Category Archives: clay

When in a creative slump

When in a creative slump, it’s easy to panic and think that the well has dried up for good. You feel uninspired, unmotivated, moody, a lack of general energy, and you look at things negatively. The last thing you want to hear is “rise above” or “do it anyway” or “buck up, it’s not the end of the world.”

While some of those expressions are true in many ways, it’s easy to dismiss them and stay in the doldrums.

When in the dumps you can make a conscious choice to change, but it’s not easy.

So basically how you feel is a choice. I can hear arguments coming at me, but let me explain. How do you “rise above”? I personally do it by meditation to feel better, and then everything seems easier, even if it isn’t.

Practice is a great fall-back.

When you’ve been in a slump several times, you know they don’t last, so experience makes it easier to bear.

When I feel a longing to create and do it, no matter what, I feel progress even if everything came out as mud on paper.

I suppose you could call it “do it anyway.” I have written about that before, and it boils down to a habit of going to the studio and make attempts at creating every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes. You feel progress, if not satisfaction.

The thing about experiencing a slump is part of the process of being an artist. It’s as sure as the sun rising in the sky. You feel it especially hard if you’re changing your art expression by trusting that an old style no longer works.

I’ve looked at my progression of styles over the years and it’s mind-boggling how many times things have changed! I get bored easily.

I especially dislike the “buck up” version of friendly advice. Let me just wallow in my misery, okay? 🙂 I guess I’d rather not admit that “bucking up” is a valid choice…

Anyway, IF YOU JUST SHOW UP, things will turn around and you’ll think you wasted a bunch of days on misery.

That said, I’ve changed a lot recently, and it shows up in my art. However, a friend of mine said, “I can always see YOU in all of your art styles.” That made me feel good as I have been worrying about changing from something that worked in the past to something new.

My clay art is much easier than painting. Check out my latest funky chicken, Elmer:

When in a slump, make a clay chicken…

And here’s Selma:

Selma, the sassy chicken

I made some mixed media art /paintings, and had a huge struggle to get past the super messy backgrounds. It was as if I threw everything single technique at them before I could see any steps forward. It was a messy slump indeed, but I gritted my teeth and moved one inch forward every day. I hated the panels!

I don’t have any process pictures, but these happy summer motifs came out of all that angst and disgust. To top it all, the art looked happy, the colors bright, full of joy. Go figure.

They are different than my previous painting expressions, but I felt good about the new direction. Who doesn’t like a happy summer day?

I also tried some wood panels, and I LOVE THEM! Painting on a hard surface is easier than canvas somehow. You have to experience it to know.

They are a mixture of messy paint, decorative papers, and in one case, scraps of lace.

The painting below ended up with loads of paper strips for hair. It was painstaking but I liked the result.

Air fairy

I have been admiring dioramas on Pinterest, and I made a couple, though I had no idea what I was doing. It was loads of fun! Something for you to try if you get into a creative slump??

The fairy in the second picture was store bought, and I created the landscape around her.

So when all else fails, try a simple collage or a diorama! Painting has been my hardest taskmaster. Crafts are more relaxing and not half as challenging. So, in conclusion, to grow we need to do more of what challenges us…

If you missed my last tutorial on funky paper dolls you can check it out HERE.

Have a great creative weekend!

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. The above items are for sale in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

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Paper dolls and muscle memory

Paper dolls and muscle memory, what do they have in common, you might ask. With a cursory glance they don’t, but if you look closer, you’ll see that my paper dolls have clay faces, and I make a lot of clay faces.

Muscle memory comes into the picture when I feel as if I can make and paint the faces in my sleep. That is how art is sometimes.

The more you practice art, the deeper you get with the process, and much of the action comes from using your muscles to repeat the process. You don’t worry about it; you just do it.

MAKING ART FRIGHTENS ME

When people sit down at an art table for the first time, it’s like the first time they sit in the car they’re supposed to drive. It’s intimidating and scary, but somehow you overcome the fear and “let it roll.”

That’s why art classes are a good way to get going with art. A good teacher will take you by the virtual hand and show you what to do, as with any new subject you approach. Think of it like learning a new language. At first, you only know a few words. After a year or so, you can speak haltingly and understand much of what people say in that language.

ART IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS NEW

Unless you paint the same motif every day, you’ll face the challenge of putting something on the blank page. Many artists paint the same style and motifs over and over, and they learn from that, but how do you explore wider vistas? You can add an element to the well-trod path. If you paint, incorporate some paper collage, or use colors you stay away from normally.

To grow as artists, we have to go down unfamiliar paths, but what we’ve learned along the way, is easy, it comes without struggle, like muscle memory for those who lift weights. You trust that your hands can do the work!

I digress..

Let’s get back to paper dolls. I have had many questions on how to paint clay faces, so I made a video, How to paint clay faces, Part 1.

The faces evolved into funky paper dolls, so you can check out the second video, How to add a painted face to a mixed media paper doll, Part 2.

I realized the faces could be used with so many styles, and how you dress the dolls, is a challenge because there are so many choices. The possibilities are endless. That’s where the exploration begins. But make a clay face first. It’s not that hard!

I’ve been busy in my studio this month, and sales are picking up since January. I’ve sold a lot of different items, and when I sell one, I usually make a replacement. Here are some samples, and these only include my etsy items, not my art journal pages.

The whimsy girl in the striped jersey is a popular items. I’ve made several. Maybe it’s the stripes?? The Love You More plaque was a custom order, the largest plaque I’ve made with my painted tiles, 10×10″.

I also really enjoyed making the “twin flame” driftwood and clay wand. Something new for me even though I sneaked in two clay faces!

Okay, what are you working on? I’d love to see some paper dolls with clay faces from you. You can send pictures to:

maria@mariagreene.org.

I love seeing other people’s art!

I wish you loads of inspiration in March, and productive happiness. ‘Til the next time, lot’s of love.

Maria

If you must have one of my latest items, please check out my etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

My word for 2020

My word for 2020 is faith. It takes a lot of faith to blaze new trails in the wilderness of creativity. I feel inspired to move on, create things I’ve never done before.
First, I have a little inspiration for you, the process of my latest art journal spread:

Art journal pages tutorial with floral napkin and writing.
My word for 2020

I started by applying a paper napkin to the bottom half of the pages, using Mod Podge. I separated the two layers of the napkin first, and the top layer was very thin, making awesome crinkles in the paper when I attached it to the page. I then painted the top part an unbleached white and used an old gift card to scrape some green over the dried paper napkin.

Adding a paper napkin to my art journal
adding paper napkin

You can see the ridges in the napkin well, and where there is a paler area in the white paint where the Mod Podge acted as a resist, adding more interest to the page. I like how the flowers on the napkin shone through, making me think of spring.

I added stems from my stash of paper. Friendship sayings were printed on the paper, and I thought they would add more interest to the art. I cut out flowers from other stashed junk and glued them all down.

paper flowers added to my art journal spread
cut out paper flowers

I enhanced the stems and flowers with black lines from a ballpoint pen and wrote down my word for the year. Simple but fun!

my word for 2020 is faith
my word for 2020

I have dipped my toes into other media as in sewing. I’m obsessed with textile birds at the moment. Using two Ann Wood patterns that you can find at Annwoodhandmade.com, I made a songbird and an owl. Lots of fun, but also some frustration when things didn’t go so well.

Pink songbird made from scrap textiles.
Pink songbird

This debonair gentleman is called Sir Percival. He has lots of wisdom and goes his own way, but is always willing to offer a word of encouragement. He has lived a long life, and he likes to read books.

He’s fashioned from soft materials, but he’s not a toy. He’s an art doll enjoying lording it over other dolls, but he’s kind.

These two birds are for sale in my Etsy shop. You can find the owl HERE. The songbird is available HERE.

Apoxie Sculpt is of the most difficult materials I’ve worked with. I like the incredible hardness when dry, but it tends to be too soft, and if you wait, it gets too hard to work with. You only have a couple of hours of work time with the clay. I haven’t found the sweet spot yet.

I finished the bird I made a couple of weeks ago, painted two layers of paint and fixed the wobbly leg. It came out ok, but the turtle I made with the amethyst crystal did not end up as planned, but I’m learning. The clay is so different from polymer clay or paper clay. Since the end product is so much stronger, it’s worth learning how to handle it correctly.

The main thing is to have fun!

I hope you’re having fun this week. Make sure to add some creative practice to your day. Every day is a gift. Make it juicy!

If you missed my last post, here it is: Person or bird? I made some molded faces with Apoxie Sculpt and sewed them to fabric bodies. What do you think?

Happy creating,

Maria

Person or bird?

Person or bird? You have to make up your own mind. 🙂 I have been interested in Apoxie Sculpt for a long time, and finally took the plunge and bought the materials needed for this kind of clay exploration. So I made a face. It looks just like my other clay faces with the exception of hardness. Wow, what a difference! You can sand and drill Apoxie, it’s that strong.

Person or bird
Person or bird?
Apoxie Sculpt face

If you want to try Apoxie Sculpt, watch some YouTube videos on the process and wear gloves when mixing the two parts. There is a safety video to watch too. The fumes are not dangerous, but you can develop skin irritation from handling the compounds. I found it hard to sculpt with gloves on! Now I have to find the best gloves to use.

Here’s another face I made, and she became a spirit doll.

spirit doll with Apoxie Sculpt face
Spirit doll

I tried my hand at armature, a first for me. Using aluminum foil I fashioned a bird and added some wire legs. Then I rolled out some Apoxie Sculpt and added thin layers all over the bird. It has 1-3 hours working time, which was tricky. It’s very soft at first, and then it hardens as time passes. I found that the little bird I made on top collapsed because it was too soft. It was hard to work with at first. The whole thing hardens to rock in 24 hours.

Apoxie Sculpt bird
Apoxie Sculpt bird

I need to work on the timing of sculpting different details. Practicing often is the key. 🙂 I discovered that it takes paint very well. On polymer clay, you can rub off the paint if you try hard, but with Apoxie, it’s solid. That made me very happy since I love to paint my pieces.

It was fun making the soft sculptures with some primitive stitching and poly fill. My sewing machine is cluttering up my kitchen table, but before I put it away, I might make some more sculptures. It’s always good to stretch creatively.

I’m tempted to make another crow sculpture as in my previous post.

I’m a bit intimidated by the work involved. The most fun part was painting, dressing, and adding the accessories. I’m not a good seamstress so sewing the body was a struggle.

Making a crow spirit doll
Crow spirit doll

Anyway, Christmas is almost here, so it’s time to close out this year’s blogging, but I’ll be back next year with more tutorials and fun stuff. 🙂

I had a lot of sales in my etsy shop for the holidays, but there are so many things to browse, and I add more stuff all the time. Take a gander: Earth and Faery.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I wonder what this new decade will have to offer. I’m sure it’s not going to be boring…

Peace and love, Maria

Busy time in my studio

Busy time in my studio. This time of year it’s always good to stay busy so that I have lots of inventory for the Christmas season.

It’s not all about selling and producing though.

I’m still doing my art journaling almost every day because I can’t stop! Part of me is critical of the process–always, but another part is really addicted to the evolution of my art.

Whereas my crafts give me great satisfaction, they don’t always delve deeply into the process of creation like art journaling does. I try to keep a balance. They all move me forward on my creative journey.

All of it makes for a happy day. 🙂 No matter how challenging art can be, it makes me happy to create. What more can I ask for?

Busy is good too. The juices are flowing; inspiration is like an overflowing river, and ideas pop up constantly. It’s been a long while since I felt this inspired.

I finished the spirit doll that I started a couple of months ago. (Check out my previous post.) Here are some pictures of recent creations.

busy in my studio

busy time in my studio

I painted the wooden box in various colors, attached paper to the interior back of the box, and then added my doll. She inspires Courage, something we need every day.

Here are some other samples of new things. They are all available in my etsy shop.

busy time in my studio

I had fun with this watch casing. The portrait is a miniature painting, and I tell you, it was fiddly and tricky to paint.

busy time in my studio

I started making these four-inch plaques with stamped affirmations at the bottom. So much fun! I like the idea of reminding folks that we are all perfect just the way we are.

busy time in my studio

You are worthy!

busy time in my studio

I also made some more clay faces for doll making or to use as an ornament.  I wasn’t sure if there would be any interest but I sold some. Now I’m working on creating a cat face mold.

Sculpting in clay is not easy…

New ideas keep me fresh and eager to move forward.  I may have to sculpt many cat faces before I’m satisfied, but the main point is to plunge into action.  The rest takes care of itself.

If you’re feeling blocked or full of resistance, plunge in anyway.  It’s the only way forward. 🙂

What are you working on now?

Please check out my  etsy shop, Earth and Faery.  It’s full of new items.

Lots of love,

Maria

Spirit doll faces and more

Spirit doll faces are new to me. I have always wanted to try self-drying clay, but I know it doesn’t work well for my mosaic tiles. I did get inspired by cruising on etsy to try my hand at some free-form sculpted faces.

To finish them, I used the same process I use for painting mosaic tiles. I have a video on YouTube on how to paint tiles. VIDEO

spirit doll face

I had so much fun and they are pretty easy to make.  I used a purchased face mold and then sculpted the edges as I felt inspired.

spirit doll face

I could use all of my favorite colors!

spirit doll face

To get the imprints I used rubber stamps mostly. I also added some clay “hair” and the pieces fused well to the clay as it dried.

spirit doll face

I’m playing with making a doll in a shadow box, but so far, I’m not very happy with the result. Assembly with lots of materials is tough, but it’s always fun to try something new.

spirit doll

I’m using hand-painted fabrics, but nothing is finite in this picture. Just playing!

The faces are now available in my etsy shop Earth and Faery. 

I also made one of my mini shrines so far this week. They are pretty popular but somewhat labor intensive since every part has to be cut out and molded individually. 
spirit shrine

You are blessed indeed! 🙂

I’m having fun with clay and polymer clay.  What are you working on? It’s important to spend part of every day in the studio for art exploration = self exploration.

Let me know in the comments if you like the spirit doll faces. Thanks.

Have a creative rest of the week.

xo

Maria