Tag Archives: crafts

Empty well?

Empty well today?  Maybe it’s a chronic condition and you say I’m suffering from artist’s block. Writers get away with that quite easily, but artists? We see life in color so the well is easily filled again. Here are some things I do to fill my artistic well:

MAKE CRAFTS

I’m grateful that I enjoy making stuff with my hands. As a kid I learned to sew, knit, and crochet, but these days I mostly create polymer clay embellished boxes and inspirational frames.

polymer clay mosaicI love the meditative quality of crafts. I don’t have to think too much, just make the tiles and paint them. They usually come together easily once I design the box lid or frame.

polymer clay mosaicI also make handmade art journals, which are SO MUCH FUN! I can get real sloppy with inks and paints.

art journalI sell the crafts on etsy in my EARTH AND FAERY shop and they are quite popular. That is a side bonus that also inspires me to make more.

To get back to art making as in painting and art journaling, I come back with a fresh eye after a few days of craft making. My other major inspiration is:

NATURE

If you live in the boonies you are surrounded by nature, but if you live in an urban area like I do, it’s hard to get outside and be surrounded by trees. I live by a park, and that was a choice I made. Pretty much every day I go to the park, and the energy fills me up.

There is something so healing about nature, and it also balances you. Just as you make a commitment to join a gym, you can make a commitment to spend time in nature every week. Look at it as self-care.

YouTube

There are so many tutorials on YouTube you could spend a lifetime getting inspired by other people’s art. Half an hour here and there works wonders. I also love to look at art by the old masters. A trip to an art museum or gallery can be inspiring.

EXERCISE!

Many dread that word, but exercise is essential for well-being on all levels. I find it to be the fastest way to clear out the cobwebs and get the ball rolling. Once it’s rolling, it keeps going.  Exercising and park visits go hand in hand…

ART PARTY

Every month I get together with a couple of artsy friends and we have an art party. We take turns to host it. We make art, talk, and eat a great lunch. It’s truly refreshing and inspiring. I usually end up working in my art journal. Doodling is one way of expressing art while deep into a discussion.

TAKE A NAP

When all fails, take a short nap! You wake up with fresh eyes. 🙂

If none of these things appeal to you, well, come up with your own regimen for creative self-care. Then the well will always be filled.

Creating art is not always easy, but don’t blame it on “artist’s block.”

Have a creative weekend. (Those are the best kind.)

xo

Maria

De-cluttering is good for the soul.

I’m getting to be more and more minimalist as I de-clutter stuff around the house. There is so much STUFF and it weighs me down. I have de-cluttered a few times already since 2013 when I moved into this house, but there is always more.

I have put many crafts aside that bored me, but then I end up holding on to the materials. No More.  🙂  I gave my neighbor a bunch of mosaic paraphernalia.

I came across some cool things my mom did.  She passed away in 2013, and I will never get rid of these things.  [Long post warning.]

I get a lot of my creative ability from her.  She always had a great eye for color and form.  She’s of that generation (and growing up on a farm) that knew how to shear sheep, make roving, spin yarn, and then either knit or crochet something useful.  She even made linen from flax, and knew how to weave.  They wove their towels (which lasted forever), their tablecloths, their rugs from old clothes that we used to sit and cut into long strips and ball up when I was a kid.  The destruction was fun.  She even taught me how to weave, but I had no patience weaving that thin linen thread into towels.

My grandmother even wove sheets, and they had a seam down the middle (the loom wasn’t wide enough.)  They had a loom always set up in a big part of the upstairs bedroom at my grandmother’s.  Mom never had a loom in the places where we lived, but she always wove rugs when we spent the summers with my grandparents.  She always had some of those brightly colored rag rugs on her floors, and I thought if I peer closely, I  might recognize the rag from one of my childhood dresses.  She was the ultimate recycler.

I have a lot of the things she embroidered in the “old days,” things that are truly vintage now.
In her youth, she was pretty much self-sufficient making her clothing, and later those of my dad, but with modernization, she stopped those habits, though her hands were always busy.  During the 2nd World War the women used to knit hundreds of mittens and socks for the soldiers.  That was before my time.

I asked her if she remembered some of my fave sweaters she made for me, but she didn’t.  I had a really comfy gray and blue patterned sweater that I wore ALL the time; I still remember it clearly.

She loved to sew clothes, make fabric collages, embroider, needlepoint, cross stitch, knit; she even dabbled in porcelain painting, but my dad complained about the fumes.  She could knit and crochet anything.  We used to get excited about some new pattern; I would start it and she would finish it because I always got bored somewhere in the middle.

I have the patience now, however.  I don’t know how that happened–with age maybe.  I have been more of a dabbler than making something “useful,” though.   In one of the pictures below I made a fabric collage from a picture in a book about Medieval life.  I now marvel at how large the horse is compared to the women, but I didn’t think of that at the time.  I could never finish it since I couldn’t decide whether to frame it or make it into a pillow.  It now lives with my mom’s things in a plastic bin.

Towel rack “curtain.” To hide the towels.

This is a really old piece, possibly embroidered by Mom in her youth, or Grandmother might have made it.  I don’t remember.  But look at the needle work!  These cloths were hung on decorative rods to hide the everyday towels used in the kitchen.

detail

 

Crocheted tablecloth. Very fine thread.
I have two tablecloths like this.  Mom crocheted those from a very fine cotton yarn, then patiently crocheted the flowers/snowflakes together.  It’s fine like a glorious spiderweb!
tablecloth

This is a newer tablecloth; possibly one of the last ones she embroidered before her hands gave out.  She sent it to me.  My brother who is an artist always wanted the same pieces, so she often made two of the same pattern.  You would think a man wouldn’t care, but he does.

This is a tray tablecloth that is meant for a birthday cake placed in the middle of the wreath.  The word “Gratulerar” is Swedish for Happy Birthday (sort of, more like “Congratulation” if you want to be picky.)  A gift for one of my birthdays.  I use some of these things, but I worry about getting them dirty.

My foray into Medieval art.  I loved combining daring fabric patterns into a cohesive look. A knight going off to war.  Even the birds wore armor in my picture.  The fabric was mostly machine stitched even though I’m not very good on the sewing machine.

I don’t have any plans to take up embroidery or other sewing again, but I admire great craftsmanship.

xo

Maria

P.S. I have some paintings available in my etsy shop, HERE.

When inspiration fails.

 

desert-749692__180

When inspiration fails what do you do? I get that question a lot as an artist, and I can tell you the muse is often fickle, but one thing I have learned: you are not a slave to the muse! Maybe everything flows more smoothly with the muse on hand to pave a rosy path, but when all you can see is a creative desert ahead, what do you do?  To get to the other side, you have to walk through the desert, or do you?  I don’t believe in that but the challenge would certainly give you stamina and stick-to-it-iveness. However, art is not something we do in survival mode but more like following an easy stream.

Here are a couple of things I do when the muse refuses to be part of my life:

  1. Take a walk. Yes, it’s a great way to shake off the cobwebs and take in new inspiration. The colors and shapes are great for new ideas. Walks are always good for general problem solving as well.
  2.  Look at art books. The classics and more modern artists are always inspiring. Through the pages I can absorb the energy of their work and find myself eager to try something new on my canvas. Nothing wrong with copying elements and then make them your own.
  3. Get out of the studio and meet a friend. Lunch out is one of the world’s greatest pleasures, and if you have a good friend that does not annoy you by talking incessantly about themselves, it’s a BONUS.
  4. If you live in a city, go to an art museum. This falls in the same category as looking at art books, but it also gets you out of the studio, another BONUS.
  5. Try kickstarting your art by gluing down bits of papers at random on the surface. Let your hand and eye coordinate and see what comes up next on the page or canvas, and then take that step, and the next, and the next. Just try something new, a new angle, and new color.
  6. Use a color palette you rarely use. Example: if you always paint in cool colors, make yourself use only warm colors for the next project. Your sense of playing it safe will rebel, but it’s easy enough to send it packing for one piece of experimental art. Ugly is okay.
  7. Learn a new craft. Look through some craft books at the bookstore and see if anything pulls you in. Crafting can be mindless and meditative, and you might find yourself creating a pile of cool gifts.
  8. Let someone else paint on your canvas. Taking the pressure off the process can be very freeing.
  9. Paint with your hands. You can really feel the paint when you use your hands. It’s a more intimate creative way to paint. If you don’t like to paint throw a handful of mixed ripped papers on your canvas and glue them down where they land. It can become the start of a whole new way of making art!
  10. When all else fails buy some new art supplies! I think that is my favorite suggestion. I love (and my muse loves) a new art supply challenge. A shiny new box of pencils or crayons can light up your world. It does mine.

No matter what you choose to do to interrupt a creative drought, do SOMETHING.  The drought is temporary. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and paint the same over and over, but it’s just as easy to challenge yourself to something new. 🙂

Happy creating,

Maria

P.S. I have some freebie challenges on my website you can try to break the drought. CLICK HERE.