Friday, February 27, 2009

Oeuf or Oeuvre?

I was watching a show on TV last night and the word oeuvre was mentioned. Have you ever actually used it in conversation? To me oeuvre is kind of pretentious. I think the only time I ever say it is when I’m joking around with someone about my work (which I look on as a hodge-podge and never an oeuvre).
Still, whenever I hear the word, I think of an egg …someone’s personal cosmic egg with all sorts of interesting things contained inside it. But this probably has more to do with the fact that French was always my worst subject, and I recall being ridiculed by a teacher because I thought oeuvre was the plural form of an egg. Writing out oeufs a hundred times certainly corrected that particular mistake.

Somehow the two words are still conjoined in my mind though, and that was what I was trying to get across with this digital ATC. I used an egg from a Luna Girl collage sheet and a painting of a model looking at a painting. I just wish I knew who the artist was because I like the counterpoint of the slightly racy-looking model and the elegant surroundings of a painter’s studio.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Moo Challenge #44

I guess it’s obvious what this week’s challenge is over at Make a Moo or Two. I scanned these pictures from a 19th century book on playing cards a while ago, and it was fun to get a chance to finally use them. The moo format is different from the size of a playing card of course, so rather than shrink these images, I decided to combine them into a collage.
After the printing press was developed, images like these became available to people who previously wouldn’t have been able to afford art, and playing cards became very popular (as they still are). I think this is one reason why we enjoy making and trading Moos and ATCs so much. It’s a way of expressing our creativity and becoming an art collector in the process, which makes this an addictive combination for so many of us.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Volleying again

Last Friday, Ronna posted a drawing of a sheep that she’d done for a Christmas Show in 2006. She did this in response to a challenge that several people have been responding to on their blogs. What you do is go to the “Pictures” file of your hard drive and choose the sixth folder on your screen. Then you open that folder, choose the sixth picture and post it to your blog.
This seemed like a fun thing to try. You don’t know what you’ll get, although you hope it will be something interesting. But even if it isn’t, you go with it anyway.What I got was a photo Jeanne had sent me of a window last year. Coincidentally, we had talked on the phone about ten days ago, and agreed that we should start up our Photoshop volleys again. For a while there we were going full tilt with our exchanges. (We take turns altering a picture in Photoshop and end up with something that’s completely transformed from the original). So I took the appearance of Jeanne’s window as a sign that I should take action now, and then altered the photo to send to her. Now it’s your turn girlfriend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Inane Stuff

You know how when you tell yourself not to think about something—chocolate, let’s say—you can’t get it out of your mind? I think that’s what has happened to me with the Olsen Twins.
Out of the blue, and while I was doing some research for a client this morning, I came across Stardoll, a website with virtual “paper” dolls. You can dress everyone from Paris Hilton and Angelina Jolie to Robert Pattinson from Twilight.

Before I knew it, I was taking a time-out, and popping Ashley and Mary-Kate into some online wear. How lame is that? Lame maybe, but fun! As someone who was still drawing paper dolls and sharing them with my friends well into high school, I must say the virtual approach is not only way easier, but also delivers instant gratification. So …if you’re looking for a way to avoid work today, why not waste some time on Stardoll?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is it Mary-Kate or Ashley?

I found this doll yesterday in the box John’s watch came in, and I have no idea where she came from. Usually I have a good memory for that kind of thing. For example, in my ribbon collection, I could tell you which one Marissa gave me, or Carmi—and when I got it. But it’s like this doll dropped into my stash from some alternate universe.
I took a picture of her and decided that I’d turn her into a mini muse. While I was working on this ATC, John came into my workroom and said: “Oh look, it’s one of the Olsen twins.”

I’m thinking my doll is more Ashley than Mary-Kate because of the hair, although I doubt either of them would have much time for art what with the making of millions and continual drinking of lattes. Still, it’s given me a new perspective on the twins. Not that I’d ever thought about either of them before, but who knows? Maybe at this very moment they’re sewing tiny costumes for their Blythe dolls.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mixed Media Self-Portraits

A couple of weeks ago, Leslie wrote an interesting blog about the 18th century French artist Marie Élisabeth-Louise Vigée, and posted photos of some of her paintings. I particularly liked Vigée’s Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat, which I realized was the image used for my favorite B-Line Stamp (see above).
There’s something about self-portraits that intrigue me—not doing them myself, I mean—but rather, looking at how artists in general perceive themselves visually. That’s why I was drawn to Cate Coulacos Prato’s book, Mixed-Media Self-Portraits: Inspiration & Techniques.
If you’re looking for a catalogue of images by Rembrandt or Durer, you won’t find it here though—and for that reason I think this makes Prato’s approach all the more interesting. I wasn’t familiar with most of the artists in her book, but their self-portraits are fascinating. Instead of producing an actual likeness, most of them took an unconventional and highly personal approach. There are self-portraits done as dolls, a collection of objects, a mask and even a series done from photos taken in one of those booths at the local mall.

All of the projects have detailed instructions that are helpful if you want to try the same kind of thing yourself. There are even tips on how to take your own picture. Whether you want to try doing your own self-portrait or not, this book is a great resource, and I’d recommend it to any artist who wants to experiment with different ways of looking at other people.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Time versus Tasks

I’ve always looked on time management as the process of getting things done, so when I expend as much effort as I possibly can to complete a task and don’t finish it, I feel like I haven’t really been working—even though I have.
I was discussing this with John the other day and he suggested that I experiment with time rather than tasks. Apparently productivity experts say that if you divide up your day into segments, you’ll get more done. What you do is assign each task a certain amount of time, an hour let’s say, and at the end of that hour (no matter where you are) you stop and then move on to the next thing on your list.
I wasn’t sure if I could do this myself because I find it hard to switch gears when I’m involved in a project. What I usually do is keep on going until my energy level tanks. Sometimes this works for me, but more often than not it doesn’t …mainly because I’m too burned out to do anything else. For this reason alone, I was willing to experiment with a time pie and discipline myself to stick to it.

The interesting thing is that I’m actually accomplishing more than I thought I could. Instead making progress in one area, I’m actually managing to do it in several. I think this approach works because it’s holistic. You may not have accomplished anything big, but there’s more balance because you feel that life in general is gently moving ahead.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Age and Excellence

I have to admit that I’ve been avoiding the news lately. It’s all gloom and economic gloom, which makes you feel helpless and uncertain of what’s going to happen next. (And who needs that?) But this morning in the New York Times, there was a heartwarming article about Stump, a ten-year-old Sussex Spaniel who won Best in Show at the 133rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden.
Stump (registered as Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee!) is the oldest dog ever to win this award, and back in 2005, he fell seriously ill with an undetermined illness, but eventually recovered.
What interested me about Stump was that he was definitely the crowd favorite, and won Best in Show even though he’s a seventy year old in human terms. Dog or not, this just goes to show us that excellence is possible at any age, and that your “prime” is right where you are right now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Moos

Nellie van Leeuwen has been hosting the Make a Moo or Two challenge for a year now, so it’s time to celebrate. In case you’re new to the format, a moo measures approximately 1.1 x 2.8 inches (2.8 x 7 centimeters) and you can do anything you want to with it as long as you stick to the size.
I decided I’d give it a go myself after seeing the wonderful moos on Godelieve’s blog, and I’m glad I did. Not only is it an opportunity to stretch creatively, but it’s also inspiring to see what so many other artists do with the weekly theme …so Happy Birthday fellow moo-ers, and here’s to Year Two.

Friday, February 06, 2009

All My Stuff

If my studio space was a soap opera, it would be called “All My Stuff.” I’m in the process of taking an inventory so I know what I have to work with for my show in the fall. And I have to say I’m embarrassed by all the things I’d forgotten about, and therefore haven’t used yet.
There’s that set of rusted stove legs I bought when I was up at Mary’s boat last summer; various (and mysterious) electrical components; a pile of dolls; and tons of scrapbooking paper of course. It’s obvious I’m more of a collector of things than a user of them—at least at this point. But when you think about it, all that stuff is just raw potential waiting to be explored …exciting and definitely quite daunting. But like Emily Dickinson said: “I dwell in possibility…”

Thursday, February 05, 2009

It isn’t snowing indoors

I don’t know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but it’s brutal here. Snow, snow and more snow. Not to mention that it’s –23 degrees centigrade outside too. Rather than post one of our many photos of this winter’s ongoing snow crop, I thought I’d share a recent picture John took of Amy, our amaryllis—yes, there is some color in the Great White North even if it happens to be indoors.
Amy usually blooms in a pair, but I decapitated her mate when I was aggressively organizing our recycling. This really upset me because it was just carelessness on my part (although her broken blossom did manage to open after I put it in a glass of water). Nevertheless, I was determined to find out whether or not there is such a thing as floral first aid, so I went straight to Wikipedia. It was there I discovered that Amy isn’t an amaryllis after all. Apparently she’s a member of the Hippeastrum family. But I don’t think I’ll rename her Hippy. Amy is much too elegant a lady for that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


When Emma was a little girl, she used to refer to “thinking” as thimpking. I try to remind myself of this when I’m tempted to take myself too seriously, which happens way more than it should, quite frankly.
Lately I’ve been frustrated because I’m in the middle of several projects where there’s no end in sight. I know self-help books tell you to congratulate yourself after taking even baby steps toward a major goal. But I’ve never been much good at that I’m afraid. My all-or-nothing nature can’t relax until things are neatly tied up …or not so neatly as is often the case.
Still, you do have to take a break from striving once in a while, and that’s where playing with pixels comes in handy for me. I can often finish something in Photoshop in one sitting—and it’s become a form of art therapy for me.

So what does thimpking actually look like? Not sure that I know, but I took a stab at it anyway. (Oh, who am I kidding? I just needed an excuse to fool around!)