Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Beginning mixed-media work

I wanted to share these "works in progress". I am working with photos of WWI soldiers. I think these are "portraits" that were taken before these soldiers were sent overseas.
To me, these portraits speak volumes. They feel so powerful and when I "rescued" them (along with a huge box of vintage photos taken from my mother's house...they once belonged to a great aunt) I knew they were an art project in the making. Finally, I am starting to work with these photos.

First off, these photos of my work aren't the best pictures--I'm no photographer...and then after I snapped a few, my camera battery died...I'll take more as the work progresses...and these are works in their beginning stages. I am working on small canvases--6x8, 8x8, & 8x10.
My daughter just saw these photos and didn't like the red...looked too much like blood to her. I think that's just the affect of the photo, especially the close-up shots. Also there was another layer of the blue-grey color paint applied after these photos were taken, so the red has already been toned down. I was using the peeling paint technique and liked how it turned out.
I'm now at the point of applying finishing touches...I will be adding words definitely (but not exactly sure what words) and other artifacts?
I would welcome any comments/feedback. And by the way, I've been thrilled with all the recent comments. It's exciting to share my work with others. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finding my Muse

I went back to bed for a little bit this morning, but after the cat jumped over my head a few more times I decided it was time to get up and truly start the day. Over breakfast I checked in on some of the blogs I've been reading lately. I was reminded while reading Lynne Anderson's blog that sometimes we need to take a break and step back in order to "find" our muse.

That was the all reminder that I needed. First of all, I realize that I've been putting a little too much pressure on myself "to be" creative. Part of that comes from the fact that I've been a little more focused on goals since we're facing the start of a new year. I have a lot I want to accomplish in 2009! Secondly, since I'm on a break from my 9-5 job I wanted to spend a lot of time at the studio and get some painting done. As each day has passed, I've felt the time slip away...and haven't really felt I've "accomplished" much.

So I headed to the studio with a different attitude today. I thought about where I find my inspiration, how I recharge as an artist. Just spending time at the studio is like a retreat for me. It is my sanctuary. Whether I complete a painting or some other work, I nurture my creative self every time I step into the studio. It is my time for me. I put on some music (central to the creative process) and set to work.

Today, with a little VanMorrison playing, I pulled out four small canvases (11x14, 8x10, 8x8, and 6x8) and started painting. Basically I just laid down a base color of paint for some future collage work. I'm not really sure yet what I'm going to do...I was feeling inspired by some vintage-styled paper. And that's all the inspiration I needed to get started.

I'm not worried about what the final product will look like. Just mixing paint and using the brush to cover the canvas with paint...well, that is bliss for me. I am a painter at heart.

I can't wait to get back to the studio tomorrow.


Squeakers, my lovely cat

I had a hard time falling asleep last night (finally did so after midnight)...I just wanted to flip a switch to turn off my brain for a bit. I thought..."maybe just a pause button"...which I guess is what I got, because I've been awake, thanks to the cat, since 5 am. My cat has been in this nasty pattern of coming into the bedroom early in the morning, trying to get me up to give him his spoonful of "the good stuff" (canned cat food). Sometimes he sits beside me as I sleep and lightly "paws" me in the face as if to say "hey, it's time". When I ignore that, he jumps up onto my dresser and starts knocking things off. That's what woke me this morning. (Yes, I know...just shut the bedroom door...then he just annoyingly paws at the door) He is overall a lovely cat, but not so lovely so early in the morning.
When I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about all the different art projects I want to work on. And yet, when I was in the studio earlier in the day, I felt unable to start. Starting is sometimes so hard. It's easy to feel distracted by too many ideas and hard to know where to begin. I guess the important part is just beginning.
I'll update later on today's beginnings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blue than blue

Couldn't help myself. I did it again: snagged a treasury! Really there has to be a 12-step group for this affliction. I hear there is a treasury about to open and I'm there, glued to the computer screen waiting for a spot to open up.

This one's theme is: Bluer than blue. It features artwork by etsy artists that is blue in color and somewhat in theme. Please check it out!

I'll try to post a picture of it later!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Blessings

I guess Christmas is officially over.

Amazing. As crazy as the time leading up to Christmas seems, it seems to come and go in an instant.

December is always a whirlwind...and I know it is that way for most folks. For me December means a lot of juggling between work and my own family life. I work as a social worker at a therapeutic preschool. Our agency works with families that are struggling through poverty to raise their children. Often there has been a generational history of abuse and neglect. I primarily work with the parents, visiting them in their homes, providing parenting support and education.

The closer it gets to Christmas, the crazier my work becomes. Crazier and harder. As you can imagine, the holidays is a difficult time to be in the line of work of "helping others". Stress piles up for everyone and it's hard not to feel that. I try to bring home with me the good stuff...the joy in helping make the holidays a little easier for families that don't have a lot of resources. My hubby and I had a good time playing Mr & Mrs Claus for the families (even if we came home with the flu). It was a tough year for our "Holiday Store" for our families...donations were down, but we managed to serve all our families (our parents get to shop the Holiday store for gifts for their family, no charge).

And while I worked the last few weeks to help "my families" get through the holidays, I was trying hard not to go crazy making Christmas better for my own family. Like many of you, I struggle with the desire to buy the "perfect" gift, decorate my home, bake holiday goodies... And then on top of all that, I'm still trying to make it over to my studio to get some work done.

This year I had a hard time getting it all done in the way I would like. Well, honestly, it didn't happen. I got the tree up just after Thanksgiving, but except for lights, it had no ornaments on it till Christmas eve. It still is not decorated properly. I was shopping up to the last minute. I still have plans to bake some of those holiday cookies.

But in the end, it's all good. I spent Christmas Eve with my kids and hubby. Yes, Santa was very, very good to me (Thank you honey!). In the end, it's all the little things that make the holiday complete for me...The most important thing to me is spending time with my family. My kids relish the traditions that we created as a family...and it's the replaying of those traditions year after year that make my holidays complete. Even if we don't get it all done the way I would like, the fact that we have those traditions and stay true to those traditions--that is what I treasure. My kids are young adults now, juggling their own lives. We are very close, but I know in years to come they may not always be able to spend the whole holiday with me. This year, in fact, my son juggled spending time with our family and his girlfriend's. That was a first for him. I was touched when he called me at midnight Christmas to wish me a Merry Christmas. He sounded a little sad and I asked him what was wrong. He said he missed being home with all of us the whole Christmas. Little did he know that sharing that with me was the greatest gift he could give me.

I feel blessed.

So now that Christmas is over, I can sit back and relax. Thankfully, I get 2 weeks off from my job over the holidays. I have one more week to do with whatever I like. I plan to relax, spend time at my studio, and sometimes do nothing more than watch "stupid" tv. Heaven on earth.

(If you would like to learn more about the agency I work for, you can click on the following link and even watch a little video a local news station did about our agency-- )

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Love me some treasury

It's been a very lovely Christmas (more of which I'll write later), but I just want to share some Etsy treasury love.

First, I created a treasury featuring beautiful artwork by Etsy artists. Here's the link:

And then today one of my necklaces was featured in a treasury created by 3zArt. Yay, the first time I've been featured in a treasury. Here's the link:

Be sure to check them out and 3zArt's shop too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All kinds of creatures are stirring, but hopefully not a mouse!

Happy Holidays everyone!
I really should be in bed...tomorrow (or today actually, it's 1 am) I will be having a family dinner with my kids and husband, followed by gift opening. I've been trying to finish the wrapping of presents. People who know me think I enjoy wrapping presents...I guess they think that because I'm the creative type. Wrong. I mean if it's one present for a birthday, fine, I can get into that. But wrapping so many presents all at one, not my favorite thing to do. I'm a big fan of gift bags. Unfortunately, I ran out of gift bags several hours ago.
Of course, I'm still fighting that urge to go out at the last moment (Christmas eve morn) and buy a few more things. But I think I'm done.
I spent a few hours earlier today at the studio...continued working on the collage pieces. I really wanted to stay at the studio to work, but too much to do in preparation for Christmas.
And then, completely on a whim and purely as a result of being at the right place at the right time (so to speak), I created a treasury tonight on Etsy. I titled it "Random Acts of...Beauty". I pulled together a treasury of artwork by Etsy artists...some who are inspiring me right now. I look at it as inspiration to get my own original artwork in my Etsy shop. Soon. Goal #1 for 2009.
So, here's a link to the treasury. Check it out. I think you will like it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Outside my comfort zone

I made it to the studio today...for a little bit at least. I started some collage/mixed media work, something I've been itching to do for a very long time. I could say that I haven't started this work before because my studio time is so limited. Time might be a factor, but fear and uncertainity would be closer to the truth. I am trying to go into this without getting hung up on the end results and trying, trying really hard to push myself to try new step outside my comfort zone.

With that comes a feeling of vulnerability, but also some excitement. I have never been one big on physical adventure...I'll never jump out of a plane or jump off a bridge attached to a bungee cord. But I will push myself to take risks as an artist. And for me, the thrill is just as great.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And the winner is...

I threw all the names in a little box and randomly pulled out a name. Mel, your name came out on top.
Thanks everyone for participating. I will be doing this please come back to visit. I'm working to improve my blog and always appreciate your feedback and comments.

Sugar Cookies

So apparently just writing about feeling overwhelmed and juggling helps you feel better about things...good enough to make some of those cookies. I've been making these cookies since I was in junior high...just a recipe I found in some church cookbook...and it's been a favorite ever since. These will melt right in your mouth (thanks to all the fat in them)...but sometimes you just need to indulge yourself.
Happy Holidays!
Sugar Cookies

2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine or butter (pick your poison)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 egg yolks (nope, not the healthy part of the egg)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

Cream sugar, butter, oil and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Roll in balls and place on cookie sheets. Press with a fork or meat hammer. Sprinkle with sugar. (Using a meat hammer will create a lovely pattern and hold the sugar better. Use colored sugar for the holidays) Bake at 35o degrees for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Juggling Christmas and painting

It's been snowing all day. If you don't have to go anywhere it's pretty, I guess, but since I have Christmas shopping still to do...not so much. I managed to get out earlier and get a few more things crossed off my list. When will it ever be done? Um, December 24th this year.

Later I headed to my my haven. I love walking in that door. For those of you that have never been there, I've posted a few photos. I love that I was able to paint this place whatever colors I wanted. I painted the walls a palette of warm blues, purples, and pinks. I got the paint from a discount paint store where I could only get one gallon of any particular color, which made it more of a creative challenge...and more interesting if you ask me. When I've had the studio open to the public, I've gotten lots of positive comments about the colors. Even on a cold snowy day it feels warm in there.

I worked on finishing some of my christmas ornaments. With work being so busy and exhausting the last few weeks, I haven't been over to the studio in a few weeks. I still had some ornaments to finish. Now I'll finish them up and likely just pack them away till next year. I love these ornaments...I've made them in all sorts of colors. I was hoping I would sell some of them on Etsy, but I guess there is always next year.

It is so hard to find time for the studio while juggling my 9-5 job and the rest of life. It gets that much harder as the holidays get closer. I love the holidays and all the decorating and baking that comes with it. This year I have not managed to do much of it. The tree has been up for weeks, but except for lights, remains undecorated. I hope to remedy that tonight. I have done some baking here and there, but want to do more.

I struggle to accept what I am able to get done. I think it is part of the curse of being a creative person. I have visions of pulling off much more than I am capable of.

Because while I have visions of creating this holiday spectacular at home, I also want to be over at the studio painting like crazy. I have 2 weeks off from work and I want to spend much of it over at the studio, my haven. There are ideas swimming in my head that I need to express on canvas. I have new techniques I want to experiment with. It's that difficult thing...I need to be patient and wait a few days till Christmas is over to really get working on new stuff.

And until then, I'll be baking some awesome cookies!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Giveaway #1

O.k. I'm a little excited...and I hope you will find this as fun as I do!

I've been working more intensely on my art for over a year now. In that time, I've had my studio open for a few art crawls, I sold a painting (!), opened my Etsy shop, and I am now showing some paintings in a coffee shop.

I'm excited about all the possibilities in the coming year.

One of the things I am learning is that it also requires a fair amount of work "to be seen"...and that's part of what I'm hoping to do with this blog...I want to share my artwork with others. In the coming weeks I want to spend more time developing this blog and I hope to attract more followers. I have also been working to draw more attention to my Etsy shop. So, as a fun way to promote both I am offering this giveway.

Here is how it will work:
1) Visit my Etsy shop and my blog;
2) Post a comment on this blog (in this entry)--give me some feedback about my blog and/or my Etsy shop (or at least say hi!);
3) In one week, on Sunday, December 21st, from the list of those leaving feedback, I will draw the name of one lucky person--who will win the necklace pictured above. (You can see a very similar necklace in my shop, in the featured listings).

I hope you will check back often...this may be so fun, I'll do it again!


It's gloomy outside today. It seems like it's more like 6 am rather than 9. The house is still quiet...which is nice. I love having time to myself on Sunday morning. Time to catch my breath from the week before and in preparation for the week ahead.

I'm kicking myself for not getting out yesterday. It was a "beautiful" day outside...beautiful being relative. Here in MN, "beautiful" in December means above freezing temperatures and some sun. Not truly beautiful in my book, but I know it was probably the nicest day we'll see for a while.

And it was the sort of bright day I should have taken advantage of by working in the studio. But I am feeling worn out from the 9-5 job and I know this week will be tough as well. Is it ok to just want to do...well, nothing?

I did do something. I created a beautiful Etsy treasury. Spent a lot of time on the computer doing some networking. Finally sat down with my current copy of Artful Blogging and visited some other blogs. I'm planning to pay more attention to this blog when my vacation starts...I think I'm ready to share it more with others. So yesterday I laid some of the groundwork for that.

Oh ya, and I did make some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. My husband would prefer plain chocolate chip, but I prefer to be a little more adventurous at times. Stacy, I think I'll be bringing cookies to work!

So today...probably another lowkey day. My daughter has the day off, so I'll be hanging with her. I'm hoping we will make it to downtown Mpls to check out Dayton's, er Macy's 8th floor display. I love doing that with her.

So, I guess I'll get moving for the day. SLOWLY.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Treasury West

I did it again....snagged a treasury. This morning I almost got a main treasury, missed and since I had everything ready, waited for treasury west to pop up. Got one. Theme this time: brown and teal. Wide variety of items. They say it is possible to hit the front page with a treasury west collection. Help me out and take a peek: .

Ooh, I also found out my lizard/gecko necklace got picked as an alternate for a treasury. I'll let you know if I actually make it as a full-fledged pick.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Well, it's almost Friday. Just one more long day to get through till the weekend. Thank god.

This is the time of year when being a social worker is very depleting work. It's exhausting. Our agency always tries to do more during the holidays to help our families, which is good, but leaves staff (like myself) feeling like they have less for their own family members at home.

Which means my days have not been filled with much in the way of creative endeavors (except for making some simple necklaces for clients as gifts). I worked 10 hours today. I have been so absorbed with work that I have not even stopped at the coffeeshop to look at my paintings. I've barely even told anyone about it. I keep meaning to do that (both stop at the coffeeshop and promote the thing), but it's too far down on the list of things to do.

I'm hoping to catch my breath this weekend. Maybe spend some time in the studio. Definitely send out some emails telling folks to stop by Tillie's Beans.

And then after next week, I'm off for 2 agency closes over the holidays...sort of the consolation prize for working our tails off for the past month. I'm not complaining about the time off. In fact, I'm very aware that that is the reason, or a BIG part of the reason I'm at this job...the fantastic amount of time off...time that I can spend in the studio.

Almost as good as lying on the beach on a deserted island.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tillie's Beans

Sorry for the long overdue post. Work (meaning that 9-5 job) is in that holiday frenzy mode. And then for my birthday, I got the flu. Thankfully the flu came after the birthday dinner with the family...but it was/is nasty stuff. Me and the hubby are still recovering. But I managed to salvage a lovely few days away at the bed & breakfast we love. It was just where we needed to go to recuperate.

Now back to the grind. But first, a big announcement:

Last week I dropped off four of my paintings to be hung at my favorite morning coffee shop: Tillie's Bean located at 2803 E 38th Street (right near the light rail station). The paintings include the Birch Trees pictured below.

More on this later...I just wanted to get the word out. Stop by to see them. And buy some coffee (I can't recommend the best coffee...I'm not a coffee drinker...but the chai is Wonderful).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Birch trees

Today I finally made it to the studio and finished work on 3 paintings that I started a few weeks ago...they are all of the same subject matter--basically two birch trees standing next to one another and then branching off into different directions under a moonlit sky.
The colors are vibrant--deep purple and green. The shapes are fairly simple. I think I will be doing more of these. This is a quick picture I took when I was done. More to follow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday EtsyFest

The sale is on!
If you go to this blog, you can find links to all the sellers offering holiday deals:
Or you can always spend your time at my shop:
Happy Holidays All!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Good bye treasury!

My treasury will be disappearing in a few short hours. I really do like it. No front page, but I will try again. (this post will be my little treasury memory)

Hope you all had a happy turkey day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Etsy Treasury...and a second sale!

I'm so's been a good night on Etsy. First, I snagged a treasury. It's hard to explain, but it's a gallery of other people's stuff that you put together...and then hope it's featured on the front page of Etsy. Anyway, if you have a minute, take a look, click on some of the items, cause it will help me get to the front page.

Second, I sold another necklace! So weird too...cause I accidently relisted it so someone might see it for their treasury. (I meant to relist a different necklace). It's one of the first necklaces I listed.

I'm not sure I'm going to sleep tonight!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I got featured!

feature button2

I was featured on the above blog, by a fellow Etsy artist who runs Dragonfly Fine Designs. She has a blog and an Etsy shop, that features an array of practical but stylish baby products. Check out her blog at

You can see the feature and from there find her Etsy shop! (If you can, post a comment on her blog to let her know I sent you!)

Click on the pic and it will take you to dragonfly's shop.

More later, but I have to jet off to work!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday EtsyFest

Another weekend almost gone. Why do they go so fast? There simply wasn't enough studio time, but I'm busy getting ready for the big Thanksgiving feast at my house, including my kids, mom & a few other family members. Today I did the major shopping trip for the meal. I'm sure there will be other pit stops to pick up those things I forgot.
But I'm still focused on getting more work done in the studio and ready for my Etsy shop. I finished a few more necklaces and a bracelet this weekend. I need to finish up the Christmas ornaments so I can have them listed by this weekend.
It's not easy figuring out ways to get people to "find" your Etsy shop. And it kinda drives you crazy when you put so much work into it and you feel noone is seeing it. (I don't think I'm the only one feeling this way). I'm looking at options, such as placing some ads on Facebook, myspace... I'm also participating in this BIG sale on Etsy and I hope people will find my shop.
Not just my shop, but the work of so many talented folks on Etsy. It's rather addicting...surfing the shops on Etsy. (Just try it!). So from time to time you might see me feature the work of another Etsy artist here on my blog. (It's the kind of cross-promotion I hope to be participating in to draw more viewers to my shop).
So in a few days I'll update you on this fabulous Holiday EtsyFest. It's a wonderful opportunity to shop from home and find fantastic deals for the holidays. Besides who really wants to get up up at 6 in the morning, climb into a cold car just to go shopping.
Shop in your bathrobe instead!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New etsy listings

The "workshop"...ornaments in process

New etsy listings...a bracelet and 2 necklaces

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It was a good weekend at the studio. I continued working on my birch tree paintings today. They are not quite done, but I made great progress.

Well, I think they are close to being done. Sometimes that's the tricky part...knowing when you are done. On Saturday I started the paintings by laying down the initial blocks of color...painting often involves layering of paint, color...until you get the coverage you want and the color you want.

Today I laid down another layer or two. When I left yesterday, I thought I had the colors right, but I made dramatic changes. Which leads me to wonder how I'll feel about it all tomorrow.


Hard to believe that a little over a week ago I was in beautiful Sedona. Here's a few shots from my trip.

I'm hoping my Sedona memories keep me warm (and provide inspiration) throughout this winter.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Painting again

I am spending much of the day over at the studio. Yes. I started off this morning trying to do some beading, but I just wasn't into it. I knew where I needed to be: the studio.

I dove right into starting some new paintings. I haven't touched a brush to a canvas since the art crawl. I've been itching to get some painting done...and I think that "itch" got so strong today that beading held no appeal. Plus now with the shorter days, it's not as great painting at the studio (less natural light). It may be cloudy today (and cold), but I'll take whatever natural light I can.

I have some paintings in progress, but I felt like starting some new stuff today. What I feel like painting is influenced by any number of things: whats going on in my life, the weather/seasons, my mood, whatever... Today I started a new series totalling 3 canvases (so far). The paintings are of 2 birch trees, right next to each other, rising to the sky and then branching off in two different directions. (Don't worry they'll be pictures eventually).

It is more representational than some of my work, but certainly not "realistic". But hey, don't ever expect that from my artwork...unless I'm taking a photograph.

I'll update later about these paintings. For now I'm heading back to the studio.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vacation Wrap Up

Sorry for my tardiness in writing about my trip to Arizona. I guess writing while I listen to election coverage is as good a time as ever.

It was a wonderful trip...good to get away. And Sedona is inspirational on many levels. First off, geographically it is a fascinating area. The red rock canyons are spectacular...and unlike any other part of the country I've seen. Sedona is the center of red rock canyon land. The colors of the rock are something to behold, coupled with the bluest of skies...amazing. I couldn't take enough pictures of the red rock...and I don't think my pictures really do them justice. Still, I'll post some pics soon.

And then, Sedona is a very "artsy" community. The town is filled to the brim with various art galleries/shops. It also boasts a very nice Community Art Center. We tried to take in as much as we could, but battled sensory overload much of the week.

The weather...outstanding. It was a little warmer than average when we were there...and I was thrilled. Highs in the mid-80's, no humidity (making for good-hair days!), no clouds, crisp air. We managed to set aside a little time to sit by the pool!

There were lots of bead shops in/around Sedona...and my favorite was actually going out of business, so I scooped up lots of good deals. I did manage to make a few necklaces while in Arizona (and they're up on Etsy already!).

One of the side trips we took during the week was to an abandoned copper mining town named Jerome. The town is now "inhabited" by various artists...basically they have taken over all the little shops...there are still a few saloons set up as such. It was a lovely town to wander through and see alot of original artwork...often with the artists present. We actually stopped to watch a glass blower do his thing. I actually enjoyed viewing art in this venue much more than in the overpriced galleries of Sedona.

It was hard to return the sense that it's hard to return to the reality of "real life", which includes juggling work, the chores of keeping a home running, family obligations...There simply doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done...and have the time to spend in the studio as I would like.

But I will continue to juggle. I am anxious to get some studio time in and do some painting. I've had my post-crawl break and need to get back to work. I'm ready to start putting the images swimming in my head on canvas.

And exciting news: while I was sitting on the plane waiting to take off for Arizona, I received a phone message from a woman who had visited my studio with her daughter during the crawl. She wants to buy one of my paintings for her daughter! I talked to her tonight to wrap up details.

I am psyched!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane

In two days I will be heading out of town, meeting up with my best friend and fellow artist, Julie, at the airport in Phoenix. From there we will drive to Sedona, where we plan to spend a week together in a self-prescribed artist retreat.

I can't wait.

Julie and I have been friends since our kids came into this world (they're now in their early 20's). Initially, we worked together at the U libraries...both having majored in Studio Arts. Then we had kids together. Then, living miles apart, we went through ugly divorces together and raised our kids as single parents.

As we struggled to raise our kids singlehandedly, we dreamed of someday being able to go on a vacation together, just to spend time together and make art.

The time has come.

I'm not sure if I will have access to a computer while I am gone. If you don't hear from me before Halloween that is the explanation.

I'll have plenty of stories and pictures to share when I return.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

First Sale

I had my first Etsy sale! I had my first Etsy sale!
The first thing I've been doing each morning is checking my Etsy shop...I almost thought I was dreaming when I saw there was a sale. (I sold my Follow Your Heart Create Necklace pictured on the right. If anyone else wanted one, I still have more of those beads!)

My excitement is not just about having a sale (and making a few dollars), it's about knowing that someone in another part of the country (Alabama) liked my necklace enough to buy it! That is just nifty.

Yippee! It's a good day!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Take a look at my new banner!

I'm super excited to show off my new banner--created especially for me by Becka Rahn. Becka taught a workshop I took at the Textile Center on how to get your Etsy shop up and running. It was very helpful and provided me with the motivation to get things going. Following the workshop, Becka kicked off a contest for a free banner...and I won. (O.k. I was the only entrant, but I was thrilled nonetheless).

So, Becka designed this wonderful banner for me that incorporates some of my artwork, favorite colors and the spiral. When I saw it the first time I got goosebumps. It's perfect! I will be featuring the new banner now on this blog and my Etsy shop.

And the timing was perfect. I've been very busy the last few nights preparing my new Etsy listings. Last night I got 8 new listings up (all the necklaces I didn't sell at the Art Crawl). Take a look, refer a friend or co-worker.

I will be working on new stuff in the coming weeks. I'm hoping I can fight off this sore throat and spend lots of time in the studio this weekend. Stay tuned for more to come!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wrap Up

I am recovering from the intensity of the Crawl. Everything went well and I enjoyed it immensely. It was wonderful to have the support of family and friends who came to the studio. Weather for the crawl was outstanding (far better than last spring). I had a good time visiting with the many "Crawlers". I appreciated all the positive feedback I received.

It was hard returning to the "9 to 5" gig on Monday. It's hard to have my head in the game. I want to be back at the studio painting or at least beading.

I am preparing this week a bunch of new etsy listings. You should be able to check them out by the end of the week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's a Wrap

The Art Crawl wrapped up about 2 hours ago. I'll reflect on the whole experience in a few days when I'm not quite so exhausted.

In the meantime, I just want to thank friends and family who made it to my studio (my mom, Denny, Claudia, Nancy, Theresa, Liz, Mel, Stacy, Emma, Barb, John, Katie, Cyrus, Brenda, Becky, Melissa). Thank you to the folks who stopped by and had positive things to say about my work, studio... Special thanks to my daughter, Ana, and husband, Joel...both who helped me set up and sat with me many hours this weekend.

Stay tuned...I'll be back here in a day or two. And then I'll be rolling with my Etsy shop too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Art Crawl Tips

Just 24 hours till the Art Crawl begins. I'm busy with final preparations...including baking cookies! (I know, I'm a little crazy!)

Here are a few last minute crawl tips:

**Buy a crawl catalogue for a $2 donation. It contains a nifty map of the crawl, artist information, and a picture of one of my pieces (along with work of other artists). You can find the catalogue at any of the art crawl sites.

**Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking and after a while, comfort takes priority over fashion.

**Generally start on the top floor of a building and work your way down (except at our building--than start with Studio 300). It's easier and less tiring to go down steps.

**Don't count on elevators--some buildings don't even have public elevators.

**Select a few buildings to begin your crawl experience. I recommend starting with the Jax (again Studio 300) where I'm located. Seriously, the Jax has a high concentration of open studios. Also select at least one building that combines living space with art studios. The Northern Warehouse or Tilsner Bldg(near the Jax) are great places to start.

**Although you won't find a meal, you will be offered plenty of treats. Some studios even serve wine. There will also be music and performers in some studios or outside buildings.

**Feel free to chat with the artists. They open up their studios so you can learn about their work and because they would like to hear what you think.

***And finally, have a good time.

See you there!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Catalogue Arrival

I am starting to feel a tad less nervous (that comes and goes) and a lot more excited about the Art Crawl this weekend. It helps when I hear that people I know will be coming. I spent a few hours at the studio tonight--finishing some work on a few paintings. I feel better just getting that work done.

While I was at the studio, the catalogue for the Art Crawl was slid under my door. I flipped the catalogue open to the artist images (of their artwork)--and there was the image of the painting I had selected (the painting I had submitted to the State Fair competition). The images are arranged in alphabetical order. I am dead last...which works because it's easy to find me on the page. The colors of my painting jump off the page. I'm very excited about the catalogue. It's a thrill to see your artwork printed on the page.

I'm going to try to get a little more work done before bed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday, Monday

How come it is when you have the most to do you just want to take a nap?

The Art Crawl begins on Friday evening. This Friday evening. I am nowhere near as ready as I would like to be. This morning I am revising my To Do list for the week and trying to be realistic.

I went to the studio before work this morning and will spend some time there this evening after work. I feel exhausted already. Note to self: take the week prior to the Crawl off, or at least half the week. I am planning to only take Friday off. Bad plan.

This will be one of those weeks were juggling being a wife, mom, social worker and then artist is a bit too much. Something is bound to lose out. I think I just need to tell the people around me that this week I will be a little less of a wife, mom and social worker.

Next week you can have more of me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Open For Business

My Etsy shop is officially open for business. In the past few weeks I've been doing some of the necessary work in preparation of listing items for sale. Last night I finally was ready to list my first item.

It didn't really go smoothly. I "lost" the listing a few times...listing an item is a multi-step process and on more than one occasion I lost or basically deleted my listing before I was done. There is also no inherent way to save an unfinished listing and go back to it later. (I found a way later). Then when it came time to upload images, I couldn't get it to work. I hit my head against the wall for a good hour before I came to the realization that it was an Etsy problem and not a Risa problem. No one was getting their pictures up on Etsy. So I saved my work, went to bed very late, and then woke up very early this morning to upload my images.

Viola! My first listing was ready to be posted.

I was pretty excited today to see it up for the whole world to see. Tonight I added a second item. In the coming weeks (especially after the Art Crawl), I'll be listing more items.

For now I am listing necklaces that I have beaded. More handmade items and original artwork to follow.

(Pictured above are images of necklaces that are or will be featured in my Etsy shop. Please click on the right side buttons to go to my Etsy shop)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


It's nearly 1 am...I should be asleep, but my brain is in overload. It was a rather busy day at my 9-5 job. Sometimes being a social worker gives you all the "people" time you really need...and this being one of those days, I would have loved nothing more than coming home, going to the studio and doing some painting.

But tonight I was registered for another workshop at the Textile Center...this one on setting up an Etsy shop. For those of you who do not know, Etsy is an online site where artists, craftspeople can sell their handmade items. It's sort of Ebay for the art world (only better in my book). I am intending to "open up" my Etsy shop to sell my jewelry and hopefully, some day, paintings and other art/craft work.

It was a great workshop...with lots of much so that I'm having a hard time turning off the brain. My brain is working overtime thinking through the steps I need to take to get my Etsy shop started. Parts of me wants to get going on this right away, while the information is all fresh. The wiser part of me says hold up, wait till the art crawl is over. I'm not sure...but it will be happening soon.

So keep an eye here for the announcement of the grand opening of my Etsy shop, simply titled "created by risa".

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I just finished my Dick Blick canvas shopping. I love walking in there and buying 20 canvases. It's a little bit of a guess what sizes to get (and since I only had the car, none were gigantic)...but I got a nice assortment and will have plenty to keep me busy for months to come. The sale will be back in January, so I'll probably buy 20 more then.

I've been busy working at the studio and also making jewelry. I finished 3 more necklaces this weekend. I'll get some pictures taken soon to post.

Last Thursday night I took a workshop on "marketing/promoting yourself as an artist". It was good...I learned about a few new resources. Basically I found out that I am thinking about all this the right way and just need to keep plugging away. It amazes me that nearly as much time needs to be put into "marketing" your art as making it.

For now, my next goal is to get ready for the fall crawl--just 3 weeks away.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Only 5 weeks till the Fall Art Crawl.

More and more I realize that I will never have everything done for the art crawl that I want--because creating art is a fluid process. There is no clear starting and ending point in the creative process. Yes, for any particular piece there is a point where you start and a point when you finish the actual piece (although sometimes it's hard to decide when you're done). But the process of creating is not so clear cut. As you're painting (or whatever medium you're working in) ideas are swimming in your head; one painting leads to another which leads to another. The work I do on one piece often influences the next work I do.

And so it goes. I realize that when the art crawl happens, I will be showing the pieces I've finished...while new paintings are in the works. The feedback that I get during the crawl will have some impact on the work I go on to do. I am already thinking far the work I hope to have finished by the time of the spring art crawl.

That said, my brain is making a mental list of the things--besides painting-- that I need to work on before the crawl. I need to work on framing, making cards, finish some jewelry....Having a deadline always helps you get that stuff done.

So after a few days of r & r, I'm busy at the studio again. We left town for a few days to escape the Republican Convention happening just blocks away. It was very weird to see so many cops and Secret Service around. I'm happy things are back to normal--meaning quiet--in St. Paul.

We spent a few days in Red Wing, one of our favorite towns. We took a leisurely route home, stopping in Northfield. Somehow I've never made it to Northfield. But now that I've been there, I know I'll be back. It is a wonderful small town--with great artsy stores in the downtown area. I found a fabulous bead store that I could have spent all afternoon in. There were also several stores featuring arts and crafts of various artists and a small art gallery as well. It was the sort of day that fuels my creativity.

So back to the studio. Thursday I was in a bit of funk, just trying to re-adjust to "real life" versus "vacation life". I grabbed a painting that I had set aside quite some time ago and made some major changes...and finished it. It ended up looking quite different than I had initially imagined it, but I'm happy with it. That can pull you out of a funk in no time.

I also did some window shopping at Dick Blick's. Dick Blick's is my favorite art store. Right now (thru October 12) they have their fantastic Back to School sale--which includes tremendous savings on canvases. I didn't buy any, but I'm making my list and plan to return when I will buy at least 20 canvases (thus getting the maximum savings). I try to buy enough canvases to last me the year (this sale is typically repeated in January).

Tomorrow I'll be back to the studio and then Monday, I'll really return to "real life"--back to work I go.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The end of summer

It's the end of summer and a little busy.

First off, it's State Fair time. I've made three visits thus far and have, of course, made three visits to the Fine Arts Building. I always go to the Fine Arts exhibit and just because I didn't make the show this year has no bearing on that. In fact, I figure taking in the show is a good opportunity to see what type of work was accepted--maybe help me with a strategy for next year. There is a wide variety of work at the fair, featuring many different styles and mediums. I did note some common themes or subject matter at the Fair this year. There were several pieces depicting the bridge collapse. Landscapes and still lifes are popular subject matters. Birds are frequently featured. Not a whole lot of abstract-type figures like my painting. It is a family show after all.

This week has been our Annual Training Week at work. For those who don't know, my day job is working as a social worker at a therapeutic preschool. My agency works with families who are at risk for abuse or neglect (and the family must include children under the age of 5). I work with the parents, making visits to the home to provide parenting support and education. Visiting families in their homes, where families are struggling with poverty and high crime rates in their neighborhoods...well, it isn't easy, but it's something that is important to me. I enjoy the work that I has meaning/purpose. I work with great people. I enjoy working with the kids and moms and dads that are my "clients". I hope that I help make their lives a little easier.

And doing this work, at the place that I'm doing it at (Southside Family Nurturing Center) fits my life right now and is allowing me the time to work on my art. We get a ridiculous amount of time off. That is time I can spend in the studio. Making art is meaningful to me. So is the work that I do at Southside. And that makes me very happy with my life.

So our long weekend at Southside started after work today. I am taking next week part because I don't want to deal with the hassle of coming/going to St. Paul/Mpls during this Republican Convention just down the road.

But first, I am enjoying a visit with my best friend and fellow artist, Julie. Julie's in town because one of her pieces is in an exhibit at the MN Textile Center. Today we stopped by to check on the installation of her piece. It is beautiful. Then later we took a drive out to Hopkins to see my painting. I have to admit that today, with fewer people (well, only us) in the gallery, my painting looked much felt like it had more run to breathe.

It was interesting having Julie to talk to about the feelings you experience as an artist when you walk into a gallery and see your work displayed. I walked into the Hopkins Art Center and was immediately disappointed with the location/specifics of how my painting was hung. Similarly, Julie walked in and saw that her piece needed to be adjusted. It's hard not to feel protective towards your work. After all, you know the work best and want it to be seen in the best possible light.

So, I'm going to enjoy these last few days of summer. And I'll be back in my studio shortly.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back from the show

First of all, the overall quality of the show is outstanding. I walked through the show and thought--"This didn't make it in the State Fair?" There were 225 pieces in the Overflow show--just a fraction of the pieces that were submitted to the fair competition and not accepted. Seeing all the work tonight helped me realize just how tough the competition for the State Fair show is.

That being said, there were a few things that disappointed me. I expected that beside each artwork, there would be something that told you the artist's name and the title of the work. Instead, each piece is identified by a number. You then consult a piece of paper to learn who the artist is...

And I have to admit I was not all that happy with where my painting was hanging. The location (near the back of the lower gallery) wasn't the greatest, but I wasn't expecting the premier spot. The small room that it was in was small and very crowded. The biggest thing was that it was not hung at eye level. It was hung much lower with a photograph hung above that was not related in subject matter at all. Oh well, what are you going to do?

But I can say that my painting was hung by the painting with the highest price tag on it--$10,ooo. (Believe me, not happening).

There were quite a few people at the opening reception. So many that I felt too shy to have my picture taken beside my painting. I guess I'll have to sneak back another time.

Juggling canvases

Woke up early this morning--thanks to the cat and the blinds being open. After eating breakfast, I decided to head to the studio to get some painting in while it was still cool.

In an hour's time, I finished work on 4 paintings--or one painting, depending on how you look at it. I finished a set of four 8 x 10 paintings that are meant to be one painting. There are part of my "River" series and the abstract design flows from one canvas to the other. Now that they are finished I need to figure out how to frame them. I have some mounting them on a canvas board that will be painted to echo the paintings' imagery. Pics to follow.

I continued work on another painting in the Womanspirit series. It's nice to have more than one series of paintings to work on. The more I have going, the more my creative juices seem to flow. And if I get stuck on one painting I can just juggle canvases and work on something else.

And after a trip to the Farmer's Market, I have ideas for another series. I bought some eggplants and peppers, took them over to the studio and shot some pics. I have plans for a couple of paintings featuring those veggies. Funny thing is, I don't eat eggplants or peppers--I don't like either, but I love their colors and shapes.

In a few hours, Joel and I are heading to the opening reception for the Salon 300: State Fair Overflow Show.

Again, pics to follow.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Studio time

Weekend is winding down...too soon. I spent time in the studio this weekend...working on about 4 different projects. I enjoy going over there, jamming to some music, and painting like crazy. It's hard going back to work on Monday and losing that momentum that I get going over the weekend. I always think that I'll head over there in the evening, but it doesn't happen as often as I'd like...I'm too tired, it's too hot, I'm just done for the day.

So I am trying to think of ways to get that time maybe work at the studio in the early morning for an hour or least a couple days per week. I think it's the kind of thing that I have to actually write in my day planner.

It's worth a try.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Moving forward

Things keep moving many good ways.

Friday afternoon I left work early to go pick up my painting at the fairgrounds. It was a bit bittersweet picking it up--before it was seen by anyone but the judges. But since I picked it up my painting on the first day, there were still submission forms for an exhibit at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Each year the Hopkins Center for the Arts invites the artists who were not selected for the State Fair show to exhibit the same piece of artwork at an exhibition titled "Salon 300: State Fair Overflow Show". A limited number of spaces are available and it's basically first come, first served.

My friend, Julie, called it the "Underdog Show". I like that.

At first I thought this wouldn't be something I'd be interested in. But on the way home from the fairgrounds, I thought--why not? The painting was ready to go. I had the form. And my painting would be exhibited and still seen by the public. Maybe not as many folks, but who knows...maybe it will lead to other opportunities I don't even know about yet.

I got home and had a package waiting for me. My business cards arrived--I only ordered them on Sunday! I ripped open the package and was thrilled. On the left side of the card is a photo of one of my paintings (the same one on the upper right side of this blog above "About Me"). I'm very happy with how they look.

The business cards came as a timely reminder that I am still moving forward and doing more with my art. There will be disappointments along the way, but I am still moving forward.

So Date Night included a trip out to Hopkins to drop off my painting. The lady that received it was so nice and made me feel good about bringing it in. Maybe she's been in my shoes.

The show opens with a reception next Saturday evening from 6-8 pm. I can't wait to see it there. The exhibit is up through August 31st.

I'll be making a few trips to Hopkins the second half of August. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Not Easy...

So I'm bringing you a little ditty courtesy of YouTube, and Kermit, of course. He may be a muppet, but I still think this song touches your heart...and today it fits.

Sometimes it's not easy being true to yourself and to keep doing what you love to do. Sometimes I feel like I create my art in a vacuum. But I was talking to my husband and best friend last night...processing the whole State Fair competition and "marketing my art"...and I know that I am creating art that is true to who I am. And I will keep on doing that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I just came back from a visit with a client and after eating a quick lunch, checked my e-mail. There it was--the e-mail regarding the State Fair competition. I had talked to a friend about getting that e-mail and the dread/anxiety I would feel before opening it. I said that I wished they would just tell you whether you were a "winner" or a "loser" right in the subject line...and they pretty much did. The subject line stated "MSF-Non-accepted Work".

So there you have it. Rejection letters are so cold, impersonal. They offer no feedback, no hope...because they're basically a form letter sent out to all the losers. You don't know if you were tossed aside right off the bat or if the judges labored over the decision.

And probably that wouldn't help you feel any better (it might help you with future entries however).

So today, I'll give myself a little time to mope and lick my wounds. And maybe spend a little time at the studio.

There's always next year...

Sunday, August 3, 2008


So Saturday was the big day...I delivered my painting to the Fine Arts Building at the State Fairgrounds to be judged for the annual competition. I finished the framing late, late Thursday night. I was o.k. with the's definitely something I will get better at.

My daughter went with me to drop it off. I was a little excited and a whole lot nervous. There was a steady flow of artists dropping off their work, but the whole process only took about 5 minutes. As I handed over my painting, I wanted to rub it and wish it luck or something. I also wanted to size up the competition, but that wasn't really possible.

I don't know why this is so important to me. I mean any Minnesotan can enter. But I have always dreamed of just entering the competition. I always thought the process would be more difficult, but that part isn't hard at all. I guess there are a few reasons this is important to me. I LOVE the state fair. Anyone who knows me, knows that. And every year, I make my way to the Fine Arts building to check out the exhibit. Heck, I usually make multipe trips to the fair each year and every visit includes a stop at the Fine Arts exhibit. I admire the work, find a few favorites...and imagine having one of my pieces hang on those walls someday being admired by others.

Maybe this year...

I should know no later than Thursday and while I'm glad there is such fast turnaround, it's also going to be very hard to focus on other things. The news will come in an e-mail. I get nauseous just thinking about opening that one.

But I've accomplished this first goal. And I do feel good about that.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mission accomplished

My mission this weekend was to figure out "how" I was going to frame "Force of Nature". Well that and make it to Dick Blick to pick up some paint. Part of the requirements of the State Fair competition is that the artwork (such as a painting) be framed. Reasonable request. But framing my work is a new venture for me. I haven't done this sort of stuff since my high school art classes--but I will be doing it now.

I decided I wanted to make a frame. Cheaper. And it gave me more options. Part of Friday Date Night was a trip to Menards to pick up wood. After much consideration I picked some stuff out, which I decided was the wrong stuff once I got to the studio. I did, however, come up with a new and better plan--so on Saturday we headed back to Menards, returned the other wood and bought some new. Do you know they have a pianist playing at the Midway Menards on Saturday night? I guess we're not the only ones who head to Menards on Date Night.

Today I did get to the studio to begin my framing experience. I will need to work on my technique, but this will get the job done. I'm halfway done building my frame and I'm feeling pretty good about it. It's amazing how much more "finished" and "polished" paintings look when they are framed. Between now and the fall art crawl, my goal is to frame a number of the paintings I've completed this past year...and then keep up with the framing as I finish paintings. They will look better. (And maybe it will help to sell a few pieces).

Mission accomplished. I will have this piece framed in time to drop it off at the State Fair building this coming weekend.

I also made it to Dick Blick to pick up some paint. And I managed to work on a few paintings that were "in progress", as well as start some other projects. It feels so good to be getting work done and getting regular time in at the studio.