Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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“Trees Through The Forest”-Part 2, The Progress Continues

Though I had all good intentions of posting more frequent updates on the progress of my new wall art, I just wasn’t feeling it. My goal is to write one post a week that is published on Wednesdays. But, to be honest, when I don’t have anything to say, I stay quiet. To paraphrase that old saying “if you don’t have anything new/interesting/inspiring to say…”

In my absence here, I’ve been busy planning a new teaching gig, writing the content for a free tutorial, and videotaping another tutorial. Writing the free tutorial is a whole new experience. Develop the idea, write out the process, take pictures of the steps, edit the pictures, write the process in Keynote (that is what I’ll use to convert the tute into a PDF), proof read, publish. I’ve set a date of August 15 as my deadline and have been working backwards from there to manage the various steps in the process.

Makes my brain ache some days.

BUT! In between all that I have made progress on “Trees Through The Forest.” You can read about the origins of this piece and see its beginnings here.

Part 2: Progress Continues

After I created the disk shapes and added texture to them, I baked them in the oven for 15 minutes. Then I had to decide what paint colors to use as a patina. This helps make the texture marks pop on the clay. For some unknown reason this felt like an agonizing process. Is this what they mean by “suffering” for your art?  No, I didn’t think so.

After the patina process was completed, I used liquid polymer clay to secure any piece that had multiple disks or other components. I let all the pieces sit for several hours while the liquid clay set up. Then everything went back in the oven for one more baking.

Here are the polymer clay disks placed on a blank canvas. The popsicle sticks mark where the tree trunks will eventually be painted.

3TreesThruForest_Polymer Disks

And some detail shots of the disks. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Now the fun begins with creating the background for this piece. I decided to use a 10″x8″ canvas.

Preparing and Painting the Canvas

First, I applied two coats of Gesso to smooth the surface of the canvas.

10Ready to Gesso the Canvas

While that dried, I picked out the colors for the background. Here I tested them out in my sketchbook so I know they’ll look nice together.

11Color choices for the canvas

Once the Gesso completely dried, I held my breath and applied the paint colors. I’m working intuitively here but still felt a little nervous.

12The painted canvas

Before even painting the colors onto the canvas, I looked at several surface techniques in the book Surface Treatment Workshop by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson.

I decided upon the plastic wrap resist technique. With this technique, you place a sheet of plastic wrap over the wet paint. You can stretch the plastic into linear patterns or pat it smooth.

Plastic wrap over canvas

Plastic wrap over canvas

Plastic wrap over canvas-detail

Plastic wrap over canvas-detail

See all those lines and bumps? The trick with this technique is to let the paint dry before removing the plastic wrap. The drier the paint, the crisper the texture.

And now the big reveal…..

Paint texture

Paint texture

And a detail shot of the texture:

16Paint texture detail

I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the texture came out.

I’ll leave you with this piece, “Trees Through the Forest,” almost finished.

Almost finished

Almost finished

The edges of the canvas have been painted. Since I took the above picture I removed the popsicle sticks and painted in tree trunks. I’m not sure if I need to add anything else to the canvas, so I’ll let things sit for a day or so. If the muse tells me the piece is done, I’ll put a hanger on the back and attach the polymer disks to the canvas.

I’m going to install this piece on Monday, August 5 so there isn’t much more time to agonize think about it. I’m meeting my deadline which was most important.


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Artist Demo, Art Exhibit and An Interview

Artist Demonstration

On Sunday, June 13, I am demonstrating how I create my artwork in polymer clay at Fruitlands Museum as part of Fruitlands 2010 Artisan Series.

I will show you how I create my Klimt and Craze Collage patterns as seen on my business card cases, perfume pens and wine bottle stoppers. I will also demonstrate how I sculpt both my primitive and more realistic spirit messenger heads. To help me explain the sculpting process, I put together this storyboard.

Head Sculpt Storyboard

The demonstration runs from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

I will also have free mini-bookmarks for people who stop by and a listing of my current workshops.

Art Exhibit

Sunday will be a full day. After my artist demonstration, I head over to the Nashoba Valley Winery for my art guild’s artist reception. The Bolton Artisans Guild has a new exhibit, Summer Dreams, on display at the winery. Summer Dreams captures the colors and memories of summer in the several mediums, including photography, fiber, polymer clay, paper, watercolor, and jewelry. The exhibit runs June 6 to July 5, 2010. The artist reception is Sunday, June 13, 3:30-5:00 pm. Light snacks and a wine tasting will be provided.

An Interview

Last Monday, I was interviewed by the Bolton Common for their Uncommon Conversation feature article. The interview appeared in this week’s edition and is available to read online here.


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Words Fall As So Water Falls

The Bolton Artisans Guild’s theme challenge this year was “water.”

I first considered creating a spirit messenger and then decided to create something different from my usual line of work.  I knew I wanted to have words in my piece for the exhibit.  So I asked a few people to send me a list of words that they thought of when they heard/read the word “water” for incorporation in the piece.

At first I thought I’d create a piece that resembled rippling water with concentric circles spreading across the surface.  And then, while I was out on a walk, the idea came to me.  As I walked past a neighbors house, I heard water flowing and there it was…a small water fall.  Next thing I know, the idea popped into my head to have those words, the water words, flowing down a water fall.  Intrigued with the flow of rolling water, up, over, and down, I tried to capture that same movement through the use of water related words as they flow over the canvas: up, over, and down.

And thus, Words Fall As So Water Falls came into being.

As Water Falls So Words Fall

Words Fall As So Water Falls

To create this piece, I started with a pre-stretched canvas, created the “rolling” water, covered the canvas in brown paper bag, applied gesso and several coats of acrylic paint in water-like colors.

The water words were printed on tissue paper and applied over the rolling water.  Then this piece sat on my work table for a couple of days.  I knew this piece needed something else to complete it but I wasn’t sure what exactly.

And once again on another walk while contemplating this piece the idea for mosaic tiles popped into my head.  The tiles have images from Native American and Celtic cultures that represent water.  The Spanish moss, raffia, and sticks represent life found around water.


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The Artist Slump

My local artist guild, The Bolton Artisans Guild, started its own blog this week.  Below is an expanded version of an entry I posted on the new BAG blog.

Alyson Stanfield discusses artist slumps her newletter this week.  I can certainly relate as I’ve been in an on-again/off-again slump for the past few months.  I’ve noticed this happens each winter, typically in February or March or both.  I first became aware of my artist slump about 3 years ago when I was part of an art salon group that included Judy Dunn and two members of the Bolton Artisans Guild.

That first one was pretty deep and lasted several weeks.  It was a little scary in fact; scary in the sense that I couldn’t believe how much it affected me.  Boy was that little inner voice active and making its presence known.  However, as my awareness of the slump increases, the shorter the slump seems to last and the better I am at accepting it.  The little voice doesn’t have much of an opportunity to say things because I accept the moment as it happens.  I now refer to this as my “rebirthing” time; a time of regeneration and of gathering new ideas.

Here is what Alyson recommends to emerge from a slump.

  1. Wallow; it is okay to wallow a little bit.  Honor your emotions.  I know this can be hard because we feel we’re supposed to always be producing art.  But sometimes you don’t want to or you don’t want to do the art you think you’re “supposed” to do.  Acceptance of the slump is key.  When you accept it, you don’t resist it, and then you can move through it.
  2. Plan something with a deadline to get the juices flowing.  Creating a “brain drain list” (thank you, Christine Kane) and having a “check-in buddy” to help me meet those deadlines has been very helpful.
  3. Get out of the studio; walk, run, go to a museum.
  4. Talk to other people; meet friends, visit a gallery; goes hand in hand with #3.  As artists we often work in isolation.  There is nothing like meeting a friend for food & conversation or an art date to reset your muse.
  5. Create an escape path; continue to make your art even if it isn’t great.  During this season’s artist slump, I played around with other mediums as a break from polymer clay.  Great fun!
  6. Write; journal about your emotions, your dreams, whatever is inside your head.
  7. Read inspirational books or biographies about other artists.
  8. Listen to CDs or audio downloads that motivate you.
  9. Watch movies or documentaries to remind you of your connection to art and the art world.  (Don’t watch stuff that will depress you, make you sad, angry, etc.)  As my awareness of my artist slump increases I find I don’t want to watch the news or read the newspaper as much as I did before.  I’d rather do something pleasant or watch something pleasant.  The external negative energy does not help.
  10. Purge and clear out stuff that you don’t need.  Lots of clutter = negative energy.  I’m a strong believer in this one.  When I have too much clutter in the studio, my muse practically disappears.  When I clear things out, the energy flow is much better.

 To read more of Alyson’s recommendations visit here.  To listen to her podcast on this topic, go here.