Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Work in Progress: Tiny Totem Bobble Birds-Part Two

Last week I showed you a picture of my Tiny Totem Bobble Birds in progress. You can see that post here.  If you don’t feel like following that link, suffice to say that the birdies had recently been cured in the oven and were shown without any color. Just plain ol’ cured white clay.

Now, let’s see how I add color to these cuties.

First, you need alcohol inks, rubbing alcohol, paint brushes and gloves.

Luscious alcohol inks (not for consumption)

And here are the little birdies waiting to be colored.

Hi! We're Waiting

Because I will be teaching a class on how to make these little birdies, I can’t share all the specific details on how to create and paint them at this time. Please enjoy these process pictures as each piece is colored. Humming your favorite song while looking at the pictures might be fun. For some reason the theme song from Jeopardy, the one they play when people are writing their answers to the final question, popped into my head.

Do not, however, hum “The Girl from Impanea.” You know what will happen if you do. Just sayin’.

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”

Coloring the top side of Spike

Add a Green collar

Gotta have fuchsia spiky hair

All done & waiting

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Wing”

Don't 'cha love my tangerine wings?

A nice warm yellow for the bod.

Heart-beat

Green hair & a yellow neck

Tout fait, for now.

You may have noticed that I use both Pinata & Ranger alcohol inks. On “Wing” above I decided to only use the Pinata alcohol inks. I noticed a big difference between the two brands almost immediately. The Pinata inks appear to dry with a glossy sheen whereas the Ranger inks appear to dry with a matte finish.

If you use alcohol inks, have you noticed this difference?

To continue this further, I’m going to put a coat of Kato liquid clay on “Spike,” dry it with a heat gun, and see what happens. Will he end up with a shiny coat or will all his colors meld and patina with the liquid clay?

Stay tuned for more pictures of “Spike” and “Wings.”

Oh, if you’re interested in learning how to make these little birdies, leave a comment below that you’d like class information & I can add you to my newsletter list.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!


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A Year of Mindfulness: Entering New Spaces

First deep breath.

Second deep breath.

Third deep breath.

Ah.

Now how did you do with last week’s mindfulness practice to take three breaths? This is one of my favorite mindfulness practices. We all need to breathe and taking three breaths is a wonderful way to put a little space between you and any stress you may encounter. I find it particularly useful when sitting in traffic or dealing with drivers in parking lots. Taking a breath brings you back to your center. It helps you to re-focus. It keeps you in the present moment.

This Week’s Practice: Entering New Spaces

Now here is a good challenge for you. This week’s mindfulness practice is about entering new spaces. This practice is all about bringing an awareness to any transition between spaces. Dr. Bays refers to this practice as “mindfulness of doors.”

What does that mean?

It means that as you enter a new space, pause, take one breath, and then proceed. Remember, the theme with mindfulness is to become aware of our surroundings. In this case, think of what you normally do when you leave one room and enter another room. Most likely you just walk across the threshold without any consideration for the space you just left or for the space you are entering. When a door separates the two spaces, we usually just let the door slam behind us or perhaps we don’t close the door at all.

This week, do your best to pause between those transitions when traveling from room to room. If you tend to slam doors, work on gently closing the door. If you tend to leave the door open, become more mindful about closing the door. If you stumble through the doorway, become more mindful of your steps.

Reflection: The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. -Flora Whittemore

For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions. -Lao Tzu


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Work In Progress: Ornimals and Tiny Totem Bobbles

What are you working on this week?

I’ve had a productive week in the studio making Graduate Owl Ornimals and new Tiny Totem Bobbles. Here are some of these pieces in progress.

Graduate Owl Ornimals

This group of five Graduate Owls is half of the 10 pieces I need to have finished by the end of this month. Another five are on my work table in the first stage of sculpting.

"Neked" Graduate Owls

"Washed" Graduate Owl Ornimals

I’m giving some thought to making a video on my sculpting and finishing process for the Ornimals. Is that something you’d like to see?

Tiny Totem Bobble Birds

The birds are being well-received. They make people smile. I’ve sold one already. And I put together a class on sculpting the birds. That proposal is being reviewed in a couple of places. I’ll let you know when those classes are scheduled.

For now, here are two new versions of the Tiny Totem Bobble Birds.

Tiny Totem Bobble Birds In Progress

I have this fear that the hole I drill in the bottom of the birds will close or shrink during the curing process. So I made these two little curing “mounts” for the pieces. It works pretty well. Except for the fact that the wire supporting the bird on the left came out of the mount and was stuck in the bottom of the bird after it cured in the oven. I was able to remove the wire with a set of pliers and a good yank. No damage done. Not sure why the liquid clay didn’t bond with the wire and raw clay of the mount.

What did you work on this week in your studio?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.


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Challenges of a Solo-prenuer-Photoshop

As a solo-prenuer artist, that is, an artist who wears all the hats in this business, I spend part of my week creating and producing art. The other part of my week is spent on the business side. This includes

  • maintaining my website
  • writing blog posts
  • writing & submitting teaching proposals
  • writing three e-newsletters
  • marketing my art
  • photographing my art
  • wrangling with Photoshop
  • doing the accounting

and several other things that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Some have said that an artist should spend at least 50% of her time on the business aspect. I can probably count on one hand the number of artists I know who spend at least half of their time on the business aspect. It isn’t easy because we really want to devote most of our time to the creating and making art.

Speaking of hats: Here is a fun one that I tried on at the local consignment shop.

Blue Church Lady Hat

The Hard Numbers

I’ve gone through several iterations of tracking my time. Coming from the health field where we had to track our hours, I started out tracking my hours each day; start time, stop time; start time, stop time. It was flipping tedious. Okay, I’m being kind. It was anal and it made me feel like I was never being productive enough. How could I be productive when I was fixated on documenting my start & stop times?

Then I tried splitting days in half. Half the day on art, half the day on business. I had learned that morning was my best time for artwork. So I’d start the day making art and then switch to business stuff after lunch. That didn’t work out very well for me. I’m more easily distracted in the afternoon. That meant while I sat at the computer, it was waaaay to easy for me to get distracted with other stuff online.

Finally, I decided to split up my week. Most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to studio time. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for art business tasks. It works most of the time. If you work at home, whether as a small business owner or a telecommuter, you know that life and other obligations have a way of tossing our “best laid plans” out the door. So flexibility is key. And so is not beating the crap out of yourself if your schedule gets trampled.

Today’s Challenge

Do you use Photoshop?

The main reason I wrote this post was to share my current challenge as I work on the business side of, um, the business. I am a bit befuddled by Photoshop. I have Photoshop Elements 6 for my Mac. Earlier this year, I took a wonderful online web design class hosted by Susan Lumoto of DAM. In the class, we learned how to create a website using WordPress templates. Pretty cool stuff, aside from the challenges of working with plug-ins.

I haven’t touched my test site in several weeks. I’m ready to get back to it. My first challenge is to create several images featuring my artwork. Specifically, I want to create a JPG that would include 3 images. The 3 images would have a white border. Then those 3 images would be placed onto a black background of a specific size.

Here is one practice JPEG I created and tried out as the new header for this blog. This gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

After making the image above, I realized that 3 images is a better number as it allows some room around each image. I don’t like the squishy feeling of the header image.

I’m getting better at making the white border, thanks to my friend Natalie, as you can see here:

Image Before White Border

First White Border Attempt-Splotchy

Improved White Border

Image with White Border on Black Background

So here is my problem. I edit & crop my photos in Aperture first, then open them in PS Elements to add the border and create the background. If I edit the JPEG using the image and/or canvas resizing options, I get something smaller than I desire and lose the white border. If I crop the original image in PS before adding the border, I get something much larger than I want (and crash Photoshop.)

I think I may have to use the re-size options on the original image first, then add the white border, and then move the image to black background.

What do you think? I’d appreciate your suggestions. I feel like I’m making this harder than it needs to be. Of course, that is part of the playing & experimenting. But I seem to be missing something in this process.

Please use the dimensions of the header as an example. The header image is 760 x 190. What size should my images be in order to fit into a header that measures 760 x 190? How would you create a header image with three JPGs inside a black background?

Thanks for your input. And thanks for stopping by.


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A Year of Mindfulness: The Three Breaths

Here we are midway through April. I write this on tax day and the upcoming mindfulness practice seems very appropriate for that annual ritual. But before we get to that, lets return to last week’s mindfulness practice: Secret Virtues. Were you able to grace anyone with a secret virtue, an anonymous act of kindness? Did you happen to receive any secret acts of kindness? How did you feel when you engaged in this act of kindness? I hope it left you feeling 10 feet tall and put a smile on your face.

This Week’s Mindfulness Practice: Three Breaths

A few weeks ago, we practiced a similar act when we were asked to pause and take three breaths before answering the phone. Not an easy thing for everyone to practice, especially if you’re in a customer service position or other job that requires an immediate response when the phone rings.

This week we are asked to pause, to take three breaths, any time during the day. The intention behind this practice is to quiet the noisy mind and to open up your senses and become aware your surroundings. I find this practice is very helpful when my mind is racing along a mile a minute. It makes me to return to the present moment.

Another great time to practice three breaths is when you’re stuck in traffic or waiting in a long line. (Hey, do see the connection between this practice and the earlier practice on waiting?) I also like to take three breaths before falling asleep. It seems to help prepare my body for a good nights rest.

During which situations would it be good for you to practice three breaths?

Reflection: Prescription for health: Quiet the mind for just three breaths. Repeat as needed. -Jan Chozen Bays


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A Wednesday Full of Woody

My deepest heartfelt thanks to everyone who left a comment on my post Preparing to say Goodbye. I appreciate your kinds words and compassion. My friend passed away peacefully on Friday. It was an honor to know her and to have been a participant in her life.

Mr. Woody is recovering and is progressing in the right direction. A change in antibiotics for an underlying infection seems to be working, along with sub-q fluids to keep him hydrated. He must be feeling a bit better because he has carried his toy mouse from one floor to the other and back again.

And I’m back working in the studio making art and working on the business side of my art. A return to some form of normalcy.

I hope to get back to some regular schedule of blogging in the near future as well. Until then, enjoy these pictures of Woody taken over the past few weeks. (Click on a picture to enlarge and to scroll through each image.)

What can I say. The cats are my kids. Spoiled and they know it :-)


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A Year of Mindfulness: Secret Acts of Virtue

As we started a new quarter last week, our mindfulness practice asked us to look at all things in our environment with loving eyes. How did you do with this practice? I know when I first read about the practice I thought “loving eyes?” If I do that to a stranger, will they think I’m coming on to them or something? Then I realized that looking at a total stranger with loving eyes can be achieved by simply smiling when you talk to them. It seems to work with most people. How can you not smile back at someone? To me, smiles are contagious. Smiles and laughter are the one form of language that we all share as human beings on this planet, regardless of our native language.

This Week’s Practice: Secret Acts of Virtue

This week’s mindfulness practice is fun. Secret Acts of Virtue. Paying it forward. Doing something nice for someone without them knowing. I was first introduced to this practice a few years ago. It may have been called Acts of Kindness or something similar. But the intent was the same: to engage in a secret act of virtue or kindness for someone anonymously.

My favorite approach to this was paying for the meal of the person behind me at the drive-thru window. I remember the quizzical look on the cashier’s face when I told her what I wanted to do. I don’t think she “got” what I was doing.

Secret acts of virtue can be as simple as picking up trash, collecting the shopping carts in the parking lot, or buying someone a cup of coffee. While we humans love to receive recognition for our good deeds, there is something even more satisfying in doing something for someone anonymously.

So this week see how you can engage in secret acts of kindness. In doing so, you not only open your heart but the heart of others too.

Reflection: Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. -Lao Tzu

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