At this point in my self-study program, I am losing a lot of steam.  I no longer have the money to buy supplies or run my business, so the amount that I have to do has decreased significantly.  When I started this project I was working on it for 9 hours a day.  Now I'm down to about half an hour, when I get around to it.  As I run out of supplies I run out of things that I can do, and it's really frustrating, which makes me avoid it even more.

On the other hand, I've discovered a really cool opportunity that I hope I will be able to pursue in the future.  PNCA has a Pattern Design and Printing Endorsement Program.  This is a continuing education program that helps with professional training, rather than taking classes for interest.  It must be completed in a year and includes a self-directed project, sort of a thesis.  Having deadlines will likely encourage me to keep working.  I actually was fairly motivated in college and university, in spite of the fact that lecturing is a really inefficient way to teach and learn.  So I think I would benefit from this kind of outside structure.

I have been doing some things lately.  I listened to two art history podcasts in the last little while.  The first was on The Embarkation of Cythera.  That was a lousy podcast.  The narrator swooned the whole time about how whimsical the painting was rather than discuss what was going on in the painting.  The second one that I listened to was about the famous painting, Maids of Honor by Valezquez.  This narration was considerably better.  It described the moment in time caught in the painting.  The royals had just been sitting for a portrait, with the king and queen looking on (they can be seen in the mirror).  A court gentleman is opening the door for the party to exit and is awaiting further instructions.  The princess is thirsty and is being given a little cup of water.  There was a ceremony that was to be performed whenever the princess was given water: her maids were supposed to hand it to her and kneel while she drank.  She had a dwarf and a little boy go everywhere with her to amuse her, and in this painting the boy is trying to wake up the dog to get a rise out of him.  The painter can be seen finishing off his painting.  The canvas takes up the entire height of the painting.  The cross on his chest was painted after he died to make him seem suited to this royal scene.

I've progressed a bit on my embroidery and finished the last two circles.  I need to fill in the grid now.  These are the last two.
These are square filling stitch (on the left) and overcast stitch.

I managed to make a bit of progress on my spinning before running out of fiber.  Instead of flicking the spindle and pulling on the fiber to thin it out as I went, I learned to take the spun part and pinch right at the top, spin the spindle as much as I could, pinch the top of the spun part with the other hand, pull on the fiber with my first hand, pinch the top of that, and let go of the bottom pinch and watch the twist work its way up my pulled fiber.  It worked out really well.  On the left is my yarn spun with my previous method, and on the spindle is the yarn spun with the new method.  The new method produces thinner, more consistent yarn.

Finally, I've been doing a few more drawings.  I like this book because the drawing assignments usually take only about 20-30 minutes.  When I work on something longer than that I start to hate drawing.  Even the 30 minutes is a bit of a stretch for me.  I used to loooooove drawing, so I don't know what's up with me.  The first assignment I did was a 3/4 view of my eyes, which weren't that hard to draw but gave me eyestrain.  The second one is a glass bottle.  I was to capture the shapes that I saw in the bottle.  I started out that way but with the finishing I don't know if you can see that that's how I did it.
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.