Monday, June 30, 2014

Clean Up Clean Out

If you follow me on instagram (abeautifulparty) then you may have seen me on there this weekend trying to do anything but clean my studio.  The great clean up and clean out began sometime last week. I am ready to start taking my work in a different direction so the first thing I had to do was change my creative space.  I am such a hoarder when it comes to anything arts/craft-making. I was starting to realize that having all that stuff made it difficult for me to decide on things to make because I could make anything. I need some limitations in order to come up with creative solutions. At least... that's what I like to tell myself. I also love excuses.
 In the last few weeks I have been thinking about the things I truly want to make.  After making my first doll I am in love with the process but I know that in order to get better I need to give it my all. So now my studio is set up for doll making.  The only thing that kept me going all weekend long was knowing that as soon as I was done I could start making more dolls.

The stats:
Over the weekend I binged watched season 1 and most of season 2 of Orange is the New Black.  I got through 7 levels of Candy Crush (why did I download that stupid game?!) I made one box of Goodwill donations, a large box for consignment and a pile of stuff to give away to friends.  I got rid of two and a half bags of garbage and 2 trashcan-size recycle bin recyclables.  I ate a mini Dairy Queen M&M blizzard.

 It's also really important that I have a good space to make art.  I love this weird "booth" that holds all my supplies so easily.
 My walls are covered in inspiration including these prints from people I admire.

 Look at those organization skills! I didn't know I had it in me! I promise promise promise to keep it up.

So last night around 8:00 I finally got to make a doll! I have been wanting to make tiny dolls that will be perfect for newborn baby hands.  And I just realized I never shared on my blog the first doll I made. It is the second photo.

And I just realized I never shared on my blog the first doll I made. Both dolls are not made from patterns. I wanted to try to figure out the construction on my own in order to understand the process better but I think I definitely need to start looking at patterns now.  The tiny doll had some definite problems. Her ears came out a little funky and her face did not get properly sewn in so there is a little hole for stuffing to come out.  I was also in such a hurry to make this that i sewed the back piece on backwards. Rookie mistakes.  My first rabbit, below, also has some goofy mistakes but I love her anyway.  I am hoping by the end of the day I'll have a new doll that is almost perfect.  Did I mention I love this?

Thanks for taking a look around.  Now I have the rest of my house to clean but I may just hide out down here forever and forget that the rest exists.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rockford City Market

Last Friday I participated in a market in Rockford called the Rockford City Market.  I was with my dream team Robyn of Robayre and Courtney of Larking (who was there in spirit and merchandise but not person) and together we call ourselves the Lucky Penny Collective.  We are participating in a rotating booth as part of the Rockford Etsy Team.

I was excited about signing up for this show but I have to confess that in the days leading up to it I was dreading it.  Because I am pregnant I was really afraid of the physical work involved in setting up a booth.  I know I'm not completely helpless but I am also afraid of overdoing and putting this baby in any sort of harm.  I'm sure by my second pregnancy I'll be over it and carrying huge bins of stuff on each shoulder but for now I'm living life like I have bubble wrap over all over me.

So I worried. But it was all for nothing. Robyn was a huge help and her fella came along and saved the day by taking over when it came to the hard labor.  Overall it was a great day and the market itself was amazing and huge. I can't wait to check it out when I'm not tied to a tent.  I met lots of great people and found a new audience for my work.  And any day spend with Robyn is a treat. Courtney was out of town but we were happy to set up a table for her. She will join us in September when we do this again.

The worst part of the day? Besides using a porta potty? Right when we got into Rockford my power breaking decided to go out.  Well, I'm assuming that was what it was. I spent the whole day trying not to think about my potentially dangerous drive home (I was about 45 minutes away). By the time my car was loaded and I got in to drive home it acted like there were no troubles and I got home safely without a single problem. That was weird. Fingers crossed that everything stays that way.


Monday, June 9, 2014

blog hop

my friend robyn invited me to participate in a blog hop.  every monday different bloggers share a post about themselves and what they are currently working on. i'm excited to participate.  robyn has been mentioned here numerous times and if you haven't taken a look yet i really encourage you to check out her blog here.  you can also find great work in her shop here.  

what am i working on?
some days i really don't know. since i found out i was pregnant my brain has turned to sludge.  before that i was making lots of crafty things but that has come to an unceremonious halt.  in the last couple of weeks i decided i needed to completely change everything up.  i even opted for a change of scenery and turned our dining room table into my studio (much to my husband's annoyance).  i have been making little watercolor doodles and am desperately trying to make something start to finish. i have piles and piles of papers that have starts. it's the finishing that gets me every time.  

here is a blurry image to prove to you i am doing something.

i am also making an attempt at creating softie dolls.  i have always wanted to give this a try so today i finally made myself sit down and see what i can do.  i'm learning as i go so this first attempt may be a little wonky.

and keeping it crafty... i made this commissioned sign recently and i would love to make more and more. this is up my alley.

2.  how does my work differ from others in it's genre?

i guess the best answer to this question is that it is made by me and not others. Robyn answered this answer similarly.  when i make crafty things it's easy to fall into the trends of what others are doing.  but i try to add an extra element that is very "me."  when i am painting pictures i create worlds that are my dream places.  i want them to be magical little places that you would like to get lost in.  others may make worlds that are their dream places but where mine has horse running through flowers with a girl wearing a bunny hat, their world may have a car driving around saturn's rings with dolphins spinning around the moon. everyone had their own interpretation of magic.

3. why do i create what i do?
because i love it. and even when my brain turns to sludge i'm still dreaming up things to make.

4. how does your creating process work?
it's nice having a studio at home because i can make stuff all the time.  there are definitely lazy days where i don't touch a single art/craft supply but trust me, the torment that happens in my brain is punishment enough. when i'm not working i feel so guilty.  but i wish i was more organized about creating. i get ideas for something and i hold them in my head until i finally make it, or make an attempt at making it.  there are people who can make notes in their sketchbooks and draw out designs or thumbnail sketches and i would love to be that way. it would make my "winging it" approach much easier and i may have a better chance at finishing what i started. i fantasize about completely cleaning out my studio and limiting the craft supplies i have. having too much stuff makes me feel overwhelmed and when i want to sit down and make something sometimes the possibilities are so endless that i simply cannot decide on what to work on. i don't know if that answers the question. i guess most of my creative process is on a wing and a prayer.

i have always wanted to make some sort of art work using this image of a plant i saw at the conservatory in chicago. it reminds me of the hill monsters i used to make:

thank you, robyn, for tagging me.

I am tagging:

jane ryder of flux biota
julie tillman of daily art challenge
michelle moode of millions of people happy

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Creating Magic

This morning I woke to the sound of my phone buzzing with text messages.  Two of my girlfriends were group texting about a blog post recently written by Katie Daisy and the magical journey she has been on in her life. If you do not know Katie Daisy (Daisy is not her real last name) you probably have seen her work everywhere.  We marveled at what a beautiful and successful life this girl has led already at such a young age.  I can't speak for my friends but for me it definitely gave me a pang of envy.  This girl was so fearless and chased after what she wanted with no looking back.

But then I did something. I pushed aside the envy and instead thought about my own journey.  I grew up in a small, rural, southern town that I couldn't wait to leave. I felt like I didn't fit in there and wouldn't be happy until I was living in a big city and living a crazy bohemian life (it was the late 90s and I saw Rent twice). But, as I am not fearless enough to go from small town to big city over night I went the fairly conventional route and went to college in a slightly bigger town in the same state.  What I found there was an amazing group of people who all wanted the same things as me.  We dressed like little Edie of Grey Gardens before we even knew what Grey Gardens was.  (Once we saw Grey Gardens we dressed like her even more) Art was a huge focus in our lives and we all adored it. The weirder the better.  We were living as bohemian a life as you could in small town Kentucky.  But I still dreamed of bigger and better things, cities and lofts and being oh-so-famous.  But again, I was scared and so instead I went to a slightly larger town up north and began grad school.  Grad school was safe because it still kept me in the bubble of school but I still wanted more and more. I planned on moving away from here as soon as I graduated and finally go after the things I was afraid to do before. I was going to move to Nashville, which is no New York City but is still a dream, and I was going to do whatever it is you do in a city. But life got in the way and I met and married the man of my dreams.   And the man of my dreams had a grown-up job and enough sense to know you don't just pick up and leave an income that includes health insurance.  So, for a while-- for a long while-- I was happy that I was married to a wonderful man but I also mourned so badly for the life I dreamed of living.

But you know what's funny?  Somewhere along the way I quit caring about living in a big city and instead longed for the country.  The small town that I used to dream about leaving started to seem like the most beautiful place in the world and why wouldn't anyone want to look outside and see rolling hills?  One of my very best friends moved to Brooklyn a few years ago and I was definitely jealous when she left because she was doing what I knew I would never do. But now, even though I'm dying to visit her, I'm okay with not living there.

I still want to move south and the minute we can go I will be gone but it wasn't until the discussion this morning that I was able to be at peace with where I live now.  Sure, it would be nice to look out my windows and see Kentucky bluegrass and rolling hills but for now I'm terribly happy that I look out the window and see the gorgeous gardens my husband worked so hard on.  The 16-year-old me would have never known how happy a vegetable garden could make me.

We all discussed that everyone's dream is different so I'm not trying to say that the life that sounds magical and dreamy to me would be that way for everyone. Certainly it would not seem that way to my teenager self.  My girlfriend in Brooklyn is oh so happy there and I am oh so happy for her.

We all decided that there is magic in this life even if we sometimes want for other things.  It's just about recognizing those magical moments and filling your life up with them as much as possible.  For me that means sitting outside in the shade with my husband, going to the pool, craft dates with girl friends, book club nights, talking on the phone with family and friends who live too far away, finding beautiful places in nearby towns, dreaming about this baby and creating the most magical world for him/her... All of these things outweigh any of the bad by a long shot and for that I am ever so grateful.

So I look to my friends who live in this town with me and I have gone through their blogs and found so many examples of the magic we find in our day-to-day lives.  I adore these girls and am grateful to have them around to remind me just how great life is.

Robyn is always doing stuff and I love hearing about her adventures.  Here is some of the beauty she has captured.  These can be found on her blog by clicking here.

Courtney is the kind of momma I want to be.  She has been a great mentor for me when i have countless questions.  She has two adorable babies and the world she creates for them is one I hope to make as well.  See her blog here


I have said it a million times before that my friend Bryanne has the ability to capture magical beautiful moments in the day-to-day.  Here are some examples of her work that remind me of the beauty in this world and see more here.

I met Katie years ago but know her best through Bryanne. They are a friendship duo that can make the most beautiful moments.  See more of her world and drool over her gorgeous art here.

And this is the beauty I captured the other day at a dreamy garden in a town nearby:

And so I'm grateful.  And I may still have times where I long for other things and am very sure the grass is greener anywhere else but here but I just need to go through these images and reconnect with my friends and be reminded of all the beauty that surrounds me now.

Here's to the 16 year old who didn't know there was magic happening in front of her the whole time, she just wouldn't take the time to see it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Art Makin'

When I first started this blog I was in grad school working on my master's degree in printmaking. It was a place for me to show my processes and share the artists who influenced me.  I finally got that degree and ever since then I feel like I've been floating in outer space. They all warn you that when you get out of school you will feel lost but nothing can fully prepare you for just how lost you can get.  Since 2010 I've tried so many different things and tried to find the right fit for me. I'm still trying to find that fit. But somewhere along the way I put art making on the back burner and turned to crafts. Now I know arts and crafts can be done simultaneously but I wasn't doing that.  

With all these great changes happening in my life I feel like it's time to start falling back on my one true love.  Yesterday I pulled out my latest pieces of work that have been taking up space in my studio. I finally photographed them and got them all listed in my Etsy shop. I have also set up a small studio at my kitchen table where I can specifically focus on watercoloring and drawing weird little doodles over layers of flowers.  It's hard to get back into that frame of mind. It's not just throwing down some color on paper. It's forcing me to truly think about what I want to make work about and what it all means to me.  As I have gotten older the things that I love are evolving.  I still love balloons but I love flowers even more.   I wish I could decorate my whole house with beautiful crystals instead of the pez dispenser collections of my past.  It's interesting to make new work with a whole new collection of things that make my eyes purr.

So here are the pieces I just listed in my shop.  I'm excited to start focusing on this again.  I wish I could pretend it was 2010 all over again and I transitioned easily from grad school to every day art making.  Click on the images for details.