Thursday, November 28, 2013


I am very grateful for all that I have: family, friends, health, a house to shelter me, good food and clothes, a nice city and community.  I also give thanks for being able to work on what I love to do and being surrounded by the beauty of nature that inspires me.

Thank you, good readers, for visiting my blog, reading my ramblings and following along with my journey.   Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Freak Alley Gallery

Freak Alley Gallery in Boise is an alleyway and some adjacent parking lot walls that are painted with different murals by different artists.

The jewelry store whose windows I painted is right next one of those parking lots.  I noticed that new murals had been painted.  They paint new ones every couple of years.  Walking through the alley, it seems like the amount of murals has expanded over the years.

Here are just some of the works.  I think it is a good idea to make buildings walls that would have been dull and boring more interesting.

I'll show you a few more tomorrow.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winter Windows Complete

My Winter Windows are now finished, again.  I went back yesterday and re-did the one that got cleaned.  Fortunately, it was one of the smaller ones.

Here are some pictures.  It's kind of hard to see the design for all the reflections.  I started on the side windows which are smaller.  This is the first one and I realized at some point on this one that there were too many snowflakes and it was better to spread them out a little more.  So this is the busiest one.
I think even less would have been a bit better but it was too late at that point.

Here is a little closer view.

I got lots of nice comments when I was working on the windows.  People actually seem to notice the designs if you are there working on them.

The other comment I seem to get every year is, "So that's how you do it.  I've always wondered." Well, I say, "This is how I do it."  I don't know how the "professionals" do it.  I make it up as I go along.  This year I used stamps.

The time I painted fortune cats, I had a drawing on paper that I stuck to the inside of the window to outline the shape from the outside.  That way they would all be the same size.  

Sometimes I use blue painter's tape and roll paint inside the lines.  I free-hand painted trees last year.  Filling in and details are usually done free-hand.  I'm always looking for a way to do it faster because it can get pretty cold painting outside all day.  (Also, the faster you do it the more money you make per hour since everyone gets paid the same per business no matter how many windows they have or how long it takes you.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Window Painter?

Maybe I should have been a window painter.  Why is it that when I decide I only want to paint the windows for one business this year, many other opportunities present themselves?

I told you that I originally did a design for the wrong location.  My business is Portsche's Jewelry located on the corner of 9th and Bannock.  When I showed the owner the design, he said he knew the owner of the place for which I had done the design.  He gave me her number and said she might be interested in having me paint her windows.

When I went back the second time to show the owner the new design, a customer had come in and his salesperson said that the "window lady" was also here.  I waited until he was finished with the customer.  As the customer was walking out, he addressed me and asked if I was painting the windows.  I said yes.  Then he asked if I could paint a coffeepot with Turkish designs and coffee pouring out.  I said I probably could and he told me to talk to Max at Cazbah restaurant.  I didn't.

While I was painting the windows yesterday, the owner of a salon two doors down asked if I could do something with her windows.  I looked at her windows and said I could do the same snowflakes I was doing for Portsche's, but she didn't want to "steal" the design.  I then said I only brought the supplies to do the jewelry store.  I only had two foam brushes and a very small touch up brush.

Her windows weren't very big and I could have done some swirl swooshes or something.  But I also had forgot to bring anything to "erase" the paint if I made a mistake and I didn't want to improvise something and have it look crappy.  She said to think about it and she would be around for an hour.

It took me longer than that to finish and I didn't stop by to see if she was in.

It took me about four hours to paint the windows, the fastest I've ever done thanks to the stamps. I'm glad because the clouds had come in with a cold wind and, even though I had a layers of clothing on, I was getting cold.

It took me less time than I had thought and I was happy to have the task completed. Or so I thought.

Last night I get an email from a window cleaning business and the guy said one of his employees thought that I had painted the windows on the inside and had sprayed a window to clean it. Realizing his mistake afterward, he still ended up destroying the work on that window.  So I'm back again tomorrow to repaint the window (the window cleaning guy is paying me to do it).

Now, I'm thinking I could do the salon windows if the owner still wanted me to since I'll be there anyway and can plan ahead.  I might see if I can come up with a quick design.

The reason I only wanted to do one business this year was because I didn't think I would have time to do more than one with all the other things going on (the Winter Windows are suppose to be done by Nov. 30).  Really, I could have the time if I wanted to.  But I don't want to, despite the fact that I could use the money for my art business.  There are other things that take priority and even though it can be a creative project, I'm really not a window painter.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Snowflake Stamp Tutorial

Winter has arrived.  We've had snow here in the valley (it's melted now) and warm sweaters and scarves have come out of the closet.  All just in time to paint Winter Windows. This is the fourth year that I have signed up to paint a Winter Window for a business downtown. For the last two years I have done two businesses.  Because of other commitments, I only signed up for one this year.

When I received the email with my assigned business, I went to Google maps to see where it was located.  I used the street view to look at the windows.  I created a design and called the owner to set up a time to meet and get approval.

When I went to the location for our meeting, my heart sank as I realized they were not located at the address I had.  I gave them a call and they were a few doors down the street.  The email had not given me an address, just the business name.  Even if I had looked on their website, I still would have had an old address (not the one Google gave me).

I showed the owner the designs for the other windows and said I could rework it to try to fit it into his windows, but he didn't seem to like that idea much.  So I said I would create a new design.  I asked if he had anything he envisioned and he mentioned "icicles" and "lacy".

Being a jewelry store, there are lots of display cases in the windows that I need to work around.  I decided to do simple lacy snowflakes that I think will look very nice. The owner approved the idea. Since there are quite a few windows, I am not planning to paint all the snowflakes by hand.

Last year when I had a business with lots of large windows, I tried to figure out how to paint it faster (because you get paid the same amount for each business, no matter what the size of the windows).  I created some simple stamps for parts of it and they seemed to work well.

So this year, I have made my own lacy snowflake stamps to use on the windows and I wanted to share with you how I did it.  You need simple fun foam with adhesive on the back (I bought mine at Michael's), an Exacto knife (or scissors for young kids), cutting mat and a piece of foam core (or thick cardboard or plexiglas).

Making stamps from fun foam is not my idea.  Basically, the idea is that you will cut shapes out of the foam, attach to a support and stamp.  But how do you do a lacy snowflake?  Here's what I did.

I found some polar graph paper on the internet and printed it out on a full sheet of label paper. Using the guidelines of the paper, I created a snowflake design in pencil.  When I was happy with it, I outlined it using a regular Sharpie marker.

Then I trimmed off the extra paper, peeled off the backing paper and stuck it to the back of the fun foam (paper side).

Placing this on the cutting mat, I started cutting outside the Sharpie lines with my Exacto knife.  A new, sharp blade helps because you are cutting through two paper layers and the thickness of the foam.  Straight lines are easier than curves.  Simple shapes are easier than intricate snowflakes.

Here is one almost completely cut.

Now you can peel off the backing paper of the foam and stick the shape to the foam core (or cardboard).

You can try using a stamp pad to make your image.  Or the way I use them is to paint some paint onto to the stamp with a foam brush.  Then stamp on whatever you want.

I made several different sizes.  I'm painting the windows today and will show you the results later.

Kids could use scissors to cut simple shapes.  Or fun foam comes in all kinds of pre-cut shapes.  If it doesn't already have an adhesive back, you could use tacky glue to stick it to your support.  You could also put several different shapes on the same support.  If you want to use pre-cut letters, remember to glue them to the support backwards so they stamp correctly.

Now you know my trade secret - which isn't really a secret, or my trade either for that matter.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Playing with Pattern

I have been working at the art museum this week and haven't been in the studio at all.  But last night I felt like doing a little something.  So, I took out the fabrics I had printed at the woodblock workshop.  Do you remember this?

I cut several of them into quarters and started playing with different arrangements.  There are so many variations you can do.  It is more like traditional quilting in that you have a consistent block but changing the arrangement creates different patterns.

Here are some options playing with nine squares.






Then look what happens when I add a few more squares.




I could also off set them for more options.



Or add some solid squares (which I would put in the corners of this one).


I have more photographs than this.  Now I don't know which one to choose.  Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Another stop on my First Thursday tour was at Wingtip Press to see the exhibition Suspend.  The Wingtip space doesn't have a whole lot of wall space for hanging artwork.  During a discussion Amy Nack and Karl LeClair came up with the idea of hanging work from the ceiling.

Curated by LeClair, the artworks are by local artists.  Just as the hanging is unconventional, so too are many of the pieces.  Suspended in space, the original prints become three dimensional and seen from more than one side.

Above you can see the swoops and swirls of the collaborative work of Nack and Cassandra Schiffler.  A long continuous monotype the artwork pushes the conception of original print.

To the right of the collaborative piece is a work by Jessica Wright.  Delicate prints are supported by a wooden structure (which appears to me to be balsa wood).  The front shows stitching lines through the prints and the wooden support can be seen from the back.  The prints are on a very lightweight paper so that light can come through to the back.

LeClair's piece is comprised of prints on paper that have been cut up into strips and shapes.  The resulting configuration takes advantage of the negative space and gravity to help form the piece.

Here are a few more works.

They will be up (literally) at Wingtip Press through November.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dia de los Muertos Again

The weather was pretty nice for First Thursday last week.  There were a lot of people walking around downtown.  I went to several places, the first being the Idaho State Historical museum to see the Dia de los Muertos stuff before they took it down.

I just wanted to share a few more of the steamroller banners.  These three were done by students.

And I especially liked this one that was done on a tie dyed sheet.  Hmm, a thought for next year maybe.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Utility Series

Here are two more T-Squares from my Utility Series.  And the Small Works Group Show's opening reception at the Lisk Gallery is tonight from 5-9 p.m.!

T-Square #4, 2013
fabrics hand dyed by artist,
fused appliqué, machine stitching
10" x 10"
Available at Lisk Gallery through Dec.

T-Square #5, 2013
fabrics hand dyed by artist,
fused appliqué, machine stitching
10" x 10"
Available at Lisk Gallery through Dec.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Utility Series

In my last post, I showed you the first piece of my Utility Series.  Here are two more.

T-Square #2
fabrics hand dyed by artist,
fused appliqué, machine stitching
10" x 10"
Available at Lisk Gallery (Nov. 7-Dec.31)

T-Square #3
fabrics hand dyed by artist,
fused appliqué, machine stitching
10" x 10"
Available at Lisk Gallery (Nov. 7-Dec.31)

The Utility Series is named for the the shapes in the artwork and for types of tools and hardware. I have sketches for L-brackets, C-clamps, D-rings and O-rings.

These first pieces in the series will be in the Lisk Gallery Small Works Group Show starting this Thursday, Nov. 7 (opening reception 5-9 p.m.) through Dec. 31.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Small Works Show and a Rant

I have started a new series that I call the Utility Series.  Here is the first piece in the series.

T-Square #1, 2013
fabrics hand dyed by the artist,
fused appliqué, machine stitching
10" x 10"

This artwork, along with four more in the series, will be in the Lisk Gallery's Small Works Group Show. There will be works by 21 local artists and the opening reception is First Thursday (Nov. 7).

I dropped the artwork off at the gallery yesterday.  Each artwork was labeled on the back, had a hanging rod, was in it's own clear, flat bag with a copy of care and hanging instructions and one of my business cards as well.  This is so that when they sell a piece, it can go right back in the bag and be ready to transport.

I also had two copies of a consignment list which I had signed.  One for the gallery and one for my records after having the gallery person sign it.  

I introduced myself to the gal working there and pull out the artwork and list.  She says to me, "I like you already.  You are punctual and organized."  She indicated that in general most artists are not.

So, this brings me to a little bit of a rant, which I don't normally like to express here on the blog. But this topic irks me somewhat.

I think of myself as a professional artist.  This means I make artwork and sell it.  There are two words in that phrase "professional" and "artist".  I think many artists forget the first part.  

There is a generalization that since artists are creative, they can be a little scattered brained about other things.  I have been around other artists and I have also worked at the museum and have seen the flip side of dealing with artists.   And there is a reason this generalization exists. Some artists don't seem to think the "business" of art is important, or think they are too busy being creative to deal with that stuff.  Or maybe they feel they are predominately right-brained and have a hard time with left-brain tasks.

Well, I think that is a cop out.  If you are an artist that wants to sell your work, then you are a small business.  I don't see being creative as an excuse to not be professional.  It is not hard to follow directions, meet deadlines, write legibly, return emails/phone calls in a timely manner and pay attention to details.   

I do have a business degree, in addition to my art degree, but you don't need to have a business degree to be professional.  This is just common sense.  And I realize that artists aren't the only ones.  There are also businesses that don't run their business in a professional manner.  (You are not going to get my business if you tell me you will call me back and never do.)

As an artist, it would be nice to spend all your time creating while somebody else takes care of business. But many artists can't afford to hire someone to do that.  So they really need to take care of business themselves.

If you are an artist (or anybody else) and have different views on this subject, please feel free to leave a comment. This rant is just my opinion.