Tag Archives: learning experience

Conversations with a Broken Brain, episode 1

 

What are you doing?

I’m working on this bracelet, obviously.

It sucks.

No. No it doesn’t. Also: Fuck you.

Seriously, it sucks. You’re incompetent. I can see three flaws and you’re not even halfway done.

Those aren’t flaws, I just changed the pattern slightly. I think the design is more cohesive this way.

You must be joking. Messing up patterns? Thinking you can modify designs and it won’t end in disaster? You’re not even a real artist.

Yes I am!

Um, no. You’re just a n00b with delusions of grandeur. How many pieces have you sold on Etsy? How many galleries display your work? Does anyone not related to you read your blog?

That’s not what makes an artist. A “real” artist is someone who makes art. Period.

Hiding behind inspirational quotes, I see. I assume you got that one off a bumper sticker.

Actually, I have heard it from many artists I admire. Besides, success takes time. I’m not going to improve if you make me give up.

Being a REAL artist requires more talent and hard work than you’re capable of.

That’s not true…is it?

You think other artists spend this much time arguing with themselves? Your production rate is abysmal. Furthermore, everyone else’s art is much better than yours. Everyone’s.

…Even if that was true, it wouldn’t matter. I’m still an artist.

Fine, you’re technically an artist. But you’re trying to make this a legit business. Who the hell do you think you are, thinking anyone wants to buy your shit? There are a lot of unsuccessful artists out there who are way more talented than you. It’s arrogant to think YOU have a shot.

I’m talented. I think.

You know who doubts themselves? Losers.

Okay, I KNOW that’s not true. Everyone has doubts sometimes.

Other people’s doubts are unfounded fears. Yours are a reality check from your gut feelings.

No.

Just accept that you’re worthless and give up.

No!

You’re a waste of space and so is your art.

…No.

Yes, it—

SHUT UP! You’re wrong. I know you’re wrong. You won’t win this time. I. Am. An. Artist. Moreover, I’m a good artist.

Sure you are.

Don’t I take medication to keep you from talking this way to me?

You can’t turn off the truth.

IT’S NOT TRUE, DAMMIT! I am done with this pointless argument. You won’t stop me from creating. I am finishing this bracelet, and I’m going to sell it, and it will make someone happy, and you can just go fuck yourself.

Whatever you say, O Delusional One.

I hate you.

I am you.

I know.

Liberate Your Art 2017 Postcard Swap

This is my first year participating in the annual Liberate Your Art postcard swap, and I am hooked. I connected with some badass artists, got nifty art to display in my studio, and made some cool postcards of my own. I’m definitely going to do this again next year.

(If you don’t know, a postcard swap is an event in which artists get their original art printed onto postcards, then mail them to each other. In this case, the postcards were sent first to the swap host, who addressed and distributed them.)

I’m not sure who all got my five postcards, but I heard from a few. One of my recipients was a local woman (Tennille McVeigh, photographer extraordinaire) who is also a member of the Brownsville Art Association. Another of my cards went to Europe. This was my postcard design:

This design features one of my favorite ways to monoprint: a doily on a gel plate.

Now check out the cards I received! To see all the cards sent everywhere, visit Kat Sloma’s blog. Speaking of which, many thanks to Kat for hosting this swap! She’s got this down to a science.

Click any picture below to see a slideshow with commentary.

The Scary Big City

I have a mostly rural background. I grew up on a farm at the end of nowhere (that’s half again as remote as the middle of nowhere), I graduated from a small town high school, and I’ve never lived anywhere particularly pedestrian-friendly. My big-city-living experience is limited to the year I lived in Medford, where I pretty much avoided going anywhere except my job right down the road.

I’ve always been fascinated with metropolises; in fact, when I was but a wee sprat I thought I wanted to live in New York City. I’m pretty sure I just wanted to get far away from the delightful farm aromas to which I was accustomed. Then I realized I’d probably just be trading cow shit in the barn for human shit in the alley.

Anyway, I was excited to experience the great! big! city! of Corvallis when I rented a studio downtown. I was also–as Illidan would say–totally not prepared. (That joke probably makes no sense to most of you, but the two readers who play WoW are rolling on the floor.) I’ve rarely been so bewildered by an environment. There are SO MANY people. That may seem obvious, but the sheer number of bodies roaming around didn’t sink in until I was wading through them every day. I felt like I’d just stepped off the train in my straw hat and overalls muttering, “Reckon I’ll make my fortune off these here city slickers just as soon as I find me some heifers to wrangle.” (“Wrangle” is a technical farm term meaning “wander around the field hoping that you are somehow convincing the stupid livestock to go the correct direction.” It is a futile hope.) During the day, my neighborhood is a solid wall of humans in search of coffee. At night, it’s an overwhelming mess of lights and traffic, at least to me when I’m trying to drive home.

I’m very slowly getting used to it. However, I have a few questions for you folks that are comfortable in such places:

1.) Why the fuck do cities need so many one-way streets? Do city people enjoy driving around the block seventy times to find a road going the right way?

2.) On days when I’m feeling particularly antisocial, is there a way to keep people from looking at me? Sometimes I just can’t handle the risk that some friendly stranger might try to interact with me (the poor fools).

3.) What really happens when you accidentally put your trash in the wrong dumpster? Judging by the signs, the world ends in an explosion of cosmic wrath. Ditto with parking.

4.) Is it normal to be easily distracted by window-shopping? Because it takes me 20 minutes to walk one block due to looking at all the pretty colors. Apparently I will admire your broken plumbing if you put it in a front window with an interesting sign.

5.) If a car stops in the middle of a crosswalk I’m trying to use, is it permissible to set them on fire? If not, do you know a good lawyer?

Honestly, I’m really enjoying exploring my new surroundings. I grumble and snark, but my city experiences have been mostly positive. I have been assured that someday I will feel less overwhelmed. In the meantime, feel free to say hi if you see me out and about. You can recognize me by the flamethrower I’ll be carrying.

I’M FUCKING TERRIFIED

I’ve done something crazy. Something I never thought I’d do. Something that scares the shit out of me. Something that might blow up in my face.

I leased my own artist studio in Corvallis.

So why the hell am I doing this? Even though driving long distances can trigger panic attacks, even though I have yet to ever make a profit at this business, even though this is by far the hardest project I’ve ever taken on…

The short answer: It was time for me to take a risk. The long answer: I took an online course that helped me realize that I simply don’t have the right personality to work effectively at home. (I wish SO MUCH that I could. It would save me a fuckton of rent money.) I need a dedicated space to make art and write. The worktable next to my bed wasn’t cutting it, so I decided to make a change instead of giving up. I didn’t expect quite such a drastic change, but looking for a tiny office locally kind of snowballed into leasing a two-room suite downtown in a big city.

My reasons for not giving up in descending order of importance:

1.) Spite. Who am I to tell me I can’t do something? I’ll show me!
2.) Incentives. Now that I’m obligated to fork over rent every month, I’m very motivated. (Read: scared.) Gotta make that dough, y’know.
3.) Opportunity. Downtown Corvallis is really the best possible place for me to be. You can’t move without tripping over an independent gallery. I can just wander around my neighborhood to scope out potential carriers of my goods.
4.) Mental health. You know that theory that you can cure someone of acrophobia by taking them skydiving? I choose to believe that regularly driving 40 minutes each way will help me get over my fear of driving. Or I’ll spend the first hour at work every day curled up in a shivering ball. Whichever.
5.) Pride. I’ve dedicated too much of my life to being an artist/writer to give up now. Do you have any idea how many types of glue I own?? I can’t let that shit go to waste.

I’m not going to bother to give you the address of my studio because there are generally three locked doors between me and the street, I work extremely odd hours, and it’s not really pretty enough to receive visitors in yet. It’s very rough right now. (The paint is seeking a divorce from the walls. They’re fighting over custody of all the random nails.) Once it’s presentable, I’ll post pictures.

This development doesn’t affect you a whole hell of a lot, really. Just know that I’ll be writing and arting a LOT more, so check back here and on my Etsy site often for new stuff. Eventually, someday, I plan to have a Skirkbucket Studio dedicated YouTube channel. Please let me know in the comments what kind of content you’re interested in seeing. I live to serve.

Fave Craft Books: Oct. 2016

I don’t know about you, but I have a buttload of craft books lying around. It’s a problem. Let me justify my collection by telling you about a random handful of my favorites.

Stitch Alchemy

Stitch Alchemy
Combining Fabric & Paper for Mixed-Media Art
Kelli Perkins

There is a miraculous substance called “paper-cloth,” and you need it in your life. Paper-cloth is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of muslin, glue, and tissue paper make a surface that is the perfect compromise between the durability of fabric and the versatility of paper. You can do damn near anything with it that you would normally do with paper or cloth alone. A material that can make cards AND pillows? Yes, please!

This book was my introduction to mixed-media. To be honest, I almost never make paper-cloth anymore (although I keep meaning to), but Stitch Alchemy is also a great quick reference to a wide variety of mixed-media techniques. The featured art has a grungy, colorful aesthetic that I find inspirational. I was enchanted with its philosophy of pursuing serendipity–I much prefer to experiment randomly all over a substrate and figure out what to do with the outcome later, as opposed to this “planning” bullshit I keep hearing about.

Photo CraftPhoto Craft
Creative Mixed-Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs
Susan Tuttle and Christy Hydeck

What I love about this book is that it refuses to pick sides. It will tell you how to digitally edit a photograph to get a certain effect, then turns around and shows you how to get a similar effect without using a computer. Photo Craft emphasizes techniques that combine mixed-media and photography rather than segregating them. The downside is that the rapid pace at which software evolves made the Photoshop Elements instructions (and the recommended phone apps) a bit obsolete before the book even hit the shelves. Still, it gives you a general idea of what to look for and where. Bonus: Tips for improving photography and prompts to get projects started.

Print & Stamp LabPrint & Stamp Lab
52 Ideas for Handmade, Upcycled Print Tools
Traci Bunkers

I fucking love this book. With the knowledge it contains, you can go into a dollar store, spend five bucks, and walk out with the materials for making dozens of unique patterns. The concept is simple: one can stamp with almost ANYTHING, and if it won’t stamp it will make an excellent stencil.

 

Beading BasicsBeading Basics
Carole Rodgers

These days, I mainly use this book as a refresher course for beadwork techniques that I haven’t done in a while. But when I first started making jewelry it was a good, solid grounding in commonly-used techniques I could build on. I also recommend the sequel, Beyond Beading Basics by the same author.

Unexpected Knitting

 

 

 

Unexpected Knitting
Debbie New

I knit very seldom, and when I do it’s the most simple stuff I can get away with. That doesn’t stop me from appreciating the genius of Debbie New. This is a woman who can knit teacups, and she is constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with yarn and knitting needles. And she’s willing to share all her secrets with us!

I will most likely never use any of the patterns in this book, but I flip through it all the time to remind myself that art doesn’t have to follow rules. It’s pure inspiration. For example, the first section of instructions is titled “Swatchless Knitting,” which made my eyes drop out of my head and roll across the floor when I first read it. There just aren’t many knitting books that encourage you to take risks. Unexpected Knitting is unexpectedly refreshing.

What books do YOU think I need? Please tell me about them in the comments to help convince my husband to allow me in bookstores again.

Custom Cell Phone Pouch

As you may already know, I’ve been going through an inner-tubes-as-material phase. At its peak I made my uncle Dave a belt pouch for his cell phone (at his request; I didn’t just inflict it on him). It had some problems, so today I made him a new one. See the slideshows below for pictures with commentary.

The old pouch (click the first picture of each set to see the slideshow so you can read the text):

The new pouch: