This is it. Our final weekend at Crafted before the long summer break.
It is very bittersweet.
It has been a hell of a ride and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there.
This is it. Our final weekend at Crafted before the long summer break.
It is very bittersweet.
It has been a hell of a ride and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there.
Timing is everything.
Bowl shaped flowers are not as easy as you’d think. Several pages into the sketchbook and I feel like I am missing something kind of important. But I’m sticking with it and slowly they are getting better.
the center flower ist he one where I glanced fleetingly at the tutorial and went, “OH HEY COOL I GOT THIS.” And then I went, “Oh. No. No I don’t actually got this.” Bottom right, a little more on it. Top left, well, we’ll get to that in a minute.
Ok. Starting to get it. Maybe?
I think that there’s something about the two ovals (see the tutorial, yo, I’m not reprinting the directions here) lining up/mirroring each other in terms of angle and general, ovally-ness, that I might be missing. I’m also thinking that same angle/plane might apply when you are drawing any dimensional bowl shaped thing, because it probably is what determines how much things curve out at you when they are at their farthest, curviest, pointiest outing at your point.
I have absorbed so much art-speak on the internet. Impressed?
Forget proportion. Like, I know that’s important but I haven’t even gotten there yet. Just trying to make those ovals fit in a way that feels matchy. And shading? Not there yet either.
The top left flower here feels close. So. I’ll keep messing with it.
Yesterday I got a whole great whack of Twinkling H20′s in the mail, as well as some pots of Silks acrylic glazes from Luminarte. And so I was playing about with those when I was sketching and thought I’d give the Silks a spin.
The first thing about these paints is, the amazing pigmentation. Holy cow. Just like Twinks, the Silks come in incredibly rich colors. You can use them like an acrylic (they are translucent – see glaze – so you can’t just lay them down and expect total coverage) or you can water them way down and apply them like a watercolor, which is what I did here. This is just a couple of washes, very watered. They also work with Twinks – I filled in a couple of colors that I didn’t have the Silks for, using Twinks, and they worked ok together.
The red is Silks, the green is Twinks, and there is no discernable difference in the look. Just gorgeous, rich color. This is maybe three quick and dirty washes. Color like whoah.
The difference being, of course, Silks are acrylic and will not pick up and move once they dry. Twinks will mush back up if you go back over them with a wet brush.
A note about buying Twinkling H20′s. If you are anything like me, when you are getting into a new art supply, you want All The Things. SO to save you some money, I’m gonna just straight up say, start with the Twink minis. They are a great value, and so pigmented that a small pot will last you for a lot of projects. You don’t need to get the whopping huge jars to start, trust me. You will be very happy with how far those mini-pots are going to stretch for you.
There’s a set called “The Whole Enchilada” which is a fantastic collection of 28 pieces. That’s the one I got and I’m thrilled with it. All the basic pigments you need to blend your own palette of goodness, plus some.
Everything from the Sunflower Yellow to the bottom is in the Whole Enchilada.
So. Twinks. Silks. Sketchbook. Bowl shaped things. Lots to work with this week…
And on the Crafted note… this is our last weekend at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, at least until fall, when we are going to re-evaluate things. So come on out and say hi, get some goodies, everything in the booth is a cool 30% off if you mention this blog post.
Hope to see you there!
As I continue to delve more deeply back into the world of art journal and paint pot, I have rediscovered a couple of fantastic resources.
One of the best, in my opinion, is the blog Sketchbook Challenge. About 14 different artists and bloggers are collaborating over there and every month there are different themes to help you rock the sketchbook. Tutorials, inspirational posts, examples of work, it’s really just neat. I’d gotten into it when it first started up, back in 2011 (has it been that long? Oy.) and then dropped it when I got busy with the business and stopped painting. I was pleased to stumble back upon it this past week.
This month, the challenge is “bowls.”
That isn’t a bowl. It’s a pencil and ink sketch of a mug from game night.
And that’s the painted, finished piece. Mug not bad, spoon handle is all wrong. Proportionally and dimensionally and… bleah. But I am happy with the mug!
I have very little, read NO formal art training. Half a class in high school and half a class in college did not leave me with many technical skills and I’ve picked up things here and there as I’ve moved through different interests. Self taught, all the way. But one thing that’s always eluded me is proper drawing, sketching, pen and ink technique. Not to mention how to properly use watercolor. I’m using the Sketchbook Challenge as a vehicle to hone some skills in that specific area. Trying to do one sketch a day, if I can, in a dedicated notebook.
I suddenly have a lot of notebooks going again. It’s great!
Did I mention, the theme is bowls? So there’s a bowl. From a Pinterest board full of bowls. It isn’t perfect. But it isn’t awful either.
The side effect of all this not thinking about jewelry is, naturally, that I’m starting to get ideas for jewelry designs crowding in my head. I really don’t want to do anything with them for a bit. I am serious about taking a little break from the studio in that regard. I want to let things cook a bit. So I’ve got this notebook that’s slowly filling full of ideas that I can use as a starting point when I’m ready. It’s like Binders Full of Women, except more like a Moleskine Full Of Earrings.
In the meantime?
The Sketchbook Challenge. Go forth and learn something really cool.
So there’s this book. It’s called “Steal Like An Artist” and it may be the most amazing book I have ever read. It isn’t actually about stealing. It’s about the creative process and how we learn, how we are inspired by other artists around us and how we can learn a great deal from emulating their techniques – or at least, trying to.
There’s a lot of reverse engineering in art. You see something cool and you think, “Wow, hey, how’d they do that?” and then you try to make it happen in your own studio.
The point is not to copy. The point is not to make a work that looks like the other artist’s work, or at least, it shouldn’t be and if it is, you should probably check yourself. So let’s be clear that when I say “Steal Like An Artist” I do not mean “Take someone’s work, design or copy, change one or two words or elements, and then pass it off as your own.” Because that’s shitty and also literally taking bread out of someone’s mouth.
5/19 ETA: I just plugged that link in from Erica’s blog, because it really struck me as a needed counterpoint to this whole post and I thought, ‘Yeah hey there’s a distinction worth highlighting.”
Don’t steal shit to steal it. I can’t speak for writers, only as a visual and jewelry artist, but to me, “stealing like an artist” means going through that process of reverse engineering, of trying to unlock a technique because you want to learn. You will, if you keep at it, develop your own tools for your own artistic toolbox. You will apply what you discover to your own work in a way that is unique to you, from the depths of your own creative heart. The object here is mastery, not mimicry.
It’s also perfectly acceptable to leave a nice comment on the blog of your favorite artistic inspiration to let them know they are rocking your artistic universe. Or drop them a polite email and you know, ask if they teach, ask if there are resources they recommend, and generally give them a little love in a non-creepy not-stalkery please-don’t-email-them-repeatedly-if-they-don’t-write-back kind of way.
So right now, I’m spending a lot of time over on Dion Dior’s blog and I am reveling in her colorplay. It is inspiring. Take this piece, for instance. The color is amazing. The style and skill are simply stunning. I loved the energy and the general feel of it. So today, when I was painting, I thought of this image and I decided to play around and see if I could create something based on what I remembered of the original. The result is above. I didn’t use the original as a visual reference, just went off memory, and that’s pretty obvious. But I got a lot out of the exercise.
Maybe the most important thing I got out of this particular exercise in memory and painting was, “Take more ginko biloba.”
Ok so maybe the most amazing thing I have learned from Dion’s videos and blog so far? Using a charcoal pencil to add shadows to the finished painting. *facepalm* It makes it jump off the page. How did I not know this?
This is why you steal like an artist. Because you learn about things like using !@#$ charcoal over watercolors.
I’m entirely self taught. And by self taught I mean, I watch a lot of YouTube, use Google excessively, and buy a lot of books. If I want to learn something, I either find it for free on the web or I take an e-course or I get obsessive about tutorials for a while.
Right now I’m digging on mandalas and flowers, on these new mica infused watercolors and maybe painting the Buddha. I’d like to master poppies. I’m not interested in realism, but I definitely love fantastically real-inspired fantasy versions of things. So I’m running around trying to hack some artistic code and level up my own stuff.
Steal like an Artist. You can get a paper copy or find it on Kindle or Nook. You want to check it out.
I realized not long ago that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d made time to art journal or pick up a paintbrush. I’ve been so immersed in metals and stone for so long, and numbers, and the store, there just hasn’t been the time for it. And that, my friends, was sad! I do love putting paint to paper. There’s just something about watercolor that makes me happy! It’s funny how easy it is to set aside the little things we enjoy, when we get busy, isn’t it?
I’m doing a fabulous art journaling workshop from Dirty Footprints Studio, called 21 Secrets. That’s right, I’m utilizing the super cosmic power of glitter to knock myself out of this wretched leaving-Crafted-funk I’ve been in. Harnessing the awesome forces of pigment to reconnect with what it feels like to play!
In short, you know, I’m having some serious fun with paint. And glitter.
The first workshop I opted for was Tammy Garcia’s Watercolor Playground. Tammy, of course, is the creative powerhouse behind the Daisy Yellow blog. She’s a fellow mandala maker and a wizard with watercolor. I do love me some watercolors and her brilliant use of them has always left me kind of in awe. Tammy’s workshop focused on a couple of simple watercolor techniques and focused on basic blending and the principle of watercolor (it’s additive, yo). The pages were simple, and a lot of fun. The very best way to dive in, imo.
I had a lot of fun with it. Loved the loose and simple lessons and enjoyed the pages. Naturally I didn’t exactly follow the instructions to the letter (I never do) but it was nice to confine myself somewhat inside the boundaries someone else had set. Nice not to think about it so hard. Lately that seems like all I do. Think really hard.
The next 21 Secrets workshop I’ve got queued up is Dion Dior’s “Sparkle Arkle” segment which is all about, you guessed it, the healing power of glitter. Waiting on some Twinkling H20′s (luminescent watercolors) to arrive, so I can get started on that. In the meantime, I’ve been having a great time over on Dion’s website, checking out all her glorious colorful creations. I discovered that she’s a mandala artist and not only that, but she has a glorious mandala and meditation e-workshop! I know a lot of my readers love mandalas. In fact, my free little ghetto mandala tutorial is probably the most-hit-upon page on this blog which never ceases to amaze me. So if you’re into the mandala, go check out Dion’s workshop. It’s affordable, online, and looks kind of fun. I’ll be diving in to that one while I wait for those Twinks.
I’ve immersed myself in Dion’s blog. I love her style. I want to sit at her feet and absorb all of the colorful, brilliant, sparkly mojo that she might care to impart. Barring that, you know, I’m just reading all her back blog posts and watching all her tutorials and videos. Heh. Love the internets.
The world is a marvelous place. It contains such wonders and so many creative people!
For as long as I’ve had people in my life, I’ve been afraid of making them angry. Of conflict. I’ve always been the person who tries to be diplomatic and keep things smooth and peaceful. And lately? Lately I’ve been having to do and say things that actively don’t make people happy. A lot. I’ve been getting the invitation, over and over, to do or say the hard thing. The unpopular thing. Of risking people’s judgement and anger and condemnation. “No.” is one of the hardest, most conflicted things for me, and lately I keep having to say it.
Love the meaningful life lessons, don’t you?
It keeps happening.
Two seemingly unrelated things happened to me this last week though, that oddly helped crystalize the whole thing and how I feel about the word, “No.”
Anecdote the first:
Getting spare changed by a homeless woman on my way to work. For a change, I actually didn’t have any cash to give her and said so. She would. not. stop. pestering. me. SHe asked a few more times. I was in a hurry, busy, thinking about how much I did not want to go to my store and the tone of her voice just snapped something in me. I turned around without thinking and said very firmly, “NO. STOP.” and you know, she did! She said, “Okay.” and moved on.
And here is the thing. It felt amazing. Crystal clear. Peaceful. It was the first time that I can remember not being in conflict about telling someone no. Ever. Maybe in my whole life. Not saying it hasn’t happened before, but I certainly don’t remember it if it has. Not defensive. Not guilty. Not conflicted. Just clearly saying “no.” And so that experience and that feeling, which was liberating and weirdly new, has stuck with me ever since. It was like leveling up. Burning a new neural and behavioral pathway.
Anecdote the second:
The other day I was driving over to Trader Joe’s and decided to take the scenic route. The road runs above and past a large park with trees, wildlife, a stream… as I was driving around the gentle curve of the road, a bird dove across the road, right in front of my windshield and down into the trees. It was some kind of raptor, maybe a falcon or a small hawk, and I’m just sure something small and furry was on the other end of that dive. I was struck by the grace and precision of the bird, by the total commitment to action. The dive was so purposeful. No conflict.
(Photo by Ian Blacker, some rights reserved, using under Creative Commons)
And so there it was. A visual representation of the feeling I’d been thinking about ever since last Saturday. That’s what saying no looks like when you are not in conflict.
And ever since then, it has been easier to say no and set or maintain appropriate boundaries. From declining an invitation to socialize to telling someone “No you may not treat me this way.”, there have been many opportunities to be purposeful, unconflicted and clear.
Saying “no.” is a powerful action. Maybe one of the most liberating actions you can take if you’re really feeling it. Why do you think two year olds are so crazy about it? Phenomenal cosmic power. Itty bitty living space.
I keep seeing that raptor on my daily drive. I think it may be nesting near the park. You know, just doing what raptors do. Hunting small furry things, raising more fluffy baby raptors, like ya do. But in the Rorschach Test of my life, that’s the picture I have assigned to it. My own personal symbol of Zero Conflict, Just Say No.
It gets easier.
5/19 ETA: Alexandra Franzen makes me a really happy camper with her bloggy goodness. A few days after I wrote this, her article for HuffPo landed in my inbox. How to Say ‘No’ to Everything Ever: A Universal Script for… Well, Everything Ever.
Exactly. What she said. Just go do that like a badass soaring, flying, feathery thing.
They tell you not to talk about negative or hard things on your blog. When you’re in business, you’re supposed to present this strong, optimistic front all the time. People need to see your highlights reel, they say.
But I don’t know that that is necessarily me, or authentic to me, and really, right now things are not so much a highlights reel as they are “just slogging through a very difficult time.”
One of the things I said when I started this business is that I wanted to support other artists. That I wanted people to see the process, to learn, to take heart, to know that all things are possible. But I think that honestly you can’t show people that unless you show them the darkness, the struggle and the failures. The thing about being who you are and okay with who you are RIGHT NOW is that sometimes, that’s not pretty. Sometimes, it’s ugly and tear streaked and angry. Sometimes it’s just damn hard. Over the last year and change, I feel like I’ve gotten pretty far from that place where I started. I’d really like to get back there, hasta pronto. Refocus my vision. Be real.
What’s real is, we are closing our shop at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles.
Oof. I’m sitting with this and working it out for myself.
We are closing our shop at Crafted. Our beautiful little curated store and bead shop.
Closing. I just keep having to sit with that one. Really. No more driving to San Pedro in the mornings. No more food truck mysteries. No more dubious PA system, weird bands, or hilarity in the halls. No more dancing with Captain Sexypants in the bead shop. I’ll miss my community, the group of folks there who have been such a part of my life for the last year and change. I’ll miss them all so much. It feels a lot like a crashing, fiery failure. We went in to this with so much optimism and it has been hard and sometimes ugly. There has been drama and there has been struggle and the market is STILL struggling so hard to survive. I want it to survive so much. I believe so much in the project. But Honey&Ollie cannot stay, and survive.
Our last day at Crafted will be May 26th. I’ll be taking an extended hiatus, hanging on to the space (unless someone wants to lease it) and the shop may or may not re-open again in the fall. That part is up in the air. I will be re-evaluating a September re-opening as things move forward. I won’t be going that part alone, because while it is my company, I have a wonderful partner who is a huge part of my business. He is my touchstone and often the voice of reason and hard truths. He’s the person I bounce everything off of. He’s been there since this started and the store is as much his baby as it is mine. So no, it is not a sure thing that we’ll go back, but it is on the table. I have a list of things that, if checked off, will open the door to considering a “yes.” If not, well, at the end of the summer, we’ll gather our fittings and fixtures, and turn off the lights, go home one last time.
I really do not know what direction that’s gonna go in.
I’m really clear about this decision, and yet it’s a little bittersweet. I have poured so much into the last year. So much has gone in to this project. A lot of my life, so much heart, so much work, so much money. Turning around on that and saying, “No this isn’t working for me.” is somewhat devastating. Not even somewhat. It is hugely devastating. I anticipate a few weeks of grieving our breakup. And once that is done, well I will need to regroup. And the truth is, the store as it has been is permanently closed. If we do re-open, it will be in a very different capacity. It will be a very different store.
I have three months to decide if I want to go there, or if I want to go in an entirely different direction.
Three months. It seems like such a long time but three months is really a blink of an eye.
I’m taking the month of June entirely off to regroup. It’s gonna be the break of all breaks. The online shops will be closed for a month – we will be officially on vacation as of May 29th. You’ll want to follow me on Instagram in June (rainhannah) because aside from a few pre-programmed Tweets and FB updates, I’ll be on a social media break and Instagram will be the only exception to that rule.
July 1 through August, the online shops will be open with the inventory on hand, and I will be taking custom orders, just like normal. But otherwise, that’s slated as some serious development time. I will be rethinking a lot of aspects of my business. I’ll be busy developing new product lines, cleaning up old messes, setting up new systems and figuring out what it’s all going to look like going forward. That’s a bit scary, but kind of exciting all at once. I get to scrap it all and then rebuild from the ground up. I’ll be rebuilding that with some other folks on board, because I have learned that I really cannot do this alone. I can’t be a CEO, a designer, the maker, the technician, the bookkeeper, the photographer, the marketing expert, all by myself. I need some help. It’s scary to think of giving up control of every little thing but it’s time.
September is really going to be the rebirth of it all. Honey&Ollie 2.0. Yes, I am still going to be making amazing jewelry. But I’ll be doing a lot more. And I’ll be doing it BETTER. And I won’t be doing it alone.
The really cool thing about a crucible is that there’s rebirth on the other side. It’s just that it’s really hot and uncomfortable while you are in it.
Would you believe I’d planned to write this post as something about art journaling? Yeah. I know. Best laid plans.
Art journaling tomorrow. Raw truth today.
Sometimes it’s like that.