Wednesday, February 27, 2019

True Friendship

To the Women that Bring Joy to My Life

Looking back on my fifty plus years of life, I am lucky enough to say that I have had many friends. They have been from different stages and different places throughout my life. Each new chapter I have entered has brought forth new friendships and sometimes sadly dissolved old ones. 

I am still making new friends throughout my journey and I don't think I will ever stop. Getting to know new people brings with it a mountain of fresh conversations, ideas and new experiences. But if by some chance I was never to make a friend again at this stage of my life, that would be okay because I am so lucky; I have my true-est forever friends, my yaya's, my sisters. 

These women range from older childhood friends all the way up to the present. They are amazing, talented, loving and all around awesome women that I am lucky enough to have found on this planet. Old, new, far or around the corner, all in all, they are my confidants, my BFF's. These are the women I can say anything to without worrying about judgment or secrecy. These are the women who know me better than I know myself. These are the women who accept me with all my craziness and quirks. These are the women I laugh so hard with that I pee in my pants. These are my friendship soulmates. 

I am so grateful to know each and every one of these women, they know who they are. This blog post is dedicated to them and the joy they bring into my life. I love you all with all my heart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Making Old New Again

And Other Recycle Stories

One of my goals this year is to take all of the leftover materials I have from various projects and try to create new pieces out of them. I want to deplete my inventory of miscellaneous "stuff" and clear some of my studio clutter. I have found that I really enjoy just creating paintings and drawings rather than making products from the artwork. I've learned to let the art speak for itself and let go of the need to make it become something else.

I've been very busy, sorting, organizing and mostly thinking. I have enough inventory to make limited editions of some new products which will be fun. So far I have decided to make all of my unfinished glass pendants into magnet sets. I also decided to use the bottle caps from my "kidsy" necklaces and turn them into wine charms.

I have a big box filled with every print I ever made that was a dud or a second. I never threw any of them away because that's what I used to use to punch shapes for my jewelry. I think I am going to use what's left of them to create one of a kind patterns and collages. It's an exciting feeling to imagine using up so much collected materials from the last ten years. I have gotten rid of some, but I still have a lot more to let go of. 

Unfortunately, I like to save everything in case I ever need it, but I haven't used some of these supplies in years. Maybe someday I will go looking for a specific wooden shape or jewelry finding etc., and it will be gone, but I think getting rid of the clutter is more important than keeping everything these days. It's not an easy task for me, this "letting go" but I am up for the challenge. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Pure Play - No Thinking Involved

My Favorite New Art Tool

I have been watching gelli-print videos for a while now and finally purchased a few of my own. A gelli plate is a flexible gellatin surface used for simple printmaking. I love the pure spontaneousness of the whole process. You cannot predict what the print will look like, it's pure playfulness; and really why would you want to, that takes all the fun and surprise out of it. It's great because it prevents me from overthinking the final prints, I simply can't.

The way it works is you lay ink down on the plate and spread it around with a brayer (roller). By using stencils and other marking tools you create a pattern or shapes on the plate. After it has some texture, you simply press a piece of paper onto it and you have a print. You may be able to get a few prints out of each layering of ink. They will get lighter and "ghost" as you lift up more of the paint. The results are amazing, and, if you don't like a particular print, just use it again, pressing and adding more layers until you like it, (or not). You don't have to love all of them.

The other thing I love about this is the cleanup; there is almost none. I lift most of the paint off the plate itself with your prints and I usually let the stencils and tools just dry. If the paint gets really gunked up and I want to clean the plate or tools, I just use baby wipes. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! You can use any paper, recycled junk mail, book pages or scraps from other projects. A great paper to practice on is deli paper; yes the paper you get your sandwiches wrapped in. You can get a big box and pull out a single sheet at a time. Deli paper is thin like tissue paper, but much more durable so it can handle paint well and you can use these prints in collages etc. I plan on playing with this a lot in the future because I can create so many prints so fast for a variety of projects. I am also thinking of experimenting with materials other than paper such as wood. Can't wait to make more! A good days work is always dirty hands, happy printing...

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Reflections, Revelations and Resolutions

Finding My Daily Practice

January was a time of reflection for me. I guess it is with most people, trying to figure out resolutions and ways to make the new year the best that it can be. Looking back at 2018, I am so proud of myself for writing and publishing a book and for tackling the world of social media and marketing. (I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go.) What I didn't do was draw and sketch enough. I didn't create enough new work or get excited about anything except my book. It took over, Im a little OCD that way. 

Last week I had a migraine on and off and couldn't bring myself to do the things I needed to do, such as cleaning my email, finishing my taxes and paying the bills, etc. It wasnt a terrible one so instead of just doing nothing I changed into comfy clothes, made my favorite tea, put on a yoga sounds playlist and I went to sit at my studio desk. I pulled out all kinds of supplies, and I spent the next three hours drawing, sketching and painting. It was fantastic, the time went so fast and was very relaxing. I almost forgot what that felt like this past year.

I made my goal for 2019 to remember that feeling and make it a daily practice, like taking my vitamins. I tend to get stuck when I look at a blank piece of paper and can't think of what to make each day. So many ideas flood my brain at once and I end up doing nothing. To try and remedy this, I decided I am going to create five different sketchbooks, one for each day the week and each with a different theme. I got this idea from following other artists who post images from their "various" sketchbooks. For example, one might be quick line and shape drawings, one watercolor backgrounds, collage, old book revival pages, general doodling, etc. I love the idea of having more than one focus sketchbook as well as the idea of a specific day for each; boom, the decision is made for me. I can still change my mind, change the order or create something different that day if the urge hits me.

My past behavior of focusing on my one “holy sketchbook, never worked for me. But if I can make this a daily practice and commit to picking up a different sketchbook each day and spending twenty minutes doing a page or two, I can be creative and not get stuck or bored doing the same thing every day. In a way, it would be like keeping an artistic day planner. 

A revelation I had while reflecting on 2018 is that I found that I have become a creative watcher more than a maker. I spend a lot of time on social media viewing other artist's work and techniques. I get super inspired and collect ideas for future projects. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, on the contrary, the internet allows me to see the visual world from all around the globe. But if not careful, it becomes a time suck and then I find myself not creating at all. Maybe I am saturated with so much that I see, that it is just too distracting. I am hoping that in 2019 I can ground myself in a daily creative practice that nourishes my soul and finds my spark again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

All About You in 2 x 3-1/2 Inches

Business Cards So Tiny and Powerful

There are so many avenues in the field of graphic design, from brand identity, brochures and posters to motion graphics and video. The one piece of printed graphic design that has always fascinated me is, and always will, is the business card. It is your first impression, your calling card as they say. In a small, usually 2 x 3-1/2 inch space, it has to give someone all your pertinent information, but also be stunning and eye-catching in its design. 

Think about it, your name, tag line, company, phone, fax, address, website etc.; it’s a lot of information in such a small space. The design, color and logo have to be clear and clever. Back in the day, (and Im referring to the 80’s) there was on occasion, the opportunity to use both sides and multiple colors when the budget allowed. You could even sometimes use a custom die cut shape, but more times than not, this was too expensive. Most of the time it was just one or two colors on a single side, but with some good design skills, it could be gorgeous. 

Some Favorite Horizontal Designs I Have Saved Over the Years

With today’s technology and social media, you can have a very simple card with just a website link and email. I've heard some people say they don’t even use business cards anymore. Are they a dying art form? When I started out in design there was no internet, email was just beginning and we didn’t have social media. The business card was everything.

In my early days after graduating from college, I loved designing logos and creating simple identities for clients. Usually, it consisted of just a business card, letterhead, envelope and shipping label. Today a business’s branding can range from these important basic items to huge identity programs including brochures, packaging, signage, media webites and more. Having your identity, look consistent and cohesive across all platforms, printed materials and media is what “branding” is. The fact that  graphic design has moved more into digital media and less printed material does not change the fact that whatever it is you are using for your branding identity, it has to be good basic design.

I will always love business card design. I have been collecting them wherever I go since college, whether they’re from restaurants, shops or even a doctors office. I am always amazed when I see a layout or some typography that is fresh and new. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time, sometimes you can use an existing design and add a new spin on it. It’s also easier today to print in multiple colors and use both sides at little or no extra cost these days. But you have to be careful not to over design with those options. Sometimes just a simple one sided, 2 color design is all you need.

Some Favorite Vertical Designs I Have Saved Over the Years

Good design is about taking the clients needs, being inspired by existing and vintage work as well current and popular trends, and then creating something that is unique from that. I know these days anyone can create their own business cards from templates on websites like Vistprint or Zazzle. It’s a great DIY for the average person who needs a quick calling card with little experience and a low budget. But a really good, distinctive design stands out from the rest when it is created from scratch and the designer took the time to explore and develop an identity. 

As a designer, I feel the business card is a place to showcase your skills in logo design, layout, color and typography all at the same time in the smallest of spaces. I feel if you can master that, you could design anything! Hopefully the art of beautiful business card design is not becomming extinct in the digital age.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Black and White

Does Color Get All the Fun?

Last week I wrote about color and how people are drawn to different shades of the rainbow. When you ask someone there favorite color, most people don’t say black, although every women’s closet begs to differ. (How many LBDs do you have?) Black and white are fundamental and evoke emotions in their form rather than in their color. If you’ve ever looked at Ansel Adams’ photography or seen Jackson Pollock's "Number 14-Gray", you would see how absolutely stunning black and white can be. 

Back in design school, you had to master most things in black and white before you ever went near color. Learning to see and express forms in drawing always started with a simple graphite pencil. Logo design began in black and white, positive and negative space. If it didn’t work in black and white, chances are it wouldn't work in color. Layout and typography worked the same way. The letterforms had to work in black and white before color could be applied. 

The basics of photography were also taught in black and white. Instead of colors, you had light and shadow creating gradations. I remember having to print my photographs in Ansel Adam’s “Zone System”. Each print had to have the blackest black and the whitest white and nine perfect shades of gray in between. If it didn’t, it was back to the dark room.

Black and white sometimes gets a bad rap. They are dramatic on their own, but they can anchor and balance color and make hues stand out in a piece of art. In graphic design, I learned a from my high school art teacher, Mr. Brodman, was “white space is your friend”. There are also beautiful images that have no color at all. My favorite examples of these are shadows. Black, gray and charcoal images on the ground or the side of a building created by light. Sometimes dramatic and harsh and sometimes soft and subtle. They have no color themselves, but their dark forms against objects can be magnificent.

I think there is should always be a good balance between black and white and color in all aspects of life. But as far as designing and creating, ideas always begin for me in a black and white sketch then develop into black and white forms. Color always comes much later. So as much as I always say I live a colorful life, which I do, it always starts at black and white.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

ROYGBV and the Rainbow of Colors

Which Ones Move you?

ROYGBV, we all know it... red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Are those still the names you use today? Are you a simple color person or do you see them with a deeper expressive passion. My rainbow would be scarlet, tangerine, banana, jade, sapphire and orchid; or crimson, pumpkin, pineapple, emerald, azure and amethyst; or, well you get the point. 

People are drawn to different colors. Some see the millions of shades of a color while others just see the simple pure color. There is a whole psychology to color theory. For example, purples are associated with royalty and creativity while reds are associated with passion and romanticism. Some people love the color orange and others can’t stand it. There’s no rhyme or reason, different personalities are drawn to different shades of the rainbow. 

What are your favorite colors? What do they say about you? How do they make you feel? Mine are purple, teal and coral; but I have to say I really love the whole spectrum at different times for different purposes. You may love certain colors for your home amd others for clothes. I am personally drawn more to soft muted colors over bright and bold when it comes to decor. And, although I love when I see a bright turquoise or dark chocolate brown on someone’s wall, I don’t think I could be that striking in my own space. I’d like to think I could be that brave, but I always fall back on soft, neutral colors. They give me a sense of serenity, peacefulness and quiet that I like to live in. When it comes to fashion, I will definitely pick up a scarlet red sweater or a lime green necklace because they are fun and I don’t have to live in them everyday. 

Color is only color when it's next to color” was another quote I learned from a teacher back in the day. A particular shade of red will look different depending on what color it is next to or surrounded by. It wil also appear differently in different light. Color changes, color is subjective, color is beautiful, color makes a statement or can evoke a feeling. Color changes with light as well. It’s not just ROYGBV, it’s millions of colors. Nutritionists say eat your colors everyday, I say live them!