Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wow, it's been awhile...

I know I haven't posted anything in a good while. I'm not making excuses, but between the holidays, Chuck's time off, madly reviewing blog posts for the RPG anthology (which I'll be among the artists illustrating) and us getting a Wii of our own, I've been swamped. And now, to top it off, Lego Star Wars is consuming my life...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy holidays...

The year is drawing to a close. I am busy with holiday festivities and will not have much time for blogging, so I am going to post something now. Hopefully I'll be able to post something more before 2009, but we shall see. The winter months are perfect for being introspective, and the new year's coming offers a good chance to reflect back on what has happened.

This has been a busy year for me. I have learned much as an artist and grown artistically, especially in regards to getting my work out there where it will be seen and in being more involved in the showing process. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities that have been afforded to me and that are developing into 2009. I am also especially grateful for my family and friends, whose support I rely on and cherish. Thank you all for taking this long and crazy joyride with me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I don't know if I've talked about this before, but it seems that so many things require multitasking nowadays and so much is set up to cater to it. For example, I can be doing several things simultaneously on the computer: checking/sending emails, blogging, tracking the status of eBay sales/purchases, updating my resume/artist materials... And I don't do near so much as Chuck who will multitask while working and IM-ing people all day long.

Multitasking can be great because of how much can be accomplished all at once, but I think that some things are hurt when not given one's undivided attention. Emails sent while doing other things may be interpreted differently than intended. Blog posts may become sloppy or disjointed. Other tasks may be neglected or skimmed over and possibly even done incorrectly.

It is especially easy to forget what one has done and to waste time unnecessarily redoing it (or, in some cases, intentionally redoing it to correct mistakes). It is also easy to forget where one is in any given process when working on several things at once. For example, I may have previously posted something to my blog about multitasking (probably while multitasking), but I cannot recall now.

So while multitasking allows me the opportunity to do many things at once and thus accomplish more, I question whether or not I can do any one thing as well as if I were devoting my attention solely to that one task.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Claude Visits Santa

Today Claude & I went to Paul Kuchno's and Libby Leuchtman's opening at Third Degree Glass Factory. For all that he felt like a bull in a china shop, Claude did pop in the door long enough to say "hi" to Santa.


Some days, I just don't get much done. Other days I get more than I think I should be able to do done. But often I find that it is all relative. It depends on what gives me a feeling of accomplishment more than on what I have and haven't done. It depends on what I've done that I've deemed important or noteworthy.

However this can be problematic because it means I belittle a lot of things that I do. Menial tasks like washing the dishes can consume a lot of time and seem unimportant to others by comparison. As a result, they often fall to the wayside or don't seem to amount to much when they are done. Those tasks can grow in importance depending on how much they need to be dealt with. But why are they so unimportant before they become problematic? What if they are treated as being more important from the start?

I don't think that everything should be approached with a sense of urgency (although I can fall victim to this sometimes), since many things really are not that pressing. I do think that it is good to allow whatever task that I am doing to be important in its own way since a lot of things, including the seemingly trivial stuff, need to be done for a reason (relaxation and freeing one's mind is a perfectly legitimate reason). I just need to make sure to remember that it's all relative and not to sweat the small stuff or let myself get overwhelmed by it.

We all have on-days where we feel like we've accomplished a lot more than we should have been able to, when everything seems to have aligned itself perfectly for maximum productivity, and when we feel active and invigorated. And we all also have off-days where there are too many distractions and we find ourselves unable to focus, when there don't seem to be enough hours in the day, and when we suffer from a lack of desire or just general tiredness.

I feel as though I've done a lot today, but I don't know that I necessarily have compared to any other. I think it's more of a matter of perspective than anything else. It is important that I don't belittle the off days or feel guilty for not getting more done because, from my experience, it seems the harder I am on myself the less I can accomplish.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Furred, Feathered, Finned...

I am so very grateful for all of my animal friends. It is so easy to take them for granted. Cats tend to take care of themselves more than others, but they still need social connections and interaction. They need people to pet them and play with them, on their own terms of course. (They are cats after all.)

Sometimes I get so busy and I just don't give them the attention they deserve. Ginger will always remind me of this fact by pining if she feels at all neglected. (Chuck is Sam's favored person, so Sam pines at him.) Ginger has been known to toss her felt mousies under the door of my cat-free office to get my attention. Sometimes it works; sometimes I'm too wrapped up in what I'm doing to notice.

Yesterday, one of the cats went in the kitchen (I think it was Ginger) and cried like Ella used to when she was about to get into food. (I think it meant the same thing, as the trash had been left out.) It made me really miss Ella and the time that we had with her, and wish that I had spent more time with her when she was here. She was so aloof, though.

I am going to try to spend more time with my animal friends. They do so much for me and it is better for all of us if I just take the time to chill out and make the time for them, so I am going to try to do so more often.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lost Generation

I recently found this on Mary Beth Shaw's blog and wanted to share it with you, so here it is.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Busy Weekend

I had a busy weekend this week. I am very glad to have been involved in so many things, though.

I attended the To Kenya with Love show benefiting the Kenyatta National Hospital on Friday evening at Mad Art Gallery. It was heartwrenching to see how little the babies and newborns (many of whom were abandoned) at the hospital had. I was greatly impressed by the selection of artists who donated and artworks represented in the show. I really hope that the fundraiser brought in some money for their cause. To those of you who missed the event, you lost out on an opportunity to help out a very worthy cause and to see and bid on some great artworks.

Saturday, I was the Artist of the Day at Soulard Art Market. I am ever so honored that Kathy Gomric wanted one of my pieces so we negotiated a trade and now I have one of her amazing pencil drawings in my home.

I left Soulard Art Market to attend Art Dimensions Off the Wall at City Hall event, since my canvas was among those chosen to represent the Square Foot show, which will be on display at Art Dimensions' 3rd Floor Gallery. The event was well-attended and there was wonderful food, performances and music throughout the evening.

Sunday was the annual St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art brunch. Janice Nesser, past chapter president and president-elect of the national organization, graciously hosted the event at her house. It was very well attended and acted as an inspiration and a great way to meet fellow artists of all disciplines. I took my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project so that members could work in it, since I have decided that it should be a WCA-STL sketchbook.

So all in all it was a busy weekend, but a productive one, and I am honored to have been involved and able to participate in so much.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Sketchbook Project

I decided to participate in The Sketchbook Project by Art House Coop in Atlanta, GA. So I filled out their form and recently received my sketchbook in the mail. Then I thought, "hey what am I thinking? I don't have time for this! And I'm totally uninspired..."

Since then I have learned that the Soulard Art Market is doing a collaborative sketchbook between them and I decided that doing so is a really good, amazing idea. I love collaborative projects. And the idea of a bunch of artists working together in one book, even if only to do a page apiece, was really cool to me.

So now I am doing the same with my own sketchbook by inviting the St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art to participate. I will be taking the book to the brunch tomorrow so that other members can do something in it. I can't wait to see what results.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I am honored and excited to be one of the four artists chosen to illustrate the upcoming RPG blog anthology. As I'd mentioned previously, I have been illustrating Chuck's blog The Art of the Near TPK for awhile now. I submitted my work to the anthology and am very honored to have been chosen, especially having now seen what some of the other artists are doing. I feel so totally out of my league with my offbeat quirky sketches, but they're different and they convey my unusual sense of humor (to put it nicely).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Communication Is Key

I know I have spoken some about this before regarding art submissions, but I cannot even begin to state how absolutely necessary it is that the lines of communication are open between the artist and those representing him/her (agents, galleries, museums, groups...). It bespeaks a lack of professionalism when either (or worse, both) are ill-informed of changes, and those changes may not be able to be invoked or adapted to the later they are known.

As an artist, one should respect those representing him/herself and inform them of the availability of artworks and of his/her own availability (for receptions and other events). If you cannot adhere to the rules as outlined beforehand, then that group, institution or organization deserves to know up front. If you have sold a piece since submitting it to a show, inform the curators or gallery owners ASAP - don't wait until it has been juried into the show to do so. If you inquire up front, you can build a rapport and may be able to substitute another entry. Better yet, avoid simultaneous submissions so to not have to confront these situations at all.

Likewise, if you represent an art organization or an institution, such as a gallery or museum, please comply by your own rules and regulations concerning the showing of art. Do not make exceptions for anyone. (If you do, others will likely want exceptions to be made for themselves or will complain that the rules were broken.) If changes are made, inform the artists as soon as possible so that they can make revisions to their schedules and plans. I realize that changes happen and that sometimes things go out incorrectly, but it is best to let everyone know ASAP so that artists can adapt. And don't assume anything is common knowledge, especially if it wasn't spelled out beforehand. (For example, artists unfamiliar with the gallery may not know that openings occur on the first Friday of every month, even for two-month exhibitions.)

As an artist, I have been involved in numerous exhibitions that were poorly organized, and not just at the grassroots level. This is a huge turnoff to me and, when confronted by it, I may decide not to work with particular groups or to be involved in what they are doing (even if it is a worthy cause or goal that I would otherwise support) solely because I don't want to deal with the hassle. And I tend to be rather forgiving and to try not to badmouth anyone - other artists will not show the same courtesy, especially if they feel as if they were taken advantage of or that they were treated inconsiderately. I know from working behind the scenes that sometimes chaos can ensue and that unexpected snags can and do occur, but I really do think it is best when the institution or group does what it can to minimize this by addressing those issues as they arise before they balloon into monstrous problems.

More than anything, we should all try to better communicate. Sometimes there is an awkwardness of not wanting to seem overly pushy or insistent, especially when a gallery has stated that it does not want for artists to contact it about submissions. But the artist has to really weigh the consequences - one can be even less considerate and can worsen the situation by holding out on information that is desperately needed and by not informing those with whom they are working of any changes made. Likewise, gallery representatives and groups need to communicate better with the artists that they serve so that they do not alienate those artists and so that those artists can meet (and even exceed) their expectations.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Working Together

I like to work collaboratively with artists of different backgrounds when given the opportunity. It allows me to approach a project in a new way and to directly respond to what someone else is doing in their work. This informs my own work and furthers my ability to convey what I am trying to by forcing me to look at the process of artmaking and at what I am creating anew.

Different artists collaborate in different ways. Some prefer to jointly develop a project, planning and working through every detail together. Others prefer to divvy up different tasks so that each person can work on his/her own, assembling the parts together into a whole at the end. I have been known to do either, although my preference when working with others is to experiment.

Often when working alone, I tend to have a focused vision of what I will create and then I follow that, whereas when I am working collaboratively I prefer to play around with materials, see how the work develops itself and experiment with combining processes and results together. In this, I have been known to either work with my partner/team or to work in our separate studios. I find that this depends a lot on the materials/people involved.

If you have never worked collaboratively, I would recommend trying it. Some artists love it and thrive off of the sharing of ideas and visions, while others hate it and have a hard time working through their differences and scheduling conflicts. It depends a lot on your working style, but it is well worth doing, at least once.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Featured Artist

I will be the featured artist at Soulard Art Market this Saturday, December 13 from 1 - 6 PM. I am planning on taking some more jewelry, including earrings and lower ticket items. Maybe I'll even bring some of my smaller plein air paintings, so feel free to check it out. Just in time for the holidays!

How to Work Better

Tony Renner pointed this out to Critical Mass, and I wanted to pass it along because it really does ring true to all aspects of life. Thank you, Tony! I will try to heed this advice myself, as I tend to overcomplicate things.

Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss on "How to Work Better.
So simple and yet so elusive.

Print this out, use it as a your monitor wallpaper, tattoo it on your
hand! Just give it a try.

1. Do one thing at a time

2. Know the problem

3. Learn to listen

4. Learn to ask questions

5. Distinguish sense from nonsense

6. Accept change as inevitable

7. Admit mistakes

8. Say it simple

9. Be calm

10. Smile

Monday, December 8, 2008

Critique Groups

It can be extremely difficult to get input on your artwork after leaving college. While in the school setting, there are so many more people available to look at works in progress and to offer their advice or interpretations. Later on it is much harder to get such varied input from so many sources and many artists find it easier to either work alone or to work closely with the same people over and over again, which can detrimentally limit input and criticism that they may want or need before showing their work publicly.

There are several ways to combat this. Some artists, such as myself, like to surround themselves with as many people from as many walks of life as possible, belonging to several groups and being actively involved in those groups. Other artists never fully leave the university setting, later becoming professors and faculty and thriving off of that environment. And still others become involved through the Internet, seeking criticism and input globally through online galleries, web-based communities, blogging and more. (I'm not near so involved online because I do too much otherwise, but some such online communities I am aware of include A Singular Creation, My Best Canvas and the St. Louis-based MySLArt.)

Recently, a friend of mine has begun hosting critiques on Facebook that are open to the art group there that I belong to (where we are encouraged to post artworks and other things that we find amazing and inspiring). I have talked about the first of these events before here. It didn't take off to the extent hoped since only three people actively participated (although we had a grand time and got a lot of good feedback, so it was successful for us three). The second has been much more successful with more artists participating, and there is a different group participating with different inputs this time around. The main thing I don't like about this format is not being able to see works in person - sometimes the photographs don't do the artworks justice while at other times the photographs can take on their own presence, overwhelming the work and making it harder to interpret what is really going on. This is especially true of sculptural pieces, installations, subtle artworks and anything prone to glare.

Some groups I am involved with try to offer physical opportunities for artists to get feedback from other members in the group. The St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art has taken to hosting a show-and-tell open critique for members in conjunction with the annual business meeting in November. WCA-STL also encourages members to post any questions and works that they would like criticism on to the blog so that they might get some feedback. And currently, Art Saint Louis is forming critique groups to meet on a regular basis and offer artists a chance to receive input on current and in-progress works. I am looking forward to seeing how it goes and to working with people whom I don't know well, because I know their interpretations can differ greatly from how I perceive things and that they can offer vast insights as a result.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Email Listservs

I know I asked for it when I signed up but sometimes it is difficult to get a feel for exactly what you're getting into when you sign up to be on a listserv. I love being in the loop and can't imagine losing any of the email groups to which I belong, but I must admit that I do find it a bit overwhelming at times (like after a weekend trip to another city wherein I cannot check my email).

Mostly, I cannot believe just how much information is repeated over and over again. Sometimes this results from being involved in too many overlapping groups, but other times it seems that people just keep hitting send for reasons that are not abundantly clear. (Perhaps it wasn't fast enough or didn't seem to go out the first time... or the second... or the third...)

I try not to post too many things all at once to the email groups when I am emailing and try to post only once or twice to each. I realize that it can be easy to lose track and forget whom you've informed and that it can be good to send out reminders after awhile, especially if you're not getting any responses. But let's all (myself included) please try to check our sent folders to see just how many times in the past week, day, hour, etc. we have informed people of our events. I know it's exciting and good to spread the word, but let's all not encourage others to tune us out and ignore what we have to say by overinundating their inboxes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Shipping Work

I have spoken a little bit about shipping work in my post about Showing Elsewhere but I haven't really focused on the topic before. The main thing that I dislike about showing nationally is shipping work. It is difficult to relinquish control of your artwork to someone whom you know is not likely to treat it as respectfully in handling it as you otherwise would. It is also trying when you are tracking a package to have it show up at a gallery during off hours when it cannot be received, or to have it show up late.

A lot of galleries are very specific about which shippers they are willing to work with. And many will not return works unless a prepaid return label was included with the package or an account number posted to the package that can be charged for its return. Unfortunately, many of these return labels do expire and may or may not be honored after the show ends when your work is due to be shipped back, especially if the show lasts for longer than one month. So make certain that you follow the gallery's instructions, ask questions beforehand if you have them, and that you know your shipper's policies regarding return shipping.

Packing work for transit can be trying. I have seen so many artists come up with so many creative solutions to this. As a general rule, one should never ship with Styrofoam packing peanuts since many galleries will outright refuse them. Make sure that there are no stray labels or marks on the box that could be misinterpreted as a shipping address. (I like to turn boxes inside out so that they are plain.) When shipping fragile works, it is best if they are crated so that their boxes cannot be damaged. Another good solution is to pack your work in one box and then pack that box in another box with several inches of padding (no Styrofoam packing peanuts) between the two boxes.

You can also avoid damage by presenting your work in a manner that is less likely to incur it. Instead of framing with glass, use Plexi and wrap it carefully - it is less likely to shatter in transit. (Many galleries will not accept pieces that have been framed under glass because those works are likely to break.) Essentially, I have several pieces that I will gladly ship, some of which I have designed to maximize their portability. I also have other pieces that I will not ship because I know that they would sustain damage; they are just too fragile. So consider this when submitting works that you simply cannot drop off in person.

Shipping can be expensive, so be sure to factor that into the value of your piece. Is it even worth doing? That is up to you to decide - whether the show is likely to be lucrative or good exposure and whether that work represents you well enough to bother shipping it is entirely up to you. But make sure you determine whether or not you are willing to ship your work to participate in a show before you submit it to the show, otherwise you may be torn about whether or not you should participate (and uphold your end of the bargain with the gallery) after being accepted.

I know these pointers might not be all that useful or offer any new knowledge, but I hope that they can prove somewhat helpful. If you have any other insights, please feel free to post them as comments to this post. Willingness to ship one's work increases showing possibilities and exposure immensely. It can be scary to do at first and you might want to test the waters a bit with Mail Art Shows, to increase your willingness to let others handle your work in transit. The more you ship your work, the better you'll understand the process of packing it to ship, the costs involved and the risks taken; so you will become more comfortable with that process.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Sales

There seem to be a lot of holiday arts and crafts sales events happening this year. I wonder whether this resulted from so many artists struggling to make ends meet at the art fairs and art markets where, from what I've heard, sales have been down or whether the idea just came to everyone at once. Or maybe I was just out of the loop before and am more aware of all of this now.

I think it is great that there are so many opportunities geared towards offering handmade one-of-a-kind items and encouraging people to make their own gifts for the holiday gift-giving season. I just hope that there are buyers and that the plethora of events going on this weekend alone hasn't inundated an already saturated market.

That said, here is a list of some of the events that I am aware of. If you know of any other holiday shows and sales, please feel free to post them as comments.

Soulard Art Market, The $50 Show, Nov. 13 - Dec. 27

Norton's Fine Art & Framing, Something Small for the Holidays, Dec. 3 - Jan. 31

Turner Center for the Arts, Maplewood Art & Holiday Walk, Dec. 5, 6 - 9 PM

Mad Art Gallery, Big A$$ Indie Craft Show, Dec. 5 - 7

The Ethical Society of St. Louis, Muddy River Arts Annual Holiday Art Show & Sale, Dec. 5 & 6

Atrium Gallery, Holiday Group Show, Dec. 5 - Jan. 10

Cherokee Print League Holiday Sale, Dec. 6, 11 AM - 9 PM (during the Cookie Spree)

Koken Art Factory, The Last Minute Maul, Dec. 13 & 14

The St. Louis Art Museum is also hosting a number of holiday events, and the Contemporary Art Museum is having their annual Holiday Open House & Shop Sale on Dec. 11.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mutants and Masterminds - First Session

After our first session, I don't know about this. It is really convoluted and there was much referencing of books. I think we have a better idea now of what information we'll need to keep handy, but I don't know that we understand the system all that well yet. It is highly difficult to cross-reference powers and abilities because the system is so customizable. So far, it reminds me a lot of my limited experience with GURPS.

I do think the superhero game has potential, though, and I did enjoy playing Enigma for all that I question whether or not ALICE will prove useful since she's more of a non-combatant. I am hoping that for starters we can set up a stable of characters within an overarching agency or something, each character suited to different missions, at least until we get a feel for the system and can develop a cohesive team that works well together.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Whee! We Wii...

My friend Laurel got a Nintendo Wii over Thanksgiving weekend and, having now experienced it, I must admit it's a lot of fun. I haven't had much experience with recent game consoles having spent enough time on Nintendo during my childhood to last a lifetime. But I rather like the Wii because it's more involved than just twiddling your thumbs around an overly-complicated joystick of sorts. Sure you can sit lazily on the sofa and move your wrist around, but that kind of defeats the purpose.

The really funny part is that you can customize your own mii to represent you and so Chuck and I created stand-ins for ourselves that I dare say look a lot like us, for all that we couldn't agree on my haircolor (namely because my actual haircolor is in between two choices, so I went with more the summer color and everyone else thought I should have gone more with the winter one).

At any rate, we enjoyed the tennis game, especially playing doubles on the same side. Now I'm looking forward to Laurel getting Wii Fit so I can check out how it is. It's got to beat power walking around the mall for exercise. I just need to stay away from that Legend of Zelda game or I might slip back into my misspent youth...

Monday, December 1, 2008


I'm excited to have been invited to participate in the Melancholia show curated by Cate Anevski at Cranky Yellow. Unfortunately, I'm unable to attend the opening reception. There's a lot going on on Cherokee Street this weekend, though, so you should try to drop by if you can do so.

December 6, 2008 - February 2009
reception: December 6, 7 - 11 PM

Cranky Yellow Publishing
2122 Cherokee St.
St. Louis, MO

Cherokee Row Cookie Spree
Sat., Dec. 6, 10 AM - 5 PM
Sun., Dec. 7, noon - 5 PM

Mutants and Masterminds - Meeting Wednesday

The gaming group will finally have a chance to try out Mutants and Masterminds Wednesday. I have updated Enigma again because the original and revised builds didn't follow the rules concerning the point-buy system. I just find character generation to be so confusing... so I guess it's appropriate that I'm building a character based upon the ability to confuse others. (I do love those random effects tables.)

I am excited to play in the system - there are so many possibilities. We will see how it all goes on Wednesday.

Enigma - revised again
Enigma - revised