Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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2011 Word of the Year Review: Thoughts on Being Big

Last year I chose the word “Big” to guide me through 2011. You can read how I chose that particular word here.

I had to re-read the post as a reminder of what lead me to choose the word. Ironically, I didn’t mention the one thing that I thought was the driving force behind this word choice. That would’ve been developing my business plan in 2010 and diving into teaching polymer clay mixed media workshops. I remember having grand thoughts of teaching several workshops in 2011.

The Year Begins

January 2011 was a BIG month in terms of events that marketed my art. I get where my head was at back then. I was also embarking on a new series of artwork that was manifested by my health issues. I did have BIG ideas.

So did Mother Nature. Winter in Massachusetts was BIG in 2011. So big that it took a toll on our roof which led to ice dams, leaking, and water damage. That meant moving in and out of my studio several times throughout the year because of damage and then repairs. These were BIG challenges I had not envisioned. I had to cancel my spring workshop given the state of the studio.

I progressed on my new series of artwork, Glimmer of Hope for a little while (here, here, and here.) Then I think I got too close to the work. Using a health issue to create art is nothing new. However, it can also bring up lots of dirt and emotions. The deeper I went, the less I wanted to see. So I stopped creating these sculptural pieces.

At the end of March I had surgery. Another BIG event that corrected the BIG problem. I left behind the sculptural pieces and started experimenting with encaustic medium and creating abstract pieces like this. Two BIG changes here for me to work with a new medium and play with shapes.

The next couple of months I flopped around. Not a lot of blogging. Still experimenting with art.

A Mid-Year Wake Up

With June fast approaching and a trip to La Cascade in France on the horizon, I decided, with some encouragement, to commit to a new series of artwork that would be inspired by our trip.

Before we even left the country I notified my customers and collectors of my plans to create this new series. I had no idea how many pieces would be made or what exactly the pieces would look like. I only knew I was going to make a new series using ATC encaustic boards as my substrate.

Now this was being BIG. When we returned I chose the date for my open studio where I would debut the new series. Then I worked backwards determining how many pieces I would make and how many pieces I could create per week, when I had to send out postcards and e-newsletters with updates on my progress. This was an entirely new experience for me.

On September 25, I debuted Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. The series had 15 pieces in it; 3 of which have since sold. You can see the entire series in this video on my YouTube Channel.

I finally felt like I was having the BIG year I originally envisioned.

More Big-ness

Coming off the success of the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I decided to return to sculpting and created my next series of artwork called Ornimals: Animal sculpted ornaments that capture the humor & joy of life expressed by our pets.

With this series I made an active decision to focus only on animals. This was a BIG challenge for me because my artwork has been a bit scattershot over the past couple of years. However the focus on one topic, animals, has paid off. The Ornimals made their debut at a holiday art/craft show in October. By the end of the holiday show season, I had sold 23 Ornimals.

When I decided to create the Ornimals, I also decided to donate a portion of my total sales to Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. At the end of December I made that donation in the amount of $65.00. It was a great feeling.

In writing these words, I see the year was, indeed, a BIG year on many fronts. Perhaps it wasn’t the BIG I intended, however, it still turned out fine. I survived challenges that were out of my control. And I survived the challenges that I gave myself. I’ve also realized that although I choose a word to guide me each year, I don’t always stop to think about the word throughout the year. After the way 2011 started, I’d pretty much given up on having a BIG year. What I didn’t really consider is that the intention of the word can change. So I didn’t have a trumpets blaring and confetti falling BIG kind of year. But I did have a glittery, hand clapping BIG kind of year.

And I’m fine with that.


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The Video: Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon

Well, it only took three complete video shoots plus a few short missteps and installing the newest version of  iMovie. However, I am happy to announce that I can now finally share with you the video version of my latest series of artwork, Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon.

In this video you’ll learn about my inspiration for the series and hear a little more about the individual pieces. All of the artwork in this series is for sale. If you’re interested in purchasing a piece, please leave a comment and I’ll contact you.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and receive updates when new videos are posted.

Enjoy!


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Introducing Snapshots & Memories From Languedoc-Roussillon, A New Series of Artwork

Over the past several weeks, I have been working on a new series of artwork, Snapshots and Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. This series of artwork was inspired by a trip to an area of France known as the Languedoc-Rousillon region. The Languedoc-Roussillon region is a loosely formed triangle that includes such towns as Albi, Revel, and Toulouse. It is an area steeped in history, with many castles and ruins from the time of the Cathars. It is a magical place.

This series currently features 15 collectible pieces. All of these pieces are created using encaustic medium. Many feature the fusion of polymer-encaustic. That is, the combining of encaustic medium and polymer clay. All of the pieces feature my printmaking or my original photographs. Each image is fused to a board the size of a playing card (2.5″W x 3.5″L). The playing card size board is then mounted onto wood.

Some of the images are presented individually on the wood boards. Other images were combined in double and triple formats. Several of the pieces are additionally embellished with items I purchased at the local Vide Grenier (flea market) during my time in France. All of the artwork is ready to hang.

Arched Shutter_Revel

Chez Castre

Hear No Evil

Le Tournesol_The Sunflower (1)

Le Tournesol_The Sunflower (2)

Shutters de Montolieu

The Key

Weathered Door_Revel

Gnarly Dog_Gnarly Tree

Shutters de Soreze

Weathered Brass Knockers

Doors of Intrigue

France In Blue

Keys of Three

Rest



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Carcassone Part 2: Gargoyles, Angels, & a Sundae

Last week I posted Part One of our trip to Carcassone. To read Part One click here.

Carcassone has many of the things I love about medieval villages: sculpture, religious artifacts, and gargoyles. This post is less about the story of Carcassone and more about the interior images of Carcassone.

These two large concrete heads greet visitors inside where you pick up the audio guide.

I loved this bas-relief sculpture of monks. At first I thought it represented the Seven Deadly Sins…but then realized there are only six characters. Maybe they left off one of them.

This anteroom may have once been a private chapel or prayer room. I was drawn to the large sculpture of the crucifixion.

Crucifixion Sculpture Front Side

Right Front Side

Crucifixion in Center of Sculpture

Back of Crucifixion Sculpture

Mary

Angel

Gargoyles

Gargoyles are my favorite exterior sculptures on European churches. It is always fun to look for the ugliest, the cutest, or the strangest creature. These gargoyles can be found on the exterior of the church on the grounds of the walled village.

Hear No Evil

Look Up

Can you spot the laughing head in the image below?

This guy definitely gets my vote for smallest and cutest gargoyle.

The Cemetery

Outside of the walled fortress was a lovely cemetery. It wasn’t particularly old but it did have some great sculptures. Most of the cemeteries I’ve seen in France have family crypts. All above ground. They remind me a bit of the cemeteries in New Orleans.

Okay, I know cemeteries are supposed to be places of quiet reflection. Yet, when I saw the image below, I couldn’t help but chuckle and think the angel was commanding the person to “Rise, Darn It.”

Finally, no visit to a lovely medieval village is complete without an ice cream break. Even the deserts are presented creatively.

Until my next post.

A bientot.


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Medieval Village: Carcassone, Part 1

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France must be the medieval fortress of Carcassone. Carcassone is a double-walled, nearly impregnable fortress, founded by the Visigoths in the Golden Age. First signs of settlement in this area date back to 3500 B.C.

Legend has it that in 760 Pepin the Short took southern France from the Saracens. Except Carcassone which he could not breach. Pepin assumed the people of Carcassone would eventually starve and surrender. However, Dame Carcas had another plan. She fattened up their last pig and had it thrown over the city’s ramparts.

Pepin and his army believed that if the inhabitants could waste such an animal, they must be well-stocked and ready to fight for a long time. Eventually Pepin and his army retreated. Dame Carcas rang all the bells in the city in celebration. She had saved the city from invasion. And hence the name “Carcas sone” was born: Dame “Carcas rings” the bells.

In 1853 Carcassone was restored under the guidance of architect Eugene Viollet le Duc. It attracts millions of visitors each year. We visited mid-week and the crowds weren’t too bad inside the walled city. Outside, however, on the cobblestone streets, it felt a little bit like Disneyland. Lots of souvenir shops with kitschy gifts. If you can get beyond that aspect, Carcassone is a curious place to visit.

In part one of this post, I’ll share mostly exterior shots.

As you enter Carcassone, you’re greeted by this rather large sculpture of Dame Carcas.

Horse carriage tour. Love the hats. Very chic.

Carcassone on approach

Love this sign near the ticket window. I’m sure this is a necessary reminder on really busy days.

Inner walls and covered walkway

As we walked through parts of the fortress, Eric looked up and noticed these dead birds. Netting had been suspended in various areas to keep the birds from flying down off the rafters. Apparently some of the birds fell or got stuck in the netting and were left to die. Feeling medieval yet?

View of the city from the fortress

Narrow window view

I hear strains of J. Geils when I see the shot below.

“Hey Reputah, Hey Reputah the Beautah, flip me down your hair and let me climb up to the ladder of your love….”

Just what is a whoober-goober anyways?

Can you name the J. Geils song I’m referring to?

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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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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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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Return to France: Architecture

I am heading to France this summer to take my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade. While I’m away, I’m re-posting some of the original blog entries from my visit to La Cascade in 2009.

I’ll be back soon with new pictures and stories to share.

So, not only did you think I fell off the blogosphere, you may have also wondered what happened to the rest of those pictures I took in Southern France.

Or, perhaps not.

When I last posted pictures from France, I said I would share some pictures of the architecture we saw. Below you’ll find an assortment of pictures featuring the architecture in ancient ruins, more modern structures, and cathedrals.

Ruins

You’ll find ruins of chateaus in various locations throughout Southern France.  Some are standing nearly intact and others are in various states of decomposition. Here are two pictures of one chateau that Eric hiked to in the lower Pyrenees.

Ruins

Ruins2

Gargoyles

What would a trip to France be without a couple pictures of gargoyles?!  These two fellas were on a cathedral in Carcassonne.

Gargoyle

Gargoyle2

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is in the Aude department of France. It is divided into the fortified Cite de Carcassonne and an expansive lower city.  The Cite de Carcassonne is surrounded by a double wall. Carcassonne has a long and interesting history dating back to about 3500 BC. (Our historical structures are in their infancy compared to Europe and Asia.)  You can read more about Carcassonne here and here.

Eric took numerous pictures when he toured the city. This is one of my favorites:

Carcassone

Cathedrals

I mentioned the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in my last post on France. This cathedral is interesting because it is the oldest brick cathedral in Europe. It is also interesting because some of the interior sculptural work is done in limestone which gives it a lacy appearance.

This is an exterior shot of the sculpture above the main entrance.

StCecileEntry

And a shot of the interior sculptural work. (Flash photography was not allowed but you get an idea of the intricacy of the work.)

StCecileLimestone

Toulouse

The capital building in Toulouse reminded me of Versailles. Stunning and big on the outside and decorated with ornate frescos on the inside.

ToulouseCapitalBldg

These last two pictures are from the Salle des Illustres on the top floor of the capital building. The Salle des Illustres is used for official receptions and wedding ceremonies.

ToulouseCapitalInterior1

ToulouseCapitalInt2

Beats the heck out of an “office” in cubicle-land on any day.

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