Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On illustration work, storybook time, and how cuttlefish are generally not regarded as being overly affectionate.

I've been pretty quiet on the social media art front lately for a couple of reasons. I'm finishing up a few 'surprise' commissioned pieces that must be completed before the holidays, and I'm also working on a few illustration projects that take me back to my days of sketching with ink pen. Because of the nature of these projects, unfortunately I can only divulge fun tidbits here and there.

Here are a couple of the illustrations I've been working on, for several very different projects, both of which are headed in the way of being children's books:

...and here's one I did just for fun:

"Cuttlefish are marine animals of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopuses and nautiluses. 'Cuttle' is a reference to their unique internal shell, the cuttlebone. Despite their name, cuttlefish are not fish but molluscs." Don't be confused-- cuttlefish are not as affectionate as you might think. They're not even freaking fish. Everything about their name is a lie.

I am SO. DAMN. PUMPED. about getting back into sketching, and especially about doing illustration work for a couple of really cool projects with some really talented, fun folks. In fact, after the holiday season is over and I've finished up the commissioned projects in my queue, I think I'll be taking a little break from painting to see where this goes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another finished DIY project in the books-- this one was a 30-year-old lamp gifted from my boyfriend's mother, which she apparently received as her first Christmas present ever from my boyfriend's father. I love the history behind this lamp (and the fact that it has a BUILT-IN TABLE-- how convenient is that?!), but it was in rough shape, missing a shade, and needed a major spa day.

The lamp was wood, so I sanded (I used an electric sander, but that really isn't necessary) and re-painted the base (I used some leftover acrylic interior paint I had from a previous project). I had to do 3 coats for full coverage. The lampshade was a perfect find from another discarded lamp, and happened to be exactly the style I needed. I spray-painted the lampshade and with a brush added the stripes, which were intended to be rough because that is simply the style of our bedroom. I think it works well with the abstract piece to its right.

Here's our entire finished bedroom:

You can just see the tail of the "jellyfish" fixture, but because of our vaulted ceilings, it was hard to capture a photo of the entire thing. Find a full photo and the DIY instructions for the "jellyfish" here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On eating paleo (or the trials and tribulations of being a Wisconsin girl who gave up cheese), and the invention of "holy crap delicious cucumber salad"

I'm sure you've heard this tale time and time again and you're SICK of hearing people talk about how being gluten-free and dairy-free and eating paleo has completely recharged their energy and reinvented their lives and bodies and bowel movements, but I'm here to tell you-- it really works. It actually works.

I started noticing that I had developed some kind of errr, allergies, in accordance with food about 6 months ago. I won't go into details with my stomach issues, but something was definitely not digesting correctly. I was exhausted and cranky. I think my friends thought I was lying and was just "going through something weird" when I always wanted to go home early, but the truth was, I really felt like crap all of the time.

My boyfriend, John, and I started doing paleo about 2.5 months ago, and I'm not lying when I say I feel "real awesome", and he has lost about 15 pounds and is looking SVELTE. I was never the kind of girl that anyone would ask for help in the kitchen (I've had to Google "how to hard-boil an egg" repetitively in the absence of my boyfriend), but I've actually been having a great time coming up with paleo-friendly recipes and learning how to survive without Chinese delivery if John isn't around and I'm hungry.

I post a lot of those annoying photos of food that you hate on my Instagram, but I thought I would start including a few of my favorite recipes here, especially if it's something that I came up with or "reinvented". Cucumber salad was always one of my mom's favorite dishes when I was growing up, so I took her recipe and turned it paleo. Here it is:

"Holy crap delicious cucumber salad"

1 cup home-made mayo
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons mustard
1 Teaspoon-Tablespoon honey (depending on taste-- if you like it sweet and with less tang, add more)
2 cucumbers cut into slices

Cut, mix, refrigerate! This is an excellent side for any BBQ-themed meal, picnics, or just on a hot day when you need something refreshing. This is still one of my favorite dishes ever. :)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On lunchtime artist talks, making connections, and the Herculean Frank Juarez

Some time ago, I was introduced through a mutual acquaintance to Frank Juarez of the Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

I can't stress enough the importance of making connections with other creative, appreciative and like-minded folks when you're an artist. It's not even about opportunities, it's about having the option to get involved and create a sounding board for ideas and projects. You need to surround yourself with folks who are going to encourage you to create and play and take risks and occasionally make dumb mistakes (but you'll recover), and they need to be able to tell you WHEN, not if, your work is shit and you need to get back to the drawing board. It helps if they can make you chuckle a bit, too. I can't tell you how thankful I am for the many artists communities I'm involved in, here in Denver, from my hometown in Milwaukee, the online artist community that is constantly Tweeting and Liking and Commenting and Posting and Giving A Thumbs Up, and other artists I've had the pleasure of making connections with both in person and through cyber correspondence. It's pretty cool.

Yesterday I had the treat of participating in Frank's monthly "lunchtime artist talk", which he holds in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Participating was myself and another artist, Jean Tobin (who is fantastic as well), who was able to be there in person whilst I Skyped in. Technology spanked us again and again as our connection kept dropping, so Frank had to pull me up on his phone so I could speak with the group of about 10 other artists who were attending the session to talk about creating work, techniques and ideas, and artist promotion. He wasn't able to record me during the original Q&A session, but we did another recording last night while I drank a glass of wine. Here is the link, if you're interested... I start at about 3:00 and blabber on for awhile.

A bit about Frank-- he's a gem. The guy is a high school art teacher, gallery owner, working artist himself, he's currently in the midst of moving studios and re-furbishing his new gallery space, he grades papers, he coordinates the Lunchtime Art Talks, he's working on a project that features a different artist each day for 365 days, he's collaboratively putting on an exhibition with working sketchbooks from artists around the country, and he dresses like a super hero. That's right, he has this Paco Libre alter-ego, who is known throughout the Sheboygan arts community and makes appearances at special events, including a performance exhibition at Vanguard Sculpture Services in Milwaukee that included one of my pieces this past summer.

If you're from Wisconsin, and especially the Sheboygan or Milwaukee area, I think it's detrimental to get to know this fine fellow. My one complaint about Frank: you just can't bitch about being too busy to him, because the guy is ALWAYS going to be working on 10 times as many projects as you are, and still have time to show an artist around the Sheboygan art scene or put on a Mexican wrestling mask and Skype ya.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On furniture "reincarnation", or turning old crap into new beautiful crap

Since becoming obsessed with Pinterest and DIY, I have become trapped in an increasingly fast downward spiral that causes many sleepless nights, restlessly tossing and turning in my sweaty sheets, my mind frantically racing because I just have too many damn do-it-yourself projects to get started on, and not enough time.

Eventually I found myself dragging my body throughout the house on hands and knees, a trail of drool escaping from my lips, with a can of metallic spray paint, trying to find something, anything, that needed a fresh coat of paint.

Perhaps that is a bit dramatic (my best friends know that I'm occasionally willing to dramatize for the sake of an interesting yarn), but I've been recently making lots of spur-of-the-moment hardware purchases, including running to Home Depot one night at 8pm to purchase a jigsaw, so that I could cut apart an old kitchen table to make a desk (it couldn't wait until morning-- by the way, that desk looks rad. More on that later).

Yesterday I decided to take on an old dresser that was contributed to our household by my boyfriend-- the thing journeyed out here to Denver with him from Wisconsin, and despite being a well-traveled and cultured bit of furniture, it was @$$-ugly.

I wish I had taken before photos of this battered gem, but I completely forgot. Here is one of the progress though-- I was painting in the living room.

I sanded this bad boy down, and used some old paint that the 
previous house owners had left-- therefore, it cost me $0.

I used an electric sander to buff off some of the old loose paint, scratches and gouges, and went to town with some old wall paint that the previous owners had left in the closet. My original plan was to slap a couple of coats of paint on there to get 100% coverage, but I ended up really liking it with a bit of the old grey peeping through, so I only used one. Visible paint strokes are OK, they only add to the character.

Then, I used a fine-grade sandpaper (don't use a rough one-- that will leave big angry scratches) over the top. Before painting I had removed the hardware, and I spray-painted it gold and then reattached.

Here is the finished project (with one of my mixed media pieces, "Waking up with mountains in my eyes"), which now resides in the guest bedroom. I also spray-painted the champagne bottle from the house closing, which you can see on top of the dresser. 

I love it. I spent at least 30 minutes between 5 different trips into the guest room "surveying" my masterpiece last night. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I'm back, bitches, and I have spray paint.

I know I haven't posted anything on here since March, and my excuse is, well, I've been busy. I also started another blog on Tumblr (www.theoutlawprocess.tumblr.com), but frankly I miss the layout here at Blogspot. 

The legit excuse for not blogging is that I have been INCREDIBLY busy. Lots of amazing opportunities regarding my art have been popping up, including invites to be included in exhibitions and shows and lots of commissioned pieces and collaborations. We also just moved this past weekend into a new (to us) fabulous house from 1897 with lots of beautiful woodwork, stained glass windows, a spiral staircase and my own amazing studio with vaulted ceilings and enough space to create and paint and cut and saw willy-nilly.

I love interior decorating and infusing a home with creativity and personality, but I've got limited monetary resources (artist problems), so I've recently fallen into the Pinterest hole and been DIYing it up. This is what I look like when I build things:


...and here is a photo of my most glorious studio:

...and today, I bring you, jellyfish hat Halloween costume turned lighting fixture:

Step 1: dress as jellyfish for Halloween, get drunk.

Step 2: attach string, hang from ceiling as permanent fixture of your home.

Here is the original link to instructions for creating this gem: http://spoonful.com/crafts/jellyfish-costume

Most importantly: I'm back, baby. Watch this space for lots of new artwork, funny quips and DIY up the wazoo.