I was racing to complete my panel for the blanket project this week, and I knit so much that I gave myself a repetitive strain injury.  This has been annoying for two reasons: one, it hurts; and two, it means that I can't work on my art right now (it's in my dominant hand.)  I have a craft fair coming up in a couple of weeks and I'd like to crank out some stuff.  Or knit.  Or work on my drawings.  All things I need my dominant hand for.

I did manage to finish this set of napkins before the injury.
I also managed to help an artist with her work.  She is doing a project in which she has people write about a major illness on vellum tags and she will attach them to glass bottles in an installation.  Here was my contribution.
While I recover, I'm going to be working on my web presence and maybe watch some podcasts and stuff.  I already listened to an Art Biz Blog podcast, about the importance of a blog, and how Facebook doesn't replace a blog.  I think that's true, although Facebook certainly helps me a lot with my marketing.  My blog can help others in different ways though, like inspiring them to teach themselves or run their own business.

Well, I'm off to go continue to market my works!
 
 
My studies are coming together.  More slowly than I would like, but they are happening.  My husband says I need to give myself some grace.  I just read an article about how artists produce better work if they take their time and do other things that they enjoy, so I need to remember that.

Yesterday we watched an Art:21.  The theme was humor.  All four artists used an element of humor in their work.  They weren't necessarily laugh-out-loud funny (although sometimes they were) but humor was a starting point.  My favorite artist in the episode did beautiful paintings of Audobon-style scenes of wildlife, but with something disastrous going on.  One painting featured a branch full of passenger pigeons, stealing each other's eggs and mating and stuff.  But the branch had fallen off the tree and was about to crash into the ground.  That sort of thing.  My favorite quote from him was "I just want to paint a sexy monkey."

I listened to an Art Biz Blog podcast the other day, and it was about taking out things from your workday that weren't working anymore so that you could add something else in.  I was dismissive of the idea when I first heard it but now I think it's something to pay attention to.  We really only have so much time, and sometimes things take a lot longer than we think they will.  So we need to allow ourselves the time to do the most important work in.

I watched another podcast today.  It was a lecture by an artist who works in very small, detailed embroidery.  His "patches" were usually about 3 inches squared.  His work was very high quality.  It must take a lot of time and practice to learn how to embroider that well.  He said that in a very productive year he could produce 10 of them, but it was usually less than that.  He did scenes from his life, such as things that inspired him about his backyard (I don't know many people who love their backyards as much as this man did!), or a reflection on his grandmother, things like that.  It's kind of nice to see artists celebrating the mundane, the everyday, as a blessing.

I got a book on spinning out from the library.  I spin a little but I'm not very good, probably because I haven't done very much.  Also, I have a spindle rather than a wheel, and most spinning books are about using a wheel.  I don't have the money or space for a wheel at this point in my life, so I'd rather use a spindle.  Anyway, this book, Respect the Spindle, by Abby Franquemont, is about just that.  I have been reading about the author's spinning journey and about different types of spindles.  I learned why I have trouble getting thin yarn: my spindle is too heavy and the yarn will break if I make it too thin.  So I might want to pick up a lighter spindle eventually.

I have been working on drawing from imagination for the past few days.  It's an exercise from Burt Dodson's Keys to Drawing with Imagination.  I got this book and his original Keys to Drawing from the library.  The exercise I'm working on is called doodling and noodling.  First you doodle a shape, quickly and spontaneously.  Then you fill in the shape with some kind of decoration which is some kind of meticulous pattern.  I spent a few hours on this.  I thought it would be a fifteen minute exercise, but I listened to three albums' worth of music while doing it.
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From left to right: patches, shading, and dots.
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From left to right: cactus, pinwheels, and concentric.
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A rare photo of me working.
I think my next drawing assignment will be from the observation book.  It will take a half hour of sitting still so I need to block out some time to do that.

I haven't done any work on surface design in the past few days because I'm running out of supplies and don't have the chance to replenish them quite yet.  I have a bit more to do before I'm totally out though, so I'm hoping to get back to that tomorrow.

Also, I'm helping another artist who is doing a project on illness.  I'm going to write my illness (bipolar disorder) on some vellum tags with my thumbprint on them.  Then I'm going to tell a story about overcoming my illness.  She's going to collect these tags from many people and put them in glass bottles, I believe.  In any case I'm glad that I'm helping another artist.

I'm also continuing work on the panel for a blanket that I'm knitting that will end up being sewn with other panels and distributed to the homeless.  It'll be a scramble trying to finish it on time but I'm working as hard as I can on it.
 
 
I did a little learning in spite of myself this week.  I heard an interview on NPR with Chuck Close, who is a pretty famous artist.  Chuck has a condition called face blindness.  He can't recognize faces.  He forgets names too.  So if you go meet him and you met him before he won't know who you are, even if you're his mother.  In fact, he can't even recognize his own face.  This has influenced his art.  He paints faces.  What he does is he takes a photo of a face.  Then he draws a grid over it.  Then he chooses a giant canvas and draws a grid on that.  Next he carefully copies the details in each grid of the photo onto the canvas, while increasing it in size dramatically.  Finally, when the whole face is finished, he can actually see the face.  He does faces of people who are important to them so he can see their faces.  Now, if that same person came into the studio right then, he still wouldn't be able to recognize them, but at least he can see, from the drawing, what they look like.

My drawing books have finally come in!  I've taken a look at them and they seem pretty good.  I'm almost out of dyes and can't buy more at the moment, so i suspect that I'm going to have a lot of time to work on my drawing.
 
 
So, although I've officially been back at school this week, I haven't really done any schoolwork.  For one thing, I'm waiting for my drawing books to come in.  For another, I don't yet have the supplies for my weaving.  I only have myself to blame for not having watched podcasts though.  I don't usually watch them while I work because most of the things I do when I work require attention.

I have finished one big commission, a tablecloth.  The clients seem pretty happy with it and hopefully I will ship it this week.
Tablecloths take a long damn time!  I am also working on a tablecloth and six placemat set.  It's taking a while too but it doens't have a strict deadline so I can work on other stuff as well.  I have three sets of four napkins that I'm working on now. I will also do some placemat-napkin sets of two for Valentine's Day.

At my last shift at the Museum, I got a million resources.  The one I looked into yesterday was RACC, The Regional Arts and Culture Council.  They have listings for jobs, grants, and all sorts of things.  I haven't finished looking through their calls to artists yet.  It's an amazing resource and I'll probably have to spend a few days wading though.

One of the things I found in the calls to artists was a call to knitters to knit panels for blankets that will be given to local homeless people.  I've been working on that to try to get it in on time.  It's probably going to snow this weekend and not everyone can get into shelters, so I hope I can help someone out. There seems to be a very active knitting-for-the-community scene here in Portland and there are many opportunities to participate.

I'm going to drop off some work at the Crafty Underdog consignment store today.  Wish me luck!
 
 
I am back to school this week.

School is never really over when you're self-taught, so I have been watching some Art:21 broadcasts, which are wonderful.  There have been a number of them that I've watched and so I can't give all the details, but it's amazing to see artists at work, with assistance and big shows at museums.  It reminds me to keep at it and that it is possible to make your living at art.  I like the energy of a lot of the artists, who just get an idea and then explore it until they are satisfied.

I was in my first Portland craft fair this weekend.  I didn't sell much but I got some other things out of it.  For one, I was invited to submit work to their consignment shop.  I met someone who I might do a show with when my series is ready.  I got a lot of positive feedback on my work.  Also, a good portion of my Portland friends were able to make it out and support me.  I won't be able to do the next one mid January, but I was told that things pick up for February because of Valentine's day.  So I am going to try to make sets for two to sell there and at my online store.

I took a class on feather earring making this Friday.  It wasn't difficult at all, and it was lots of fun!  If I didn't already know that I wanted to do surface design for a living I might make feather earrings, although a lot of people are making them right now.  Anyways, it was nice to make a couple of pairs for myself and I got supplies to make one more pair.  I need to remember to make stuff that doesn't have anything to do with my work sometimes.  It makes me feel a lot better.

I am still working on my three large commissions.  They sure take a long time!  In the future I will charge more for them, as they are a little trickier than if they were small pieces.  But I am happy that I have these ones.

I've written up my new lesson plan under that section of my blog.  Check it out!  Also, I'm going to go reserve the drawing book from the library.