Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Friday Featured Artist: Maria Pace Wynters

This week’s featured artist is Maria Pace Wynters. Maria is a mixed-media artist from Canada. I first saw her art on Ivy Newport’s blog, GraceandIvy.

I love Maria’s use of color in her paintings and the childlike innocence in many of her portraits. Simply yummy work here.

Check out Maria’s blog and her art here.

Happy Friday!

MariaPaceWynters_faith-trust-and-pixie-dust


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Friday Featured Artist: Finnabair

They say it’s nice to share. So with that in mind, I’m starting this new feature-The Friday Featured Artist-a periodic blog post on Fridays on a new-to-me-artist.

Today’s featured artist is Anna Dabrowska¬†also known as Finnabair. She is an artist originally from Poland now living in Ireland. I love her melding of Steampunk, mixed media, and collage, and her use of color.

Check out Finnabair’s blog and portfolio here.


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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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My ArtFire Studio Featured This Weekend

I’m thrilled to announce that my ArtFire Studio is the featured studio collection this weekend on ArtFire.

You can see 12 items from my ArtFire studio in this collection here.

What’s really cool is this video montage of my collection featured on YouTube.

Many thanks to AndreaDesigns and the ArtFire Crazy Train Guild for this honor.

To view my entire ArtFire Studio, click here.


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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 Ever Evolving Creative Idea

Now that I have emerged myself in this new body of work, ideas for new pieces in the series frequently bubble to the surface quicker than I can write them down. And each new idea is often an evolving process. I sketch out the idea, I try to create it, and it morphs into something slightly different. Or the original idea is a complete failure upon creation. You know that feeling “Um, that isn’t what I wanted to make” or “That isn’t what I pictured in my head” or “This is a piece of crap.”

Such is what happened with a recent idea.

Taking a break from sculpting Spirit Messengers, I’ve been focused on making wall pieces. I had an idea to make some pieces with abstract forms on the surface. Since I was already working with alcohol inks, pearl ex powders, gold leaf and polymer clay, I decided to use these items on my first attempt.

I pulled out several molds with abstract forms and conditioned both white and translucent polymer clays. I pressed the clay into the molds, popped them out, and worked on their surface designs.

And you know how some things look really cool in that raw stage? The colors are appealing. The shape intrigues.

And then you pop those pieces into the oven, sand them when they’re cooled, and buff them on the buffing wheel.

And they come out like this:

Abstract Forms

Yuck. I’m not feeling the love here folks. I mean, several of the shapes are cool. But the colors aren’t doing it for me. I also wasn’t pleased with the Kato Liquid clay that I applied as a final layer over each piece. Maybe Kato Liquid clay works better on flat surfaces. It certainly wasn’t staying on many of these raised surfaces…as I found out when sanding and the gold leaf started to flake off.

Again, could be a neat effect, if that is what you’re going for. But I wasn’t going for that.

Doing my best Pooh bear imitation, I place my paw, I mean my hand to my head and start muttering “Think, think, think.” Idea one failed. The concept remains a good one (abstract shapes) but the execution…not so hot.

So I pulled out one of my art books* for inspiration and guidance.

BINGO!

There they were, disks and caps, textures and abstract forms. This excited me. This spoke to me. This would be the answer to what I saw in my head.

Getting to work with a few simple tools (always a plus), I made various sized disks and caps, textured them, combined them, and gave them an acrylic wash.

Viola! The new abstract forms that will be incorporated into future wall pieces:

Abstract Forms

Creating these pieces reminds me of the tiny underwater studies I put together last year. You can see those here. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m really excited about these forms. I know I’ve found something here because I’m already working on a slightly different version from the ones in the picture. Now the muse is off and running again.

*Thanks to Rona Sarvas Weltman’s book Ancient Modern for providing the inspiration.


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The Polyform Debacle

A few days ago, Polyform Products announced several color changes to their polymer clay line up. Polyform Products produces Sculpey III and Premo! polymer clays along with numerous accessories to use with polymer.

In the announcement Polyform revealed the addition of several new colors to both the Sculpey III and Premo! lines. Along with the announcement of several new colors, however, was the revelation that a number of popular colors would be discontinued, including Red Pearl, Green Pearl, Cobalt Blue, Sea Green, Copper, Zinc Yellow, Frost, Fluorescent Green, Fluorescent Yellow, Fluorescent Red and Glow-In-The-Dark.

The announcement of the pending discontinuation of favorite colors has set off a firestorm on Facebook and elsewhere. One of the main reasons for this is that two of the colors, Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow are primary colors used in color mixing and in the creation of many artist’s custom color palettes. These two primary colors are also the basis for understanding color theory and color mixing in Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s popular and successful book: Polymer Clay Color Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes

I am heartened by the passion of my fellow polymer clay artists in their response to the Polyform announcement. While many of us look forward to seeing the new colors, we are also equally dismayed by the loss of two primary colors. Polyform has stated that “recipes” will be available on their website to recreate most of the discontinued colors. But as more than one polymer clay artist has asked “How do you recreate a primary color?” And given the variability in the mixing process, how will the same color be recreated on a consistent basis?

What disappoints me more, however, is what appears to be a disregard for the customer. Many are asking if a customer survey was conducted prior to this decision. That question remains unanswered. Unfortunately, it does appear that this decision may be based more on sales numbers.

Now I don’t know what percentage of people who buy Premo! are polymer clay artists. Nor do I know how many of those artists buy the soon-to-be-discontinued colors. But it seems, according to Polyform Products, that either there aren’t enough of us or we aren’t buying enough of these colors to justify their continuation.

As a small business person, I understand some of this logic. I, too, have discontinued color designs from my lines of artwork because those designs didn’t sell well or perhaps they sold well initially, but then sales leveled or fell off. I understand that businesses need to keep their product line fresh and maybe an item is discontinued, made available as a special order, or brought back for a limited time only.

But how does a company decide to eliminate two basic, primary colors that are key to the creation of so many other colors? Many have asked if Golden or Liquitex or Winsor & Newton would eliminate primary colors from their lines of paint.

Perhaps we were too complacent, believing that certain colors would continue to be made available. Perhaps Polyform didn’t fully understand the importance of these colors to polymer clay artists. The reality is that Polyform Products risks losing a number of customers should they proceed with their decision to eliminate Cobalt Blue, Zinc Yellow, and several other colors. They risk driving into the welcoming arms of their competitors the customers who have stood by them, tested and promoted their products.

As I posted on Polyform Products Facebook page “…It appears that you may lose many customers, myself included, because of this decision. And while customer loss may not directly impact your bottom line, the opinions of the artists and the recommendations we make when teaching and sharing could have a ripple effect. I ask you to reconsider this decision to discontinue zinc yellow and cobalt blue.”

If you’d like to add your voice to this situation, visit the following sites:

Cindy Lietz’s online petition

CraftyGoat’s blog

Carol Simmons’ blog

Maybe this groundswell of voices will convince Polyform Products to reevaluate their decision.

UPDATE: 11/22/10-Polyform has announced that Zinc Yellow and Cobalt Blue will remain in the Premo! line up. The voices of 100’s of polymer clay artists did not go unheard. Thank you, Polyform Products, for reconsidering your decision to discontinue these two essential primary colors. For more on this announcement, go to Tonja’s PolyClay Corner


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Artwork Published! Creative is a Verb

Creative Is a Verb Cover

I am honored to announce that one of my mixed media pieces was chosen for inclusion in Patti Digh’s newest book Creative is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative.¬† In this book, Patti “leads you by both heart and head to acknowledge, reinforce, and use your own creative spirit by teaching six creative commitments.” Creative is a Verb is the follow-up to Patti’s successful 2008 book Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally.

Way back in January I received a request to submit two pieces of artwork for Creative is a Verb. Each participating artist was sent one, two, or three essays that would become chapters in the book. We were asked to read our assigned essays and create artwork inspired by the essay. As with previous art submission requests, we had about two weeks to create artwork inspired by the essay.

I received two essays. One was titled “Leave Your Base Camp” the other was “Blow Bubbles Everyday.” My submission for “Blow Bubbles Everyday” was chosen and is featured in Chapter 6: Get Present: Show Up Like Magic.

Blow Bubbles Everyday

The substrate for this piece is a painted and textured magazine page. The horns were inspired by the bubble wands we used as kids (and might still play with as adults…though I’m not saying which adult, ahem.) The little characters inside the bubbles are smiling, dancing, reading, hanging out, hanging on, and waving. I think I channeled a bit of Tim Burton for this piece.

Thanks again to Patti Digh for this wonderful opportunity. You can purchase a signed copy of Creative is a Verb on Patti’s website or on Amazon (unsigned copies).


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Puppetry & Storytelling Exhibit

Earlier this year the New Art Center in Newtonville, MA had a wonderful little exhibit: Extraordinary: Puppetry, Storytelling, & Spirit. The exhibit featured puppets, marionettes and characters created from a variety of materials. It was an interactive exhibit that allowed visitors to manipulate several of the puppets and invited children (of all ages I assume) to create and play with hand puppets and put on your very own puppet show.

Here are some pictures from the exhibit.

First up: Puppets from Bread & Puppet in Vermont (did that sound redundant?)

 

Bread and Puppet

 

Next, paper dolls on rods in a slide theatre. These were fun because you could move the dolls and create your own story.

 

Slide Puppets

 

Jeff Sias’s “Victor Contained” is a puppet theatre contained in a vintage RCA television.

 

Victor Contained: TV Puppet Theatre

 

Here are marionettes by Donald Saaf and Julia Zanes. The marionettes are part of the Bluebird Theatre.

 

Bluebird Theatre Marionettes

 

 

More Bluebird Theatre Marionettes

 

Next are amazing puppets made by Ashley Bryan. Bryan crafts his puppets from detritus he picks up on walks along the beach. These puppets are homely and magical at the same time.

 

"Odion" First of Twin

 

 

"Oinwokhu" Second of Twin

 

 

"Natambu" Man of Destiny

 

 

"Babutu" Peacemaker

 

And last, Tolu Bommalata shadow puppets from India

 

Shadow Puppets from India

 

 

Tolu Bommalata Shadow Puppet

 

This was a fun exhibit because it brought out the child in everyone.

Do you remember the first puppet you ever made? I think mine was either made from a sock or a brown paper bag.

What is your favorite shadow puppet to make with your hands?