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.
From left to right: patches, shading, and dots.
From left to right: cactus, pinwheels, and concentric.
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.
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!

Day 10


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I started my day by checking out some photos on Etsy to try to figure out how I can take better photos.  I have some tips: photos look best when taken in sunlight (although not directly in a sunbeam) and on a natural surface.  I have a little space in my dining room that will do the trick.  I hope to work on those photos again soon.

I finished working on my stepmom's scarf last night.  I will take photos soon but I probably won't post them until she has received it.  I have started to work on another one in the same pattern for sale on Etsy.

I also finished weaving my second-ever woven scarf!  It is very short, and will probably be more of a neck decoration than something that keeps the neck warm.  It was a bit of a challenge to finish this, as my loom fell apart as I was almost finished and I had to get out the hammer, nails and pliers in order to finish the job.  This scarf is also going to be a present, this time to my mom, so I can't show you the whole thing yet.  But here is a sneak preview:

I heat-set and removed the glue from two small glue resist pieces I did.  They are drying and are not ready to be photographed yet.  I also ironed the resists that I washed out yesterday.  I am pretty pleased how they turned out.
Based on henna designs. I learned not to scrub at the glue with a nail brush: this fades the fabric paint, which is why there are some faded bits around the leaves on the vine.
Cherry blossoms, a favorite motif of mine.
Pole wrap resist. This is apparently a type of shibori dyeing.
I also did worked on some more glue resists to try with the textile paint, and I took one of the pole wrap cloths and tried a resist on that.  Tomorrow I will put dye on top of it.  I'm excited to see how it works.  I also did a bit of snooping around last night (because with unschooling school is never in and school is never out) and found out that some of the physical resists I have been doing are shibori.  I think I will take a shibori book out of the library, as there are many techniques I would like to try that I couldn't figure out from the internet.

I finished my yarn drawing.  It looks a little better now that I've finished it.  I have learned that I need to work on my negative space and my shading.  I will probably do this by drawing more.
Yesterday was Labour Day, so I did roughly half a day of schooling.  I would have done a full day but I wanted to spend some time with my husband, who doesn't get a lot of days off.  So there was some decidedly not-working going on.

I started with the warm-up, as usual.  It didn't go anywhere, which is becoming more frequent.  The assignment was to get some sort of a box and put my "collection" in there, as a field journal.  The problem was that I a) didn't have the type of box mentioned and b) that I don't have a collection.  So that was that.

Next, I listened to my podcast as I wove.  On the weaving front, my project is nearly finished!  It will probably be a very short scarf as I don't think I factored in loom waste when I did my calculations.  I may have mentioned that calculations are not my strong point.  Anyway, the podcast was a continuation of the previous two day's podcasts, talking about Indian fabrics (mostly cotton) and their impact around the world).  Eventually chintz got passe, because everyone had it, so no person of fashion would wear it.  The next big thing in Indian cotton was Bengali muslin.  At the time, Europeans could not make muslin, because they couldn't replicate the very finely spun thread used in muslin.  It was apparently very difficult to weave because the thread was so fine.  Muslin appeared in dresses with high waists (now known as Empire waists), because it looked like the clothes that ancient Grecian women wore in the art from that period.  Since muslin is very fine, critics said that women were trying to replicate Grecian undress.  Also fashionable at that time were cashmere shawls, with very beautiful patterns.  In the beginning they tended to have a large plain field in the center and a decorated edge.  Over time, the decoration came to take up most of the shawl.  These could be draped around the shoulders in such a way that complemented the folds in the muslin dresses.  These shawls were very expensive and it took a long time for them to go out of fashion.  They were still fashionable in the Victorian period, where they became very long to coordinate with the silhouette of the day.

For my drawing assignment, I decided to draw a ball of fine yarn.  Holy cow.  When I try to draw stuff like this, it reminds me how far my drawing actually has to go.  It was very frustrating and so far, looks nothing like a ball of yarn.  It didn't help that I was looking at art magazines over the weekend with photorealistic drawings in them.  I have to keep in mind that drawing isn't my ultimate medium and photorealism isn't my means of expression.  That being said, I don't want to be an artist that can't draw so that's why I choose challenging projects like this.  My last project was too easy and I finished it in 15 minutes.  I suppose I could have made it more detailed, but I think I actually hit my limit of what I can currently do with my drawing.  Drawing will be my next major subject after design, I think.

After that, I did surface design.  Well, "did" is a relative term.  I spent a lot of my time looking at the projects of the past few days trying to figure out what's next.  I still haven't figured it out.  Maybe they are finished.  They are currently hanging in my dining room, where I can look at them and try to decide things.  I also spent a fair amount of time flipping through my book, reading about different techniques that I might try.  I decided to avoid discharges for the time being because you need a respirator, and I just don't feel like doing art that requires a respirator right now!  I decided to do a resist with Elmer's school glue on some new pieces of cloth.  However, when I got out my Elmer's glue, I saw that it was not school glue, and that it in fact would not work as a resist because it wouldn't wash out of the fabric.  So I'll keep my eyes peeled for some cheap school glue when I go out today.

I skipped business study, although my husband and I discussed how I might do some more internet sales, and that I should think about what I want to sell online.  I have a few items in my Etsy shop (none of them currently listed) and I think I will try to sell those again, but they need better photos and it's not the kind of stuff I want to spend the rest of my life making.  I might start a new shop in conjunction with my current one.  But first I have to find my camera parts!

My design study was a bit all over the place.  I started by finishing the previous chapter on form.  I actually didn't have much left in that chapter, so now I think it's odd that I stopped what I did.  I read about form in three dimensional design, much of which is the same as two-dimensional design.  Balance is a little different because things have to look balanced from all different directions.  Asymmetrical balance is most common.  The scale of 3-D work is important-- it could be a tiny thing that could be held in the palm of the hand, or it could be large enough to be walked on, or so incredibly huge it can be seen from far away.  Movement can be quite different because kinetic sculpture is possible.  The next section that I started on (but didn't get very far in) was about line.  I am quite excited about this chapter, as I am really interested in how line can be used in surface design.  The characteristics of line are measure (the length and width of the line), type (straight, curved, or angular), direction (which way the line moves on the surface; for example, you could have a zig-zag line that curved over the surface of the work), and location (where on the surface the line is, and how that affects our perception of space, perspective, and so on.)  That's as far as I have gotten.

In my personal projects, I have started to knit a scarf for a birthday present for my stepmom.  I had a pattern, tried it, scrunched it up and threw it away, and made my own pattern.  It's my first lace pattern, and I am pretty impressed with myself considering that I have only made 1 1/2 lace projects before.  I can't post the photos yet because my stepmom might be reading this, but after she receives it I will post them.