Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ARTFUL GATHERING 2017...



It's getting closer and closer!  My very first online art class.  I am so thrilled to be a part of the amazing teaching team at Artful Gathering 2017.  I will be teaching An Artist Field Kit at the summer session, June 6-July 17th, registration begins May 1, 2017.  My class contains 6 projects (14 hours of detailed video instruction!)...an Artist Field Kit, a Handmade Art Journal, Mini Plant Press, Gathering Bag, Needle Keep, and custom Paint Palette...perfect for all your arting needs on the go! Class fee is $130.00.  A limited supply of class kits will be available for sale in my Etsy Shoppe beginning May 1, 2017. 

Wish me luck!

Blessings,
Sandy




Thursday, April 6, 2017

DRINKING IN THE BEAUTY...

"There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations."
~Washington Irving~
My every morning delight is to traverse from room to room in my home unveiling the living picture scenes that are views from my windows, letting in the sunbeams and washes of light.  I take the time to pause and gaze through each framed view anticipating what I might see.  On this particular spring morning it was a scene from a woodland fairy tale filled with birds, squirrels and butterflies.  New leaves in all shades of greens had burst forth from the nights cool rain and the warmth of the morning sun.  Tiny wildflowers and blooming weeds dotted the lawn.  I wanted to be a part of that world, so I set off on a walk on the new trail we are forging on the back side of our property...come walk with me and drink in the beauty...

At the trail head velvety new oak leaves are unfurling in the forest of oaks...
Twisting bramble vines will soon be a profusion of wild honey suckle and wild grapevine...
The air is filled with birdsong.  I hear a slight rustling off to my left and spy this little winged beauty in the bramble...
Just above him is this blooming beauty...
I discover a whole colony of these little oddities.  At first I thought they were acorns but they are soft and spongy more like a fungi.  I am not sure what they are but they made quite a scene like little nature aliens poised on pointy tiptoes peering one eyed at the stones...
Our woodlands are filled with several varieties of oak trees, I especially like the color and texture of the soft baby leaf blooms, I take just a few to press...
I am not the only one using this trail this morning, my deer friends have left their tracks in the soft earthen floor near the bramble where they usually bed down for the night...
I find the trunk of this twisted tree quite interesting and wonder how it came to be...

Over mossy stones...
Skirting the test dig for we hope will become a small wildlife pond...
Past the blooming wild blackberry vines...
Under the cleft in the rock face, where a little red fox used to live...
Sheltered by the boulders...
I stop and sit, taking in a view of the spring time sky...
Here is where I stake out my woodland hammock hanging trees, between two sturdy oaks next to this little hickory down below the boulder shelter near the old rock ringed campfire...
A hidden spot to be sure, a place to watch spring and dreams unfold...
A place to shed the layers of worry and life...
Where the framework of new dreams can form, like this natural structure becoming a wee child size tepee for the grands...
A sweet spot to hide away in...
Where thoughts can untangle...
I linger listening to the wind whisper through the pines nearby.  I let the sun warm the chill of my skin.  I listen, eyes closed, to the bird voices trying to identifying the owners.  I collect a few leaves and add them to my press.  I feel the pull of work calling, refreshed I slowly amble back to where I started.

The last step emerging from the woodland to the lawn... 
The poignancy of this image is not lost on me,   To me its an image of seasons past and present and future.  The old lying fallow, the new springing forth with life, and the future stretched out like a shadow of things to come.  I like where I am in this moment in time, right in the middle, blooming where I am planted, growing, learning, being, doing... spring really does give a sense of hope and renewal.  

I hope you have enjoyed this little stroll through my world where I center myself in solitude, find inspiration, and give thanks.  May your day be filled with the overflowing joy!

Blessings,
Sandy

Monday, March 20, 2017

BREAKING THE SILENCE...

So much has transpired over the last year that I don't even know how to begin to explain my absence from this blog.  Losses to mourn, changes to adapt to, new opportunities to explore, challenges to overcome, care giving to be done, a much needed respite to be taken, it feels as if I lived the entire third chapter of Ecclesiastes within the span of a year and its brought me to the here and now and the final verse of that chapter (v. 22 NIV)..."So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot.  For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?"  And that is exactly what I have been doing over the last several months, enjoying my work. This past year has been my time to be silent and now is my time to speak, putting the past behind and pushing forward. 

I started a new adventure into the world of online teaching.  It seemed easy enough, create a tutorial, step it out, then film it (which I delusion-ally thought had to be way easier than still shot tutorials), upload it, and a class was born...not so much.  Soooo, I have spent countless hours learning the real ins and outs of creating an online class.  First I had to learn to use a digital video camera, learn about lighting and angles, smooth transitions for close ups as well as how to use an SD Card and remember to actually put it in the camera when filming.  (look at me go using real live computer jargon!)
(An Artist Field Kit)
After learning to be a camera operator I discovered I needed to be a set designer too and stage all the supplies and step outs for each film segment which kind of called for me to have a script of some sort to keep all the segments in order.   Soooo, I not only became a camera operator but a set designer and a script writer.  Surely there was not much more I needed to know right?  Wrong!

Filming was a bit of a challenge for me.  I had to try to keep focused on what I was doing while checking the monitor to make sure I was still in frame and give verbal directions at the same time.  Sheesh!  Now I was blocking scenes, directing, filming, and a narrator all at the same time.  Are you kidding I can't chew bubble gum and walk at the same time!
(Handmade Art Journal)
Big huge sigh of relief when most of that part was all done but then I had all these little SD Cards that contained the video and somehow it had to get from there to the computer so I became a member of the not-so-geek squad downloading the videos and spending a frustratingly long amount of time trying to figure out where exactly they downloaded to.  Then the panic really hit when I figured out I had to actually edit all those segments.  I added technical engineer and editor to my job description list.  Now some of you are shaking your heads wondering what is the big deal, well, I am not a tech type person, I do not embrace technology easily, and it makes my brain hurt to learn all that stuff that until this point I did not really feel like I needed to know.

I first tried to figure out an editing software that was just too difficult for a novice so I had to start all over again learning a new program that was much more suited to newbie.  Let's just say that dummy.com, the Google, and YouTube became very close friends of mine as they walked me though endless hours, days, and weeks of frustration.  I learned how to trim video, to make smooth transitions between clips, add captions, animations, title pages, credits, music, take stills of video clips, add photographs to the video, as well as technical stuff like the difference between a wlmp (which I still don't know what that means) and a wmv file and a MP4 and something about pixel size or some such nonsense.  My son came to my rescue on more than one occasion during this process.
(Plant Press)
And all was going along swimmingly until...my editing software crashed, died, kaput!  I tried to reload it via the web but it was nowhere to be found.  I was frantic.  My son called me with the bad news, Microsoft had pulled to package that this program was a part of back in January and I could not get another copy.  To say I had a melt down would be putting it mildly, it was more like a hissy fit on steroids.  I decided to quit.  This was just not worth all the hassle.  Once again my son to the rescue, somewhere on the deep dark web where all things hide he found an archive of the software.  He walked me though giving him remote access to my computer and he installed the program and I was good to go again.  Did I say I was enjoying my work?  Not so much at this point!

I left out the parts where I had to create lists of materials, resource lists with links, an intro and a promo video, chapter settings, still shots of completed projects, written class description, create an artist cover package, create class kits and give away items, submit test videos, etc.  Fast forward a few more weeks and I did it!  With the exception of learning the trim tool and save settings (which my son taught me) I leaned to do this on my own, with a little help from my new best friends, dummy.com, the Goggle, and YouTube...we make such a great team!
(An Artist Field Kit plus 3 Bonus Projects)
This might not seem like a huge accomplishment in this tech savvy day and age but I am not of this current era. I did not grow up with a computer, cell phone, internet, etc. integrated into my everyday life.  I still like pencil and paper, landlines and tangled curly phone cords, snail mail, actual books with pages to turn, dialing in a static channel to find music or playing actual vinyl records on a stereo record player.  This was a major feat for me!

Thank you to my son who never got frustrated and might have snickered a time or two over my less that smart tech questions and issues.  Thank you to my husband who never complained about the lack of cooking going on and the laundry being damp because I forgot to turn on the dryer (more than once) and for his support in cheering me on that I could do this and meet the assigned deadline.  Thank you to Zinnia, who kept cheering me on, holding my hand, and talking me down when my frustration was running high.  Her best piece of advice, "You only have to learn this once."  and at the end of the project, "You got this, you did it."
I am ready to emerge from my sheltering cocoon (which is scary) and embrace this time of enjoying my work.  I am breaking my silence and keeping my eyes on this new path to see where it leads.  Wish me luck!

Blessings,
Sandy

Saturday, February 18, 2017

ARTFUL GATHERING ONLINE ART RETREAT BLOG HOP...


Today kicks off the 7th annual Blog Hop for the Artful Gathering Online Art Retreat.  This hop not only introduces the line up of instructors and classes but a chance to win some wonderful package prizes from sponsor Jerry's Artorama:


1st Prize:  $250 e-gift card
2nd Prize:  $150.00 e-gift card
3rd Prize:  $100.00 e-gift card

Think of all the fun and creative supplies you could purchase from Jerry's with any of these prizes!

To find out how to join in the fun just visit the Blog Hop Post HERE.

Blessings,
Sandy

Monday, January 16, 2017

DEFINING SUCCESS: COOKIE CUTTER STYLE...


(Studio 2017...while its clean, which is not often but I have to tape a class intro in there and I thought it needed it.  Lots of ready to use collage background substrates)

“I so admire artists who have one sole focus or medium they work in, it takes far less supplies and space than my mixed media method of madness.”  This was my thought after the latest round of trying to fit what amounts to a square peg (my supplies) into a round hole (small space).  But, I DID IT! , success!  My defining success was paring down to not a lot of anything but a little bit of everything for my mixed media needs and (the hard part) having a home for it all.
(Bead and Embellishment Storage)

Last spring I was in touch with a very successful well known artist who is also mentors other artists.  After emails, phone conversations, and a visit to my social media sites and blog the advice was that in order to be a success I would have to dial it back and focus on one thing.
(Rubber Stamps, Hand Dyed Ribbons, Paints,Paper, Buttons, Tools, Jewelry Embellishments, Etc.  My "sink" is a new addition to the studio, love it!)

 I could not have a messy mixed media blog that had posts of writing, art, tutorials, nature photography, travel, and bits of randomness.   I needed not one but two Facebook accounts, one personal and one professional, and for heaven’s sakes quit posting all those quirky bits of travel logs with tons of photos no one has time to look at much less read.  Why am I not tweeting on Twitter?  Step it up on Instagram!   More selfies less nature!  What about Vimeo and YouTube, where are my channels?  My Pinterest  page is weak and my blog needed a modernized design.  Why did I not have an official artist website?  My bio is not sophisticated enough. It’s been too long since I had listed art for sale on Etsy.   It all needs to be about the art but, I MUST pick ONE thing to focus on be it book arts, art journaling, jewelry, stitch, collage, or painting, just pick ONE and focus, then I would be on the road to success.
(My desk where I make jewelry, sketch, art journal, or layout designs)

To say I was a little taken aback is an understatement.  At first I was downright offended.  Then I was overwhelmed and feeling really insecure.  Should I delete everything and start all over?  Did I want to?  So I decided to break down the advice I was given. I am not much into social media, I guess it’s because it was not a part of my generation growing up, it’s something I have had to learn and adapt to but on my terms.
(My metalsmithing and glass work table just behind the bead and embellishment storage shelf)

I don’t want to be behind a computer or phone screen all the time.  I don’t feel the need for constant communication.  I like my quite moments in nature where I can hear myself think while focusing my camera lens on the majesty of beauty that nature has to offer.  That is art to me, the art of silence and presence of savoring a moment.   I don’t need constant contact with people; I like silence and maybe that comes from being an only child who spent a lot of time alone.
(Sewing Storage, (my daughter gifted me all those amazing boxes and the bakers rack was just purchased this weekend, still getting that area set up) The Tower of Terror paper hoard, lots of Ephemera and goodies!)

 Soooo, one blog, one Facebook account, Pinterest pins are for me and my inspiration or ideas, I am doing better at Instagram, I am still not tweeting, taking selfies, or doing video so I can be “discovered”.  I don’t yet have an official artist website but someday I will.  So I give away more art than I sell, that’s my choice.  My bio is me to a sweet-T, no need to change it.  Nature is my main inspiration in art and my travels are a part of that process, those posts and pics will stay.  As for focus on one medium or type of art, well I am just not a cookie cutter kind of girl.
(This is my main work space where I glue and goo and mess and gob and paint.  Its also where I set up to film, you can see the backdrop on the table and extra lighting and peek of the tripod.)

Cookie cutter neighborhoods are sad to me (no offense intended if you happen to live in one please, I grew up in one) that just does not fit me.  I love quirky old neighborhoods, run down old houses, even better something that was never intended to be a home but has been converted into one; they all have individuality and personality.  I saw the advice I was given for just what it was, success cookie cutter style, not intended to harm or alarm but a blueprint of the steps of success this particular artist took to get where they are today.  It’s that square peg in a round hole thing again; it just does not fit me.
(Book storage under the table in vintage colorful crates)

I can’t be me and not create a variety of art just as much as I can’t be a vanilla flavored cookie cut out over and over and over again with the same round shape cookie cutter producing the same type of thing repeatedly.  I am more of spice cookie, a variety of flavors to my mixed media.  I would be cut out as a Gingerbread man who is holding a heart shaped cookie(still going to share my heart and art) and chasing a star shaped cookie (while chasing my artful dreams), running as fast as I can, delighting in my adventures along the way.  Maybe my way is reckless and foolish as the Gingerbread man in the storybook and I will get gobbled up and lost in the fray but at least I will have stayed true to myself.

That in large part explains my long absence from this blog.  I lost myself in thinking I needed to adapt to a cookie cutter way set by someone else and it completely threw me off track.   I am back to mixing my media, varying my projects, and making happy spicy messes as more than one shaped cookie and my recipe for success suits me just fine! 
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