I decided to start 2008 with some "workshop" time... first, by exploring the "interference" acrylic paint colors that Golden makes. These are undeniably cool, (they sort of appear and dissappear in different light) and with the 3D work, I had a specific way of using them that filled in some areas with the interference color, and left other areas without. But the 2D surface is different because I don't have as much texture to work with. Or maybe I do, (one never knows!) but I want to master this paint on a flat surface too...

I started this piece from a cardboard base I made a while back; it's covered in papier mache. Just a plain square.... we'll see where it goes. I had to run to San Francisco over the past couple days, but it will be finished by Sunday. Although working on this second piece made me wonder if I can actually carry on with this "Artwork-A-Week" for the entire year! Yikes...

Also on the "to do" for this week is the SmARTist Telesummit (an art marketing conference), which I signed up for... On the way down to SF I listened to a recording of part of last year's telesummit, and it got me primed and ready for this year. So, look out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Artwork-A-Week #1

Beyond Darkness, mixed media by Melissa Lanitis Gregory
This week I started a project I'm calling "Artwork-A-Week". For the first piece, I chose to deconstruct an old mixed media piece I did a while back (admittedly awful!). Usually when I'm getting back to work after a break, I'll do something sort of personal to start, and this one morphed from the generic use of Marianne Willliamson's quote, to a piece about me and my mother (who passed away in 2002).

I used two smaller papier mache "frames", plus some wooden pieces with the quote, which I painted. I added the sort of creepy garaBeyond Darkness, detailge-sale ceramic angel at the top. (All from the original ugly piece.)

Viola! As Robert Stelson used to say...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Artwork-A-Week #1, in Process

I've been up for awhile, looking at various other artist blogs. I found a few interesting ones, but from there, you can look at their list of artist blogs that THEY read, and you would be sitting at the computer for the rest of your born days. Who ARE these people, this uber-race of artists, who have time to blog AND read oh, about thirty other artists blogs on a regular basis? Certainly, I am not one of them. I do plan on updating my links as I go along. At the moment, the only blog I read on a semi-regular basis is Luann Udell's. She rocks.

artwork-a-week #1: mixed media work in progress
In the meantime, I've been working on my first "Artwork-A-Week" piece. (This may turn into a separtate blog, or I may end up devoting this blog to the project.) I plan to have it done, and pictures posted, on Sunday evening. The two pieces I described in an earlier post have now morphed into one, partly because of the juxtaposition of the photos I posted on the blog, and partly because I was working on them at the same time...

When my mom died in 2001, I always thought I would do some sort of a shrine to her, but it never came together. It looks like this might end up being that piece. I'm using these words that I printed on wood from that famous quote (by Marianne Williamson) that begins: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate..." and a tacky clay angel I found at a garage sale... Here's a rather out-of-focus photo of the work in progress. This is just me trying to figure out how to finish it and hang it, not the actual piece.

I took myself on my Art Date yesterday (a holdover from my Artist Way days) and went to a local used book store. I found a senseless old book called "20,000 Words". That's it. It's basically a list of 20,000 words. Whenever I visit a used bookstore, I'm reminded of Vik Muniz. If you ever get a chance to watch the movie made about his art, "Worst Possible Illusion", see it. It will remind you what life and art are all about.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blog Evolution Theory

I saw a man skiing in a banana suit yesterday.

How can you not love that? You don't see something like that every day. For instance, today I did NOT see a man skiing in a banana suit. On the other hand, if you were to see this every day, it would be a little weird.

So you see, life needs variation, and so, apparently, does this blog. I'm going to continue making periodic changes to it, as I learn more about blogging, and as my work evolves. I just changed the subhead to be a little less flip, and a bit more descriptive. I'm also considering changing the name of the blog, but not yet (simply because I haven't come up with anything). I used the word "Unglued" (haven't you ever wondered?) because I was doing a lot of laminated paper work (layered papier mache), and that requires loads of glue; plus, I like the word. But I'm working on presenting a clearer web presence, and I'm not sure "Unglued" works anymore. I'm also struggling with the use of my name, versus my business name. Anyone care to weigh in on that question?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Disruptionist Art

Well, THAT didn't work out too well; my "sacred studio time"...
And Lisa Call's post on a working a set number of studio hours is coming back to me now...

I didn't get into the studio at 11:00. And then, all sorts of disruptions ensued...and my younger son COMPLETELY ignored my clever "NO" sign, although there was no visible blood anywhere, and happily handed me the phone while I was working.

Fortunately, I had Lisa's words about remaining joyful at the forefront of my addled brain, and I managed.

Deconstructionist Art

Going back to the "challenge myself" mantra, I've decided to challenge myself to do a "work a week"; a mixed media piece, mostly of the 2D variety. (I plan on doing more helmets also, but it takes a while to make the forms, and I couldn't do one a week...maybe one a month though.)

So I got myself into the studio, more or less at the promised time yesterday, even after reading a blog post by Lisa Call about the perils of keeping set studio hours. She makes a good point about...well, I can't remember her point, you'll have to read her post here. (While you're at it, read her next post about the "resolution revolution" and courage.) For me, it's a decidedly good thing, because, for the rest of my day, I'm not anxious about getting in there: "Will I?" and if I do: "Can I go back later too?" I would just be in the studio all day, or at least thinking about being in there!

Anyway, the point is (yes, there IS a point) I started my first weekly piece. Actually, I started by deconstructing an existing piece that I never liked. The first photo shows the big ugly old piece. The next photos show the elements I plan to use to create two new, smaller pieces.

And lastly, to facilitate uninterrupted studio time, I put up the sign at right to serve as a reminder to my kids that they are NOT to interrupt Mom unless the circumstances are dire; ie: "Any blood? bones? No? Go away." I know, kind of cruel, but being a mom and an artist is about being able to set some boundaries. There is a "YES" on the other side, which is what I see when I'm working. And I can turn it over, if I'm in the mood to be interrupted, or if I feel the need to have somebody sing "Jingle Bells" to me in an annoying voice. So you see, there are options.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Art First!

After I finished that last post, I found Alyson Stanfield's weekly newsletter in my Inbox. Here's an excerpt:

"At the same time, I worry that you might be neglecting your art. I fear that you might get so caught up in building your mailing list, posting to your blog, and sending thank-you notes that you forfeit precious studio time. Don't let this happen. There will never be enough time in the day to do everything you want to do, so get over that fantasy right now. Realize that you will always have to squeeze in the business stuff while you continue making art. Sure, there will be times when one is weighted more heavily than the other, but your art should always take precedence. Your art should always be first. Without it, you are not an artist.You're studio time is sacred. You're an artist and artists make art. When they're not making art, artists think about making art. Artists talk about making art. Artists read about making art. Artists must make art in order to feel whole. Without the art, you are miserable and are without a career. Without your devotion to the rituals surrounding making art, your art suffers.You already know this, but I'll repeat it for effect: the art market is highly competitive. You should be concentrating on getting better and better at your art, not just on your marketing. You should put your art first.
Know This . . .Without the art, you are not an artist."

Copyright 2008 Alyson B. Stanfield.

Perfect timing. Thanks, Alyson.

Art and...


I want to talk about this topic in January, because after the holidays, which forces a break in the momentum of our previous year, it's time to regroup. And that is what I THINK I've been doing, although maybe I'm just continuing to disrupt my momentum. How much time do we need to regroup, and when does it turn into procrastination?

I told the UA last week that first and foremost this year, it's about doing the work. Making art. So what did I do? I spent all of last week organizing the studio. First, I looked back at last year's goals, and wrote up a list for 2008. I made up a daily schedule. I made up a weekly schedule. So far, so good. Then, I went through my notebook and my file cabinet. What I found during this process, to my nauseation (hey, I made up a word!) was the same notes, over and over. It seems I write alot about what I want to do. And then I write about it some more... Then maybe some more notes in a different notebook, outlining the same ideas...

It really brought me up short. The ideas are good ones (with a few stupid ones too, the ones that sounded good at 4am) but now it's time to DO. Stop taking notes and organizing notes, and talking about the notes and MAKE ART.


What are your organization rituals at this time of year? And do they help you, or keep you from doing other things?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Snowed-in Studio

A quick trip out to the studio ended when I got buried up to my faux-leopard-skin-pillbox hat!

Subscribe to this Blog

One of my "goals" for this year is to understand the whole blogging world better. So I spent alot of time on the Feedburner site this morning, reading about feeds...

and I still don't totally get it.

But what I did figure out is, they're a good thing, and I want you to be able to subscribe if you want to. So I added the widget (tiny orange logo thingie at top right) that, if you choose to click on it, will subscribe you. And I put back the email subscription option, only this time, not so ugly. If you're confused about this, go to Feedburner's article, Feeds 101. It gives you some basic information about feeds, which will leave you only slightly less confused.

Then, come back and subscribe!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Virtual Reception Comes Full Circle

Here's the post I meant to sit down and write this morning:

Before starting into my 2008 blog posts, with all that wonderful "focusing", etc. I want to come full circle with my Virtual Open Studio. Carrie Cahill Mulligan was one of the winners, and nicely posted photos of her wearing the earrings here. Thank you Carrie! (And thank you for the "artisan jewelry" moniker; I like it!) The other pair is somewhere in Paris, possibly en route to Bangkok. I'm international!

The Fabulous World of Computers

Go ahead; ask Bruce. He's the owner of Charter Advertising/Design, the last design job I had before having kids. He'll tell you: computers are NOT my "thing". (And that's rather an understatement.) So why on earth do I torture myself by getting on this vile piece of equipment, first thing in the morning?

Well, I love blogging. There's that. The problem lies in the technical aspects. I tried, just now, to add a "widget" to this blog, and ended by teetering on the verge of angrily throwing the monitor out into the two feet of newly-fallen snow outside.

But I didn't; I have MUCH more restraint than that (see earlier blog post about abstaining from chocolate for TWO WHOLE DAYS). What I did succeed in doing, was deleting the Feedburner box where you could subscribe. This was not working and was ugly. And the last thing a former designer wants on her blog is something ugly. So that's gone. If you want to subscribe (which doesn't seem to be an issue for anybody) you'll have to figure out how to use the stupid widget that is, even now, NOT installed on the page. Unless you use the Technorati widget, which I did successfully install. Can y'all just use that? Or do I need another widget? (Picture, here, a woman on the verge of tears, crumpled in a ball under her computer desk.)

Maybe I'll try again after some breakfast, because NONE of this is remotely related to what I planned on posting today!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Challenges and Chocolate Deprivation Don't Mix

Somebody once told me that you can rid yourself of chocolate cravings if you just stop eating it for a couple of days. This is true. I challenged myself to NOT eat chocolate and did so for two whole days. Amazing! And I didn't crave it! But everyone got a little grumpy around here (I'm being extremely generous in my use of that word) and I made a conscious decision: I WANTED it. And then I ate some. Everyone was still grumpy. But it helped ME.

The moral of this story is not that it's good to stop eating chocolate, because that would be silly! The moral is this: challenging ourselves is empowering. I plan on challenging myself this year: to work "smarter" (thanks, Carole!) be more focused, and to just plain do more art. Which leads me to... (I know, bad segue, but I've been up since about 4 am...)

Blog news for 2008:

POSSIBLE LAUNCH OF A NEW BLOG (in addition to this...I know, I'm a nutcase...):

This will showcase my new work. I'm going to be revisiting my earlier 2D work that I never had time to fully explore. I'm really excited about this, as I got a chance to see some of that earlier work recently (it had sold) and found I was still excited by the possibilities they represented. So stay tuned for more information on that, later this month.


Next week I'm venturing into a more focused approach to this blog, with a 12 month series of sorts . The Plan is: each month I'll have a general focus on an art-related topic, although I won't be posting exclusively on that. As I write this, I'm thinking: "done to DEATH!" But we'll see how it goes. I've promised myself that I'm going to start trusting my instincts a little more. And Instinct said, "Great idea!"

If it doesn't work, I'll scrap it, and you can just pretend we never had this conversation, 'kay?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Schedules are Meant for Breaking

Yesterday, I set up a schedule of sorts for least for the next few months while my husband has his mid-week days off, and the temperatures are hovering around 0 degrees in the early mornings. My intention is to utilize my time better by being better organized...

To that end, I'm going to try to blog only on certain days, and today is not one of them. But I did post here today... I guess that blows the whole plan... oh well.