Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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


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.


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.


Fear Factor

I have a meeting mid-week with a local art/craft store to discuss polymer clay teaching opportunities. I’ve been preparing class samples, writing class descriptions, experimenting with some other ideas, and deciding on other details like fees, materials and supplies.

This is an opportunity I’ve been building toward for the last couple of months.

And today I ran smack dab into Mr. Fraidy Pants.


I believe he has been sneaking around in the shadows for the past few days. I know I’ve got this meeting. It has been on my calendar for a few weeks. I initially looked forward to it, was really focused and excited.

Then I hit some sort of wall. I couldn’t focus. I found myself lingering over distractions the past week. I kept telling myself “get off your butt and get to work.” And then I’d sit some more in front of the computer.

It wasn’t until today I realized what was happening.


I’m feeling the fear as this meeting gets closer. The fear is starting to crack my confidence. THAT voice is shouting at me “Who do you think you are, thinking you can teach a class? You can’t teach a class. You don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t be a fool. You have no skill for this.”


Kicking Mr. Fraidy in the Pants

On one hand, this can become a problem if I start listening to this voice. On the other hand, I can listen to the voice and ask it why it feels this way.

That is when I realized I am nervous about this meeting.

It reminds me of the first time I approached a consignment gallery to sell my artwork. My palms get sweaty, the armpits get damp, I talk way too much, and I think my laugh sounds stupid.

Fraidy Pants also tells me that he fears being seen as a fake or a fraud, that the artwork will look dorky, that the samples are inadequate and that I’m really not ready to take this leap.

Well thank you for your honesty.

I decided to take a walk. A little movement can be good; gets the blood flowing, takes your mind off things.

And then I used the turn-around technique.

For every negative thought, I turned it around to make it a positive:

You can’t teach a class became I CAN teach a class.

You don’t know what you’re doing became I DO know what I’m doing.

You have no skill for this became I DO have skill for this.

You’re a fake became I have been working with polymer clay since 1998 and continue to develop and perfect my skills. I’ve had my artwork published, entered into exhibitions, and have won awards.

Your art is dorky became I express my individual style through my art.

The turn-around seems to be working. Mr. Fraidy Pants is slowly walking away.

I returned to the studio and started working on some more potential class ideas. At last check they weren’t coming along as well as I’d hoped and I may have to put them aside for now. That is okay. I’m learning more about my strengths and areas where I need improvement. It is all about practice and learning from failure.

Mr Fraidy Pants has been a little quieter, though I see him sitting in the corner waiting for a opening.

I give him a little wave. I tell him I’m doing much better, thank you very much.