Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Solopreneur Wednesday: An Introduction-How Did I Get Here?

The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.

Who Am I?

If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->

Nice to meet you.

What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?

I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.

First polymer earrings (scanned image).

But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.

Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.

At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.

Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.

Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.

That left art.

What are you influences or sources of inspiration?

My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.

I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.

Anam Cara (Trio)

More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)

Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.

How did your art become a business?

It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.

When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.

Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.


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The Elderly Animal Project: Isa Leshko’s Photography

I recently came across the beautiful photography of Isa Leshko, in particular, her photography of elderly animals. These black and white images are stunning on their own. Then she added this short video explaining the elderly animal series. It brought tears to my eyes. Go grab a tissue before you watch this video.

As any animal lover will tell you, caring for an aging pet can be challenging & heartbreaking & rewarding. I’ve gone through it a few times myself. And we face it again with Woody our eldest cat. Woody is 12. In the past year he was diagnosed with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and high blood pressure. The trifecta of kitty diseases.

He’s currently doing well. He gets medication twice a day. Eats breakfast, dinner, and all the snacks he wants in between. (In fact, he just came up to the studio as I write this to let me know it is time for his mid-evening snack.) His weight is holding steady at around 10lbs plus or minus (down from a high of 12lbs.)

After looking at Isa’s photographs and hearing her explain the elderly animal series, I took a few pictures of Woody over several days. I thought it would be interesting to capture him at different times of the day. Several of these pictures were taken in natural light without a flash. I think they capture his true nature, for the most part. (And with cats much of that true nature involves lots of naps.)

Woody 12/17/11

Woody 12/18/11

Woody 12/19/11

Woody 12/19/11

Woody 12/20/11

Woody is a pretty regal cat. A little Zen master who fancies a well worn toy mouse named George, tummy rubs, and night time snuggles; the periodic hit of fresh catnip, chasing a bird feather on a stick, having a nutty, and chasing his little brother around the house. He inspired my first cat sculpture and an Ornimal. He’s a very special cat.

Grey Tabby Ornimal

Isa’s project has me contemplating something similar with Woody. If not a daily picture, certainly a weekly picture. After all, he is quite photogenic. But more than that, I think it would be interesting to capture his handsome nature as he ages.


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The Apprenticeship Project on Kickstarter

Friend and fellow artist, Susan Lomuto, has created a project on Kickstarter. Her project is the aptly titled “The Apprenticeship Project.”

The goal of this project is to raise $1,500.00 by November 28, 2011. The funds raised for this project will help Susan document what it means to be a working artist today by working as an apprentice to artists across the country.

Susan is no stranger to working as an artist apprentice. She did just that last fall when she traveled to Connecticut and Washington, D.C to work as an apprentice to a jewelry artist, a ceramic artist and a glass artist.

This time, however, Susan needs your assistance to make the Apprenticeship Project even bigger. Her initial apprenticeship experiences appeared as posts on her blog The Daily Art Muse. Now Susan’s goal is to capture this documentation in three books: one book on the life of an artist, one photo essay book, and one book on her life and what brought her to this project.

To hear about The Apprenticeship Project, you can listen to Susan describe it in her own words:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2038555215/the-apprenticeship-project/widget/video.html

Now isn’t this something you might consider supporting?

Still not sure?

Click on this link to read more about The Apprenticeship Project.  You can even ask questions. If you decide to make a donation, your credit card won’t be charged unless Susan reaches her goal of $1,500.00 by November 28, 2011. How cool is that?

You can donate as little as $5.00 or as much as $5,000.00. And you can choose a gift to receive based on the amount of your donation.

I wouldn’t blog about this if I didn’t believe in the project.

Full disclosure: I’m a backer of this project.


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A Little Jaunt To New York

We got away for a long weekend to New York this past weekend. An early anniversary trip. Over three days we walked almost 30 miles. Those 30 miles included two museum visits, a trip to ground zero, and walking through part of Central Park and Times Square. All that walking and I still gained weight. Darn those cupcakes!

Below are some shots from our trip, most from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was our first visit to the Met. After a few hours we were definitely on art overload.

St Patrick's Cathedral at Night

Atlas at Night

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Klimt

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture

I was not familiar with Barbara Hepworth’s artwork. You can read more about her here.

Jackson Pollock

Pollock’s large paintings are really impressive.

I’m sorry I didn’t write down the name of the artist who created this piece above. I believe his first name was Robert. Yes, that is an eagle mounted to this mixed media piece.

Cy Twombly

Wharhol

Which do you prefer? Monet’s Irises….

Monet

Or Picasso’s Irises?

Picasso

I like both of them. Each are unique interpretations of one of my favorite flowers. I do think, however, that I like Monet’s Irises better than his waterlilies.

Salvador Dali

How is this for a mantelpiece? I believe it is from the Vanderbilt estate.

The last room we visited had all this amazing Oceanic art. The ceiling tiles below were all created individually and then assembled to form the roof/ceiling of a home.

Ceiling Tiles

Headdress

The headdress above was worn in a certain ceremony. A male and a female headdress were typically used in the ceremony. The dancer wore the headdress for a very short period. And then the headdress was destroyed.

Strawberry Fields

This time we walked much further through Central Park and finally visited the area now known as Strawberry Fields. The Dakota rises over this area of Central Park. At the heart of Strawberry Fields is the Imagine medallion.

Imagine

As we sat on a bench watching people take pictures of each other on the Imagine medallion, I remembered being in Italy last year for our 25th anniversary.

While staying in Venice we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. In the museum’s sculpture garden was a “Peace” tree with little pieces of paper dangling from it. Next to the tree was a container with pencils and pieces of paper with strings attached. Visitors were asked to write their prayers and wishes on the paper and then to attach the paper to the tree branches.

The Peace Tree installation was created by Yoko Ono.

Sitting by the Imagine medallion, it felt like we’d come full circle.


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Blow My Mind Glass Art-The Dale Chihuly Exhibit

This year the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) hosted a wonderful exhibit of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly. I admit that I have not been a big fan of Chihuly’s artwork in the past. I was familiar with his work, primarily the large glass chandeliers. While those are fantastic pieces, in general, I haven’t been taken in by his work.

Earlier this year I started experimenting with more abstract artwork in polymer clay, such as my polymer clay focal disks. The more I played with these shapes, adding various protrusions and projections, I found myself more drawn to Chihuly’s work. I found a deeper appreciation for his sensual shapes, sinewy spikes, and amoeba like disks.

I also learned a bit more about Chihuly’s past. How he lost sight in one eye due to a car accident. That he had studied glass making with the masters at Murano in Venice, Italy. And how water has provided great inspiration for much of his work.

When the MFA announced plans for the Chihuly exhibit, I couldn’t wait to see it. I think this is the first time I’ve ever gone to an art exhibit twice. And each time I found a greater appreciation for it.

Please enjoy these pictures taken during my two visit to the Chihuly exhibit.


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Sketching: Making It A Practice

Well, it didn’t take too long before I faced potential boredom with my sketching. In the days after returning from France, I looked around my house and thought “what is so interesting here that I’d want to sketch it?”

There-in lies the rub. It isn’t so much a matter of what looks interesting to sketch, it is a matter of making it a practice no matter what the subject matter. If the only reason I sketch is because the subject is interesting, I would’ve quit long ago. (And, in fact, I did quit sketching, several times in the past.)

This is when I had the bright idea to use themes or topics as my basis for sketching. Deciding on a theme or topic is a challenge in itself, however, it seems to be working for now.

The “What Do I Want To Sketch?” Phase

Glass Vases

Pear

Remote

Meals

Sunday breakfast

Salad

Breakfast bowl

Place setting

Cloth Napkin

Flowers

Sunflower

Globe Thistle

Did you know that Globe Thistle are made up of multiple tiny five petal flowers, like tiny stars? One of my favorite flowers and I never looked so closely at them until I tried to draw one.

Bee Balm

Another favorite flower whose petals sparked an idea in my head for an art doll.

Until my next post,

A bientot.


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Sights Around Albi, France

During Dayle’s workshop, one of the field trips we take is to Albi. Albi is in southern France in the Tarn department. Its history can be traced all the way back to Bronze Age (3000-600 BC.) I didn’t see any remnants from that time period. We typically visit Albi to see the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and the St. Cecile Cathedral.

This was my second visit to Albi. Instead of taking many pictures of the Cathedral, as I did last time, I tried to focus my attention on the textures and colors. I hope you enjoy these images of Albi.

Can you believe the color of the blue sky?

And a few images from St. Cecile Cathedral

To learn more about St. Cecilia, click here

To learn more about the St. Cecile Cathedral in Albi, click here

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Sketches from France

Before I left for France, I bought a small sketchbook. My intent was to draw in the sketchbook each day during my trip. I covered the sketchbook with a photo of a modern look French woman, packed my micron pens, and packed the sketchbook in my back pack.

We arrived in France, I move my sketchbook from the backpack to my purse, and there it remained, untouched, for 3 days. (I recall an art teacher telling me that she didn’t encourage students to take a bunch of drawing supplies on vacation because you put pressure on yourself to draw, which usually doesn’t happen, and then you feel guilty.)

As the end of our field trip to Albi drew to a close, we met Dayle at the appointed location. Dayle was sketching in her sketchbook. I promptly announced that I had also brought my sketchbook. Dayle asked, “Have you sketched anything?”

“Um, no. I haven’t used it.” I said.

Half jokingly, Dayle tasked me with sketching the facade of the St. Cecile Cathedral that stood a short distance from us.

Settling into my chair while we waited for the rest of our group to gather, I deferred Dayle’s challenge and opted instead for a set of shutters on a building directly across from us.

Shutters in Albi

And thus began my journey to sketch on an almost daily basis. Doing the first sketch reminded me, once again, that I do like to draw. In my senior year of high school, I was told during a critique with my art teacher that I couldn’t draw. Once I graduated high school, I avoided doing anything artistic.

Eventually, I came back to the arts and I’ve since forgiven that teacher for her cruel, nonconstructive words. I’ve tried the daily sketch task in the past, but it never stuck. After all, how many sketches can one make of their teacup, their breakfast, or the cats that never hold a pose.

But in France, it worked. And I’ve continued this practice now that I’m home. Though now that I’m home, I told myself that I’d like to do a sketch at least three times a week. That keeps my intention from feeling like a burden. I also received a little bit of advice from Dayle (paraphrased) that makes sketching a bit more fun: “Don’t worry about your sketch looking like reality.”

Below are more sketches that I did during our time in France. I’ll also share some of my sketches from home in future posts.

La Cascade Dinner Bell

Dining Room Chair

This sketch taught me that I’d completely forgotten how to draw perspective. An a-ha moment. Be a better observer.

Wicker Basket on Stool

This one is my favorite. Maybe I should sketch at night instead of first thing in the morning?

La Cascade Door Knocker

Hotel Night Table Lamp

Buddha Head

Until my next post,

A bientot


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The Magic of Soreze, France

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share with you some of my favorite pictures taken during our trip to France. Today, we start with images of Soreze.

Soreze

Soreze is a magical village located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, in the Tarn department. The village forms part of a triangle that extends from Albi to Toulouse to Carcassone. Soreze can trace its origins and development all the way back to 754 when Pepin of Aquitaine founded the Benedictine Abby Notre-Dame of Sagne in the fortified town of Verdinius.

Today, Soreze remains a source of history and culture. It has a long history of being home to artists and craftsmen.

The Images

On this trip I was focused on capturing images that would inspire my new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. Soreze is an excellent source of inspiration for this new series. Lots of colors, textures, doors, shutters, and statuary.

Festival Greeters

Soreze Side Street

Flower Pots

French Tabbys

Textures

Doors, Windows & Door Knockers

Statuary

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Soreze and its magical surroundings.

Until my next post,

A bientot

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