Thursday, January 31, 2013

What if I used my iPad for quick sketches etc. more frequently. . . .

I asked myself several posts ago "What if I just SHOWED UP?" to my blog each day. And I did for a few days and it worked well but then I got distracted and bogged down by end of the year taxes. Well, the taxes are done and I haven't been showing up.

A new "What If" I've asked myself is: What If I tried doing more digital sketching or painting? Would I be able to get more comfortable with the applications? At least enough so that they could be useful for quick sketches or brainstormed ideas? I have an iPad, which I absolutely love, and had previously downloaded and tried--a little--some sketching/painting apps. I have Paper 53 and Sketchbook Express right now and I've ruled out some of the other ones previously as not meeting my needs. Paper 53 is very attractive, fun, and seems to be able to handle my requests now that I know how to manipulate the pallette and open and close the program. I can also easily save a drawing and send it to Facebook or email it to myself or others.

I'll show you what I've done so far and tell you what I plan to do with the app. Here are my first 4 attempts, in the order in which I created them. I was pretty happy with this first one, an early Valentine's Card. I tried most of the effects, with more success on some than on others. It was quite easy to do once I got started.

Valentine's Card
Quick fun drawing of one of my favorite quotes.

Further experimentation. You can't use text with this app, just handwritten notes or writing.
I tried making a quick "Save the Date" note for the next Art Hop event coming up. My next goal is to do the next Art Hop Flyer using Paper 53. Maybe not ALL of it but the graphic part of it. So, watch for more attempts over the next weeks and if you have an iPad, join me in trying out some programs. I heard of another one called Rage Art or Art Rage ($4.99) which has a LOT of different paint effects but it looks more difficult and I haven't tried it yet.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jump for Joy!

It was a glorious day today--the high was 64 degrees. After our recent cold spell with nights as low as 27 degrees, it felt like summer today. The last few nights have been comfortable and quiet, too, with no wind machines blowing in the orchard behind us. What if we were truly grateful for all the small gifts we are given each and every day? What if we went a day or a week or a month--or a year--without complaining about things that will make no difference a day or a month or a year or five years from now? What if we held that thought and expressed our gratitude more often and complained less?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thoughts from a radio conversation. . . .

Yesterday, while I was in the car, I had the radio on and was listening with half an ear to a discussion about the economy, financial issues etc. My ears perked up when I heard this statement:

"If you don't have enough information about a subject, your imagination kicks in and fills in the blanks."

All of a sudden my mind took some quick turns and transported me back to something the late Monte Guynes told his art classes about ten years ago. He said "Don't finish the painting for them--let THEM do that!" He was a firm believer in NOT finishing every detail of a painting--of letting the viewer put themselves into it, in leaving something mysterious about it so that the viewer could finish it and fill it in with his/her own imagination. "If you don't have enough information about a painting, your imagination kicks in and fills in the blanks." And the odds are that your imagination completes it in a way that satisfies YOU and makes it complete and often becomes the reason that you painted the painting or that you purchased the painting.

So, what if you left something mysterious, nebulous, or un-said about that painting that you're currently working on? Let the viewer add the details of the face if it's a painting with a person in it. Let the viewer's mind embellish the landscape in the area where you've left soft edges. Let the viewer put something of himself/herself into the painting that makes it truly theirs. Sometimes it's a sale when you do. . . . . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Irregularity Plagues Us All!

What if we don't post on our blogs every day? Will it signal the end of the world? Will our pay checks be docked? Will be we struck by lightning?

Nothing will happen. The world will go on. Life will not change. No one will reprimand us or give us a bad evaluation. It is OK to miss a day or two now or then, or even a week or a month. As John Lennon said: "Life is what happens while we're making other plans."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Rubber Ducky, You're the One. .. . "

What if we actually got all our ducks in a row--that is, in the SAME row, at the same time? Would we be satisfied or would we still feel that pressing need to get organized, finish our projects, or complete the tasks that need to be done? I guess the real question is: "does anyone actually ever get all their ducks in a row?"

I was curious where the phrase comes from and this is what I found out doing a quick Google search:

There are several theories about where the phrase originated. One is
the is comes from the bowling industry where pins used to be smaller and thicker than today's pins; they were called "ducks" and putting them all in a row referred to the handsetting of pins.

Another possibility is related to Mother Duck's mode of traveling with her ducklings: all the babies follow behind Mother Duck in a straight, close line for their safety. This makes sense when you see a row of ducklings following their mother across a road. Other possiblities are that the term refers to the ducks used in mechanical shooting games at a arcade, "ducks" as the metal weights formerly used by engineers to define a curve, or "ducks" as cargo bins which must be lined up on the dock before being loaded onto a ship.

Some sources say that the term was first seen in print in a Stephen King novel in the 1970's so it is apparently a relatively new term, not one from ancient times.

Regardless of it's origin, the term means to ensure all of the small details or elements are accounted for and in their proper positions before embarking on a new project. When a person is fully prepared for any eventuality and has every element in place, he or she can indeed be said to have his or her ducks in a row.

When I'm feeling disorganized and "scattered", it helps me be more productive by getting things back in order. I clean the studio, sort magazines, clip articles, bag paintings and prints, clean paint brushes etc., not as a way of getting out of working but rather of putting things to rights so that I can work more efficiently and effectively, with a clear mind. I always used to clean my desk, room, closet etc. the day after school was out--like a routine that helped me change gears from the school year to summer vacation, perhaps. Now, I think I'll take visualize taking a nice hot bath and see if (in my mind) I can get all the rubber duckies in the tub swimming in the same direction, visually an analogy for my preparation for a productive artistic year in 2013! And then I'll get back to work on the projects and commissions that need to be addressed before I can move on to personally creating some new paintings which are now simmering in the back of my mind.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Observation of the Oddly Unexpected

What if the unexpected becomes the expected?

I love wearing 2 different socks to see if anyone notices. Usually, no one does. . . or if they do, they don't say anything about it. Is it for the shock value, the personal satisfaction, or the fact that I can only find one of each particular pair on a given day? I'll never tell. :)

What if the abnormal becomes the normal? What if there is no real "normal" or everyone's normal is different? That's what keeps life interesting, in my estimation. No 2 people process or store information in the same way and it's always fun to observe how others deal with situations, respond in conversations, and react to stimuli. It's fun to see who is observant and who isn't and how they feel about the differences they observe. Do you think things must be matching/symmetrical or do you enjoy oddness now and then?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Three questions for you to respond to--pick any or all of them

1. What if artists played more often? (It would be fun!)

2. What if we incorporated play into our work every day? (I do!)

3. What if our classes centered on "play"? (Mine do, but some people have to be taught to play and "what if" and they still are resistant.)

How would you answer these 3 questions?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Day of Play

What if artists spent a whole day just playing now and then? Well, some of us do! Lucky me, I was invited to Abigail Anderson-Shine's beautiful home and studio in Madera yesterday, for just such a day.

Abigail, Lonnie Flowers (from Visalia) and I just played from morning till late afternoon, with a delicious lunch in the middle of the day.

By MY definition, "Just Playing" involves doing a "project" that you have no idea what you are doing when you begin. You just begin. In a well-stocked studio, finding things to work with was NO problem at all. The three of us each began by choosing one or more old cigar boxes that we found appealing in terms of size, shape or construction. Then we started embellishing them.

 I chose 2 with tops that opened upwards, with 
open fronts. They looked like little tiny theater stages. I covered my first little box with colorful papers, added tassels and a handle made of small blocks. In this photo it is drying.

Lonnie chose a very flat, square, wooden box and Abigail selected 3 square-ish wooden boxes that were all alike. We all worked on the boxes in the beautiful, peacful setting.
Lonnie working on her first box

"Men", complete with a Surgeon General's warning!
Lonnie's second box--looking down into it
at the arrangement of shapes she decided upon
Abigail's 3 boxes, glued together, being embellished. . . .
Right side up

From another angle

My first little box, labelled "What If?" and topped with a bird
We all agreed at the end of the day that we'd had a great time working on the boxes and that we'd finish them and share the results with each other. Every now and then, the best thing an artist can do is "just play" with artist friends in a non-threatening environment. What if we all did it more often than we normally do?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hearts for "The Show With a Heart"

What if I save and use the scraps from my fabric wall hangings to make tiny stuffed hearts for Art Hop on January 26th?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

One Grain of Sand at a time, an hour is a good chunk of time!

What if today I start with an hour of working on THE painting, as timed by my new hourglass that I got for Christmas. And then I do my Post It list, and then I go back to painting? (11:50 AM)

What if I acknowledge that it was a great and productive hour and now I am knocking off my (short) list of to do's for this Sunday afternoon so I can get back to the painting? (1:45 PM)

What if, having knocked off my whole list and a few more things, I get back to THE painting? (3:45 PM)

And almost finish the hardest part of it, today, with over 3 hours of time spent on it! Yay!

What if, what if, what if. . . . .???????

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mixed Blessings for "Mixed Messages"

What if I ask my customers when they would like my watercolor and mixed media classes to be, four people agree on a particular time and tell me, I schedule accordingly, and then no one signs up for class?

What if I ask which days are best for their children to attend, I schedule accordingly, their children come one time and don't come back?

What if people ask for information about art education so they can look at art more knowledgeably, I plan a 1 hour per month series that lasts for a year, and the people who requested them don't attend even one session?

My first inclination is to be annoyed at the inconvenience of planning for things that are requested and then not attended or followed up on. Another normal response would be to question my abilities and/or performance because people don't show up or don't continue to attend after beginning. But I know I am well-prepared and generous with my time, knowledge, and materials so I don't take it personally though I always welcome suggestions for improvement.

After over a year of experimenting with class schedules, topics for study, lesson plans etc., I've come to the conclusion that people have very hectic lives; gaining personal satisfaction from making art or learning about art is pretty far down on their priority lists. The action I've decided I need to take is to formulate ways of sharing with them (and showing them) how art can improve their lives, their self-image, their health, and their environment. I'm going to work on figuring out ways to do that by providing multi-sensory experiences that give pleasurable feelings that they would like to replicate.

The "mixed blessings" that have come to me as an artist and business owner have come in the form of unexpected surprises, connections, relationships, and friendships that have developed because I did something that I might not have otherwise.  If the above-mentioned "catalysts for change" had not suggested I do something a certain way or at a certain time, I might not have done it at all. And if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't have met some wonderful people--adults and children alike--planned some lessons that led me in a direction that I might not have followed on my own, thought about some issues or subjects that were certainly not on MY "To Do" list, and even changed my own art making.

So, to those of you who asked for something specific and then didn't respond when it was provided for you, thank you! You've helped me learn to make my own schedules, lessons etc. based on past experience and my own needs as well as yours. Sometimes, people welcome NOT having to make decisions--they like someone else to take that responsibility. I'll try to be more sensitive to the needs of students and customers, seeking feedback from them, and experimenting until I find just the right "fit" here at "Mixed Messages" ART Studio/Gallery/Classroom.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's a Good News/Bad News Sort of Thing. . . .

Just Show Up!

What if I just showed up to my blog each day? Would something come to me to write about? We shall see. . . .

This morning I decided to ask myself "What If" when I arrived in the morning (on time, before 11 AM!) after getting up when my alarm went off and making it to weigh in and the Weight Watcher's meeting, I wrote down on a post it 3-5 things I MUST do today?

The good news is that I accomplished all 5 things I wrote down, 3 minor phone calls I'd put off for a few days already and 2 more major projects/documents to think out and type out that I had put off for more than a few days. It feels good!

The bad news is that it is now 4:30 and I haven't worked on The Painting About a Man for even one minute! But I am going there now.  :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013--A Year for "What-iffing"

In 2013, I'm going to make "What If" my mantra. I've asked myself a lot of "what ifs" for a long time, but this year I'm going to focus on asking myself a lot more of them.

What if I got out of bed when my alarm rings each day?

What if I always opened the gallery on time or early--EVERY business day?

What if I didn't organize my time, my day, and/or my thoughts around the possibility that some one was   coming by, a student was expected, it was too near the end of the day etc. etc.?

What if I stopped feeling selfish when I do things for my own benefit, rather than thinking of others first, always?

What if I went to my blog each and every day, whether I thought I had anything to write or not?

What if I smiled more and pouted less?

What if I took action more and thought about it less?

What if I gave Weight Watchers half a chance?

What if, what if, what if. . . . . .

So, this year I resolve to go to my blogsite every day and start the post with a "what if" question. I'll begin the new routine tomorrow.

I tried to FOCUS in 2012. . . .

I think I started 2012 off with a post about my word for the year. That word was "Focus". I still need to maintain focus on my gallery in Sanger as my primary artistic effort, but I think that I have moved in the right direction toward making that a big priority. In the effort to focus, I have done the following things in 2012:

1. Decided to leave the other galleries that I've been in--first the Art Stand, then Timberline, and next week, Circle Gallery in Madera. I'm sad to leave the galleries and to not be as connected to Minkler, Oakhurst, and Madera, but I need to spend the time on developing connections in Sanger.

2. Tried to maintain regular gallery hours 5 days/week, 7 hours per day, only being away when I couldn't avoid it--concert days for community band, family emergencies (haven't had any), and illness (haven't been ill!).

3. Held expenses to a mininum whenever possible, on supplies, framing etc. I've recycled frames, bought them on sale, and cut my own mats all year.

4. Worked hard on developing a line of "products" which I call the "Sanger Items" that are images of Sanger. I have multiple items printed and available and they have been popular sellers. I think that they have brought more people into the gallery and, consequently, increased sales of non-Sanger items.

5. Expanded the gift offerings at the gallery by adding small items (ceramics, Suji wire art, goats milk soap) and including guest artists in monthly Art Hop events.

So, in 2012,  focus, I did. . . . .