This week's blog was written by mosaic jewelry artist, June Martin of Moth & Twig. June discusses her observations around finding her voice as an artist.
I admit to a guilty pleasure. Project Runway! What does Project Runway have to do with this week’s blog you ask? If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll recognize Heidi Klum exclaiming, “I don’t know who you are yet as a designer!” Or, “I knew it was you when it walked down the runway.” That got me to thinking. Is my voice as an artist apparent? This is something I’ve struggled with over the years because, to be honest, I think I have two voices. Let me explain.
I like clean lines; bold, saturated, complicated colors and interesting geometric patterns. Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to mosaic. I can manipulate materials and transform them into patterns and shapes that please my mind.
But I also love a rustic, bohemian vibe. I believe this to be a sharp contrast to my love for bold and graphic. I love both styles equally. These styles are reflected in my home environment as well.
Before mosaics, I used to spend inordinate amounts of time “playing” with my living spaces. I’ve lived in a number of unconventional abodes over the years. I love creating unique, vibrant living spaces. Clean lines, bold colors, interspersed with rustic and unusual curiosities. I currently live in a small 100 year-old Cape Cod house/loft. I’ve kept many of the original features of the house, in particular the amazing, though highly inefficient windows in the living and dining rooms. My orange mid-century modern sofa looks great next to the antique windows. My antique rustic seven-foot farm table looks smashing with the Eames-like molded plywood dining chairs. Don’t get me started on my chartreuse library/music room, which features a rustic potbelly stove, antique Gabbeh rug, and modern black umbrella chairs; perfect for cocooning into with a glass of red on a cold winter’s night. I have a voice; it’s just shared between two camps.
At a recent show, my booth featured bold pieces, which were mixed in with my rustic, natural pieces. I don’t have as many bold pieces due to the complexity and length of time it takes to create them. At this show, a gentleman from Texas was sifting through various pieces on display. He gravitated towards a piece that I made a while ago; a small square pendant made from dark stained glass and acid green mosaic gold! Yes! Acid green mosaic gold! A stunning material that I use sparingly due to the cost. The pendant was bold and graphic but was set into an antique pewter base so it shared elements of rustic and bold. It spoke to him so he joyously bought it as a birthday present for himself. He then gravitated towards a piece I had made for a gallery show. It was a very labor-intensive pendant that I was quite fond of. I told myself that if it didn’t sell at this show, it was mine. Well, it’s in Texas now, as well as five other pieces he was drawn to. I couldn’t be happier. He appreciates my work, so for me, that’s a win-win as they say. I joked around with him about how he was zeroing in on my favorite, though not as popular pieces. We connected. He also purchased a rustic style bracelet. I was sad to see some of them go but very happy to see them go home with him. It was nice to see both of my voices could be appreciated by the same person. I guess it’s ok to have more than one voice.
This week's blog was written by painter, John Stephenson. John shares his fascination with water as one of his subjects.
If I look back over my painting, drawing, and other work I find that I have developed a fascination with water as a subject or crucial element in my art. This appears in images of fish swimming deep in the ocean, scenes of water flowing through cities, forest waterfalls.There are many reasons for this interest. I have spent so many hours by the water, in the water, on the water that my experience has penetrated deep in my imagination. I have never lived far from the water and as a child was excited by the pounding of waves on Southern California coast, learning to swim in the ocean, awed by the vast expanse of the Pacific.
Water also has physical qualities that make it attractive to a painter or other visual artist. The constant flow and free movement of water, its shape-shifting qualities from mist to liquid to solid ice or the way water covers and penetrates everything. It changes the appearance of objects by making them shiny and reflective or by deepening their local color. Water interacts with light creating wild and interesting changes as light shines through vapor making rainbows, darkening as it penetrates deep water, distorting but transmitting an image of a rock on the bottom of a stream.
Water also has a long history of symbolic significance for ancient cultures and religions. It has been drawn on for this ability to signify and metaphorically stand for experiences and values that are hard to express directly in language. Traditionally water has stood for purity, healing, cleansing, and spiritual values. It is associated with life forming and life giving powers that are central to our sense of vitality and growth.
All these elements and aspects of water including my experiences as a child have entered my consciousness in ways I only partially understand. But they are there and get expressed when I paint. In part it is the physical act of painting: moving paint around, watching it flow, smear, moving around in the passive way that water does. Yet it creates a hard and fast image when it dries. Often I play with paint the way I might play with water.
My response to waterfalls or the ocean or rain is conditioned by all the underlying meanings that water has had in my life through religion, literature, and art…from the great floods of Bible stories to impressionist views of the sea shore…probably the greatest being the sense of freedom, movement, life force, that I feel when I watch ocean waves, feel and hear the rush of a mountain stream, coming on a tiny pool of water and patch of wildflowers after half a mile on a dusty trail. It works most forcefully when I translate some memory of these experiences to the imagination in the act of putting paint of varying hues and dilution on canvas. Watching my brush make marks and constantly change the effects of the medium actually creates the feeling and sound of water. It is an uncanny but exciting process which seems to free me up from the often fussy and picky mindset I can find myself in when I paint. It is a profound sense of freedom and painting is a way to express that sense of freedom.
This week's blog was written by Marianne Wilson Stein of Gifts from the Earth.
If herbs can be used as a part of medical treatment, then why not use them to beautify the skin as well? We know that many ancient societies wore paint (early cosmetics) to adorn themselves. Where did it come from? Let’s take a look at herbs and cosmetics.
Getting Back to Nature
When we look for beauty products these days, what do we hope to find? Mineral makeup is taking off in a big way as a natural way to beautify the skin and your looks. They only contain natural minerals instead of fillers, coloring and other substances that can be clogging pores and lead to unpleasant skin conditions. People with sensitive skin also want to take pride in their appearance. But, many of the chemicals present in cosmetics inhibit them from doing so.
A solution might be a more natural approach herbal cosmetics. The cosmetic industry is not regulated like food and drugs. It is up to the manufacturer to have a conscience when it comes to what types of ingredients they allow in their products. It is also up to us to demand that they take our health into account with their products. What you put on your skin can also affect the environment under your skin. Our motto is “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.”
Advantages of Herbal Cosmetics
There are some positives to looking for natural herbal cosmetics. If nature can create such beautiful colors on its own, why can’t we use them? A few benefits include:
Less harm to the body - When using nature’s bounty, you know what ingredients are contained in your choice of makeup. If you create your own, you have even greater influence over what goes on and is absorbed into your body.
Safe for the environment - It comes from the earth and returns to it. You don’t have to worry about what might be leaching into the soil because it is all-natural.
Natural color - Instead of artificial coloring provided by dyes and chemicals, juice extracts are used to provide the colors for makeup.
Herbs Used as Cosmetics
Witch hazel - This has long been used as an anti-inflammatory, but it is also an astringent. Using the water created by distilling witch hazel on the face can tone up the muscles, especially around the eyes, for a more youthful look.
Elderflower - All parts of this herb are useful for beauty. Create creams, ointments and eau de toilette from it to soften the skin and help erase blemishes. It has a pleasing scent as well.
Almond oil - Used to protect the skin in harsh weather conditions. The actual almonds can be used to make a body scrub.
Avocado oil or extract - Can nourish the skin with vitamin D.
Henna - Used to naturally dye hair.
Strawberry plants - Used to create a paste that whitens teeth.
You can find recipes on the internet to show you how to combine herbs, minerals and other natural products to create beauty treatments and even lip gloss.
Natural herbs can be used for cosmetic treatments that are safe for your body.
Marianne Wilson Stein is the Creator of Luscious Beauty for Gifts From the Earth, a hand-crafted line of all natural skin care products from face to feet! She is passionate about natural skin care, health and well being.
This week's blog post was written by painter Jennie O'Connor.
Today, I thought I would write about getting a new painting started. Before putting brush to paper or canvas, many artists have a plan, they have made many decisions, including what they are going to paint. For instance, they may have a photo or an outdoor scene they want to paint by perhaps starting with several thumbnail sketches, working out the design, values, shapes, and color choices, etc. That, however, is not how I work. Sometimes I wonder if I might be in the minority but probably not. First, I create chaos and then I must create order by making a painting that appeals to the senses.
This brings up something I should explain. Almost all of my paintings begin with an underpainting or start (see above); which means I have applied paint and texture covering the whole canvas. The planning for me begins when it comes to creating a painting over this underpainting. I should also mention that I have an immense number of starts in my studio just waiting for the muse to strike. Really what I decide to paint over the underpainting is determined by how it has turned out. In fact I sort of wait for the underpainting/start to speak to me. Yes I know, I’m a bit crazy. It may take weeks or even months of studying a piece before it speaks to me
Below is a completed painting resulting from the above underpainting.
In my process, every painting begins with color. It’s kind of like getting dressed in the morning and deciding what I will wear by first choosing the color I want to wear and then looking in the closet and picking an outfit that fits with my color mood.
Now that’s an interesting phrase, “color mood”. What the heck is that? I just made it up but I’m pretty I’m sure it isn't anything new. I sort of like the sound of “Color Mood”!
So anyway, there I am in my studio, staring at a blank canvas or canvases, as the case may be, because I often work on several starts at one time; wondering what the heck I’m going to do. Then about that time I usually start looking at my tubes of color, picking them up, sometimes I open a few, I may even squeeze out a bit of pigment. Once I’ve come up with a color that suites my mood, or color mood if you will, I’m ready to start.
But that brings up another problem: Where on the canvas should I put this color? Should I begin doing a classic design, or do I feel more like just applying the paint loosely around the canvas, adding other colors as I go along. Sometimes, I may just paint the whole surface with one color. I also may choose to add collage papers that I have previously created, or stamp on texture, or even add other texturing material. The thing is, I love texture and color, and it’s so freeing to work without any plan at all, which is what I usually end up doing when I am creating my under-paintings.
Freeing myself up, creating chaos on a blank surface, that’s the fun of it!