Tag Archives: organization

Doggy Bag

Because I have to divide my time between my home studio and my work studio, I end up having to haul a lot of stuff back and forth.  If I intend to get anything done it’s necessary that my art and jewelry supplies follow me around.  What this mostly means is that I cuss a lot because something is invariably missing from my bag because I forgot to pack it.  I am very, very good at sabotaging myself, apparently.

I do, however, have a wicked-cool doggy-bag to haul all my stuff around in.  This is one of my Laurel Burch bags.  Yes, one of them.  I also have a purse and a suitcase designed by Laurel Burch.  It’s not all that surprising that I’m drawn to her work…just LOOK at those colours!!  A bag like this can lift your spirits from the depths of the doldrums and put a definite skip in your step.

What came out of the bag at home today:  gesso, acrylic retarder, impasto medium, iridescent medium, camera, large tube of acrylic titanium white, large tube of an amazing copper/burgundy/metallic gold acrylic paint.  I don’t remember what the colour is called but it’s the kind of colour you just want to squeeze a glob of into your hand and smear  all over your canvas….or your face.  I know.  I’m weird.  But this colour is THAT yummy.

What went into the bag to come to work with me:  my journal, my sketchbook, watercolour pencils, 6 x 6 watercolour paper, letter-sized watercolour paper, water pen, scotch tape.

Things that stay in the bag all the time:  archival ink pens, drawing pencils, a small ruler, gum eraser, white eraser, a very basic drawing pad, a bottle of masking fluid, and my camera  manual.

This poor bag has a constant ebb and flow of supplies.  Things go in, things go out.  It’s like a daily tide of supplies and goodies.  Sometimes everything stays inside because I don’t get to it or my Muse takes a powder, but sometimes…..sometimes magical things happen when things come out of the bag.

Now a question for all you creative types out there:  Have you ever bought an art or craft supply just because you fell in love with or were intrigued by it, but didn’t have a single clue what you were going to do with it?  Something you just HAD to have that you may or may not have ever done anything with?  Sort of like a tube of amazing copper/burgundy/metallic gold acrylic paint?  Let me know in the comments.  Come on….fess up….have ya huh?  The lady with paint all over her face promises not to laugh.


Ever feel like the fog has finally lifted from your brain?  That’s me right now.

For the last 2 years I’ve had my jewelry in a local business on consignment.  When I started putting things there, there were the remnants of my old stock from my storefront that consisted of a lot of imported jewelry.  It was affordable and sold well, but it wasn’t a lot of my own designs.  Things have changed markedly since then.  I don’t want to sell a lot of imported stuff.  You can buy jewelry from Nepal and Mexico everywhere and unless you know a lot about your supplier, you’re likely buying jewelry made at virtual slave wages in abysmal working conditions.  I was lucky enough to have great suppliers but I want to sell my own jewelry now.  I no longer NEED to keep large amounts of stock to fill store-shelves, so I can concentrate my energy and finances on building my own line.

It was a really tough decision to let the storefront deal go but it was a necessary one.  They offered me a place to sell when I really had no clue what to do about storefront space and I am very grateful for that, but I want to access the global marketplace.  I do a lot of shopping online for items I cannot purchase locally so I am well aware of the power of the internet.  I’m  a Facebooker and if you’re reading this you already know I’m a blogger.  In order to sell online I need constant access to my stock.  It would be a bad, bad thing to have an online customer purchase something and then to discover it had just sold at the storefront.  It’s a simple case of “either-or” and the decision had to be made.

So I’ve done a ton of research and have made the leap.  I’m setting up an Etsy store, have signed up for PayPal, have registered my domain name and now I’m telling YOU.   As we work far less in the summer at our music studio, we’re also going to look at selling at Fairs and Farmer’s Markets.

I’m so excited I almost can’t stand myself.  I feel inspired again.  Maybe it’s because it’s spring.  Maybe it’s because I know you guys are going to support and encourage me as you always do and I love you SO MUCH for that.  Maybe it’s the sense of anticipation.  You know….the kind where you’re on the high rocks at the river….you’re looking over the edge….you’re thinking the water looks sooooo cool and inviting…..

………you’re thinking “OMG that’s a long way down”………..

……………………….”I don’t think I can do this”………………..

…..”but I really WANT to do this”…………………………

…………………………………………………………………..so you take a reeeeeally deep

breath, close your eyes……..and





To Journal or Not To Journal

Something that I’ve noticed as I’ve bopped around the internet is that a lot of artists have these amazing art journals.  Many of them are works of art in their own right.  They range from child-like to masterpiece material. Here\’s some examples…

I’ve resisted doing a journal, mostly because I’m impatient.  I’ve always felt if I’m going to spend great amounts of time making a beautiful journal, I should just get on with it and do the piece I’m journal-ing about.  Here’s the problem with that.  I’m a planner.  I work things out in my head long before I ever put them into physical form.  I can think for days, or even weeks about a piece I want to do before I get to step one.  Unfortunately, that sometimes (even often) means that the piece stays stuck in my head.  There’s an up-side to all that mental designing; I can troubleshoot and tweak to my heart’s content in my mind.  If I botch it when I’m building it can be a disaster.  Really this just keeps me from doing something concrete.  I need to re-define my idea of what a journal should be and stop worrying about it being a work of art and view it more as a tool.

I did my research and found that the most-recommended journal was a brand called Moleskine.  They have a durable cover, an elastic to keep them closed, high-quality paper for whichever medium you choose, and they open flat so each set of pages can become one broad palette.  I bought myself one made for watercolour as I can use it for several mediums.

The best way for me to use a journal as a tool is to use it as a place to store images of things I want to use in my art.  I don’t do well at imagining things and reproducing them when it comes to painting and drawing.  I am better off and much more successful if I have reference points.  I have accumulated thousands of images on my computer of things I would like to paint: flowers, owls, birds, bugs, trees, deserts, landscapes, abstracts….the list goes ever on.  I need to start putting these diverse images together so when I’ve decided I’ve obsessed about something long enough I can actually produce it.  This is all about setting myself up for success.

There’s a painting I want to do called “Catcher”.  These are some of the images I have scavenged that I want to be part of the painting.  The easiest way for me to compile them for the journal was to print them out onto one page.

Now I have everything in one place with a blank page facing for sketching and/or painting….or whatever else I think needs to happen in this piece.  This finally makes sense to me.  Which is really the point of any type of journal, isn’t it?  It has to work for US or there’s no sense doing it at all.

Part of the reason for this journal-excursion that I also have a fair bit of time at work where I can do things artistic.  The problem is that the space is very limited and it’s tough to make sure I have ALL the supplies I need when I try and do something there.  There always seems to be something critical missing, no matter how carefully I pack.  This journal is a way for me to do things there that put me closer to completing larger pieces.  I get stuck…a lot.  This is just one of the ways I’m going to work at getting un-stuck.

I’m obsessed with houses these days.  With what houses mean to us, whether it be home, safety, shelter, prison, cocoon or something else altogether.  Houses. Little Pink Houses.  Sounds like an idea for a series.  Or for a song.  *grin*

Learning Curve

I finally got my studio mucked-out.  It’s once again a place that I want to retreat to for play-time.

That’s what it’s supposed to look like, more or less.  There’s still some clutter but the creative itch overwhelmed the maid so she quit.

She did manage to organize some of the supplies before she decamped though.

Now that I had some time and space for painting, I still had to force myself to pick up a brush and work on the current project.  It’s a comfort zone thing….and a learning curve thing.

My back ground is in decorative folk-art painting.  I even taught several kinds of traditional and non-traditional folk-art.  The thing about this discipline is that it’s pretty much fool-proof.  It sometimes feels like it’s glorified paint-by-numbers.  This is great for beginners and people who are intimidated by a blank sheet of paper, but it doesn’t really lend itself to improvisation.  It’s very structured and fairly rigid, depending on the style, so you don’t really learn to just  let the brush go and paint with abandon.

I also learned to do folk-art using liquid acrylic paints.  They’re very different than tube acrylics.  They flow and blend easily, but their pigments are weaker, dimmer.  They’re great for that style of painting but not for what I want to do now.

This piece is a sample I painted for a class I used to teach.  This style is all about how you hold the brush, how thick your paint is, how you load the paint on your brush, and how you execute each stroke.  That is so not going to work for my current painting.

So I’m learning.  The learning curve is manageable but the process, for me, is still involving an inordinate amount of cussing.  Cussing does help, you know.  I blocked in the beach today and I’m still learning how to manage these paints.  I’m letting myself just PLAY.  I’m discovering ways to achieve texture, ways to create light and shadow without the luxury of floating ultra-thin paint, ways to fix the boo-boos.  Yes….plenty of boo-boos.  It feels so good to be painting again though, I’ll continue to muddle through, cuss away, and follow that learning curve wherever it takes me.

Living Up To The Name

When I named this blog “Just Make a Mess” I meant it.  I meant to be willing to show the chaos that can ensue as a result of the creative process.  Now I know there are artists that create magnificent works while their studios remain pristine.  Their paints are carefully organized according to colour family, their pencils are all neatly sharpened and stored with their tips protected.  Their palettes could be sold as colour-wheels.  These kinds of artists do exist.  I personally believe them to be alien life-forms, but I do believe they exist.

Unless you have the luxury of a studio completely separate from your house, or you have a house with tons of storage, keeping a studio tidy and dedicated to its intended use can be difficult.  I live in a house that was likely built in the 40’s or 50’s and it is woefully lacking in storage space.  The end result of this is that most of my spaces must be multi-functional.  Which sucks for the studio.

Over Christmas, the usual happened.  This kind of thing……

led inevitably to this kind of thing…..

That’s my poor studio, buried underneath the remnants of our holiday.  Everything that needed to go “somewhere” ended up here.  This mess enabled the packaging of soap, the storage of yummy Chrismas baking, the taking of many blog photos, the printing of jewelry packaging and the final polishing of tons of new jewelry pieces.

So tomorrow, this room stops living up to this blog’s name and gets a mucking-out.  It’s a new year and I’ve tons of new projects I’m just itching to get at.  This is one of them:

From Away

This is a painting I started a long while ago that I kind of abandoned to get some jewelry done.  The plan is to spend more time on painting.  Until this is done, it’s going to be one day painting, one day jewelry, during the week, Monday to Friday once the studio is in working order again.  I have big plans for this painting.  I want to take it somewhere I’ve never seen a painting go before.  Stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated on that, AND the exciting new direction I’m going to explore with my jewelry.  It’s going to be a great year, isn’t it?  I’m excited and inspired and all of you are a big part of this journey.  Let’s see what’s next, shall we?