Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

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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.


Just Because I’m an Artist Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Be Color Challenged

Just because I’m an artist, that doesn’t mean I can’t be color challenged. That is definitely how I’ve felt in choosing a new wall color for my studio. I never thought it would be so difficult to choose a paint color. I’m an artist, right? I work with color all the time. I choose colors for my artwork, often working intuitively, mixing and blending until the colors evoke the feeling of the piece. This should be a piece of cake.

My studio is on the third floor. It has nice natural light but can feel a little cold in the winter. The current wall color is builder basic: antique white; a very light yellow. Flat. Dull. Boring.

I had an idea of what color I wanted for my studio walls. I love the Tuscan yellows and golds and thought they would warm up the walls. So I brought home a bunch of sample chips in that color family.

Then the clerk at the local Ace Hardware tells me they loan out the color books at the store. These books have 8″x8″ color samples. It will make choosing a color easier because of the larger sample. Hang it on the wall. See it at different times of day and in different light.


Next thing I know I’ve pulled 17 samples from the book that contained most of my color preferences. 17 colors stuck to my studio walls. This is not going to be easy.

After a process of elimination and asking artist friends for their input, I narrowed down my color choices to three. Then off I went to the paint store to purchase small cans of paint in my chosen colors, some small rollers, and a paint tray.

First, I thought I’d go bold. I tried out the sample called August Morning, a dark orangey-gold looking color.

August Morning Paint Sample

And this is how the paint sample looked on the wall:

August Morning (with camera flash)

August Morning (no camera flash)

Yep, it’s dark orange. It’s pretty bold and intense. My first warning came when I opened the paint can and saw orange sherbet.


Next up was Golden Mist. Golden Mist was a wild-card choice. I saw it at the last minute in one of my many swatches. Still being in a bold mood, I gave it a go.

Golden Mist Paint Sample

The sample fit my original thought of something Tuscan-like. And then I put it on the wall.

Golden Mist (no camera flash)

Golden Mist (with camera flash)

This color was deceiving out of the can. It looked much lighter as I stirred it. But when paint met the wall, it became this deep gold color with a touch of magenta in the base mix. Initially I thought it was a color I could live with. Yet as the weekend grew longer and I tried to picture this color on all the studio walls, I started to feel claustrophobic and shut in.

Failure #2.

On Sunday I put Crisp Straw, choice #3, on the wall. I was a little leary because the base mix included orange, yellow, and gray!

Crisp Straw Paint Sample

When I look at this sample, it looks like straw; a light colored beige with a hint of yellow. And then I put it on the wall.

Crisp Straw

Crisp Straw is a soft peach! I couldn’t believe it. Since when does the color “straw” look like the color “peach?” In this picture, it looks a little fleshy.

But the third time was the charm. Crisp Straw presented as a soft, warm, feminine color. Just the right amount of warmth and color for the studio walls without being too bold or too dark. And it won’t make me feel claustrophobic.

I chuckled as my original paint idea morphed into something I really had not considered. And a wave of relief came over me as well. I had felt completely frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find a color I liked. That little voice of failure was speaking up, mocking me as an artist who couldn’t choose a simple color.

While I had decided early on not to lose sleep over the situation, I was worried that the painters would arrive and I’d still be undecided. Or I’d have to go with a back up plan: something neutral, in beige.

So, there you have it. An artist can indeed be color challenged. Perhaps our love of color can also be a hindrance. Fortunately, I found a color I liked and that I can live with for the next few years.

Three Color Samples on Wall



This week I’ve been working on wholesale orders; one is a re-order and one is for a new customer. Both orders have products incorporating my Bubbles pattern. I created this pattern several months ago and it has been a good seller for me. People have asked how I create it. Below are a few pictures of the process.

The pattern starts with three colors. In this particular color option, one of the colors is a custom made green which reminds me of a D’Anjou pear or a Granny Smith apple.

Three Color for the Pattern

Each color is conditioned and rolled into a sheet. The three colors are then cut and combined to create a Skinner Blend.

Three color blend sheet

To extend the Skinner color blend sheet, I back it with a sheet of scrap clay and run it through the pasta machine again to the desired thickness.

Then the fun begins with creating the bubble pattern using circle cutters. This was a rather tedious process when I first started creating the pattern. Now that I’m used to the process, I can work through it a little quicker.

Here is a finished Bubble pattern sheet:

Blue Bubbles

The pattern is available in 5 different colors. You’ll find it on my business card cases and perfume pens. In MA, these items are available at Five Crows in Natick, noa in Groton, West Concord, and Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and Jewelry Inspirations in West Dennis. You’ll also find them on my functional art website, Moonroom Crafts.

Bubbles Business Card Cases

Bubbles Perfume Pens


Creative Every Day Week 3: Theme-Body

Body of Work

I was not able to dedicate much time this past week to the CED January Theme-Body. I have some wholesale orders to fill and have been working on those instead. However, using what I learned in Lindly Haunani’s color workshop, I am working on some new designs and colors for my functional art line which you can see below:

New Color & Pattern

New Card Case & Perfume Pen Designs

These new colors and patterns will also be available on my wine bottle stoppers.

Body and Soul

In other body-theme related activities, I did return to yoga class after being away from it for more than six months. We both stopped going to yoga due to injuries and finally felt ready to give it a try this week. Appropriately, we went to a restorative class with one of our long time teachers. The class was definitely good for the body and the mind. Hopefully we’ll return to some sort of regular schedule in the near future.

And I visited a friend who is battling cancer. Several months ago a group of friends formed a helper’s schedule after her diagnosis and surgery. Different people visit on select days providing support and being of service. Being of service to a friend teaches me appreciation and gratitude.


A Minor Disappearing Act

I am slowly returning to a relatively normal schedule now that I’ve finished the fall show season. All the preparations and other commitments that came along meant less time for blogging. I had to take a break from the computer; minimal blogging, staying off Twitter and other social networking for days at a time. You know what they say: “something has to give” and for me that meant the computer.

Thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes for my final holiday show, ArtSpace Maynard. It had been three years since I did this show. It was nice to re-connect with artists that I haven’t seen in a while and to meet new artists. Overall the show was fine. Ironically my overall sales were essentially unchanged from three years ago. I guess that means the show is consistent on some level.

Future Plans

Now I’m planning for 2010. Lindly Haunani’s Color Workshop inspired me to think about new color designs for my business card cases and perfume pens. Today I started working on a custom color palette using the color collage I created in the workshop.

Color Mixing With Primary Colors & Mud

My primary colors, seen at the bottom, are half zinc yellow & half cadmium yellow, cobalt blue, and 3/4 fuchsia & 1/4 cadmium red. I made mud from the primaries (top row, far left square) and then mixed 1/4 mud with each primary color, white, gold, black, pearl, translucent, ecru, silver, and copper. It was fun to see what new colors would be revealed.

I plan to explore a little more of the Dwellings themed work I started this spring. I have one form left from the original series that I never finished. I’d like to expand on this theme, perhaps creating up to 6 more pieces for a total of 10.

In preparation for my artist demo at the Tappan Z Gallery last month, I put together examples of foil and wire armatures. Using one of the demo pieces, I started a small sculpture that is telling me it would like to be considered for another series that focuses on healing. I’m not sure where this idea is going yet. I think the healing theme comes from one of the first pieces I made about 5 years ago for my brother-in-law.

Remember the Talking Stick art doll from a couple years ago? That is another theme I’d like to pursue further. And there are those lovely items I find at area consignment stores that I buy because they would make great art doll bodies. Maybe 2010 is the year for them to come to life.


While I have all these ideas in my head and ideas written down on paper, now that show season has ended and I have no immediate deadlines, I find myself hesitating to take action. This is not something new. I’ve done this before. I get grand ideas and tell myself things I want to do….and then I don’t do them. And then I’ll find myself bogged down in some other commitment with some other deadline and I’ll whine to myself that I don’t have any time to do that other stuff. That stuff I really wanted to do.

Sound crazy?

I think this comes from a place of fear. Fear that my ideas won’t turn out the way I hope and I might give up and deem myself a failure. Fear that they will turn out the way I want and bring success. Fear of simply starting and being open to where the piece takes me.

I wrote a journal entry on this topic and essentially told fear to take a hike. I don’t want to find myself stuck in the same old habit. I know habits take a while to change. So I’m taking baby steps with this one, working on one small goal a day toward these larger ideas. (Mixing the colors mentioned above is one of those small steps.)

And given the time of year I also have to remind myself that it is okay to take a little break, move a little slower, and to release over-developed expectations.

It is a sign of growth that I finally realized why I find myself stuck in this situation at this time of year. I also learned that I work better when I have some structure and deadlines to meet. The tricky part is holding myself accountable to the structure and deadlines.


A Colorific Weekend

Dancing with the Rainbow

Dancing with the Rainbow is the title of the Lindly Haunani color workshop I took this past weekend in CT. The title is an apt description for a workshop that immerses you in color from the moment it starts. The workshop was hosted by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.

When I was asked if I wanted to go to the workshop, I immediately said “yes.” And then I had a few moments of hesitation. Could I afford to go? What in the world would I get out of this workshop? I don’t make jewelry or do much canework. Then I remembered a comment Christine Kane once made when you’re in this type of situation: “Can I afford not to go?”

I began to think about my own fear of working with color. How I’ve never been comfortable enough to play and experiment with color. I use polymer clay colors primarily as they come out of the package but I’ve never made my own color palette. That, however, was about to change….

Day One: Color Collages & Heads Explode

After an introduction and a little color history, we started the workshop by sorting through the color magazine clippings we brought. We quickly sorted into two piles; images we liked and images we didn’t. Then we sorted the “like” pile into sub-piles according to color families. Finally, Lindly walked around the room and worked with each of us to choose a color family to create our collage. Most people chose colors that they did not normally work with.


Discussing Color


Choosing Color Palettes


Choosing Colors Isn't Always Easy

It was really interesting to watch people choose their colors. Sometimes our eyes gravitated to a pile of images, sometimes people took a small step toward the pile of images that attracted them. For some people the tone of their voice changed as they talked about the colors that excited them versus the colors they typically worked with.

After our color family was chosen, we created our collages. And then the real work began.


My Color Palette

I typically work in more muted tones or earth tones. I knew I wanted to work in a brighter color family. I initially gravitated toward the red color family but when I stood back and looked at my two choices-the vibrant yellows, oranges and lime greens and the reds, I immediately went for the above color palette.


My Color Collage


More Color Collages

The collages above are examples of those created by some of the ladies in the workshop.

So what is this about heads exploding?

After we created our collages, Lindly walked us through the process of determining the base primary colors in each collage. Now you have to remember that Lindly has been working with color and honing her expertise in color for 20 years. She can pick out the primary colors in any collage with ease. And for me…not so much. Isn’t blue, is blue, is blue?

The primary colors we worked with were cadmium red, fuchsia, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow and zinc yellow in Premo polymer clay. And then there were the secondary colors of orange, violet, and green. And of course there are the in between colors that result from mixing your primaries in various proportions. Oh and there is this “color” called mud which results when you combine equal portions of your primaries and you use it to help you create your custom colors.

Yikes! Let the brain overload and head exploding commence 🙂

I had a pretty hard time wrapping my head around this whole concept with the first few collages we reviewed. I have rarely looked at color from this point of view. Remember, I tend to work work with polymer clay colors directly from the package. I have almost every color available in the Premo color line. Why mix colors when the colors are already prepared for you? Oh silly, silly me.

Lindly placed primary color tiles on the collages and helped us to determine which primary colors made up the collage. If the primary color tiles didn’t click, we worked in reverse and used secondary colors and their variations to help us determine the primary colors. (The primary colors are essentially the DNA for all the color variations.) This approach seemed to work better for me. Surprisingly, after some time, things were starting to click for me.

By George, I think she’s getting it!


Analyzing Collages


Using Tasting Tiles on Collages


More Tasting Tiles

Day Two: A Door Opens

On Sunday something magical happened. A door opened as I finally became comfortable with this new experience. I found myself getting excited about making my own colors. I thought about the designs I’ve created in my current pieces. I realized that with this new knowledge, my current work seemed rather boring.

On the second day of the workshop, we finished reviewing the collages, Lindly demonstrated a few techniques for creating designs with Skinner Blends and various texture tools, and then we got to play with our color palettes. Our goal was to cover a wood mirror frame using our color palettes.

Then a bit of hesitation set in for me. What did I just learn? How did we make those colors? What color combination makes green?

Have you ever had that happen where you learn something and then you say “what are we supposed to do?”

So I slowly played with my color palette and started to learn the color formulas. I wasn’t being terribly exact and stopped trying to write out the formula (a little of this color, then a pinch of that color, and a lot of that color.) As I became more comfortable with playing, I found I was able to look at my color collage and determine that I needed more yellow, or white, or mud, to create a better match.

This was fun!


Collages & Custom Color Frames


More Collages & Frames


Christy's Frame & Collage


Karen's Frame & Collage


My Collage & Frame

We were having such fun making our colors that most of us didn’t cover our mirror frames. So I’ll post my finished mirror at a later date.

I must thank Lindly for an awesome workshop and for opening a new creative door. I now have a greater appreciation for color and for making custom colors. Thanks too to the SCPCG for being gracious and welcoming hosts.

Note: Lindly Haunani is co-author with Maggie Maggio of Polymer Clay Inspirations: Techniques and Jewelry Projects for Creating Successful Palettes. To learn more about Lindly’s workshops and order her book, visit her website. She also has a blog. For more information on the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild, visit here.