Monday, February 27, 2012

Spinning my wheels but moving along!

It is hard to believe that another week has sailed by and I am sitting here typing away trying to get a post up to let you know what I have been up to in the studio and just in general.  Time seems to advance more quickly when you have a lot of ideas to work, transferring them onto pieces of canvas or jotting down events or your perspective of them in a journal.  So, this week did advance in most areas, but at a pace of one step forward to two steps back, a ratio that was not entirely satisfying.  But, it allow me to progress on my journey, just in baby steps as opposed to a sturdy, well balanced stride.

I am still playing with the acrylic inks and attempting to put what I see so vividly in my mind down on a small piece of watercolour paper.  At one point, I decided that it might yield better results if I were to work on a regular sized sheet of paper and then work down in scale until I reached a postcard sized piece.  This seems to be working better for me and I managed to get some work done on two pieces neither of which are completed.  I sit down in the studio, turn on the CD player and lose complete track of time.  More than once I looked up to find that it was after midnight and hastened to tidy up, rinse out brushes and join Molly Cat who was already snoozing soundly in the bedroom.  She does not like it when I disturb her by moving her so that I can slide under the covers, but I am adamant that I take my rightful place in the bed.  Molly then retaliates by crawling up on top of me and curling up on my lower abdomen preventing me from turning onto my side or shifting my position.

Truthfully, I do not have a lot to show for my efforts of this past week.  More than one artistic attempt was binned after not developing or showing any promise.  Colours did not come out the way I had intended, subject matter illusive, and I just could not put brush to paper with any show of promise.  I am being harsh with myself and readily admit that I cannot settle for anything less than my best attempt to develop as the artist I want to be.  Realistically, I understand that it takes time to develop in any field, art being no different than any other.  Consequently, while I am putting up two of the pieces I am currently playing with, know that I am not pleased with them and will be revising them considerably before I can muster any sense of satisfaction.

I need to understand the layering of colour necessary in order to build it up to the level that I am hoping to achieve.  Currently, I seem to have a heavy hand in the application and need to yield to using patience over enthusiasm as I work into the night.  Maybe, and I shake my head at this, I should call it a day and head off to bed a tad earlier.  I have a tendency to get into the studio later than I would really like and then try to compensate by staying there later than one should reasonably expect to with the consequence being a weary artist who has lost her perspective.  Not a good thing!  So, this week, I am seriously going to try to revamp my schedule allowing for an early afternoon session followed by a break for my evening meal and then return to the studio for a couple of hours after which I will camp out on the sofa and read for another couple of hours.  Sounds reasonable, does it not?  I am not so certain that I will accomplish this trend for more than a day or two before I revert to the way I have always worked.  Some changes are just not meant to be, but I will see if it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks.  Okay, maybe the word "dog" is not politically correct in a household that houses a very vocal feline, so maybe I could be the alpha feline who gets to have the last word.  But, only if Molly is agreeable to that.  We all know who calls the shots here and if Molly is not happily satisfied with the state of affairs, then no one within the flat will be allowed any peace.  I am saying this with tongue firmly in cheek.

My resolve to read more, allowing for at least an hour a day, is progressing well and I am into the last chapters of one book, Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" and into the opening chapters of Kelly Armstrong's "The Reckoning."  The first book being instructive in my quest to learn better writing skills and the last book allowing me to enjoy fiction with a supernatural theme.  My hope is that in time that I will be able to write a best selling piece, probably involving creatures not common to our everyday lives.  I suspect that these creatures may not be typical to most, but possibly I should not make that assumption.  It is somewhat appealing that a little supernatural could exist and add a little something to our daily routines.  But then, I always have been one to believe in faeries, wee folk, ghosts and such.  A grown woman who believes, now that might not be something I would share with anyone but those who follow this journey as I am fairly certain some acquaintances. i.e. my doctor, would be concerned, to phrase it gently.

What else have I been up to?   Well, earlier, I made a futile trip to an art shop hoping to replenish some supplies that are running low.  Who would have thought that there would have been a demand for frisket all of a sudden?  But, the out of stock sign not only encourages, but allows for a trip later in the week to another shop.  Besides, I might just find a better price on some inks that I hope to add to my stash as well as check on the availability of a hand mannequin that I would very much like to have, but decided that the price today was more than I was willing to pay.  And yes, hand mannequins do exist, but I suspect stay put on the shelves they inhabit if the price I already saw was any indication.  I will let you know how the upcoming trip, currently to take place on Thursday, plays out.  I promise that I will be fiscally responsible.  But, you do know that while some long for the elusively perfect pair of shoes, or the exquisite handbag, I turn into a lust for all things housed in art supply shops.  Well, maybe not everything, but trust me, more than enough items I long for would put me on purchasing restrictions for the month of March, a page on the calendar not yet reached.

So, hopefully, I will make some advancements over the course of the week.  I do have friends coming for a visit one evening which will involve my baking up a batch of cookies and brownies.  No doubt, I will make a dash out to pick up the requisite fruit and vegetables that I seem to be craving of late.  But, my main agenda will be composed of painting, reading, researching and other activities of an artistic nature.  Oh, and activities pertaining to the pampering of a certain feline.  But, we all know that those activities are by far the most important.  That the world does rotate around a certain little ball of fur is a given, as so it should be.

Have a wonderfully inspiring week!

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pick a pathway, continue a journey or start a new chapter

I was indecisive as to what I should write about today and so this post is going up much later than originally intended.  This tardiness is not due to my not working on anything artistic or of artistic merit this week, but rather that I had a little too much going on. I worked in the studio using the acrylic inks that are proving to be a learning experience, read for a while each day, got inspired by two journals that came my way and thought about other ways in which I might challenge myself.  Add to all this a major need to purchase groceries followed by some enjoyable time spent in the kitchen cooking ahead so I would have meals ready for the next couple of weeks.  So, yes, it was a busy week and I have to admit that more than one night was spent in the studio.  I figure if I cannot fall asleep within a reasonable length of time, then it is far better for me to get out of bed and do something constructive.

The learning curve using the acrylic inks is a steep one.  But, I am enjoying the experience, maybe just a little too much.  I have started a couple of pieces and trashed a couple that were not turning out the way I had hoped.  I find my biggest obstacle is me.  I feel that I should be able to dive into any medium and be able to put a respectable piece of art together regardless of whether or not I have worked previously with that particular medium.  Mea culpa, such is not the case and I have to accept that I need to allow myself time to work with my inks, learn how they respond to different brushes, take the time to mask off areas of the canvas with friskett so that I keep the colours where I want them without trickling over into other areas on the page.  In other words, I need to learn to be patient with myself if I want to give myself the opportunity to grow as an artist.  I am impatient and like to see results quickly, but I am learning that it is far better to take the extra time and use it wisely allowing sections to dry, see the intensity of the colour and how it relates to other colours already laid out on the canvas.  I need to allow myself to change my mind as to what colours I will use and what the subject of each painting will be.  Will I paint a series or will I do one offs, single canvases not related to each other with the only common factor being the use of the acrylic inks.

I try to be frugal in my use of friskett and other mediums that would help me to achieve certain effects on my canvases.  The hard hitting truth is that there are times to bite the bullet and use the proper materials and that even if they are used on test pieces, this does not mean that I have wasted a medium.  Learning through experimenting is the best way for me to learn and develop my own techniques.  It is one thing to read about a technique, but an entirely other method of learning by actually putting thoughts into action.  I have always been one who likes to actively work on a problem in order to resolve it and find the best method to work with for me.  That is not to say that how I work out my answers and what items I use to achieve the much desired effect will work for another artist.  I am more than happy to share my findings with others, but need the other artist to know that while this method may have worked for me, it might not achieve what it is they hope to capture on their canvas.

While I have been spending a lot of time in my studio, very happily I must admit, I have also promised myself that I will read at least two books per month.  This leads me down another pathway where a new chapter of the journey is showing up.  Bird by Bird, a book written by Anne Lamott is a book with "some instructions on writing and life."  I always have enjoyed reading books of all genres through the years.  I read a statistic last week that the average adult has read less than 100 books.  That horrifies me on so many levels.  How can someone not want to read a book?  With so many books to choose from on such a variety of subjects, my problem is picking one book to read now and promise myself that I can to back and read any other books that capture my attention.  Picking one book over another makes for a difficult decision and I have to firmly keep myself in line and ask myself which book best follows my interests at that moment or which book will give me a brief holiday from what is going on in my life at that time. 

I have wanted to wanted to write for so many years and true to form, I figure that I need to do some research on the writing method before I contemplate starting.  Bird by Bird outlines in baby steps how to get yourself in a writing frame of mind.  Writing a bit each day and building on your skills will hopefully lead you into the steps necessary to write that novel that we all feel is just waiting in a corner of our brain, waiting to be transcribed and then hopefully to be snatched up by a publisher.  Suffice it to say, that the book does not sugar coat the likelihood of this ever happening, but at the same time does not discourage the would be author from writing.  Getting something down on the page each and every day is key to setting yourself in the "writing frame of mind" and forces you to establish a schedule in order to accomplish this goal. 

I have a lot to learn before I manage to write something of any substance, something that might capture the attention of a wider group of people than my blog currently reaches and that will likely mean that the subject of the book will not likely be about my journey through artistic mediums, at least not at this time.  I have not got a clue as to what I would write about, but I know that it is going to take a lot of time and effort.  I have got the time and effort, well, I am more than willing to work away on practising and writing piece after piece to develop my own voice and style.  So, whilst I read books to learn about the process, I have notebooks on the go in which I outline ideas and research these ideas, fleshing them out to see if there is maybe something in this idea worth writing more than just a paragraph or two about. With this in mind, I found the perfect journal type book in which to track these thoughts and ideas. 

Marisa at Omiyage carries a line of such journals. Have a look at her web store at and you will find various journals.  The two that captured my attention are "A 1000 Kinds of Stories" and "Editorial."  The first journal has 1000 sections contained within a wire bound book that will slip into your tote or briefcase. The sections are numbered and I can see myself making brief notes in each section, 1000 steps to pulling together information, ideas, to reach the point of actually starting the process of writing.  This journal would also be perfect for jotting down quotations that have reached out and meant something to you at this time of your life.  It could be a journal to track your exercise goals, an entry for each day as to what you accomplished.  There are so many stories to be written about in this book that I suspect everyone reading this would have their own spin as to what they would like to make notations about over the course of 1000 days. 

The second journal, "Editorial" breaks a page down into sixteen sections, graph lined with an area at the top for a title or subtitle.  Another perfect book for the writer in training!  Each little section could contain a goal to accomplish regarding one's writing.  By the time the budding author has worked their way through the journal making notes as they go, he or she should be well on their way to developing a story line.  I am excited by both of these journals.  I have not made an entry in either, and I suspect that I will start off with 1000 kinds of stories to get my creative juices flowing.  Will I ever really write a book?  I would like to think that I will pull together a story, whether it is a short story or perhaps that epic novel.  I can envision a few people rolling their eyes upon reading this and thinking that I definitely have more than a little fluff stuffed between my ears and masquerading as brain material.  I still plan to travel down this pathway and see what unfolds.  A few years ago, I thought that I would try painting and I am still painting, learning and growing with each piece.  Maybe, just maybe, I can try writing and see if I can progress from smaller pieces to actually pulling the storyline together along with character development and make it turn into a cohesive piece of writing.  That is what I am hoping to achieve.

My artistic challenges for Sunday were kitchen related.  For the first time in my life, I made a pot of chicken vegetable soup.  I have made many a pot of vegetable soup, minestrone soup and others similar in nature.  But, I was proud of my chicken soup and have to admit, it tasted pretty good and I now have enough soup for more than a week of lunches.  I also roasted a chicken, low and slow which produced such a juicy, tender meat, that I was pretty amazed.  JulieAnne Rhodes has a web site, in which she teaches her PCApproach to cooking.  By setting aside a few hours each week or every two weeks depending on how many people you are cooking for, you can cook and package up the meals in portion sized servings or family sized servings and just need to heat these up and have dinner on the table in no time flat.  I use the approach to get different items cooked or baked.  A pan of a perogie style lasagne was baked off, cut into servings and frozen, along with a pan of boneless, skinless chicken thighs roasted, an Asian inspired meal utilizing ground turkey, Asian spices cooked up and ready to serve over rice and just because I love muffins, a dozen blueberry muffins baked up beautifully and are now individually wrapped in the freezer, ready to be warmed up in the microwave.  I have enough individually packaged entrees to keep me going for around three weeks, so I think spending Sunday afternoon in the kitchen was well worth the effort.  You definitely should take a look at JulieAnne's web site and join the community.  For a very modest cost, you will have access to a new menu each week, along with the recipes, the shopping list and tips to ensure your success.  Plus, you will be able to participate in the forum where members answer each other's questions, have a chuckle at some stories of kitchen successes after battles valiantly met head on where youngsters have been persuaded to try a new type of mashed potato which actually was cauliflower mash and where vegetables are tucked into entrees without picky eaters even being aware of their presence.  I can guarantee that you will be ROTFL over some of the blogs and the forum discussions.  But, more importantly, you will find that it is possible to get dinner on the table without going crazy each night and you will meet the most amazing group of folks who are there for you in a heart beat.  Now, that is what I call a family, a very extended one, but most definitely a true family with JulieAnne keeping us all together and helping with advice, suggestions and most of all, you can tell that she really cares that you have the tools you need to produce delicious and healthy meals.

So, this is the week that was!  It was artistic in so many different ways, and all of them satisfying.  I will put up pictures of the acrylic paintings in progress on Twitpic so you can get an idea of how things are working out.  As for samples of my writing, well you read a sample each week in the form of my blog post.  I still have a long ways to go to developing a writing style, much less coming up with a solid idea for a book, but these will come with time and effort.

I hope you had a wonderful week and would love to hear about your artistic endeavours in the studio, kitchen or where ever you encountered them.  They all count!  Do not ever think for a moment that they do not.

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trying something new

I am writing this post much later than I normally write them.  Saturday nights seem to be my usual writing time and I think that I have myself believing that between the hours of 7 p.m and 10 p.m., my creative persona dons its writer's cap and pulls together this blog.  The reality of it is, that the writing I do could be done at any time on any particular day.  I know that a lot of people feel that they do their best writing when certain conditions are met.  For me, the only condition that must be present is that I need to have accomplished something of an artistic nature within the past several days. 

This past week, I have been playing with acrylic inks in my studio.  I have picked up a small selection of different colours which should more than suffice.  I have been spreading the inks on pieces of watercolour paper to see how the colour lays down on the paper, whether the paper buckles, and so on.  I have a ways to go before I am ready to paint the pieces of art destined for Norway for the Twitter Art Exhibit.  I really want to do something impressive, something that defines me as an artist.  But, I have to admit, I am not sure what it would take to put something down on watercolour paper to have others think of me as an artist.  I am of the opinion that one must accept themselves as whatever it is that they want to be noted for before they can actually be deemed that particular type of person.  So, although I am determined to become an artist and participate in various attempts using different mediums, does this strong desire to be an artist in fact make me one?  What do you use to define yourself or how did you come to describe yourself as an artist?

I have a studio room in which I keep various art supplies varying from different paints, coloured pencils, right on down to pieces of fabric and an assortment of wonderful Japanese papers.  I say that I am a mixed media artist, an artist who uses the different mediums to express my ideas, thoughts and dreams.  I have even done up a picture, Japanese in nature using embroidery floss as one would use paint to put down certain colours as one would paint sections of a canvas.  But, supplies aside, is there something in my particular make up that holds the key to my determining whether or not I truly am an artist?  I wish I knew the answer to that question.

I guess I could take and accept the premise that since I make art, therefore I am an artist.  But, even though I make up pieces that friends kindly refer to as art, I have to wonder if I really am meant to be on an artistic journey.  Am I just fooling myself into thinking that this is what I really want to be and so if I tell myself that it is true, that I will make myself over into a fine artist?  I am not so sure that it really works that way.  Just because I would like to be an artist, does not mean that I am one anymore than being able to sew a button on my shirt says that I am a seamstress.  I know beyond doubt that I am not a seamstress, nor will I ever become one.  Sewing does not pull me into its power and mesmerize me the way that art does.  As lovely as a dress might be, I cannot see myself going over it, seam by seam, noting the tucks, fine seams, exquisite buttonholes and finely detailed darts.  I can see myself looking over a piece of art taking note of the gradations of colour, the balance in a painting, the textures of the paint, the subject matter and how it is portrayed, as in whether  there are symbolic references or whether I see actual references to a particular subject.  But, are these acts enough to cause me to think of myself as actually being an artist?

I do find pleasure in my into the art's world.  Wandering through the aisles of an art supply shoppe, I can while away the hours quite easily  But, then I can happily spend hours roaming though large office supply shoppes.  There seems to be something about vast quantities of paper, pens, and other supplies that I find enjoyable.  Lately, in art supply shoppes, I have been drawn to the aisles of coloured inks. calligraphy pens, and other supplies related to the art of penmanship and the study of illuminated script.  I enjoy looking at samples of penmanship from earlier times and wondering how people were able to develop such elegant ways of putting their thoughts down on paper.  The only answer I have is that constant practice must help in developing the skill.  Consequently, practice must be the key to developing any skill, even those deemed artistic in nature.

So, I will continue on my artistic journey.  I must admit that typing down these thoughts right now, has helped me reach this decision.  I was beginning to lose faith in myself.  This often happens when I feel that I am not progressing at the rate at which I felt that I should be developing skills.  I seem to forget that progressing at a rate, any rate, is a positive.  I will learn at the pace for which I am hardwired, and not a bit faster.  Learning at a slower pace is not a bad thing.   I need to take my time and go over something frequently in order to really learn it and learning to write in an elegant style will take time after having written, and written badly for so many years, taught me sloppy habits that lead to embarrassing transcripts of my handwriting. I do want to learn to make illuminated script (think of the elaborately scribed capital letters in storybooks) and use this knowledge for another project at a later date.

Meanwhile, I have come up with two drawings that I hope to put into action for the Twitter Art Exhibit.  While I cannot say that these drawings will be the ones that make their way to Norway,  I do feel that I want to try them out using the inks.  Somehow, I want to think of these pieces as being similar to stained glass in design. That is the nice thing about this project, if I do not like the way these two sketches turn out, I can always go back to the drawing board and try to come up with something I like better.

I hope your week is full of artistic surprises, nice ones of course!   As always, I would love to hear from you.  Tell me what you are working on, what it was that called to you to head into an artistic life, what causes yourself to doubt your instincts and question whether the artistic life is for you.  Maybe we could get a real support community running here to help out with giving you the feedback that you need and so much more.

Have a great week!

Sincerely,    Rutheemac

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fun in the studio!

It's been an interesting week in the studio.  I decided to go through my rubber stamp collection and resort them into different categories to make it easier to find a particular stamp when I want to work with it.   It is amazing how my collection has grown over the past three years.  Suffice it to say, I could start my own card shop with my collection and cover most occasions for which we send cards.  I managed to condense the collection by using some larger containers for the floral and Christmas stamps.  By doing this, I freed up some much needed shelving room.

Touching and looking at all these stamps got my creative juices flowing and I decided that I should get busy with some Valentine greetings and you can see the results to the side of this blog or by going to Twitpics.   Some of the cards are blatantly Valentiney in nature, others less so meaning that they could be sent to someone to say that I was thinking about them and so happy that we are friends.  No romance required or anticipated. LOL  The messages have yet to be inscribed on the cards and I am pretty sure that some embellishments of some type will be added to each and their envelopes will receive some type of decoration as well.

I would love to see more and more people sending greeting cards, just for the fun of doing it.  I know how I feel when I receive a card in the mail and I save it, tucking it away in a special box set aside just for that purpose.  I have two friends that I regularly send cards to for any number of occasions.  They have each told me that they have saved all the cards that I have sent their way over the years.  They have two of my paintings hanging in their home and made sure that I signed and dated these before they left on that particular visit.  I am not sure who was happier in that moment, my friends or myself.  I love to make things for people and so my enjoyment of making cards allows me to send a little of myself to each person receiving a greeting.

The studio is back in shape and I only have to pick up the tin of coloured pencils that a certain feline dumped on the floor whilst I was in the shower.  I knew something was up when Molly was sitting on my walker and slamming the loo door with her butt.  Trust me, when I say that I was not amused at her antics.  But, if that is the worst thing she does, I can live with it.  She has been rather accommodating by sleeping on my feet the past few nights and keeping my feet warm.

On the agenda this week, is for me to work on my submission for the art exhibit organized by David Sandum.  My acrylic inks have all arrived, I plan on cutting my watercolour paper this evening and hopefully by Monday morning, I will be ready to do some test runs.  Hopefully, by Sunday next, I will have a few pieces to put up with my blog.

Have a great week!  I would love to hear or see what you are up to creatively!

Sincerely,   Rutheemac