Hiking through the forest

Jul 31, 2011

Mossy forest floors, baby deer, and cascading waterfalls- just a few reasons why I love living where I do.  Yesterday, we hiked the Ramona Falls Trail in Mt. Hood National Forest.  So beautiful and tranquil.  After taking a short break from working on my art this week, I'm ready to paint again.

Porcelain necklace giveaway!

Jul 26, 2011

Here's your chance to win a handmade porcelain necklace by Emily Jull of Nesting Emily.  I have one similar to the blue necklace pictured, and I get compliments every time I wear it.  Keep in mind that each necklace is one-of-a-kind and can vary in shape and color from the one shown above. There's another photo of the necklaces in yesterday's post

To enter the necklace giveaway, all you have to do is visit Emily's shop here and then leave a comment below about your favorite piece(s).  One entry per person please, and make sure that your name links back to an email address so that we can contact you if your name is picked.

Two names will be randomly drawn this Friday, July 29, at 11a (PST).   If you are a winner, an email will be sent to you shortly after the drawing.  The names of the winners will also be posted below.

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Congratulations to Sara K. and Rebekah Leigh!

artist interview: Emily Jull of Nesting Emily

Jul 25, 2011

I have been smitten with the pottery of Canadian artist Emily Jull ever since spotting her vintage doily porcelain jars on Etsy.  One of her handmarked vases is perched on a shelf in my bedroom, and it's one of my very favorite ceramic pieces.  Her porcelain collection is thrown on the wheel in her home studio, and Emily was kind enough to share more about her creative process and space on Habit of Art. 

How would you describe your work, and what inspires you to create?

The work I enjoy the most these days is quite stark and minimal but I also do some with yarn, felt and colour which are more joyful. I think all my work is fairly simple, modern and organic. I am always inspired- there is so much to be excited about. Beautiful blogs like yours, other artists ( I run a gallery shop where I am surrounded by talent and beauty) and above all nature keep me constantly excited.

What does your typical work day look like?

My typical work day is at the gallery I mentioned above, but when I get to do my own work I wake late (I am part sloth). I have a fruit smoothie for breakfast and pick some tunes (this depends on what I am throwing and how much- anything from Nirvana to Stevie Wonder to Warpaint). Then I just jump on my wheel and get going. I love throwing and will do it for as long as I can till I ache too much. I’ll have lunch and then back down I go till dinner. I also love to clean my studio after- it feels like putting love and thanks into the space and all the tools.

What are the things you love most about what you do, and what are the challenges?

My absolute favourite part is throwing on the wheel. I am not as big a fan of the decorating the surface part. In fact I would love to partner with someone who loves that part and I could just throw all day. Maybe that’s why my work is so stark. I love the look of bare clay. That’s also why I love doing the woodfired pieces- the kiln does all the decorating and it is a complete surprise and one-off each time.

Emily and some of her vintage finds

Apart from art, what are your other interests?

Oh that’s tough. Almost everything I love falls under art, craft and design. I love vintage and antiques. In fact, in 2012, I will be opening a brick and mortar shop that combines all my loves. My greatest interest is my daughter but she is an artist so she counts under that heading too.

If you could change one thing about your work space, what would it be?

I work in my basement, and while it is filled with things I love including part of my art collection and is painted white, it can be gloomy. I would love a studio on ground level with lots of light and worn wood floors. Ahhh to dream.

Thanks, Emily, for a wonderful interview.  To see more of Emily's creative work, visit her Etsy shop and her flickr.  Also, her home was featured on Etsy here

And there is a giveaway! Emily is generously giving away a handmade ceramic necklace (shown in right photo) to two lucky Habit of Art readers.  Check back tomorrow for details!

Handpainted found objects in my Etsy shop

Jul 24, 2011

As mentioned in my last post, I have a few handpainted items up for grabs in my Etsy shop starting tomorrow morning.  In addition to the bear, there is a dolphin, a rock, and some more push pins (three sets to be exact).  The first sets of handpainted push pins went quickly after being spotlighted here.

Exclusive items coming soon

Jul 22, 2011

It's been several months, but I finally have a few new items to add to the Exclusives section of my Etsy shop, one of them being this bear.  (Remember the painted whale?)  The one-of-a-kind items will be available for purchase starting this Monday at 9a PST.    

Gadgets for your iPhone

Jul 21, 2011

I try not to get sucked into the tech-gadget vortex, but I'll admit it takes a lot of self-restraint.  Here are a few new favorites that are sure to excite any iPhone fanatic. 

The iPhone SLR mount is a case-adapter that allows you to mount a Canon or Nikon lens onto your iPhone. It's crazy, brilliant, and I want it!  I can see this gadget being a sure-fire hit with avid iphoneographers who want more control of depth of field in their images. 

The cdock by local Portland design team Hatchet Goods is a sleek and modern looking case that displays your iPhone while charging it.  The desktop accessory can showcase your phone as a clock, a picture frame, or even a mini TV screen.  I love it when function meets great design!

So, this next gadget doesn't really have much to do with home design or photography, but it does make me feel like I'm in a spy movie [and I like spy movies].  Lockitron is a device that allows you to control the lock on your door with your smartphone.  And best of all, you can text the code to friends and family so that they can check on the family pet while you're away.

The olloclip is a lens that you can mount on your iPhone in seconds.  Sounds easy to use and portable- two things I love about modern gizmos.   You can choose from three effects- fisheye, wide-angle and macro. 

The cost of these gadgets range from $55 - $295, and, like many new iPhone accessories, they are exclusive to the iPhone 4G.  Seeing that I still have an iPhone 3G, I'll just have to admire these tech wares from a distance . . . at least for now.   

New work

Jul 18, 2011

summer plateau

To let be or not to let be, that is the question. 

One of the more challenging parts of the creative process is to know when a piece is finished.  When I'm not sure if a work is done, I like to prop it up on my art desk and let it marinate.  Usually I know within a few days if a composition needs to be changed or if the piece just needs to be signed.

I went through this process three times with my latest work, summer plateau.  I'm not sure why some pieces are easier to finish than others, maybe it's attributed to hormones, the moon cycle, divine intervention, sheer luck, or all of the above.

On a few occasions, my work has sat for several weeks/months, and then I decide to paint over the entire thing.  I've painted over a piece before that I spent 40+ hours on.  My husband considered it a travesty, but I still have no remorse.  If I'm not emotionally connected to a piece, then it doesn't have any value to me.  The canvas itself actually becomes more valuable to me.

another recent work, just beyond the trees

The artistic journey is a beautiful thing, but one that can often be laborious.  Many folks unfortunately equate talent with ease.  They think,  If I was a naturally gifted artist, then this would come easily to me.  During my time as an art teacher, I regularly had students who wanted to give up on a project too quicklyBut the value of the creative experience does not solely come from ability.  Self-discipline, fortitude, and patience are also key factors in an artist's success, as well as a bit of inspiration and luck.

. . .  all things that I'm challenged by daily.  

Fun hand-printing projects by artist Christine Schmidt

Jul 14, 2011

One of my favorite books on my shelf right now is Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop.  I've been a fan of Yellow Owl for quite some time now, especially their stamp sets.  So, earlier this year, when I heard Christine was coming out with a book on hand-printing projects, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

a page of triangles with the Table of Contents- already love the book!

I fell in love with printmaking when I was in college, but, since leaving teaching, I haven't been around a press for years.  Recently, I have been thinking about diving back into printmaking, and this book has intensified my desires to pursue this medium again.  The great thing about Christine's book is that you don't have to have a deep knowledge of printmaking to start with.  In the introduction, Christine gives a wonderful overview of various printing methods and materials, plus some basic understanding of color and composition.   

This book is perfect for the design and DIY enthusiast.  Unlike some other DIY art books, the project instructions in Print Workshop are easy to follow, and there are lots of images and illustrations.  I love this picnic blanket idea.  Just like primary school, you make the stamps [quite appropriately] out of potatoes! 

Christine covers a broad spectrum of hand-printing techniques, from silkscreen printing to sun printing to image transfer printing.  And the projects range from personalized stationary to home mural design- all ideas that align with current trends today.

It's always a huge bummer when the final product looks nothing like what is pictured in the book. Thankfully, Christine includes a generous section of templates in the back of the book.  So no more fretting over misshaped leaves or unrecognizable creatures!

If I could write a book on fun printmaking projects for the home, this would be it.  Well, it probably wouldn't be as good as Print Workshop, but you get the point.  And, as an arts educator, I truly appreciate Christine's approach.  Her knowledge of techniques and materials is evident, but she doesn't talk over the heads of those just starting out in printmaking. 

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On another topic, a photo that I took for my featured seller interview on Etsy is now on Apartment Therapy! See it here.

New print, "Quest"

Jul 11, 2011

My time away this past week was what I had hoped for.  I saw beautiful sites, I rested, I played, and I found time to work on my art.  I was able to complete a new mixed media piece called Quest.  I actually started it a few months ago but quickly lost steam about 30 minutes in.  I rediscovered the piece in my watercolor notebook on my trip. 

Quest encapsulates my experiences in nature on the trip.   We stopped at lakes that sparkled in the summer sun, hiked through evergreen forests, waded in creeks, and explored the depths and darkness of the earth.  The focal point of the piece is the circular light.  The day we were in the caves, man's reliance on light became very poignant as I found myself walking through a cave alone.  I remember thinking that there was a fine line between fun and fear, determined completely by a small battery in a flashlight. 

At the caves and at Crater Lake, we read how Native Americans would travel to these places on vision quests [spiritual journeys].  After visiting these sites, I could see why so many of them were moved to create images and symbols on rocks.  In a way, my creative process is not all that different.  My art is deeply connected to my own spiritual journey and understanding.  Like scaling a steep mountain or enduring the darkness of the caves, the journey can be trying at times, but one that is ultimately rewarding and inspired by a Creator greater than I. 

the steadfast beauty of crater lake

Jul 10, 2011

the drive to Crater Lake

Seeing that I shared a few images of our visit to Crater Lake last year, I wasn't planning on posting pictures of the lake from this week's trip.  Alas, it's just too beautiful not to share!   

Crater Lake is a very pure lake.  It's basically a large bowl (6 miles wide) of rain water.  And, it is the most incredible blue I've ever seen in nature.  The vibrant color is due to the lake's depth and clarity.  The lake is about 2000 feet deep, and the water clarity has been measured at a depth of nearly 150 feet!

I love the sharp contrast of colors and textures around the lake's edge.  It's what inspired me to create this piece a few months ago. . .

The lake is at 6000 feet elevation, so there is snow on the ground throughout most of the year.  It takes months to just dig out the roads, with drift depths ranging from 40 - 60 feet. 

When the roads are clear, one can drive around the caldera rim, which is a 33 mile loop.  When he was a young chap, my father-in-law used to drive a tour bus on this scenic route.  Just for thrills, he would drive the bus of tourists right up to the edge of the road, which is essentially a drop-off.

The caldera rim is 7000 - 8000 feet tall, with Watchman Peak being one of the highest points on the rim.  If you look closely, there is a lookout station [built in 1932] perched atop the peak.  At 8000 feet, undoubtedly it has one of the most spectacular viewpoints of the lake and its surroundings.

The lake has great spiritual significance to the Native Americans in the region.  Individuals of the Klamath tribe would trek to the lake as part of a vision quest, or spiritual journey.  Standing on the caldera rim of Crater Lake, it is not difficult to see how one is moved spiritually.  As I scan the vast and glorious landscape, nothing my eyes fall upon has been made by man.  It's a humbling thought, for sure, but one that also grounds me. 

Inspired by my travels and experiences this week, I'll share tomorrow my latest art work called Quest.

An inspirational getaway

Jul 6, 2011

Klamath Lake

After two months of hunkering down at my art desk, I relished the idea of getting out of town and retreating to Oregon's natural wonders.  I needed a boost of inspiration, and the beautiful mountainous landscape is always the perfect remedy. 

Toketee Falls and North Umpqua River

On our way to southern Oregon, we decided to take a scenic route known for its picturesque waterfalls.  We stopped at a few sites, including Toketee Falls shown above.  In the Chinook Indian language, "toketee" means graceful or pretty- an appropriate name indeed. 

Skull Cave at Lava Beds National Monument

There was one day my husband allotted as a "surprise."  When we crossed the Oregon-California border, the girls and I became increasingly curious about our adventure to come.  About 15 minutes from our destination, my husband revealed that we were going spelunking!  I love the fact that the girls squealed in excitement when they found out that we were going to explore caves. 

It was a first for all of us, and the day trip will go down as one of our favorite family adventures.  We hiked, climbed, and even crawled through rocky crevices. 

pictographs in Symbol Bridge Cave

One of my highlights was seeing these pictographs in a cave.  These ancient markings were made by Native Americans who were most likely on spiritual quests when venturing to this cave.  It's amazing to me that markings made by man hundreds -or possibly thousands- of years ago are not too different from illustrated designs today.  Can you see the dotted pattern along the edge of the rock in the left photo?  Reminds me of something I would do . . .  a compelling experience for sure.
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