I don't often get to show you my works in progress - but that's because I'm often designing specific things for my licensing partners that can't really be shown until they're ready to launch the product in a retail setting. So in the normal course of creating, my teeny tiny little studio and most of what comes from it is sort of shrouded in mystery.
But when I'm making stuff just for fun, I can show you everything - so that's what I'm doing here:
This last weekend I stayed in the studio and played. No plan, no ideas, no projects or assignments. Just making stuff.
A couple weekends ago I finally got out the fun New Year's present Artstuff bought me: a shiny new set of water soluble oil paints.
Once upon a time long, long ago, oil paint was my #1 medium: the feel of it, the smell, the soul - it was what I loved the most in the whole world: to paint with oils on a big piece of wood. But as my art became what I did for a living, more practical "immediate gratification" mediums eventually overtook slow-drying, messy, impractical oil paints. I was curious when I saw that these water soluble oils existed, and decided to indulge myself, just for fun. Call it an End of Year Bonus for a Job Well Done. I thought I'd start small with this experiment and raided my brother-in-law's scrap bin for little pieces of wood.
I fell in love as soon as I opened the first tube: whatever molecular mojo they do to this stuff does not have any adverse affect on the amazing smell of the linseed oil. A deep breath brought me back to a happy place I hadn't been in decades.
I started swishing it around and scrubbing it into the wood - it all started coming back to me. I'm in love with these paints! Wet, sticky, and workable for weeks - but I can clean my brushes (and my hands - and lips, and nose, and eyelids, under my nails, my hair...) with soap and water. When I think of all the turpentine I must have ingested in my 20s . . . well, that may explain a lot. Never mind.
The first layers on the first few boards were dry when I got them back out this weekend, and I started playing again.
I experimented more with some of the vintage and antique ephemera my dear friend Sue shared with my last month when I visited her studio
with bits of this and pieces of that.
The lumber stamp on this little piece of Douglas Fir became the inspiration for the tiny painting yet to come.
Others are still inventing themselves from the background up.
When I ran out of small scraps to paint on, or space on my desk (I'm not sure which happened first) I pulled out the Paperclay and played with it for the rest of the day.
Now it's time to set this all aside to dry in anticipation of some future weekend, as the Artstuff Studio returns to its normal, focused, more practical and businesslike self. Except, of course, for that heavenly smell of oil paint that lingers as the first few layers of these little guys dry. Aaaaaaahhh.
I really should give May more credit. I mean, out of all of the months, May is the prettiest shade of green. It's when the garden begins to come alive. When birds hatch and sing all day. When lilacs bloom.
May smells good.
May is good.
But I can't help feeling a huge sigh of relief when May is finally over. And this particular May, yeah. That. As most of you know, May started in this house with a profoundly empty feeling. I found a sort of comfort pouring myself into my annual extreme crazy busy freakout that is the final countdown to Surtex.
There were little reminders along the way to be happy . . . smiles in unexpected places.
I'd like to think a little friend sent them.
Another great comfort has been the fact that She-Who-is-Afraid-of-Cameras has now taken on the role of Studio Pal. Used to be, I couldn't get her to stay more than a couple minutes at a time in here, even when she had a big cozy bed taking up the entire floor. The bed went elsewhere a long time ago, but when I laid her blankie on the studio floor at the beginning of the month, she decided this is where she should spend her days . . . she's here right now.
And that makes me happy.
Then suddenly, I was in New York.
I'm not kidding - the second I typed that, this song came on in a random iTunes shuffle. How crazy is that?! So maybe you should listen to it with me.
After the gorgeous sunrise that greeted me Saturday morning,
there was the ever comforting sight of my little green box waiting for me in my booth.
I've told you before what a relief that is every single year, seeing that the displays I worked so hard on made it across the country safely and on time.
The show was great - I had super productive meetings with some of my favorite clients and met some new folks that, hopefully, will someday fall into that category.
When we found out sort of last-minute that Husband Guy would be staying at home, the Amazing and Adorable Amber Alvarez dropped everything and hopped a cab from Brooklyn to come help out in my booth.
By the way, will someone please tell me how much a cab from Brooklyn to Javits costs, she refuses to discuss this with me.
I so enjoyed some time catching up with dear friends while there, but for the most part I laid low in the evenings, getting a jump-start on my show follow-up
and quietly enjoying the view from my little suite.
just like that,
I was saying goodbye to the city
and before I knew it,
I was cuddling on my own couch with Molly and Husband Guy.
Back to my funny little garden and the heavenly goodies that are starting to come from it.
The last days of May were filled with show follow-up and starting new projects discussed at meetings, but I did finally finish unpacking and put away my suitcase day before yesterday.
And with that familiar sigh of relief, I'll say goodbye to another May.
Yes, I realize that a month ago I promised weekly giveaways here on the blog. So I haven't been very organized about that, sorry. But to make up for it, I'm going to cram as many as I can muster between now and Christmas, ok?
To get back on track, this one is a double!
Santa Claus is well-represented in our home this time of year.
Many of my Santas are very old,
and most of those were inherited.
Quite a few are from Granddad's fleet of DIY mechanized goodies.
My dear Aunt Peek collected Santas as well - I now have quite a few that belonged to her.
Some were gifts, a few I couldn't resist when I saw them. And always part of the display is one of my favorite pictures of Husband Guy.
Artsy-craftsy handmade projects, cool folk-art, plastic trinkets, very dear antiques, dime-store kitsch, and a few that will scare children if given the chance: they all make me happy, lined up on their shelves - a sea of red wonderfulness as far as I'm concerned.
Ho ho ho.
So. Where's the giveaway, you ask?
The most fun part of designing One Crazy Christmas Eve was the soft-book. The amazingly talented Harriet at Henry Glass wrote the clever little rhyming story (about working together!) especially for the elves I had drawn, and it was so fun illustrating the pages and putting it all together.
Even if your sewing skills are, well, like mine, or if (again, like me) you are instructionally-challenged, this is a quick, doable project you can put together in plenty of time for thoughtful gift-giving: fancy it up with trims or extra stitching or just sew the pages together (super simple!) it's a fun little storybook for those quiet situations when little hands and minds need something to keep them busy but page-turning can be distracting, or just a nice and sturdy little book for those whose little fingers tend to tear paper a little too easily.
There's also a neato free PDF pattern on the Henry Glass website for a quilt using each 8" page as a square; you can find the pattern here and I've got the other yardage available in my Etsy shop.
So. I'm giving away a 1-yard book panel with instructions to 2 lucky winners this weekend.
To enter, in a comment on this post tell me who's your favorite version or depiction of Santa. Is it the classic Father Christmas in old storybooks? An animated puppet from one of those old TV specials? Good old-fashioned Coca Cola Santa? Someone you love who dresses up for the kids every year? Maybe you prefer the Grinch in his little red suit or even the mean old "You'll shoot your eye out, kid" guy with the big boot? Just mention any Santa that's dear to your heart and you're entered to win the soft-book pattern.
You have until Saturday night (December 15) to enter, and I'll draw 2 names on Sunday!
Time in the sun with girlfriends is pretty much one of the best things ever (these girls will be showing up on friendship cards in your friendly neighborhood Trader Joe's stores any day now!). I've gotta admit, though, it's something I don't get around to very often, and maybe you don't either. Making time, coordinating busy schedules - more often than not, stuff gets in the way, life happens, and dates get pushed back weeks, months, even longer. But when it finally happens, we all wonder why we don't do it more often.
Last week the planets aligned and a group of friends got together for an amazing pot luck lunch featuring goodies from our gardens and one friend's signature mojitos. The perfumy citrusy freshness of a mojito just screams Caribbean sunshine - which got me thinking about some extra-special girflriends-in-the-sun time I was lucky enough to get this past February.
My oldest friend in the world (no, silly, she's not that old, but we've been friends since we were toddlers) and I went on a cruise together. We enjoyed sunshine, beaches, sunsets and sunrises, amazing food and lots of catching-up time together. We spent a lot of time slowing down and doing nothing (that's me, just floating) which is exactly what both of us needed. It was pretty awesome.
I hope you make time this summer to enjoy some quality girlfriend time, it's good for the soul!
And good for your tastebuds: my friend Peggy's signature mojitos. They truly are the best I've ever had. I've tried many recipes with varied or fancier ingredients, I've even made my own garden-fresh mint-infused simple syrup, but nothing touches hers.
The recipe is a simple one but the secret, Peggy says, is in the process and the order in which it's done:
Drop 12 mint leaves into a tall glass, and muddle. Add 4 teaspoons sugar, and muddle again. Add 1/2 lime (cut into smaller pieces) and muddle again until there is a decnt amount of juice extracted; then add 1.5 oz light rum (she uses Bacardi), and stir with a spoon until mixed. Add cubed ice (not crushed!) then fill glass with club soda. Stir up again so the mint and lime are suspended in the ice and not just sitting on the bottom of the glass, and toast to your good friends!
And be sure to go visit my other fabric designing friends on the Henry Glass Summer Party for daily fabric giveaways and other fun goodies! Happy summer, everyone!
Sometimes the extra bonus goodness I get to experience from this crazy job I have is just too much, I really am constantly blessed in spite of myself!
Art Licensing can create a very distant and removed lifestyle for artists. Most of us who do this work alone in our studios, often quite isolated from the real world. On one hand, that's something I enjoy about it - I tend to be happy with what may seem to most folks like an unnatural volume of peace, quiet, and privacy. On the other hand, we are so far removed from the end consumer that it's difficult sometimes to grasp the big picture - departments and focus groups and agencies and committees, manufacturers and distributors and sales reps and retailers; the list of entities separating a licensing artist from the person who buys and lives with our products is pretty vast. But that's just how the machine works; I could never make and sell my stuff like they do.
You don't go into this field expecting to make friends or share warm fuzzy moments. But it happens. The mentors, muses, and dear friends I've been blessed with make my life full and happy.
One such unexpected friendship began a couple months ago. A nice woman in Kentucky wanted to make a rag-quilt for a Christmas present for her grandson who loves camping. She was searching the web for flannel with squirrels on it (!) and stumbled on my Etsy shop where I still had yardage from my At The Lake collection. Who knew I was about to make a friend?
We chatted online, one thing led to another, and when she had finished that one, made 2 others with more of my flannel - then offered to make me one for me. I almost tear up just telling you about this (talk amongst yourselves) how sweet and generous is that?!
It arrived when I was in Atlanta attending AmericasMart last month. I could hardly wait to open the package, but I didn't share it with you right away because as you can see, the blanket and I had some very important work to catch up with that first day home.
If you don't believe that this holds a prominent and beloved place in our household, take a closer look at all the pet hairs that have embedded, literally woven themselves into the fabric. Curling up on the couch on chilly winter evenings here means there is at least one furry family member on top of you, usually two.
But in spite of the hairs, isn't that cool? I love it, and it fits perfectly into our decor and lifestyle!
And finally, this amazing gift:
The happy recipient of the original quilt drew me a picture (look at that awesome tent and camp fire - I love this!).
And like a true Southern Gentleman, charmed me to death with sweet compliments.
New friends, and physical, tangible reminders right here to treasure; I have so much to be thankful for, to fill my heart and make me smile - next time you catch me being a grouch or curmudgeon, you have my permission to just slap me. I mean it.
I'm starting the year with something new and different (for me, that is!). I've been invited to join an uber-talented group of artist friends in a fun blog hop. We're touring everybody's studios, how fun is that?! It's a virtual Open-Studio tour!
You get a fun peek inside the creative spaces of 11 (yes count 'em, 11) designing friends of mine (plus me, of course). Just click on the names at the end of this post to tour each of their studios and visit their blogs, or simply use the forward/backward arrows (also after my post) to continue along the hop!
A special thank-you shout-out to our charming (and did I mention talented?) host,The Mr. Aaron Christensen of Aaron Christensen's Embellishments, for organizing this crazy party, and for creating the fabulous graphics you see at the beginning and end of this post. Sooo . . . without further ad0, let the tour commence!
As they say on those celebrity home tours, "and this is where the magic happens."
In this case, the magic happens in a teeny tiny room in my teeny tiny house. It's not glamorous, spacious, airy, or usually even tidy - but it's home. It's where I spend my days, and often my nights. It's where I create.
I'm at the computer.
It all happens right here.
Usually with a cat on my lap
(or inside my shirt)
and a dog at my feet.
If she's not on me, Flossie is in one of her many beds or perched on the printer, watching birds in the trees and the rest of the backyard.
One of my favorite quotations is the William Morris golden rule: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and my other golden rule is my Granddad's credo:
...and like my Granddad and Granny were, I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by my treasures. In a space this tiny, though, storage is at a premium.
If it's not organized, it may as well not exist. As cluttered as it gets (and it does get cluttered) there is always order to this chaos.
Bolts of fabric, handmade items for Etsy, product samples, and a giant flat-file full of large originals and prints all live quietly and out of sight in in an ever so mysterious room at the bottom of the stairs. No one ever goes there but me (well, no one has ever lived to speak of it).
I used to dream of spreading my creative wings in a large, airy studio - the same as I longed for a large, airy kitchen. But I've got to admit, there's something very comforting about having the things I need within my reach
and the things I love within my sight.
Because really, there's no place like home.
Ok, now I'll answer those burning questions I know you're asking yourself:
Q.Why the heck does she have a piece of carpet glued to her Wacom?
A. Because I'm one of those lefties who holds my hand all backwards and the left-side scrolly bars go bezerk when I draw if I don't keep them covered.
Q. Why would someone keep a framed photo of the Next Generation crew front-and-center in her workspace? Is she that huge of a geek?
A. Well, yes I probably am that huge of a geek, but that's actually a favorite photo of my dear old dad posing with cardboard cutouts at an air & space museum. He's the handsome one in the front, pointing and saying, "Make it so."
Thanks for visiting! Be sure to hop on over and visit my talented friends as they welcome in the New Year with their own Studio Tour:
All art, photographs, and text on this page (unless otherwise noted) is the copyrighted property of Beth J. Logan - artstuff ltd.
Please don't use or reproduce anything you find here without permission.