Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Holiday Ornaments-My Process to Create a Cat Ornament

Now that I’ve completed the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I must move on to the next task on my list: Holiday ornaments. I need to make several for NOA for their upcoming holiday season display (which sounds really nice; 5 white Christmas trees displayed in both stores & decorated entirely with local artisan-made ornaments.) And there are the upcoming shows on my schedule (Merrimack Valley Artisans, Bolton Artisans Guild, ArtSpace-Maynard.)  Time to GET BUSY!

Last year I made a few ornaments using disk shaped glass ornaments as my armature. Here is one example:

This year I decided to try sculpting over a round ornament. That comes with a different set of challenges as the shape can change the perspective.

I wanted to make a prototype piece first. This one is the practice piece and takes all the grief. Poor ornament.

Here is my process for this cat prototype. I started with white polymer clay, covered the glass ball and added facial features. I really struggled with the face. That could be because I haven’t sculpted in a while and was shifting gears from the encaustic work back to polymer clay.

I know I was also hard on myself in seeking perfection on a practice piece. I know better but it happens anyways. Just have to remind myself “this is only a test….”

Back view with tail

After proto-cat was cured and cooled, I added an antique wash of acrylic paint.

Not bad. Now you can see the texture I added with a needle tool.

Next up is adding more color. This year I’m experimenting with oil paints and coloring the clay. So I rubbed, smooshed, and then wiped off several oil paints to give proto-cat some color.

Well now he’s glowing. It takes a little trial and error when applying the oil paint. Be sure to wear gloves! At this point I’m not really happy with the results. What I see in front of me isn’t matching what is in my head…or my model/inspiration for that matter.

Taking a clue from my model (who is sleeping on the studio floor), I take a break and come back to the ornament in the evening. I add some more oil paint and additional color with Prismacolor pencils. This adds some depth and definition.

And a back view. I think I like his tail the best….

Sigh. I’m still not feeling the love here. Proto-cat looks a little alien to me. But that is why this is a prototype.

I spent some time really looking at the cats and the shape of the ornament. Proto-cat’s face still seems flat to me. It looks like a cat but it doesn’t. Some things I’ll change on the next one:

  • build out the face instead of adding face parts
  • make the eyes rounder
  • make smaller marks with the needle tool
  • work from a picture versus memory or a sleeping model
  • try a different polymer clay that is easier to manipulate

What do you think?




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Skeleton Key Artist Trading Card

I am working on a new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion. This series of small artworks is inspired by my recent trip to France. You can read about the first two prototype ATCs I created in this earlier blog post.

This last prototype is inspired by skeleton keys.

This piece started out with a different key in the center of the ATC. I chose a print I made during Dayle’s workshop. However, when I added the oil paint to color the encaustic wax, the original image was essentially lost under the paint. The print wasn’t bold enough to compete with the additional color.

So I tried another idea. I sketched over the print of another key with a 1.0 micron pen and applied that image over the original skeleton key.

Skeleton Key ATC

This improved version features encaustic wax colored with phthalo blue oil paint, verdigris and tapestry embossing powders, incising, a polymer clay keyhole, and polymer clay embellishments.

Now I’m ready to dive into the heart of this new series of artwork.

Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Rousillion

This new series of artwork will be made available first to those who receive my monthly e-newsletter. The ATCs will be presented in single, double, and triple format, mounted on wood and ready to hang.

If you are interested in learning more about this series, please subscribe to my newsletter via this form my website Amy A. Crawley Fine Art

Until my next post,

A bientot


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From Inspiration to Creation: Taking an Idea & Making It My Own with a Little Help from My Friends

I’m always on the lookout for sources of inspiration as I work on my new line of work with polymer clay focal disks. A recent source of inspiration came from Ford and Forlano’s O’Keefe pin.

O'Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin - The...

O’Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin – The… (clipped to polyvore.com)

I love the shape and construction of their pin. I thought to myself “Self, that would make a very cool focal disk.” And then I thought “How the heck did they do that?”

My intent was not to replicate Ford & Forlano’s O’Keefe pin. There is no way I could do that anyways. Rather, I wanted to figure out how to create a similar shape with my own style.

The shape and design reminded me of a ribbon. So using that as my starting point I rolled a thin strip of clay and wrapped it into a rose-like shape resulting in experiment #1.

Experiment #1 "Toothy"

Ribbon Disk Experiment #2

Uhm, well, those are interesting but not exactly what I had in mind.

Scratch head, look at picture of pin again, and give it another go.

Rose Disk #1

Rose Disk with Striped Tentacles

Okay, this is a slight improvement but the walls are still too high and I think the clay strips still too thin.

Time to call in the posse, er, my friends. Another set of eyes (or two or three) can be helpful. Maybe they’ll see something I’m not. I ping the folks on Polymer Clay Central. I talk to Dayle and Paula, Karen, and Judy. Everyone has different interpretations but also some similarities in the construction. This is good because I’m getting insight from folks who work in polymer clay, pottery, fiber and mixed media.

Out comes the clay again to experiment. We experiment together with the clay, commenting and making suggestions on how to manipulate the clay. Ah ha, I think we’re on to something here.

Purple Focal Disks

Oh yes, this is much closer to what I had in mind. Thank you dear friends for your input and suggestions.

Since those little purple disks were created, I’ve been experimenting even more, adding my own spin on things, letting the clay lead me and including texture, protuberances, and, of course, faces.

Untitled Striped Disk

Amoeba

Birth

Solitude

I can’t wait to pair some of these disks with encaustic backgrounds. It will give them a completely different look. Stay tuned!


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Just Because I’m an Artist Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Be Color Challenged

Just because I’m an artist, that doesn’t mean I can’t be color challenged. That is definitely how I’ve felt in choosing a new wall color for my studio. I never thought it would be so difficult to choose a paint color. I’m an artist, right? I work with color all the time. I choose colors for my artwork, often working intuitively, mixing and blending until the colors evoke the feeling of the piece. This should be a piece of cake.

My studio is on the third floor. It has nice natural light but can feel a little cold in the winter. The current wall color is builder basic: antique white; a very light yellow. Flat. Dull. Boring.

I had an idea of what color I wanted for my studio walls. I love the Tuscan yellows and golds and thought they would warm up the walls. So I brought home a bunch of sample chips in that color family.

Then the clerk at the local Ace Hardware tells me they loan out the color books at the store. These books have 8″x8″ color samples. It will make choosing a color easier because of the larger sample. Hang it on the wall. See it at different times of day and in different light.

Right.

Next thing I know I’ve pulled 17 samples from the book that contained most of my color preferences. 17 colors stuck to my studio walls. This is not going to be easy.

After a process of elimination and asking artist friends for their input, I narrowed down my color choices to three. Then off I went to the paint store to purchase small cans of paint in my chosen colors, some small rollers, and a paint tray.

First, I thought I’d go bold. I tried out the sample called August Morning, a dark orangey-gold looking color.

August Morning Paint Sample

And this is how the paint sample looked on the wall:

August Morning (with camera flash)

August Morning (no camera flash)

Yep, it’s dark orange. It’s pretty bold and intense. My first warning came when I opened the paint can and saw orange sherbet.

Fail.

Next up was Golden Mist. Golden Mist was a wild-card choice. I saw it at the last minute in one of my many swatches. Still being in a bold mood, I gave it a go.

Golden Mist Paint Sample

The sample fit my original thought of something Tuscan-like. And then I put it on the wall.

Golden Mist (no camera flash)

Golden Mist (with camera flash)

This color was deceiving out of the can. It looked much lighter as I stirred it. But when paint met the wall, it became this deep gold color with a touch of magenta in the base mix. Initially I thought it was a color I could live with. Yet as the weekend grew longer and I tried to picture this color on all the studio walls, I started to feel claustrophobic and shut in.

Failure #2.

On Sunday I put Crisp Straw, choice #3, on the wall. I was a little leary because the base mix included orange, yellow, and gray!

Crisp Straw Paint Sample

When I look at this sample, it looks like straw; a light colored beige with a hint of yellow. And then I put it on the wall.

Crisp Straw

Crisp Straw is a soft peach! I couldn’t believe it. Since when does the color “straw” look like the color “peach?” In this picture, it looks a little fleshy.

But the third time was the charm. Crisp Straw presented as a soft, warm, feminine color. Just the right amount of warmth and color for the studio walls without being too bold or too dark. And it won’t make me feel claustrophobic.

I chuckled as my original paint idea morphed into something I really had not considered. And a wave of relief came over me as well. I had felt completely frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find a color I liked. That little voice of failure was speaking up, mocking me as an artist who couldn’t choose a simple color.

While I had decided early on not to lose sleep over the situation, I was worried that the painters would arrive and I’d still be undecided. Or I’d have to go with a back up plan: something neutral, in beige.

So, there you have it. An artist can indeed be color challenged. Perhaps our love of color can also be a hindrance. Fortunately, I found a color I liked and that I can live with for the next few years.

Three Color Samples on Wall


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The Daily Head: Veggie Edition

We had lovely weather over the weekend and it got me thinking about our vegetable garden. What delicious goodies do I want to plant this year?

Early spring planting is one of my favorite times for veggies. The ground is warming, the air crisp in the morning, and Mother Nature is waking and welcoming all her children to return.

With that as my source of inspiration, I decided to sculpt two veggie inspired heads:

Sweet Peas! There is nothing like growing sweet peas, picking them off the vine, and eating them right in the garden. (I think the third pea is a little alarmed by the prospect of being eaten right off the vine.)

Another favorite spring veggie:

Red leaf lettuce! Last year we planted red leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce, and Swiss chard. Ms. Leaf also provided additional inspiration for a new focal disk. I haven’t quite worked out the design for the new disk though I’m getting closer to it. All will be revealed….eventually.

We have another vegetable in our garden that may be the source of another head later this week. This particular veggie is a perennial. We look forward to seeing it burst forth each year. Sweet, tender, and excellent raw or cooked. Any guesses?

My schedule is busy the next couple of days, so I may not have a new head to post until the end of the week. Until then, eat your veggies!

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The Daily Head: American Idol Edition

Okay, I may have gone a little overboard in challenging myself today. Of course, part of the reason for doing this daily head challenge is to push myself.

I thought to myself, “It’s Wednesday, American Idol night. Why not sculpt a head inspired by AI?” And who would be the most interesting person to provide the inspiration?

Steven Tyler, of course.

I think the hair pulled this piece together. Without the hair, Steven was looking a little more like Marilyn Manson. The most fun part…making the mouth.

This head is approximately 2″ tall, is made from a mix of white and translucent clay, was sanded and colored with a wash of acrylic and oil paints.


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The Daily Head: 4/5/11

Today’s head was inspired by the swaying trees that surround our house.

To help me keep track of when I create each head, I am scratching the date onto the bottom of each piece. Ironically, the idea for yesterday’s and today’s head came to me as I lay in bed at night. It makes for an interesting experiment in memory retention and in how an idea received at bedtime manifests itself the following day.

This head is 3.5″ tall (at his highest point), made from copper and metallic green polymer clay, sanded, washed with white acrylic paint and buffed.

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