A Hippo for Christmas

A new beginning. I love painting but, I also love building with sculpey or other clay. These two styles of mine have been at odds with each other for years. I feel like I had to take a long while away from finishing major illustrations to play with these mediums to find the way to bring them together. My family Holiday card, per delays it ended up being a Valentine’s Day card, was my first in depth exploration into a full image with sculpey and paint. I started out building a structure. A large sculpey project is best built with armature.

step-1CGirard

I had wanted to make holes in the back of this armature to attach the sculpey build to the wood. This insuring its full attachment to the piece. It did not work out on this attempt and I will be continuing to play with that to see if I can make that happen. I ended up using a strong epoxy which, worked just fine. The next step was to put down a base layer of sculpey on the armature.

firstlayer-CGirard

Once I had the hippo and ground completed I put together the children. I planned to paint everything but, really enjoy mixing and creating colors with sculpey. I also like having a colored base to paint on top of.

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Once all the sculpey was completed I painted the background, glued down the cooked sculpey and then painted the sculpey. I used some found objects, dried plant pods, to make the shrubbery on the ground. I liked the added depth. Sometimes the best solution in a dimensional piece is a found object.

Finished-CGirard

I am very happy with how this came out. I feel good about this direction for my illustration. My goal now is to complete a new portfolio with pieces like this. I am going to be in a Women of Peninsula art show in the fall. I am going to use that as a jumping off point for what themes I will apply to these pieces. I’m looking forward to the process.

Shared Sketchbook 2

This sketchbook is on a very relaxed schedule. Thank you for that eHawk! I had our book for most of the fall and then past Christmas. Then I finished a Holiday card for the family and couldn’t postpone anymore. I hadn’t intended to dally on my page for that long, I even had an idea.

This is what came of it.

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This is a battle in Thailand of the bugs and faeries there. It was so much fun to look up all the bugs and apply their coloring and wing designs to the faeries. Of course looking at this more now I wished I could manage to get my humanesque (in this case) bodies to have depth as much I do with animals and bugs.

I practice, I started out drawing people when I first found I couldn’t stop drawing as a kid. I still practice figure drawing. However, whenever I leave my sketching level I lose whatever gesture I have expressed in my sketch. I think this is a common problem and one that is worked out by 10,000 hours practicing. One of my goals for this year to spend even more focused time on them. I am hoping some other mediums will help me find the missing piece.

Until then looking forward to what eHawk draws next.

 

Why a Blog or Art

It’s been an increasingly slog of a process creating art for the past 3 years. I know there is still joy in making art and occasionally I actually get into a project and am happy for the work. Most of the time however, I start to work and instantly get tired and want to go to sleep. I can only assume it is a depression. I have been trying to make art for over 10 years now. There are some years you could discount, when I was focused on designing or raising children but, I was always making art and hoping to find security in selling it. I probably went about it all wrong. I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and she said she never put the expectation on her art to make money, that in doing so would have put an unfair pressure on it. Perhaps that is the burden my art is living under and why whenever I attempt to be creative I am overwhelmed with exhaustion.

I’m sure some would say I am not cut out to attempt a career in art. However, I can not believe I am alone in feeling hopeless looking at years of work not finding their audience. From all the stories I hear this is a familiar circumstance. The artists that become successful never give up and just keep making until they finally find their people.

I find my deepest struggle is the since of being completely alone in the search of support. I am introverted but, I am extroverted too. I need to feel I am part of something where a group is succeeding. However succeeding may be expressed, gathering together in support, enjoying a common love, building a project that brings people together, anything that causes a sense of community.

Art is not a group effort most of the time. There are critique groups and online chats and conferences but, they aren’t always reachable. Critique groups struggle to meet, online chats aren’t necessarily at good times of day, conferences are expensive. Social media creates a community but, it’s easy to be lost in the crowd. Any time taken away from posting for any reason and suddenly your relevance is gone.

Time is a limited commodity. I need to be making art but, I have a need to know people see it and want to see more. Being a part of an online community means putting myself out there potentially sounding stupid or giving up my feelings to strangers who may not care and may make me feel worse.

What I know, I want to share my thoughts. I want to share my art. I don’t know why there is a fire inside me that burns to keep trying. I can’t imagine not honoring that feeling.

I’m going to keep trying. I’m not going to give up on myself or my work. No matter how much doubt lives in here. I feel so ridiculous needing to say all of this. Being an artist seems like it should be the easiest job in the world. I can tell you it is not. It requires more than just doing the work, it requires courage and heart. There is a mob of people saying art isn’t a real job, isn’t a skill or deserving of any compensation. There is a subtle war on art. Maybe because artists help us stay human, keep us connecting to each other, bringing a sense of wonder, remind us to ask questions and seek improvement in our lives. These are valuable components to life.

I hope this time I belief my own words and stay committed to myself. I have been sketching and practicing quietly for myself. I have needed this time and more time than I expected to work internally. I think this time I am ready to start sharing. Now to end here and go prepare some more blog posts.

Thanks for reading.

Halloween Coloring Banner

I created a Halloween Banner this year. Between #inktober, #drawlloween, and a parent run fundraising group at school I got inspired. Special thanks to Megana.

The banner reads “All Hallows Eve” and has 13 unique characters decorating each flag.

I loved drawing all of these characters and I had meant to share more of them daily. I’m sure I missed some of their specific #Drawlloween days while I visited the East Coast last weekend for a family wedding. I’m still settling back home after a packed week. Saw cousins, aunts and uncles I love but, rarely get to see. Dressed up in my favorite Rent the Runway dress. Partied, danced and celebrated a beautiful union even though I couldn’t feel my feet from cold and too small shoes. And handled a car accident that happened in my yard in California via text at 0200 from North Carolina. It feels like more time has passed than really has.

Catching up, here are a few banner images.

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You can purchase the full banner as a digital download here. It’s my first digital download on Etsy so, please message me if anything goes wrong. I will fix it!

Biology Class Readying for Designer Con

Designer Con is just around the corner and I’m busy at work preserving and jarring specimens. This year I have Unicorn Fetuses. Unicorns like Rhinos aren’t born with a horn. They have a shaped patch where a horn will eventually grow.

Many specimens are being jarred up. I have dinosaurs, amphibians, fish, lizards and more.

Also, it is hoped that I will have ceramic specimens. This is still in-a-work in progress stage so, they may only come available after Designer Con. More will be known in the following weeks.

For now, if you want a specimen accessory for Halloween check out my etsy shop. I posted a couple necklaces, a set of earrings and a few specimens.

Necklace-YellowDino

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Happy Halloween!

Tidying is Magic

Well back in May I decided to make magazine containers MagazineBox for my son’s Zoobooks and my Hornbooks. Then I was making teacher gifts for the end of the year and realized making a small box for the items would be helpful. I still had a pile of cardboard so, I built boxes. This started a side tracking project where I made many more boxes with plans to continue making more. Everything I am using is recyclable and reusing shipping boxes we get. In this day of two day shipping it’s easy to have a pile of boxes. (To note I still shop locally whenever I can). All of this makes me happy and it’s honestly a lot of fun. I can use up decorative papers I have had and after checking out piles from neighbor’s spring cleaning I got a free roll of thick craft paper for covering. I also might have wrapping paper I keep that I am can apply to the outsides too. My hoarding of paper is finally going to something!

It’s funny that I titled this tidying is magic and start with a story of hoarding becoming useful. I don’t think you should keep things with hopes to eventually use them. Keep only the things you know you will use and if you don’t start using it within a month you should really get rid of it. I have a lot of other found objects that I have intended to use. These items are now weights that fill my mind and keep me from creating anything. There is a fine line between useful found objects and over cluttering.

This need to find order is why I picked up the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I heard it was really helpful for de-cluttering and it is true. It said the right words to me which, released my need to hold onto things that could be useful. This book brought me back. I actually had the chance when I was younger to experience the magic Marie Kondo talks about. I came back home from college after having been cramped into a tiny dorm space with a dorm mate who had also tried to bring everything she owned to college. I had actually used a Uhaul to move into a college dorm, it was ridiculous. Also arriving home I realized I had made my childhood room into a shrine. My walls were wallpapered in photos from high school, there were candles on every surface, I had collections of weird objects and toys, and I had two closets and a floor to ceiling bookshelf stuffed full. After a year of college I was ready to let it all go; I got rid of everything until I could fit my belongs that weren’t furniture into my 1992 two door Toyota Celica. The day I finished it felt like I was standing in a meadow of fresh air. I made art for the rest of the summer unencumbered.

I want to get there again. It’s harder to retain that little stuff with children. They have their own pile of things and there comes a point where you can’t just purge their items without their consent. You probably also have another adult living with you that may or may not care about keeping a small amount. Keeping your own items in check while being distracted by the people you are living with is a new challenge for me. However, I started to process. Eight bags have been donated and I did not keep track of how many times I have gone to the recycling bin. Friday I made art all day and started to write this blog How-To. It was the first time in a long time I didn’t feel like I should really be doing stuff around the house. I thought after moving twice in the past 3 years I wouldn’t have too much but, I did. Finally letting go of the extra and finding a space for what I’m keeping feels amazing.

Now, some of the things I am keeping do need containers and rather than go on a spending spree at the container store I am using the containers that are too often found at my front door.

Here is a step by step of how I make a box.

Tools I need outside of cardboard:

2Tools

Glue, cheap brush, container, exact-o blade, pencil, card stock
(not pictured) a ruler

Then the box. I hang onto a box that is already a good size. This way I only have to build a lid.

1thebox

Then I take off the 4 top flaps.

3bottom-cleaning

I do this laying a ruler along the crease then cutting it with an exact-o. I recommend cutting around so the flap behind your cutting hand is already gone. You of course have no option for that on your first cut. If needed I take a portion of one of these flaps and glue it to the bottom of the box where there is a gap between the base flaps. This way my box has an even bottom.

4bottom-clean

Then I have a box! Now I lay this box on top of the piece of cardboard I intend to use as a lid. If possible I use the already existing creases for the sides. I measure out from each crease or edge line, if there aren’t enough creases, 1 1/4 inches for the sides.

5top-cuttingout

Once everything is drawn I cut out the lid and crease any sides that need it. To form a new crease I lay a ruler along my line and fold the side across it.

6top-creasing

Now I have a top!

7box-topcut

To connect the four corners of the top sides I cut out 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch pieces of card stock. I make a glue and water paste to brush onto these pieces for adhesive. This is were I use my glue, container, and brush. I make sure the glue is more glue than water but, I eyeball this until I get a consistency that works for me. I brush a thin layer of this adhesive onto my four card stock pieces and let them dry for about a minute. Then I attach them to one end of two sides.

8Top-Gluing

I give them a minute or two to dry. Then I fold down the sides to touching and adhere the other side of the card stock to the adjacent side. This can be tricky and I usually have to reapply pressure multiple times until everything is stuck.

9top-finishedglue

Eventually it all comes together and I have a lid!

10Finished-base-box

Before I get to decorating I test the lid to make sure it fits onto the base of the box. Everything fits; now, I can put on the paper to make it mine.

For the outside I like a plain color because this box is going to be used for storage and I don’t want something busy that will catch my eye all the time. This is where I use my craft paper. To not waste my craft paper I only use it on the sides of the base of the box. However, on the top I use my craft paper for the entire outside.

When measuring the paper for the outside of my box I do this like wrapping a present. I lay my pieces onto the paper and take note of the corners with my pencil then ruler in lines between these dots. I absolutely could measure the box and note that on the paper but, I find it faster to use the box as my ruler.

Because this is a larger box I cut out each side covering individually for the base. Two of these sides with have overlap corner flaps and two of these sides will have straight edges. All of these sides will have top and bottom flaps to glue over the top and bottom edges of the base. This will give the finished box a clean look.

11bottom-exteriorpaper

The flaps have 45º angled edges. If you make them 90º angled edges the will bunch at the corners. I make my flaps 1/2 an inch wide. I then cut out all of my pieces using my ruler and exact-o.

I then brush on a thin layer of glue over each side covering. After a minute of dry time I press the base onto the paper and then pick up the base and rub the paper onto the base with my hands. This flattens out any bubbles or ridges. Usually I have to add a little more glue to the edges of the covering to get it to lay flat. I do this with either my brush or a piece of paper. I paint the corner of a piece of card stock and slide it under the side covering, between it and the base, to give it a layer of glue. Then I press the side covering down to adhere it to the base.

Note: I start with the side coverings that have flaps on all four edges. They provide full covering on their sides. Then I put the side coverings on that have straight edges to give the box a clean finish.

12bottom-exterior

Now for the bottom of the base I cut out a piece of card stock so the bottom is a little hardier. This way it can endure being pulled off a shelf over its life. I brush on a layer of adhesive allow it to dry then press the paper onto the bottom of the base. This way I can see how I am lining up my corners.

12bottom of bottom

Now I add my craft paper to the top. I use a similar process but all in one piece of paper. I use the lid to measure its size on my craft paper by making a note of the corners. Then I measure out the distance of the edges. I draw lines on the craft paper for all of these edges. Finally I add flaps to the top of all the edges so it glues around to the inside of the box. This again finishes the top giving it a clean look. I give the flaps 45º angles and 1/2 and inch of width. I also add flaps to the sides of two edges. This way it will wrap around and not cardboard will be exposed.

13top-paper

After measuring and cutting this out I place my top onto the paper to see that everything is the right size.

13top-test

If all looks good I apply my thin layer glue, allow it to dry for a minute, then line the top over the paper and press it onto the paper. I then lift paper and lid and smooth out the paper around the lid with my hands. I apply more glue to any parts that need extra with either my brush or paper.

14gluing-corners

I press the sides that have side flaps down first. This way the clean cut edge can come down second and make a clean finish.

15Top-papered

Now the outside of my box is done.

For the inside paper I choose something decorative. I won’t have to look at it all the time so it won’t be distracting day to day but, it will be a treat whenever I open the box to get something out.

When measuring out this paper I actually use my ruler and measure the inside of the box. I find this makes my final cutting much more accurate. I take measurements of the width and length of the bottom, then the height of the sides. I draw this onto my paper and give two sides flaps at the edges and the other two sides get straight edges. The flaps again have 45º angles at the corners and are 1/2 wide.

16insidebottom-cutpaper

Next I crease all the lines of this paper on the decorative side. I lay my ruler on top of the paper align it with the inside corners and fold the paper across the ruler to create a crease.

17insidebottom-foldedpaper

I also do this on the flaps.

18Ruler-foldingpaper

Now I test this paper to make sure everything fits. I fold it into shape and slide it into the box.

19insidebottom-test

If it fits perfectly I brush a thin layer of glue onto the inside of the box, not the paper. Once that has had a minute to dry I put the paper back into the box and smooth it onto the box with my hands.

I then repeat this process with the lid.

Now I have a finished box!

21finalbox 22finalbox-inside

I consider this generally archival. Say for 10 years? The outside papers are archival, the cardboard is not. It can work for loose sketches and artwork but, I wouldn’t recommend permanently. I also use these boxes for make-up, jewelry, craft supplies, toys, whatever needs a box!

Shark Week!

I think the only people who don’t like sharks are those that have come into unwanted intimate contact with them. ie. some folks that have been visiting the NC coast lately. I have to admit I’m pretty afraid of water I can’t see to the bottom of for fear of a giant mouth showing up but, from a far, I love sharks! Hence, why I chose to do my last Sketchbook Project with the theme SHARKS! What perfect timing to share, the tail end of Shark Week.

Here are some of my favorite spreads.
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Here is a link to my fully digitized book at the Sketchbook Project’s website. You can also see my full sketchbook in person in Brooklyn at the Art Library or catch it when it comes to your town. Here is the link to the Mobile Library stops.