Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Day in Pictures

I wanted to write this blog post last night but I was just too tired. Yesterday I decided to take advantage of my phone's camera and take pictures of things throughout my day. Sometimes it's a
nice to do thing because it makes even the smallest things have more importance.
My day started off sort of late as a result of me trying to get more sleep, per my doctor's orders. I actually haven't had as much joint pain in my hands, so he may have something there... (here's hoping!)
When I have a day off, I love taking the time to make myself a cup of tea.
There is something so comforting about it that I can't imagine a bad day ever following something so nice.

                                             Earl Grey with cream and sugar. Yum!

After doing some housework, I did some work in my garden. My orchids are in bloom right now and looking so pretty! I love when I see buds on them because most of the time I can't remember which orchids are which. It's always a nice surprise to see what color or shape they are when they bloom. :)
People think that I have a green thumb because of my orchids, but really it's just because they don't need much work. If I forget about them (which I frequently do) they don't try to punish me by being wilting drama queens.

My jasmine, on the other hand, needs constant attention as it is continually trying to strangle the other plants. No matter how often I trim it back, within a week it's back to not playing nicely with the other plants. Oh well. It's once a year bloom-fest makes it worth the work. LOVE the way it looks and smells!

Even though it's not blooming right now, I always take pictures of it when it IS blooming so that I can remind myself of why it's worth the work. Now if only I could figure out a way to bottle up it's aroma!

After trimming the plants outside, it was time to work on my bonsai trees inside. My one ficus tree is doing so nicely! I love bonsai because it's so much fun to imagine being a small little person playing in their boughs or enjoying some shade underneath them. They can be such perfect little miniatures.  It's like a forest in your house!

Yes those are Nightmare before Christmas figurines that you are seeing under my bonsai tree. :)

I really want to add some moss underneath this one, but I'm not sure how to go about cultivating it. Does anyone know how to go about doing this?

After my indoor and outdoor gardening was done, I spent some time with a dear friend of mine where we enjoyed some red wine and played with her cat, Lilly. Her cat cracks me up. I've rarely seen a cat with so much personality. If she's unhappy with you, ooooo can she give some looks!


                               I love her stripes and cute little pink nose!

On my way home I saw the most beautiful sunset. I just HAD to take a picture of it so that you could see (despite being in the middle of driving. HAHAHAHA) Sunsets are so inspiring. I hope to get a painting done of it one day when I have a bit of a break in-between paintings.

Anyway, that was pretty much my day in a photo album. What would your day look like if you took pictures throughout it? Even if it's just sitting at a computer most of the day, take the time to get creative and find beauty in the mundane. I'll do another one of these someday soon of a less interesting day and see how creative I can be. :)

Until my next blog post, enjoy yourself and the world around you! ♥

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Portrait Drawing and a Painting of Spring

Well I had yet another unexpected day off today. (a result of our tourist season being over with here) I'm sad to not be earning as much money, but grateful for the time to work on my artwork.
Today I worked on a portrait that I have been commissioned to do of a woman's grandson. She just wanted a simple drawing.
I must confess, I haven't done a portrait like this in a very long time. ( or a basic pencil drawing for that matter! )  It felt sort of weird at first, but then ( just as with all of my art) I felt the momentum growing and the interest in the piece as well. I still have a little bit more defining to do, but I'm pretty happy with him at this point.

                                     Something about his eyes hints at the mischievous don't they?

Once I got this far with him, I took the time to work on my painting of Spring for my four seasons series. ( to see Summer, go here) I still have about 2 hours worth of work to do on her, but she's also at a point that I'm pretty happy with. I've been enjoying the challenge of painting flowers like this. Next will be Autumn, where the challenge will be painting leaves. Fun!
      This particular photo was taken with my phone, so I apologize for the crappy photo quality! 
Hoping to have time to write another blog post tomorrow. Until then, have a wonderful night!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tips for a More Balanced Life

I wonder if any of you experience the same problem as me?

My life consists of me constantly struggling to keep the balance in my life. If I am keeping up with my art, then my house is a mess or I'm not exercising. If my house is spotless then my artwork hasn't been touched. However, I have FINALLY figured out a way to keep myself on top of everything. It mainly came down to my housework. If my house is a mess, it affects everything else for me. Even if my artwork is going well, I will be depressed and feel out of control with my house being in chaos. So I recently broke up all of my housework into specific chores and assigned them to specific days. I had tried to do this before, but I would spend too much time doing each task and end up getting overwhelmed again.

Before it would have been Monday- wash laundry. Now it's Monday-wash whites. You'll notice that I have specifically broken it down to JUST the whites. This is because 'wash laundry' would often involve me washing and folding 3 loads of laundry! By the time I finished doing all of that I wouldn't have done any artwork again. Now I only give myself tasks that will take no more than 1 hour. Once I have completed this chore I am free to work on art, exercise, or whatever. While there are definitely days when I want to be lazy, I find it easier to force myself to do the tasks at hand because I know that they will only take 1 hour at the very most. It's not such a daunting task anymore. If I know that Fridays are my day to watch the Frasier marathon on We TV, then I schedule tasks that allow me to be in the living room. (ex. iron clothes)

So far it has worked out really well. It's amazing how free I feel just by having less clutter and chaos!

What tricks do you have to help keep the balance in your life?

Doctors, Tests and Artwork

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten to tell you about my latest doctor's appointment. The truth is, that there isn't much to tell yet. My rather overbearing and gruff Jewish rheumatologist has sent me onward to get more bloodwork done. ( I don't mind really, I'd rather a doctor be thorough than not.) Auto-immune diseases are prevalent on my mother's side so he says that I have a predilection for the genes that cause arthritis and such. However, just having the gene doesn't mean that you will ever develop the disease itself. So the tests are apparently to determine whether I have a disease or simply the genetic makeup to develop the disease. I'm learning all kinds of scientific and medical gargon! Don't I sound smart? Ha ha!
My doctor actually seems to think that I'm pretty healthy. He insists that a large part of my problem is my sleep patterns. I tend to go to bed at around midnight or 1am and then wake up at 7am or so. He has ordered me to go to bed  at 11am and to take melatonin about 20 min beforehand. Well it's night 3 of doing this and I feel that the doctor's "treatment" is making my sleep pattern worse! Night 1 was me tossing and turning all night long. Night 2 I completely woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep until around 5am! Well here it is Night 3 and I'm writing a blog post at 3am. I am sort of fed up with this! I might have only gotten 6 hours of sleep before, but I got 6 HOURS OF SLEEP. Nowadays I might be laying in bed 8 hrs but I seem to be getting less sleep than ever!

Ok, that's enough of my ranting. I apologize. Hee hee hee. Anyway, on to my current artwork. I am finally working on Spring for my Four Seasons series. I have been doing color studies for these since they contain so many various plants and colors and I want to make sure that the composition is right.

I have also done a quick underpainting in browns and am now working on layering in some color.

Lately I have been getting a lot of commissions for portraits! I have about 3 going on right now with the possibility of a fourth! I have to be honest, it's been awhile since I've done an honest-to-goodness portrait of someone and I am worried about it. What if the client doesn't like it? Or think that I've captured "little Johnny" quite right or something? This is why I have avoided them in the past, but lately it's become unavoidable. Oh well. It's a challenge, and I LOVE challenges. :) I'll be sure to share the end results with you.

Until then, have a wonderful weekend and hopefully many pleasant nights and sweet dreams. ♥
Your sleepy, yet awake Rebecca

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Handmade Artists Shop and More

For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I am a huge supporter of handmade artisans and their products. I think that it is imperative for us to support the individual rather than the big conglomerates whenever possible. That being said, I have been a proud member of the Handmade Artist's Group for over a year and have loved meeting other artists and seeing their lovely work. A new shop has been formed specifically for handmade pieces and contains some amazing gems, a few of which I would like to share with you. One of my favorite etsians, Swipxa, has recently opened  a shop there. His handmade Chinese paper-cutting is simply astounding. I own his piece entitled "Life Circle" and find it even more amazing in real life!
One of my favorite jewelry artists is Haffina who creates some amazing beaded necklaces. I have always loved the beaded arts but lack the necessary patience to work with all of those tiny seed beads.It doesn't stop me from collecting books and magazines on it though. ;)
 Haffina also makes some amazing chainmaille creations like this beautiful autumnal choker.
When you start thinking about Christmas presents this year, I suggest heading over to the Handmade Artist's Shop and taking a look around. If not for presents, then just head over to get inspired. There is plenty there to inspire you!

To help jump start their new shop, they are hosting a giveaway for a free shop for LIFE. To participate and be given a chance to win this amazing gift, go to here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Summer Painting is Finished!

                                                                Acrylic on Panel
Just like the title says, my newest painting, Summer, is complete! She's the first in my Four Seasons series. I'm really looking forward to working on Autumn, Winter and Spring! The orchids in my painting are all ones from my garden and the poppies are some that I saw in Monet's garden when I was in France this summer. I love incorporating things that I've seen in real life with the things that I see in my head.


Often when I paint, I'm either painting the things in the world around me, or I'm painting the things in the world inside my head. Typically I don't want the two worlds to meet too much, but it IS nice to be able to use things from the outside world to enhance my imaginary worlds.


I love how the colors pop in this piece! She will especially make a nice statement when hung next to the other three. I think that I'll begin work on Spring next. I really enjoyed painting the flowers and don't want to stop. :)


In other news, my appointment with the rheumatologist is this Tuesday. I've been killing myself with "what ifs" despite my best efforts to avoid doing that. Oh well. It will be nice to get it over with. I'll be sure to let everyone know what's going on as soon as I know.

Until then, have a blessed and creative day!! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why handmade is "so expensive"

I recently found this blog post and just HAD to share it with you. 
For the original blog post, go HERE
“$70 for a t-shirt?!”
“I love your website, but everything on it is overpriced!”
“Your stuff is too expensive.”
“Are you rich or something?”
“I could make that for $5.”

“Sorry, but that’s a rip-off.”
“$80 for a hoodie? You’re not Gucci.”
I’ve heard it all. At first it hurt my feelings and made me worry that my prices were too high. Now it only baffles me that someone would say something so rude. This is my job. It may not be like your job. I don’t have a boss or regular hours, and I don’t have to drive to work or even get dressed for it (heh), but this is how I pay the bills.
I’m always tempted to asked these people, “How about I come down to where you work and tell your boss you’re overpaid?” Because that’s essentially what they’re saying.
But I’m too polite to do that.
Instead I decided to write this article to shed some light on the work that all of us that run a handmade business are doing… including all the behind-the-scenes stuff you probably never even think about. (And that some of us don’t charge for.)
Sure, some people will still be rude doucheballoons. That’s life. But maybe I can just make a few people think, “Oh, I hadn’t realized how much work goes into that!”

Step 1: The design phase
I sketch most of my ideas before I start cutting. Sometimes it’s completely spontaneous. I just start doodling and see where it takes me. Other times I have exactly what it will look like all planned out, and I want to get it down on paper so I don’t forget anything.
It’s usually just a quick scribble of pen or pencil on paper. Other times I take more time. I’ll add color with colored pencils or do the sketch 4 or 5 times before nailing down a particular design.
Since most of my sketches are quick, we’ll say the total time spent sketching one piece is 5 minutes.

As you can see, my sewing skills do not translate to pencil and
paper skills.
Sketching: 5 minutes

Step 2: The drafting phase
Unlike a commercial outfit, I don’t have each of my patterns drawn up in every single size.  For custom orders, I redraft my pattern each time to match the customer’s measurements.
Likewise, even for non-custom pieces, I don’t have patterns for each possible combination of styles I make. For example, I have a single t-shirt pattern that I customize depending on whether or not I’m making a tank top, a hoodie, or a tee. I don’t have one scoopneck pattern, one v-neck pattern, and one crewneck pattern. I have one pattern for a t-shirt that I change each time I use it, depending on what I’m making.

Random tip: I like using old Tyvek envelopes for patterns
because it won't rip!
This shirt is pretty simple, so it only took about 15 minutes

Step 3: The cutting phase
This is another step that varies from piece to piece. My fairytale coats take at least 2 hours to cut because there are so many pieces. A simple tube top might take me 20 minutes. A zip-up hoodie takes an hour or more.

Start snipping!
Again, this one is pretty simple, so it only took 30 minutes

To read the complete post, click here, but the main idea in a nutshell is this...

Grand total
Sketching: 5 minutes
Drafting: 15 minutes
Cutting: 30 minutes
Sewing: 75 minutes
Photographing: 13 minutes
Measuring: 5 minutes
Photo-editing: 30 minutes
Listing: 15 minutes
Marketing: 20 minutes
Shipping: 10 minutes

218 minutes or 3 hours and 38 minutes. At $20 an hour, that’s $73. That’s only time/labor. Materials for this top cost $18, bringing our total to $91. Now go see what it’s actually listed for on my website.
Yep… $75. Less if it sells during a sale.

This article is just so great, isn't it? Next time you think that an artist's work is expensive, please remember that this is their job. This is their way of paying their bills and it's definitely not easy! The most important thing to remember when supporting handmade is that you aren't padding some big CEO's pockets. You are supporting the artists who create these things with their love and talents. If you love the items created, then chances are you love the artists who create them too. That bond is what makes handmade items special and what makes them worth the price.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keeping a Positive Attitude

Lately I have been having some soreness in my hands and joints and recently had some blood work done. My doctor has sent me to see a rheumatologist and I am, of course, pretty nervous about what the end results might be. It just hasn't been a good year, health wise for me! I can't stand the thought of there being anything wrong with me that might affect my hands. I'm trying to stay positive and have been making a lot of jokes about having to go to an old person's doctor. The new patient paperwork asked questions like "Can you get dressed by yourself (including doing buttons)? Can you go up 5 steps? Can you feed yourself? Do you use a specialty device to help you do any of these? etc... It's not really funny because as you get older, you definitely begin to have problems with these things; but at my age without any sort of accident to have caused it, it's just laughable.I keep joking with my mom about her 70 yr old daughter and such. I suppose that there is nothing else that one can do but find ways to laugh when faced with something like this.

I have to admit that this has sort of stunted my ability to create, but I am still pushing myself to do things. I'm working on finishing up another video as well as a couple of new paintings, including my Four Season series. I have only begun work on Summer at the moment, but will begin work on the other three very soon. Here is a work in progress photo of Summer so far.
There is some really beautiful work that I have been coming across. The FAE Team (Fantasy Artists of Etsy) has just released a new exhibition called Siren Song. It has quite a lot of really beautiful pieces and I recommend you taking a look.

Thank you for following my blog and for always supporting my endeavors and for supporting handmade! ♥

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How to Varnish an Acrylic Painting

Good morning everyone!
I have finally finished up my video on how to varnish an acrylic painting. This is a final step that a lot of artists skip and they really shouldn't. The final varnish coat is meant to protect your artwork for many years to come. Often we don't think about the environmental elements that are wreaking havoc on our paintings. Dust, dirt, UV rays, etc. The final varnish coat protects your work from all of this. When you purchase a varnish I would make sure to choose one that won't yellow over time and is removable with mineral spirits or some other medium. You want the varnish to be removable in case someone in the future needs to touch something up on it. (say it is damaged somehow and needs repair) Also, this is handy in case you find that you need to add something else to the painting.

Varnish is also a wonderful way to bring out all of the rich colors in a painting. Sometimes certain paints will have more gloss while other colors remain matte. Adding a final varnish will help to unify the texture and gloss of the entire piece.

When choosing a varnish you can choose matte or gloss. I usually prefer gloss because I like that "wet paint" look, but matte varnish works just as well.

Anyway, here is my video demonstration. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Introducing Laura Stamper Designs!

I promised to share with you an amazing fantasy jewelry artist, and here is she! I can't tell you how much her work inspires me. Much like me, her inspiration is rooted in story. As such, each piece of miniature wearable sculpture has its own personality and its own story to tell.

Laura grew up in rural Minnesota where she was surrounded by the natural elements that would become her greatest source of inspiration. Laura originally studied portrait painting. Even today, her first love is painting and illustrating.  She still uses the same creative approach to her jewelry that she used for her portrait paintings, thinking in terms of color, composition and negative space. Her artwork first evolved from portrait painting to creating miniature porcelain paintings, sculptures and jewelry pieces. Soon she learned how to work in metals and began to incorporate metal work with her jewelry.  Each of her unique pieces is crafted from porcelain and gemstones, and set in precious mixed metals.

Laura is a wonderful example of an evolving artist. Rather than continuing in only one area of art and doing portrait paintings her whole life, she has sought to grow and evolve so that her art takes on many new and exciting forms.  We have a shared love of learning and I admire her tenacity and perseverance.  

Often artists have a hard time letting go of certain pieces. Laura has a wonderful theory about her art that helps her to part with these beautiful creations without shedding a tear. She believes that each piece is waiting for her human twin.   "They tell me who they are and I just provide the hands to help them get here.  I also think they know who they are going home with long before I do. " What a wonderful way to look at it! 

To check out more of her fantastic creations, go to her etsy shop.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Creative Concepts and Sketches

Some days it seems like my creative well is dry as a bone and then some days I can't seem to keep up with all of the ideas pouring in. I currently have over 30 sketches that I've made for future paintings. I also have another 20 sketches done for random jewelry pieces. Often I do these sketches at work, but it's pretty much whenever I feel the need to jot an idea down. I'm so very grateful to have this many ideas floating about, but it's sort of overwhelming at times! 

The first sketches that I am going to be creating the final paintings for were done almost a year ago and are my versions of the Four Seasons. 
 Since we're in summer right now, I've decided to start Summer first. I had a lot of fun working on a quick color study with watercolors. 
When you are creating something, do you do mock ups? Or put together a practice run? Or do you just jump in headfirst? I have to be honest that with me it sort of depends on the piece. I always will do a quick pencil or pen sketch, but as for the color studies, it sort of depends on how detailed the piece is. In these small seasonal pieces, there are so many components that I feel compelled to play around with the color a bit. For simpler compositions I will often just jump immediately to canvas. 

Here are a few sneak peeks of some other upcoming projects that I will be working on in the future...

Hope that everyone has an amazing week!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Painting with Acrylics Video

Good morning everyone! I spent all day yesterday putting together a compilation video of me as I work on my latest painting, The Butterfly Faerie. I was ready to throw my computer out the window  because of all of the technical difficulties I kept experiencing, but it's finally done!

My next video will show how to varnish an acrylic painting, so stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Painting to Help Others

 Everyday I count my blessings and see how truly rich I am. We are bombarded now with photos of the horribly malnourished and suffering people of Somalia. I can't help but think that this could be any one of us. We have no control over the conditions that we are born into. It just breaks my heart to see how horribly these people are suffering!

I have finally finished my Butterfly Faerie and have placed it for sale in my etsy shop. 20% of the proceeds from this sale will go directly to UNICEF. They have launched a massive scale up of their operation and are using all avenues available to get supplies into Somalia. I want to help them with their efforts in any way that I can. I am honored to have the gifts that God has given me and hope to be able to use them to help others less fortunate.
I am also donating another 10% of the proceeds from this sale to Compassion International. I have been a member of Compassion for almost 6 years and find them to be an honorable organization who helps families in poverty stricken societies.

I plan to have prints available soon and will donate a portion of the proceeds from those as well.

Thank you so much for supporting my art! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gurney on Sargent

One of my favorite modern day illustrators, James Gurney, recently had this blog post. I found it so interesting and inspiring that I wanted to share it with my followers as well. Enjoy!

John Singer Sargent traveled to America in 1890, he went painting with Frederick S. Pratt, an amateur painter and founding trustee of the Worcester Art Museum.

Luckily for us, Pratt wrote down what Sargent had to say about painting methods.

“Choose simple subjects, near objects at first. Do not try to make a pretty picture so much as to render truthful effects. Paint over the whole canvas with colors approximating the masses so as to obscure [sic--did he mean establish?] relations of tones while working—when finishing, ‘paint into paint’ when possible and in portraits, paint around the features in detail, using small brushes rarely.

“Always use a full brush and a larger one than necessary. Paint with long sweeps, avoiding spots and dots (‘little dabs’). Never think of other painter’s pictures or how some one else would treat a subject but follow your own choice of colors with exact fidelity to nature.”

This was quoted from the new book John Singer Sargent:Figures and Landscapes