Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Getting Sketchy

Well, I haven’t been quite as dedicated to the 31-Day Drawing Challenge as I intended. I find the task of beginning and sticking with a practice, just about any practice, to be more and more challenging as I get older. Which seems to be the opposite of what I thought would happen. You know, you get older, have more time, more wisdom, so starting something and sticking with it should be easier.

At least that is the impression I picked up somewhere on this journey.

But I digress from the point of this post. And that is to share the latest sketches that I have completed as part of the 31-Day Challenge (which, incidentally, ended with the month of August. But who’s counting? Not me. Obviously.)

“Nest:” Trying not to be too literal and go with the first thing most people might think of, a bird’s nest, I opted for a picture of Nesting Dolls as my inspiration. Perspective was much more challenging to capture.



“Breeze”: How does one interpret this prompt?



“Warmth”: This prompt brings to mind several images. I went with something quick and used colors as inspiration.



“Forest”: Can you see the forest through the trees?



“Rain”: I’m not sure if I would’ve created this drawing in this manner if I had not visited the Van Gogh exhibit at The Clark Museum. It was in that exhibit where I saw Van Gogh’s depiction of rain as inspired by Japanese paintings (which inspired one of his paintings.)




“Free Painting”-The Spirit Dance Series

I don’t know what happens when I free paint. I don’t know what moves me-the music playing in the background, the silly dance moves I make in the studio, the meditation, the Hara breathing or the Reiki. Sometimes it just flows and there it is.

I step back and I’m looking, looking, looking at the canvas. “What do I see?” “What should go there?” And then an image might appear. Or a color. Or shape comes to mind and I paint it. I don’t always trust it but I go with it. I’ve learned over the years that if I try to control where a piece wants to go, it comes out crappy. If I just follow its lead, then we might get something interesting. I try not to let the negative voice invade my space. If and when it does, I move on to something else. Come back later. It has no place here.

The Series

These paintings are inspired by a trip to the Peche Merle caves, near Cabrerets, France. I had the opportunity to visit these glorious caves in June as part of an art workshop. Inside the caves are paintings; horses, bison, mammoth. Some of the paintings are more than 25,000 years old. When we returned from this field trip, we began to paint. Mark making really. And out of the marks emerge images. And as is typical of my paintings lately, spirit figures emerge. Hence the name “Spirit Dance.” Below are the first two pieces.

Spirit Dance 1

Spirit Dance 1

Spirit Dance 2

Spirit Dance 2

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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.


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:

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.


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


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


Which do you prefer? Monet’s Irises….


Or Picasso’s Irises?


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


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.


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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