Tonight an exercise in thinking outside the box. I am someone who has spent their entire life trying to do things the “right” way, for the most part I have been successful. I’ve touched on this subject once before, many, many blogs ago. That need to be right and do right interferes with my creative process. When you are a person who is compelled to follow the rules, creativity, which by nature has no rules, can be difficult. Obviously I have skills in traditional art, I can draw, I can paint, but what I can’t do is get past my own limitations on the “right” way. It is an issue that I struggle with on a continuing basis. Paintings that get ruined because I think they aren’t “right” or “perfect” enough, so I change something organic and beautiful into a muddied mess. I’ve completed only a few other altered art projects along the way in this blog, and tonight decided it was time to face my demons once again. I look at the altered art pieces of other artists and absolutely love them, in fact I think the more nonsensical the piece the more I love it. There’s a childlike freedom in altered art. I would define it as art before you were told what art was “supposed to be”. Composition is of course as always important, but other than that there is freedom of expression, sort of “everything including the kitchen sink” art. I have several photographs of my grandmother Florence, that I love. The one in this project is from a costume party when she was seventeen. The original is in sepia tones so I colorized it in Photo shop. An old tin box from some postcards (recycling once again!), a photo of the window that faced our apartment in Paris, a couple of my multitude of sky photos, and butterflies, lots of butterflies. I’m not finished, a day that found me with a bad headache once again, so the components are here, the pieces will come together in the morning. It’s coming along nicely, very different for me, and something I think I need to force myself to do more often to loosen me up a bit creatively speaking.
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Category Archives: Altered Art
Three days in and I’m finally finished with this project. As I said last night I will never be able to charge enough to cover the amount of time I’ve spent on this project, but I had a few mishaps along the way, as well as some areas where I rethought the way I was doing things. I’m pleased with the finished project. In all there are thirteen pages in this miniature accordion folded book. Each about the size of a business card. It has a velvet ribbon inside to keep the accordion in place, and the same ribbon to tie it shut. I’d really like to expand on this idea. The one I created for Dan has photos of us, and more personal notes and quotes. As I thought about the piece today I thought it would make the perfect vehicle for a romantic proposal. I may offer them with blank pages for personalization, places for photos, song lyrics, anything that someone might want to add to make it a really special gift.
I admittedly have still not really bitten the bullet and put any of my art up for sale. Dan and I talked about my artistic insecurities again this morning. I really don’t understand what’s fueling these feelings at this point. I’ve produced a lot of work I love including what I did tonight, but I can’t seem to shake the insecurity. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a good cook, actually a really good one. Last night we had dinner at the winery. My food was good, not great, but considering how fussy I can be it was really good. I got up this morning determined to recreate last nights meal, only better. I didn’t hesitate, it never once occurred to me that I couldn’t do it, I recreated that dish and it was better. I am completely fearless in the kitchen. I want that fearlessness when I pick up a brush as well as a spatula. I’m going to put at least five pieces up tomorrow. I need to force myself to get over the hump. I know that as I move forward there will be judgement and rejection, it’s part of the game. I just need to find that belief in myself so that what anyone else thinks won’t matter so much.
Labor Of Love
I am still in the midst of the project of last night. As so often happens to me, I have fallen in love…with this project. I am spending entirely too much time on it to ever see a profit, but I honestly don’t care. I love creating, I love drawing, I love painting, I even love sanding wood. When I find a project that really appeals to me I can very easily get lost in it. Dan often remarks to me that I need to consider my time when I am calculating a price on a piece that I’m going to sell, but it just doesn’t work that way. I never think of myself as an “hourly” employee when I work. As for price, well, every piece is priceless to me. I probably won’t ever get paid back for all of the time I’ve spent on art, but I earn so much more in pleasure and satisfaction. Some things are so invaluable that they can’t have a price. There is no cost to be placed on my thoughts, my visions, my inspiration, there is only in the end the work. My satisfaction comes from knowing that someone else buys the work, loves the work, and shares the work with the people that they care about. Somewhere out in the world something I created is possibly the thing that someone else in the world treasures, and that is payment enough. For this piece I can only hope that it speaks to some romantic soul who wants to express them-self but doesn’t have the words, or the creativity.
Speaking of romantic souls (me), I met my husband twenty-eight years ago today. It was like a bolt of lightning then, and the sparks are still flying now. I’m calling it quits for the night. A romantic dinner for two at one of the local wineries awaits me. It means my project won’t be finished for another day, but for now my priorities and expressions of love are elsewhere.
Photos of project in process, one finished card, and my beautiful flowers from Dan from this mornings Temecula Farmer’s Market.
Back to one of my favorites yet again. I came up with an idea this morning for a Valentine Day project, it involves my paper burning technique, as well as many other smaller components. It’s again one of the small cardboard soap boxes that I saved from the recycling bin. I used the burning technique on the box, I also took the original hole in the front of the box and cut out an additional piece to create a keyhole. The inside is still a work in progress. Inspired by a gift I made for Dan a few years ago. I made him a small book of the 100 reasons that I love him. It was filled with photos, poems, small copies of some of my work, and little pockets will notes inside. The inside of this box will be a series of cards that pull out in an accordion style. The cards will also have small illustrations, quotes about love, and space for personal thoughts. My plan is to finish the piece tomorrow and place it on etsy. I think any time a gift can be made so personal it makes it that much more special. I want to create a gift that can have some beautiful art, inspiring words, but to also give someone the opportunity to add their own creative touch. A small gift packed with a lot of feeling. I’m not a jewelry girl, or for that matter any expensive gift. I love the gifts that my kids make, a music compilation, a drawing, a photograph that they took, and from Dan, letters. There is nothing I love better than thoughts on paper. Tonight the beginnings of what I think will be a really great project.
I love putting up the Christmas decorations. It looks so festive and beautiful…for the first week, It then begins to look cluttered and messy. I have a very short holiday decor attention span. I know I’ve reached my limit when every time I walk past something that has some kind of glittery sheen I grab it and lay it on the dining room table. Six thirty this morning I am making my way down the stairs, I get as far as the landing and turn to walk down the second set of stairs and stop. I wrap this portion of the railing in greenery every year, with lights and ornaments. I grabbed the ornaments yesterday on one of my many trips up and down. Today I didn’t even make it to my first cup of coffee. I began unwrapping the bannister as I walked down. I unfortunately woke Dan, he thought it was the cats. Nope, just me being me, doing whatever I feel has to be done at that exact moment in time. Doesn’t matter the time, what I’m wearing, if I’ve had coffee, it needs to be done now. I stopped when Dan came down, had coffee, made breakfast, and then had planned to take a bath to appease my knees. Dan went for a walk, which I turned down because my knees hurt, but forty-five minutes later when he returned I was still on my feet dismantling Christmas. In the end we were all finished by about twelve thirty, me still in my nightgown and robe, Dan in his walking clothes. My house? Beautiful, no clutter (well, actually lots of clutter but the stuff I like having around) and all is well in my world.
Artistically it was a frustrating day. A day where I started more than one project and none seemed to want to work. I think I was tired from this morning, and in a bit of a funk. I started a watercolor of a lighthouse, which I measured, and measured, and measured, to get the perspective right, it was wrong. I don’t know how that is possible but it just didn’t work. In the end I decided to give Dan an early Valentine. We don’t do much for Valentine’s Day, we are fortunate enough to love and appreciate each other every day. I made him a piece of art a few years ago in a Mexican Nicho, a small tin box with a glass door. I wrote a little poem, and in my odds and ends I had two intertwining rings and an old metal heart. I made him another tonight with a painted ceramic heart I had, and another Nicho. I need a good night’s sleep to refresh my artistic mojo!
I thought a lot about what to write this evening. The night before Thanksgiving, except I’m not feeling very thankful. It’s been several months since Dan lost his job. It has been a roller coaster of feelings around here, but there’s nothing like the beginning of the holiday season to bring emotion to the surface. I really struggled at the grocery store today. This time a year ago I was shopping for food to donate to the food pantry. Don’t get me wrong, we are nowhere near that kind of problem, but it hit me hard that our life has changed so much inside this past year. I think I took a lot for granted. Not the people in my life. I make a point of telling and showing them how much they mean to me. I did however, take for granted that Dan would always have a job, that we would always be OK. So for now my plan is to focus on what’s right in our life. We love each other, we have good kids, we have a wonderful new son-in-law, who makes our daughter very happy, our families are for the most part doing well, and we have some really wonderful friends. I also have a couple of children in my life who have had tragedy strike their lives much too soon. Focus. Focus on what is good in life, focus on what is important, focus on what you have not what you don’t have. Tomorrow I will be grateful to be with the person I love most in this world, there are far too many people who don’t have even that.
My project for tonight is an ornament, but not a Christmas one. It is for Emily. Tomorrow she will be five. She loves mermaids, so a mermaid it is. Also a box to put it in, another of my painted soap boxes. Emily is one more reason to be grateful tomorrow.
I finally set some time aside to make my art a priority, sort of. The truth is that Dan made me do it. We went out for breakfast for our daughter’s birthday. (Happy Birthday to my beautiful, talented, and oh so smart daughter!!) We did a little grocery shopping, and then I came home and began to clean. Dan stopped me. He told me there was nothing I was doing that he couldn’t do, that I should do my work. (Now you know why I love him so much!) I did at least have a plan. I began implementing some of it today, and beginning tomorrow we will be working on a schedule for me, for my stuff, and together for our business. We have an existing home office which happens to be across the hall for my studio. We will officially be setting up shop tomorrow. I think there are times when life isn’t going as expected when you sort of lose your way. You can get swallowed up by the events that you have no control over. I think we’ve been drowning in it. I think like many people we have been waiting for things to return to the way they should be. I know how smart my husband is, and I know how hard he works. It seems so obvious to me. I never thought he would be out of work for this long. I think we have been holding back on moving ahead with a lot of things because in some way it would be as if we were raising the proverbial white flag, giving up, admitting that things will never be the same. The truth is I don’t want things to remain the same. I want to move ahead to the future I know awaits us. Time is a wasting, and we need to focus.
I am really excited by ideas that I have to do with my grandfather clock project. I worked on several pieces tonight. They are currently in my oven. I won’t give away too much yet, but I think when it is finished it will be pretty cool. So for tonight an older piece. An altered art piece I made for Jessica’s birthday a few years ago. Altered art is difficult for me because there are no rules. I’m a rule girl. I don’t break the law, I don’t color outside the lines, at least I never used to, trying to get past that. I may have to add a little something to tomorrow’s list of what I need to accomplish.
The Reality Of Making A Plan
A few definitions courtesy of Google.
1. A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
2. An intention or decision about what one is going to do.
The world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.
This is my life. There are plans, and then there is reality. Today is Wednesday. It is the day that I set as a deadline to work on my portrait of Jessica. It was a plan. The reality is that I have too many projects occurring at the same time. This does not matter to Jessica (the portrait, the real Jessica is lovely and patient), I feel the portrait of Jessica giving me the evil eye. I made a silent promise to it today that I will visit soon, and before Halloween when this whole thing would be just too creepy.
My Grandfather clock/bookcase. Another plan. The reality is that I need Dan to help me with it. Dan has hurt his back. (Just a little for those of you who care) The reality is that I should not be allowed anywhere near power tools that may remove appendages from my body. I actually like my fingers. I am a smart capable woman, I am also a complete klutz. Any project that requires a saw shall remain undone until my partner is feeling better.
A watercolor of some Hollyhocks.
Boring. Been done, no need to repeat.
No plan. I begin to wander the house looking at the messy piles of art supplies that are now in every room. No plan. I make my way into the garden, sneaking by portrait of Jessica and hope she doesn’t see me. (I believe I’m developing a phobia) There are supplies in the garden too. They are neatly arranged, because Dan neatly arranges them. I see a piece of wood. It is a cast off. Too small for a shelf or much else. I have an idea, something that has been on my mind for several days. I think I know what I want to do, but then I begin to use watercolor on the wood. I wasn’t even sure it would work, but it does, beautifully. My intention was to paint the wood to look bruised, it doesn’t look bruised, it is soft, it flows gently into the grain. The wood has plans of its own. There is a knot in the wood. The plot thickens, my project changes. I have made it known that I am just a little intense about trash and recycling. It occurs to me as I watch this scrap of wood begin to change, that it might have ended up in our trash. It was too small for anything, well anything except art. I use a lot of paper. I recycle all of it. Would I throw away this much paper? No, that would be a crime in my house. The knot in the wood appears to me as an eye. A living thing. This piece of wood was a living thing. The evolution of a piece of art. No plan, just the reality of all that we, that I, waste. This simple piece of wood that began its life as part of a beautiful tree. Reborn. Making a statement. Sometimes I don’t have the words, and then I look to those who are wiser than I. Thank you Mahatma Gandhi.
I’ve Got No Time For This
I’m one of those people who almost always follows the rules. I often joke that I was born responsible. Throughout my life I have always tried to do things the right way. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had some major league failures, but I try hard, always give my best effort, and crucify myself with guilt if I fail. (Catholic, remember) I never had a teenage rebellion, always did what my Mother asked, at the moment she asked, and could probably be labeled a “goody two shoes”. (An odd expression, who comes up with this stuff?) I think my only rebellious streak applies to the a fore mentioned failure to read the rules. I’m a very smart woman, really smart, apparently so smart that I think I can do everything without reading the instructions. I mean, who are “they” to tell me how to do something? I bring the “not following the rules” issue up because I had a moment today when I thought about my biggest faults as an artist.
1. Failure to read instructions, or to take classes. In my defense, I have been doing things my own way for so long that quite frankly other people annoy me when they tell me what or how I should do something.
2. That dirty word, Perspective. Hate it, wish I didn’t have to care about it, and generally it gives me nightmares. It is equal to the horror that is geometry.
3. Impatience. I’ve touched a little on this in the past in regards to oil painting, but it really applies today. As I write this I am waiting for paint stripper to take effect. Herein lies the problem. I don’t want to wait. I want the paint to fall off right now. I’ve mentioned before that I have artistic vision. In particular when it comes to painting, recycling, upcycling, reupholstering, and re-imagining furniture pieces. In my head the piece is done. It is painted, stained, distressed….and so on, in my head. Therefore I want it done now. Not in thirty minutes, or even fifteen. I want what is in my head standing in front of me.
4. Procrastination. Once again, putting myself and this daily project on the back burner. Poor Dan has spent more than one night falling asleep on the couch waiting for me as I type my blog late at night. Starting paintings after dinner is not the way to go, it’s just that I am ingrained with the notion that everyone else comes first. It’s only four in the afternoon here in Temecula, a fact I proudly brought to Dan’s attention. The truth is I’m only writing because I have to wait for more stripper to work! Sixteen more minutes until I can scrape again, its killing me. Maybe I need to work on consecutive projects, that way I’ll fill every minute.
Much, much later…
I took my own advice, and thrilled that I did. Stripping my wood piece is taking much longer than I planned for. As I was looking for pieces to add to my project I came across a small piece of vintage decorative wood I bought years ago. I have been meaning to do something with this piece for the longest time. From the moment I saw this piece of wood it reminded me of church windows. I have several gravestone photos from Richmond, Virginia, one of which I used in a previous altered art project. I changed all the photos to black and white, then I cropped and printed my photos on vellum. Attached inside the frame and lit from behind using battery operated candles, it’s beautiful! I have some finishes to add in the morning, as well as continuing with my furniture piece. It is now ten at night. I know, I started this blog hours ago, but in the interim I had a very romantic evening with Dan in the garden. First a wonderful dinner, and then a movie. A few years back we built our own outdoor screen. Tonight we watched Midnight In Paris under a full moon. Sometimes the blog can wait.
Photos of the beginnings of a project. Roughly fifteen years ago I purchased an antique headboard from a crib with the intention of doing something fabulous. It never happened. It was the height of my ignoring myself. Today I decided to do something with it. The second piece happens to be the top off of a small dresser from my Mom. The dresser fell apart, but since my Mother gave it to me I needed to keep some part of it, and it happens to be a perfectly good piece of wood. The two shall marry tomorrow, all are invited to the reception. The crib still needs a little work. (So I guess that makes it the groom…just kidding) Also the photo from the second project from today. My candle lit gravestone piece. Much to do tomorrow….stay tuned.
The almost fully stripped piece
Gravestone piece in progress, back-lit with candles.