Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cleaning Up

When I do something not-quite-right the first time, it always gnaws at me until I change it, or improve it, or go the extra mile to make the needed adjustments to my satisfaction.  In some ways, I can be a perfectionist (NOT with housekeeping though, but laundry folding DOES have to be exact!), so when I make something that my silly brain deems imperfect, I can't ever see it with the same eyes as other people.  Remember the artwork I made a few months ago titled "She Shows Sea Shells"?  This one?:

Gah!  I don't even like looking at it in this state!  Well, I considered it finished, I framed it, and even displayed at a gallery, but I never liked the thing really.  For one thing, the hand on the left is all wrong.  I can see where the left hand and shells makes sense to be blurry, and I drew it that way on purpose, but as the arm comes toward you, the viewer, it should be entering that area of tighter focus that shares the same depth-of-field as the right hand and shell.  That would be the photographic term for it.  Anyway, that doesn't happen in this drawing.  And yet, that's not how I cared to correct it.  I was ready to saw off a couple inches on the left side, and the top, and re-center the rest of it after painting the background solidly with a smooth, matte paint.  And YES, that's exactly what it needed, in my humble opinion.  And frankly, the primary opinion I'm concerned about, when it comes to my artwork, is my own! But if feedback from others is important at ALL, my decision to alter this artwork was confirmed as the correct course of action by the mere fact that the piece sold immediately after this change occurred.  Actually, it sold before I was completely finished with it.  So, do you agree that this change was the way to go?

It's a much cleaner presentation, and I'm happy to have gone back to clean up that mess!

I'm also in full swing selling my beaded bracelets for the holidays.  After finally completing two display racks, my bracelets look more professional.  I  purposely made the displays with a rustic look, and that style also blends well in the two galleries I've chosen to sell my work:  Art Connections Gallery in LaGrange, TX, and Mosaic in Smithville, TX.

If you're interested in a nice hand-made gift for someone, stop by either of these awesome establishments and see my work, and lots of other fine things!  Also, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like shopping at an actual store, you can check out my website (  and custom order anything you see there.  I am happy to make bracelets in your exact size, with just a few subtle changes to the design so that they can always be called 'one-of-a-kind'.

While I was at it, building these display racks, I decided to redesign my logo to fit the rustic handmade feel I was going for.  After all, the word 'handmade' is in the name, so I felt it works better to look loosely rendered, even though it is an actual font, not really hand-written.

...and the related logo for my price tags:

In keeping with the heart icon in the logo, I started using a heart-shaped punch to make my own price tags.  The first batch only showed 'RK h' without the smaller '' printed below it. You can see them dangling in the picture above, but here's a close-up:

I realized I needed to reinforce the whole name, besides just the initials, so the second batch of tags were printed with the small print added.  So.... a step in the right direction.  I'm using antique brass eyelets, natural hemp thread to tie the tags, and I'm complimenting everything with the packaging, using 'old gold' tissue paper and rustic brown kraft paper bags with handles.  My first order of business cards came back with the square logo off center, so they reprinted them, but I was allowed to keep the original ones.

With a quick trim, the design was centered, and I cropped the bottom information, just keeping the logo, which I attach on the bags.... and viola!  No need to print bags or stickers for now.  The only change I made to my logo was adding the heart, so these will have to suffice without the heart until I make stickers with that new version of the logo.

Here's a little tip, if you want your own custom tags, but you don't want to print thousands of them.  Use an inexpensive printing service, like Vistaprint or Overnight Prints, and have a small quantity of post cards printed of multiple images of your logo.  It's a little tricky to get the layout precise, because you'll want to be able to punch out your logo with the right amount of border around it.  In my case, the heart shaped punch would require a lot of white space at the top of each logo.  But with careful planning, I was able to get them spaced correctly.  It helps to print a paper copy first (even a poor copy will do), and punch out the tags, if there's a specific shape you're going for.  Also, don't forget the likelihood that the printer may not register your design exactly.  You'll want a little wiggle room in your layout, meaning a little extra space around all sides.

If you're going for a square or rectangular shape, and you don't mind a little variation, you can slice your logo's apart willy nilly, and it really won't matter how they're spaced.  I've seen really cute tags made by using scissors with the deckled looking zig-zag edge, and they looks just fine.

I realize the average person feels their eyes glaze over about now!  I get it.  I'm not one of those people, but it's okay.  But we can all appreciate cleaning up our to-do list, and wiping out those pesky tasks we've procrastinated on for so long.  So, I'm cleaning up my act!  How 'bout you?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Springtime served up Setbacks

Not that I've ever been eloquent or poignant, but I have had much more trouble than usual expressing myself.  Can't focus too well, can't be descriptive, not making tracks in ANY direction.  I'm stuck.  Not to make excuses (frankly, it's one of the things I AM best at), but I've been in a bit of a funk, and my art-making goals weren't realized this year.  2017 got off to a productive start, and then life/work/family/pets-and-giraffe-watching/too-much-drama/laziness (insert excuse here)... got in the way.  I eeked out only one more complete piece of art this year, which I shared news of before I started (shamefully long ago, as usual), titled 'She Shows Sea Shells'.

It was my intention to keep the left hand blurry, as if it's farther in the distance, and too far out of the shallow focal plane (if it had been a photograph).  But I don't happen to love this effect, now that it's done.  I was unsure all the while working on it, but that's often the case for me, only becoming confident when a certain area is all-the-way realistic.  With this piece, I am very tempted to paint over everything but the right hand and its shell, leaving a smooth matte area of negative space around it.  I don't mind taking a Skillsaw to the left side and top of the panel, removing the excess area to better center the composition.  Live and learn, I guess. If I do make these changes, it wouldn't be the first time I covered over something, or added something to a piece, years after the first time it was considered 'completed'. For the time being, the composition as it is shown here is on display at Art Connections Gallery in Bastrop. 

I had another piece underway, but it got temporarily sidelined. This is as far as I got with 'Exaggeration'.

I was having a lot more fun rendering the wasps' nest than the fingers.  Usually it's the other way around.  Hey- do ya like the hangnail?

So now I'm at a ... well... 'crossroad' isn't the right word, but I'm coming to a point where I have some decisions to make.  I used to hate hearing people say they needed to 'find themselves'.  That sounded so self-absorbed, and pretty ridiculous to me.  But I kinda get it now.  After working a silly retail job for awhile, and getting myself side-tracked with costume making for a live theater group, and the occasional cooking (catering) burst, I seemed to have lost track of my precious pencils and beads.  But at the same time, I'm asking if there are other media I'd like to take a stab at, or something else I can MAKE.  

Anyway, I'm about to buy a small kiln for metal clay, and hopefully enamel work.  That will allow me to enhance my jewelry pieces and elevate them from their current 'costume jewelry' status.  Images are all inside my head at the moment.  Nothing to see here!

I also have an impulse gnawing at me, in the form of hand-sewn, hand-painted garments.  I've been wanting to dive into that kind of art form for a couple of years now.  Again, 'dive' isn't quite the right word, as I may not get too submerged.  I may only 'dabble' with it.  How else will I fit everything else into my waking hours?  OY!

Anyway, Summer please be good to me!  Your heat and humidity should be a good deterrent for leaving the house!  This unemployed chick needs to find her direction, and hopefully the focus to string a few beads together, and the clarity to better string a few sentences together!  Summer, serve me salience!     

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Show of Hands

I just completed a successful 2016, making tedious beaded bracelets on a daily basis since the middle of summer. After years of making only a few beaded pieces a year, in this past half-year I've turned out about a hundred, I'd say.  You can find most of my beaded work on my website,

 So at the beginning of January, it was time to set that endeavor aside and continue creating 2-dimensional artwork again.  I will still make the occasional beaded item throughout the year, and I have been taking the odd custom order now and then, but for the most part, I'm back at the drawing board.  Sometime in the late summer or early fall, I'll start beading again full time (in time to produce another quantity for Christmas sales).  But in the meantime, I have several juried shows to enter in the spring/summer, so I hope to generate an average of one quality art piece per month.  I'm resuming my drawings of hands and hand gestures, since that's my favorite subject these days.

My first effort of 2017 is this mixed-media piece titled 'Proxy', made with acrylic, graphite, watercolor, and Prisma stick.  It measures 12 by 20 inches, and has been entered into my first juried show of the year.

I posted this on Facebook, and an artist friend commented that possibly the casual viewer might regard this as two real hands, passing a piece of artwork.  That would be incorrect, however flattering, but in a sense, this is artwork within artwork.  All three hands are my creation.  The two outer hands are supposed to look realistic, and the middle one is obviously more abstracted.

I always start my pieces with a wash of watercolor.  Now, mind you, the application of watercolor is very sloppy, and looking at that stage of the work, one would question my ability to make anything decent out of that mess!  Here, you can see before any graphite has been applied. (My apologies for the poor photo quality!

And here's the other side, with just a little bit of shading started:

I initially rendered the center 'card' with graphite over the watercolor wash, but I didn't like the sour greenish-yellow color coming through after I started shading.

I  mulled over my options and decided I could make the 'card' into any kind of abstraction, or whatever medium I wanted.  In a way, it could be thought of as 'someone else's' artwork, so to speak.  That took a lot of pressure off , not having to worry about the 'card' being different than the rest of the pencil rendering. So I painted over the ugly sour color using different values of grey paint.  I had just started testing those paints on the outstretched finger (above), and decided I liked that direction.  Like I said, the pressure was off, and now my main concern was that the hands flanking it be much more realistic.

The meaning of 'Proxy' is that we have so much less face-to-face, one-on-one interaction with people these days.  Instead of giving you the human touch you're reaching out for, I'm offering you a gesture or substitute for that action.  I'm checking in, touching base, getting the latest scoop through emails, texts, phone calls, and the like.  But I'm not having to actually see you in person.  And hopefully it's obvious that I was inspired by the iconic imagery of a section of Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel.  I first intended to use a handshake in the composition.  That's another action that has to be done in person.  But as I deliberated, I thought of the (almost) touching fingertips between Adam and God.  That seemed very appropriate, and more ethereal of an image, something I'd rather look at for any length of time.  I didn't copy the exact hand gestures, nor did I put cracks in the wall or use any further ties to the Chapel ceiling, other than choosing a bluish color for the background.

Now I'm on to my next piece, which will be titled something like 'Exaggeration', or 'Imagination'.  The state of it in this photo doesn't allow you much information, only being the watercolor under-painting.  Remember, I said 'sloppy'!  It's a hand grasping a wasps' nest (which I found in our chicken pen).  I'll have to super-impose wasps on the nest, since there were none actually attached.  The shadow that's being cast from the nest will show the outlines of the wasps as fire-breathing dragons, though it will be quite subtle, and could get missed at first glance.  This piece should come to fruition more quickly, being only 12x12.  I used to hate showing anyone my work until it was finished, but lately, it is fun to divulge the lowly beginnings of what eventually turns into something much better.  Again, sorry for the sad photo here, but you get the gist of it.

...and after that piece, I'll draw a pair of hands (mine) holding several shells.  The oh-so-brilliant tongue-twisting title will be 'She Shows Sea Shells'  (smiley face!).  And after that, a large piece (MORE hands, of course) called 'Champagne and Sweet Tea', will show a woman and man toasting those respective drinks.  They will be holding a flute and a mason jar, so the contrast is obvious, even though we won't see their faces, or much more than their sleeves.  A city gals and her cowboy, perhaps?  NOW.... I've said it....I've made my plans known, so I HAVE to do them!  Keep me accountable.  I'll check back in when progress has been made.