Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Frank Shirt and a Robot Mousepad

I hope you enjoyed my recent painting. I'll be starting a new one next week. Here's the photo.
I'm still loving my Tom Selleck Portrait idea. Should I work from this photo?
or maybe I should work from this sweet tattoo I found.
In other personal project news, I made a Frank shirt for my mom. Her birthday is next week. She'll be fifty! (I can't believe it. She is growing up too fast.) I sent her a couple of other goodies with the shirt; most of which I can not name do to shipping restrictions. (Let's hope no one from USPS is reading this.) 
As I wrote last week, making my Frank shirt was a pain in the butt. I didn't think this simple project could get more annoying, but it did. With my mom's I had trouble getting the photo to stick on the shirt. 
The transfer paper is trickier than the directions imply. I think the print still looks cool, though in a grungie way. Because of my issues with the picture I made sure I kept the iron on the name part longer. Guess what happened. I burned it. So then I put a patch around it so it wasn't so obvious. 
What do you think? Let see what my mom has to say when she gets it. I hope she doesn't read this first.
In my last bit of handmade news; I'm really excited because my new mousepad finally arrived. 
I feel like my desk is complete.
I ordered the mousepad from Craftie Robot on Etsy. It was way cooler than the online pictures. I think this happens a lot on Etsy. The most difficult thing for us sellers is creating pictures that do our work justice. If you are someone who has never shopped on Etsy, shame on you. It has so much to offer. You won't be disappointed. How could you be? You get handmade, quality items, they ship to APO's, and you get to support little guys. Oh, you can also get really obscure vintage items too. If you need help shopping Etsy you can sign up for their shopping emails; it's on the lower left side of the homepage. They are really fun to browse; and you might be surprised to learn what the website offers.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another Swiss Chair Lift

Here's how it started.
Then I made a canvas and put the drawing on it.
Then I made the stencil and spray painted it.
Then I paint.
And paint.
And paint.
Until it is finished.
Then I hang it and wait for it to dry so I can paint the sides.
In the mean time I take a bunch of cool close-ups.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birds and Brushstrokes

I went for a nice jog over the weekend. I don't look forward to running, but when I'm in the run I enjoy it. I think I get my best ideas while jogging. Actually, my idea for hoods came to me on a jog. My most recent idea (from a jog) is to paint a portrait of Magnum P.I. I think it would be hilarious to paint a portrait of a man with a mustache. And if I'm gonna do it, it might as well be Magnum, as he is the only man in history who didn't look creepy with a mustache. I might even go as far as putting Tom in my top five with Leonardo, Anthony, and Johnny. (I'm not sure who the fifth hottie is)
While on this particular jog I noticed a bird flying, or trying to fly. He must have been caught in some kind of draft, because he was beating his wings like a maniac and not getting anywhere. After about 45 seconds of this he just flipped directions and cruised back where he came from. Seeing this actually made me laugh out loud. What a simple, yet effective idea. When something is just not working, and you feel like you are just flapping your wings and getting nowhere, change directions.
Thank you Mother Nature.
I witnessed this bird carrying out a plan I had taken advantage of myself, earlier that morning. (I run early in the morning, but I paint even earlier.) I was finishing up the snow in my newest chair lift painting and I just didn't like it. The color was right, the perspective was right, the brushstrokes were the right size, but I had trouble figuring out what was bothering me. What else could have been wrong?
The direction of the brush strokes!
Luckily this painting is an oil painting, so I was able to go back into the snow and switch the direction of the brush strokes. This simple flip turned the snow from something I was annoyed at, into something I was proud of.
I think a lot of this in life can be like this. You get into the habit flying in one direction. You don't even consider that your day would be brighter if you switched directions. 
I hope you enjoy the new painting.
Stay tuned for the next post, which will be the process.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crafts Beyond Crafts

In addition to painting and sewing I've had a few other crafty projects on the side. I've got some older clothes that I decided to dye in order to make them new again, and I've also been experimenting with recipes containing interesting ingredients. Here is one I love. It is from the Moosewood Cookbook...
5 to 6 Beets, 2-3 Tbs. of Lemon Juice, 8 to 10 Prunes sliced, 2 Garlic Cloves minced, half tsp. Salt, Black Pepper to taste, half cup Walnuts, 1 cup chopped Pineapple preferably fresh.
Roast the beets in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let them cool, rub off the skin, and chop them small. Mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy.
I also happened to have some fresh mint in my yard that I mixed in as well, and it was awesome.
Also, as I mentioned in the Germany Journal my next one is strawberry-basil parfait.

Sometimes though, fun and quick craft projects take longer than they are supposed to. They end up turning into crafty-headaches. Take my new shirt for instance. My mom often sends me photos of my little brother's newest drawings. 
I liked this one so much I decided to make a T-shirt out of it. I've got photo transfer paper that I purchased online from Joann Fabrics. I printed his artwork on the transfer paper. That was the easiest part. Next I needed a shirt. Two hours later I was back from H&M. It was impossible to go there and just buy one white shirt, so I also got a dress and two other tops... which required four trips to the dressing room. 
Once I got home I thought the project would only last another 5 minutes; just long enough to heat the iron and press the image. This is relatively true, but when I looked in the mirror I felt like the shirt was missing something. Frank's name needed to go on it. I thought it would only take me another 5 minutes to print out 5 letters and press them on the shirt...Wrong. I couldn't just print it as a text document, because I couldn't flip the letters. I wasn't about to iron the letters on backwards. So I had to open my old, broken computer which took 10 minutes just to boot up. I then had to open photoshop and make his name, backwards. Then I had to size it right so it would print correctly. By the time I had the font, size, and color correct, and I had printed it on the transfer paper, and ironed it on the shirt, 45 minutes had gone by. It was frustrating, but in the end I think it was worth it. The only problem is that now my mom wants one too. Let's see how much quicker I can make round two. At least I don't have to go in the dressing room again.
I'm also working on making myself a new rug. This sort of thing isn't really my crafting style, but I was gifted with a new idea from the craft gods and I couldn't refuse it. I was in the dollar store and I saw the no-slip mats you put under your rug. It's a lovely grid. I got an idea to take my old T-shirts, cut out millions of tiny strips from them, and knot them into a rug. I didn't realize how long it was going to take. I may not forgive myself for starting this. I may actually put it away until Winter, when I am stuck inside more.
I do think it is off to a good start though; and I would recommend this to anyone with basic crafting skills who has a lot of free time and little money. It's probably good for kids with huge attention spans; if they even exist. If, and when, I finish this I'll let you know.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Last night I attended an opening for the newest exhibit at the Kunsthaus at Reitbahn 3 in Ansbach.
It was one of the best exhibits I have ever attended. It was easily the most professional graffiti show I have ever attended. The gallery was quite spacious and the work was excellent. The event was kicked off by old-school DJ Steady Groove and each of the three artist spoke about their work and the show. I was so impressed with the show that I listened very intently. I was trying to pick up as many words as I could, to better understand what this show was about. The introductions lasted an hour, so I was getting the feeling that something more important was happening than I could understand.
Once the speeches had commenced, and a few more scratches from the turntable had been delivered I decide to introduce myself to the DJ. I noticed he spoke a bit of English; so I figured he might give me some more info. As it turned out he is an ex-army guy and he's been living here since the eighties. Score! He told me more about this project.
Art Suspect is the culmination of 12 years of work by German graffiti artists, most of them living in this area. It has been their intent to clean up graffiti and turn it into the respected art form they feel it should be. They see it as more than scribbling your name illegally on public property. (although that will forever remain its roots) All of them are fabulous artists that create beautiful images with color and shapes.
Three artists were featured here, but the city of Ansbach has commissioned over 25 graffiti artists to do work around the city. The artists have formed a coalition (of sorts) called Urban Impressions. Urban Impressions is also the name of the city's graffiti art festival. A route has been mapped out so you can walk the city and tour it's graffiti. Here it is:
Now, you know that I think this is absolutely the best idea ever. This allows me to enjoy graffiti without feeling guilty for condoning illegal activity. As I have stated before, I am attracted to graffiti for many reasons, but I have never been about defacing public property. Also, if you are familiar with my work you know that I use spray paint in most of my paintings. I use spray paint with more of a stencil application; which is why this guy is my favorite local artist.
His graffiti name is UPAL, and he is 21 years old. How jealous am I? He's 21 and scoring tons of public commisions. When I saw his name and stats in the program I thought his birth year was the year that he started to graffiti. (Man I'm getting old.) If you've seen my FB photos you have seen other examples of this guy's work.  
If you are in the area, this show runs until the 24th of June. The gallery is open from 11:00-1:00 and 3:00-6:00 during the week. They also have hours on Saturday from 10:00-1:00.
If you are interested in seeing more art, please note that I will post future events for R3.
Before leaving I left my mark. Who can resist fat markers?

Monday, June 4, 2012

German Supplies!

How dope are these buttons?
I'm really excited about them, and can't wait to use them on some new scarves.
They are handmade from clay that is handmade...right here in Bavaria. 
The artist is practically my neighbor. Her name is Hana Simsa. I met her at a Ceramic Artist Craft Fair this weekend. In Germany we call it a Topfermarkt
Hana and her husband dig up the clay, clean it, and then combine the different colors to get these great patterns. A LOT of work goes into their production. They had many objects made out of this clay. I feel lucky that they made something I can use - Buttons! Reasonably priced clay buttons can be a rarity; so I jump on them when I find them. 
I also picked this up for my mom. She is a ceramic artist as well. She also makes mosaics. I thought this flower would be cool in one of her pieces. Let's hope it makes it across the ocean in one piece.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I'm Not Obsessed...

Every now and again I enjoy sharing an embarrassing moment.
I swear I'm not obsessed with myself but I sure felt like it yesterday when my landlord found me taking pictures of myself. (Don't worry. I was fully clothed. See above.)
If you read the Germany Page on this blog you know that I had a fabulous afternoon touristing with my neighbors. Afterward I declined their offer for a beer in order to go home and get back to work on my new painting. As I was putting my painting clothes on I realized I was having a great hair day. I have a bunch of new scarves and hoods that I need to photograph, so I thought I should seize the opportunity. I went outside (for optimum lighting) and got to work with the self timer. It was about fifteen minutes later that my landlord peaked over the side of his balcony to see what the heck I was doing. This is the exact position he found me in. (Please imagine a camera on a tripod in from of me.) I must say I was a bit embarrassed, like when you get caught singing in the car to the radio.
Trying to explain to Hans what I was doing in German was nearly impossible. Luckily he has seen my work and I gave him a business card, so it made a bit of sense. I wished I knew how to explain one man band in German. Instead I said, "I cut, I sew, I photograph, I put online, I sell."
Our silly Germish conversation about my painting and sewing prompted Ludwig and Katarina to come out on their porch too. We must have been a funny sight; four people on three different balconies all shouting a to one another. I wished I had the camera set up in the backyard so I could've snapped a photo. I imagine we looked like a scene from 227, that old TV show. Only we'd be the German version.
I am happy to report that this situation ends on a positive note. Hans remembered one of the other houses on the street is home to a pair of artists. He immediately made me go over to this house of artists with him so he could introduce me. I wasn't necessarily dressed for it, but who better to meet in your painting clothes than a pair of artists. Well, this couple was very nice but in the middle of entertaining guests so Hans and I didn't stay too long. It was a good thing too, because I was the only one who didn't speak German. I did understand however, that she is a painter and he is a sculpture and they own a gallery in town. They have a show opening soon and she is going to stop by my house soon with an invitation. Score! Chalk one up for Hans, my new favorite landlord.
This will be the second art show opening I've been invited to in one week. My first one is today. Coincidentally all of theses artists know one another. I love moments like this in life when little things just start coming together. I really hope that me, and art, and my new community can become better friends. If only my ability to speak German could come together a bit faster, I'd be golden.
We shall see.