Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dormant Gems

My first art show in 3 years opens in 5 days. Working on it has required some attitude adjustments. It's been scary, liberating, exciting, frustrating... There was one drawing that I had to do 4 times because the first time there was a freak accident with a glass of water, and the 2nd and 3rd times my paint was just too muddy. But I persevered!

Everything is coming together and it feels good to make a body of work that I am proud of and that fits a theme of optimism. The pieces are simple, because the feeling is simple.

The show is about something I have a hard time putting into words, because it's just something that's difficult to explain. Last summer I had sort of reached the pinnacle of pretty bad anxiety issues (mix some depression in there), and I just decided enough is enough. Something just clicked. I don't know how or why, but it did. Once I had made the decision to not let outside things dictate what I do and how I feel, well, it was like I had found hidden gems that had been dormant for 30 years. Except gems aren't alive, but maybe you know what I mean. I don't want to say that I am "cured" because I know that it will always take work to keep the gems from getting buried again. At least now I know they are there, and they are mine.

If you are in the Bloomington area, this show will be up for the month of March. The show will be up in Cincinnati at Fabricate in July, and then I will be putting all of the pieces up for sale online and will have them at fall craft shows. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


January has always been difficult for me. It's very gray here in Indiana, and I'm one of those people who have a hard time without a lot of sunlight. For Christmas, I got a "happy lamp" and I have been using it every day. It has helped a lot! But I've still felt really unmotivated, uninspired, directionless, and trapped.

I need to be able to go outside. I need to be able to walk around in my house in bare feet. I need to be able to sit on the porch with my dog, drink coffee and sketch. January does not allow such things. I lay around a lot, catching up on my favorite tv shows that I had to miss out on during my holiday craft show season. I look at Pinterest for inspiration and ideas. I check Etsy to see what things I can find that are amazing. I think about drawing. And then I don't do it. Well, not much. It's like I am surrounded by gray clouds that suffocate my creativity. I know, it's pretty over-dramatic.

Something happens in January where all of my energy (both physical and mental) just gets zapped. Little by little over the month, I gain the strength to "get back into it." It is a S L O W process. At this point I have gone through enough Januarys to know that these feelings will subside, the sun will shine again, it will get warm, and the need to create will re-emerge. After all, January is only 31 days.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Toot your own horn

It seems silly and braggy to write about how many accomplishments I had last year, but I am a firm believer that if you work hard at what you do, then you should be able to toot your own horn. So here, I'm gonna go ahead and toot it.

In 2012, I worked harder than I ever have. When you are a self-employed artist, there are no guarantees. Every day is a leap of faith. I know that every opportunity that I get is important, and I try to make the most of each of them.

In 2012 I did 15 craft shows, which may not sound like a lot, but it is a lot. There is obviously a lot of preparation involved, and sometimes I have to drive several hours to get to the shows. The more I do them, the more I like them, and I've really come to appreciate the culture that surrounds them. I feel like that's where I belong! I was accepted into Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, which is sort of like the Super Bowl of craft shows. I felt like I had passed some kind of mile mark or something.

Part of my set-up at Renegade Craft Fair
In 2012 I made and sold 262 shadow boxes, 265 calendars, and 653 prints. (These numbers don't include all of the items I sold in stores around the country.) That totals to 1,180 things that came straight out of my head, went into my hand, onto paper, and into someone else's home. Amazing!

One of the tricky things about being a self-employed artist is figuring out how to get yourself motivated and figure out exactly what you need to do and when it needs to get done. I finally figured out a way to make goals and schedule them so that there is some flexibility. It's very simple and probably seems kind of stupid, but it worked amazingly well for me. It involved lots of post-it notes and a wall calendar.

I made my 6th annual Sadly Harmless calendar, which I really love and had a lot of fun working on. It was a big success!

2012 was also a big year for personal growth, revelations, etc... Being in the moment, making plans, having adventures: they are all important. While getting work done is a huge priority, having fun should be an equal priority. I'm still trying to find a balance, but just realizing how important it is for my sanity is a big step!

Visiting a secret beach is very important. Always bring freezie pops.

Thank you to all who supported me and my endeavors in 2012! What an amazing year. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do a lot of work

Ira Glass once said:

   Ever since I found this quote, I've been thinking a lot about how difficult it is for me to create things that I really love. Purely aesthetically, that is. I can love the idea, but hate how it looks. I become emotionally attached to most of my work, even if I'm not happy with it. I create these things out of thin air. They are like babies. Some of them I think are ugly. To a certain extent, I feel like I have little control over what comes out. Yes, I make decisions about where that tree goes, or is that bear going to be laying or walking? But stylistically, I draw what I draw without really thinking about it. I draw how I draw. I can't draw another way. Or if I did, I'm sure it wouldn't feel right. It's strange. But I often find myself feeling dissatisfied with the way things are turning out.

   This quote, in a way, has completely changed my view of art-making. I had never really thought that my taste level and skill level weren't on the same page. But it's totally true, and it's probably true for a lot of makers. My evolution as an adult draw-er has had a lot of ups and downs. In college, I was made to think that everything I made was very, very important, and while this was a lot of pressure, I also feel like I made really good work. I put a lot of time into it, and it was extremely personal. As a self-employed draw-er, I don't get this kind of feedback. I either get positive responses or I get nothing at all. So all of the criticism just bounces around in my head and I don't know if any of it is real or not. As a BFA student, I was subjected to/given the privilege of a critique every semester in which I put all of the work I had been doing for months on the walls, and about 30 of my peers and 3 professors would essentially dissect my work and ask me questions. It was extraordinarily scary and mind-opening.

   It's really hard to not have that anymore.

   I live a very solitary life. I work at home, by myself. I create things. I put my work on the internet, I take it to various craft shows around the Midwest, and sometimes I have an art show. I get polite, often enthusiastic comments about what I do. This helps reassure me that I'm doing the right thing. But sometimes I long for those critiques.

  I printed the quote out and taped it to my wall, because Ira is so right it's scary. If we don't just keep making things, just keep doing it even if we hate it and think it's terrible, we'll never get through all of the bad stuff. We'll never learn how to make things the way we want to make them. I had a drawing teacher who once said that you have to draw pages and pages of things, hours and hours, hundreds of drawings, just to get a few good things out of it. And he was right. I'll never quit, because I just CAN'T. I have to make things. But I take comfort in the fact that as Ira says, "Your work will be as good as your ambitions." I will keep making, and I will wait.

   We are our own biggest critics. I aim to impress myself.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Detroit Urban Craft Fair

This past weekend I got to visit Detroit for my first ever show in Michigan: The Detroit Urban Craft Fair! It was held for 2 days at the Masonic Temple, an amazing building and the largest masonic temple in the world, apparently.

Photo from

The only show I've been to with it's own candy bar. Also the only show I've been to where one of the organizers got proposed to.
What I got when I arrived. They made all of the booth numbers out of rope licorice! 

Photo from

One thing I was really surprised about was the amount of Michigan crafts there were. People in Michigan are crazy about Michigan! We're not really like that in Indiana. I did get to trade with several other vendors, which is one of my favorite things about doing craft shows. All in all, DUCF was amazing and I definitely hope to be back!

Monday, November 21, 2011

DIY Trunk Show/Chicago Trip

Earlier this year I applied for a spot in the DIY Trunk Show in Chicago, and was accepted into my first show in The Windy City! My boyfriend, Mark, and I traveled up a day early so that we could do some exploring.

On the way to Chicago, there's a stretch of land with tons of wind turbines. It's really amazing to see. At night, they all blink a red light simultaneously.

It starts getting dark at 4:30 in Chicago.

Navy Pier at night from Lake Shore Drive.

A trip to the Shedd Aquarium was in order the next day, so we took the train, but first stopped at a nice place called Yolk for a hearty breakfast.

Across the street was a bunch of sculptures of legs in Grant Park. A little research led me to find out that it's called "Agora" and was designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. 

We decided to get the expensive passes at the aquarium so that we could see everything. Most of it was worth it. 
These fish were huge and didn't look real. I forget the name of them.

One of the main reasons we got the expensive passes was to see the beluga whales and dolphins perform. It actually wasn't very impressive because they're still training for their big holiday show. I still loved seeing belugas, though. 

Right now there's a special jellyfish exhibit. The moon jellies are my favorite. 

One of the things I really love the most about the Shedd Aquarium are all the little details in the architecture and design of the building.

We got up Saturday and I of course had my pre-show anxiety nausea. This is what happens when you're a worry wort.

But I had nothing to worry about! The show went wonderfully. Sold all of my shadow boxes, most within the first few hours. 

Thanks for having me, DIY Trunk Show! I hope to be back next year! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Things I am obsessed with

I should mention I'm also obsessed with the other bears in her shop also.

Giant fabric whale by Philadelphia artist Tristin Lowe
Read more about it here.

Everything by Elly MacKay of Theater Clouds

Really, this is one of those times where I see something that I really, really wish I had made.