Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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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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Snapshots and Memories: An Adventure in Artist Trading Cards

After I return from France, I am embarking on a new art project: Snapshots and Memories from Langeudoc – Rousillon. This art project will focus on the creation of artist trading cards (ATCs) using encaustic medium and polymer clay. The theme for this art project is capturing the essence of the Langeudoc – Rousillon region in France.

ATCs are the size of trading cards and can be created from just about any medium, including felt, polymer clay, paper, fiber, or some combination of mixed mediums. You can read about the history of ATCs here.

This past week I delved into this project by creating two prototype ATCs. This was my time to practice my approach to creating the ATCs, practicing with the encaustic medium, and generating ideas of what types of images I’ll be looking for in France.

Below are pictures of the prototypes.

Le Tournesol "Sunflower" ATC

Le Tournesol ATC Detail

Le Tournesol was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: Napkin, encaustic medium, polymer clay, oil paint, alcohol inks, mica powder, metal stamp letters.

Le Chat Noir ATC

Le Chat Noir ATC Detail

Le Chat Noir was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: French dictionary page, found images, encaustic medium, polymer clay, alcohol inks, oil paint, metallic rub-on, texture plate.

The ATCs will be mounted on wood in single, double, and triple layout.


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New Wall Art: Within 1

About a week ago I wrote a post about an evolving idea where I shared how I went from one conceptual idea that failed, to another idea which really sent the creative muse into overdrive.

With a new vision in mind, I proceeded to take one of the new polymer clay focal disks I created and combined it with a beeswax design applied to an artist board.

Here is the artist board with colored beeswax before attaching the polymer clay focal disk:

"Within 1" artist board

I applied several layers of beeswax to the board, incised the circles and lines, and then colored the surface with alcohol inks.

Then I added a polymer clay focal disk:

"Within 1"

I’m really happy with the way this first piece turned out.

Abstract art is a completely new area for me to explore. It isn’t something I’m typically drawn to. But like I said, I really like this new combination of polymer clay and beeswax and I really like making these focal disks. Trying something completely new and different also falls in line with choosing the word BIG as my word of the year.


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Experiments in Beeswax

The beeswax/encaustic medium has really caught my interest. Last week I spent some time experimenting with beeswax, alcohol inks, gold leaf, and pearl ex powders. I don’t normally dive into a new medium without understanding it a little more. In other words, I’m not always one to experiment with a medium I know very little about. Diving right in seems to fit living my word of the year: BIG.

All of these experiments were done in my mixed media sketch book. I’ve since learned that paper is not the best substrate for beeswax beyond the experimentation stage.

Experiment #1

Everything but the kitchen sink....

Experiment #1 has everything in it: beeswax, gold leaf, alcohol inks, pearl ex powders and swirls created by impressing the wax with an unmounted stamp.

Experiment #2

Feels like autumn....

Experiment #2 includes beeswax, alcohol inks, gold leaf and a texture sheet impressed into the wax. At this point I continue to have problems with the texturing. The wax is peeling off the paper and sticking to the texture sheet (or unmounted stamp as in experiment #1.) In experiment #2 I also tried incising or cutting into the wax with a needle tool. I like the way it directs the alcohol inks.

Experiment #3

Did Monet start out this way?

In experiment #3, I decided to keep it simple and applied three colors of pearl ex powder to the wax surface. I like the way the wax moved and blended the powders. The overall effect is very soft and dreamy.

Experiment #4

Mysterious words

In experiment #4 I started by stamping with black ink onto the sketchbook paper. Then I applied a layer of beeswax, followed by pearl ex powders and another layer of beeswax. Using a fine tip exacto knife, I “wrote” in the beeswax and back filled the marks with alcohol ink.

Experiment #5

The kitchen sink over wood

In this final experiment, I lightly sanded a small piece of wood and applied beeswax, gold leaf, alcohol inks, pearl ex powders, and texture. The wood is definitely a better substrate for the beeswax. I still had a minor problem with the texture plate pulling some wax off the surface. I think this may happen because the wax was still too warm or the layers were not fused well enough. Given that I’m using some very basic tools that don’t have exact temperature controls on them, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

But boy is this fun!


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Glimmer Series: Mixed Media Wall Art Prototype

I want to create mixed media wall art pieces as part of the Glimmer Series. As I started to develop this body of work, I had a strong urge to work with beeswax. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea. But the muse said to give it a go and to see what happens.

Ideally I would love to create the mixed media wall pieces on artist panels. I bought a few 4″x4″ panels with a 3/4″ profile last December. Those panels are intended for a different project but they might be incorporated into this body of work.

Anyways, before jumping right in and working on the panels, I created a prototype wall piece on 5″x7″ artist canvas panel. This gave me the chance to play with beeswax, papers, oil paint and polymer clay all on one surface. Beyond that, I didn’t plan out the piece with a sketch and just worked intuitively.

Glimmer of Hope Wall Prototype

I started out by applying beeswax to the canvas, placed a page torn from an old book into the wet wax, and then fused more wax on top. From there I built layers with rice paper, paper beads, and oil paint. I fused tiny pieces of branch around two words from the book: “Changed” and “Beautiful”. The polymer clay face is taken from a mold made of Glimmer #1’s face and painted gold.

When the entire piece was cooled and dry, I highlighted the raised areas with Gilder’s Paste. Gold stamped words “Glimmer” and “Hope” finish this prototype.


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Artwork Published: Four Word Self Help

In January, I received a request for artwork from Patti Digh. Patti, who is the author of Life is a Verb, sent an email to many artists around the world asking who would be interested in submitting artwork for her upcoming book, Four Word Self Help.

Patti described Four Word Self Help as follows:

I wrote this compilation of four-word self-help wisdom in reaction to all the very complex self-help books I’ve seen—isn’t there a simplicity to life that we can tap into, things we already know? For example, “Eat less, move more” or “Do work that matters” or “Leave some things undone.”

The book would be in small format, 4.5″ x 6.25″.  Participating artists would receive a phrase to illustrate. All artwork had to fit into the small format and could not contain any words, text, or language.

I was intrigued and replied that I was interested in participating.

A couple weeks later, I received a second email with a phrase that I was to interpret and illustrate. I had two weeks to create my artwork and submit it for possible inclusion in the book. We were also told that if our artwork was accepted, the editors may use it for a different entry than originally submitted.

The phrase I received was “Do What You Can.” The phrase made me chuckle. Given the slightly abstract nature of the phrase, I could only do what I could in my interpretation of it.

Creating artwork in a limited time frame is both demanding and energizing. You have to focus on the task at hand immediately, go with your gut, and hope it all works out to your satisfaction.

In early February, I submitted my artwork. On April 15, I received word that my artwork had been accepted into the book!

And on Tuesday, 8/17, my complimentary copy of Four Word Self Help arrived at my home.

It is such a thrill to see my artwork in print and in such a wonderfully inspiring book. I am honored to have my artwork in this book among the illustrations and interpretations of nearly 100 artists.

Here is the artwork I submitted:

"Do What You Can"

And how my artwork appears in Four Word Self Help:

On Page 129

Four Word Self Help is due in stores in September. Be sure to look for it! You can also pre-order a signed copy of the book from Patti. Click here.

Four Word Self Help Cover

Thanks to Patti Digh for this most excellent experience.


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To Market, To Market

Continuing my periodic posts on my progress in the Right Brain Business Plan e-course, the next topic is determining your target market and finances.

Up to this point, we’ve discussed values and our business vision, the business self-portrait and the business landscape. However, now that you’ve got this great product or business idea, you have to think about who you’re selling to; your target market.

Target Markets

Unless your product or service is geared to a specific customer base, determining your target market requires a bit of educated guessing. Historically, I’ve known that women are my primary market. But which demographic of women?

Some areas to consider when determining your target market include the potential customer’s age, education, financial background, career, and location (urban/suburban/rural.) Those are the fairly straight-forward, easy to answer questions.

Then there are the demographics that might not be as easy to answer, such as shopping preferences, forms of entertainment, and likes and dislikes. We refer to those as the “I’m making up these answers” type of demographic questions.

As I started to write down the details about my ideal customer, I realized the description seemed to fit me. I guess it is good to know I might actually buy my own artwork. However, it is also important to stretch beyond the familiar.

To that end, I came up with two groups women for my target market:

The mid 20’s to 40 year old group

Customer Collage 20's-40 y.o group

I’ve defined the 20-40 year old market as those entering their professional or career world, D.I.Y, Etsy or handmade nation supporters/creatives; supporters of the green movement, including recycling/up-cycling. They shop online and are technology savvy. They have an interest in art/craft and learning something new and would like to earn some money using their craft skills.

These women are making a name for themselves and are entrepreneurial. They enjoy social networking, social media and have an interest in self-care and holistic areas. They are primarily college educated. May be dealing with debt issues, especially student loans. This may effect what they buy and spend money on.

The 40’s to 70’s group

Customer Collage 40's-70's group

This target group is comprised, primarily, of college educated, professional women who are questioning the “next step” in their lives. They want to express themselves creatively but may not know how to access and express their creative muse. Therefore they are seeking guidance on creativity; how to be creative, how to make art/craft.

Within this group are those who will be or are empty-nesters, including active retirees. All of these women want balance and fulfillment and seek how to make meaning in their lives. For the most part, these women are comfortable in their own skin.

I put the two collages shown above in my Vision Book in an envelope titled “Target Market.” On the back of each collage I wrote down some of the demographics as listed above.

Playing With Numbers

After we determined our target market, it was time to look at the finances. (Or, as Jen puts it “Making the Moola.” Doesn’t that sound more fun?) Not always a pleasant task and probably the one area that many creatives hate to deal with. We like to bring in the money; it is the money going out that pains us.

Way back, I used to keep track of my finances with an Excel spreadsheet. As my business grew, I switched to Quickbooks. QB is great because you can generate a variety of reports, depending on your needs. This year I was better about setting a budget for those costs which are fairly static and for some expenses I knew were coming up this year.

However, setting financial goals and writing them down has never been my strong suit. We all have our issues with money; voices and impressions from childhood that stick with us. Another reason this has been difficult is the feeling (an excuse???) that I can’t make someone buy my artwork. So how could I possibly set a revenue goal?

However, with encouragement through the RBBP process, I set a financial goal for the year. Then I looked at all the areas where the business generates revenue, including 3 new areas that I’m pursuing this year, and determined the percentage of income each area needs to produce. In July, I will review these goals, see how I’m doing and determine the appropriate follow-up action.

How about you? Who is your target market? Have you set any financial goals for the year? How do the money ‘voices’ impact your progress?

Next: Creative cohorts and goal setting