Friday, December 21, 2007

Inspired by Sweet Contradiction - Artist feature with Eggman Studios was one of the first shops that I noticed when I found Etsy. She had some fun and extremely well made polymer clay jewelry and her photos were always clear and crisp. The overall feel of the shop was quite inspiring for someone who was new to selling and Etsy. As her shopped evolved, she started adding her paintings which only added to the fun in her shop. The paintings are very thoughtful and bright and at times odd (but in a fabulous way!). So here is a little interview with Michelle as she details the inspiration behind one of her paintings.

What inspired this piece?
--I have a serious fascination with the ocean and its strange inhabitants, especially all those weird critters that live in the far depths. I just think it's incredible how nature can adapt to changes (such as the lack of skin pigment in fish & invertebrates, or bioluminescent lures attached to fish foreheads to attract prey in the dark). A lot of my work is therefore deeply inspired by the ocean and nature in general. I love to take a creature that's often looked at as being odd or ugly and throwing it in a contradictory and sweet environment. My goal in each completed painting is to have a piece that is both lovely and darling...but also a tad strange or slightly bizarre.

Can you detail how you translated your inspiration into your work of art?
--I always paint in acrylic and usually work on a hardboard surface and the nautilus piece is no different. I'll plan out the design in quickie doodles, then slightly more elaborate sketches on large sheets of tracing paper, and then finally transfer the line drawing to my surface. But 80% of the time, I end up making large shifts and changes in the piece when I start painting. I'll realize that the colors I originally chose don't look quite right, or there needs to be more detail in the background, etc. That's the fun part though--hitting those temporary snags and figuring out a way to make everything *perfect*. Most of my work is also quite small--8x10" being a typically large piece for me. I love to create miniature works of art that bring you in close and that you can connect with.

Where do you tend to find inspiration for your art pieces?

--I *love* watching nature documentaries. Planet Earth series? Yeah--I'm one of those nerds that bought the dvd boxed set the second it came out. I’ve seen it a dozen times now. I’m also a big film buff and have my staples and fave directors I always turn to when in need of a creative burst (Wes Anderson and Tim Burton are the top two). And, oddly enough, I get hugely inspired by fashion and interior design magazines. They always send my creative brain into frenzy-mode.

Any advice for someone feeling uninspired?
--Definitely keep a sketchbook/notebook handy at all times to jot things down. Most of my sketchbooks have very few sketches in them--just lots and lots of random phrases, titles, and ideas that pop into my brain at odd hours of the day. And if you haven't already done so, grab a bulletin board from the craft store (one of those big ones!) and fill it with inspiring images, clippings, and textures. Just cram that thing full! And then hang it where you'll walk past it every day. It never fails to bring inspiration and creative thoughts on even the most uninspiring days.

You can check out more of Michelle's work on her blog, her Etsy shop and her trunkt portfolio!

So take a little inspiration from Michelle and her work and add a little whimsy and contradiction to your work. Mix-it up a little and see what happens!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Be Inspired by Non-traditional Holiday Colors

Here's another treasury I made a week or so ago using non-traditional holiday colors. I just loved all the pinks, turquoise and greens used for the ornaments. Don't get me wrong, I love the traditional holiday greens, reds, whites and golds, but I think it is fun to add a little whimsy and fun with some of the brighter colors. The list inspired me, so I bought a little white tinsel tree this year, and I am going to cover it with brightly colored ornaments. The list also inspired me to make a few ornaments of my own. I had been wanting to make some retro inspired ornaments for a while and had sketched out some ideas a couple of months ago. I had in my mind the many illustrated retro ornaments you see in catalogs, advertisements and holiday cards. I just loved the funky feel of the ornaments and I wanted to recreate that look. I also wanted to keep the illustrated feel to them, so while drawing them on the block I wasn't too careful that they were exactly symmetrical and some of the curves were more pronounced than others. When it came to painting them, I thought of the funky color palette of my treasury list and new just what colors I wanted to use. I tried to distress them in a way that again was reminiscent of an illustration and I left the sides and back white to represent the paper that the ornaments would be illustrated on. I love the way they turned out. Just the right amount of bright and funky while still being festive.

I had my first indie craft show over the weekend. (Shout out to Craft Mutiny for putting on a fantastic show!!) There was a little girl who kept coming back to my table and admiring the ornaments. She even brought me some magic reindeer food to help Santa find my house. So the next time she came by I asked her if she liked the ornaments and then which one she liked best. She picked the short fat one and I told her she could have it. She just lit up and was thrilled. It was definitely the best moment of the day. Don't get me wrong, I like being able to make money with the things I make, but having someone really love and cherish one of them is a gift more precious than gold (or greenbacks). I might eventually forget the details of the show, but I am sure that I will remember the look on her face as she left my table!

So this week, be inspired to make a holiday project and use some non-traditional colors and maybe some retro-inspired imagery, and then give it to someone you love or to someone who has done something wonderful for you this year. Let's all do our part to spread some good handmade Karma! Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Craft Mutiny Holiday Booty Market

Come and see me at the Craft Mutiny Holiday Booty Market on Saturday in DC! Click the picture for more info

When I showed my kids the postcard for the show, and they heard it was the Holiday Booty Market, there were lots of giggles and my little one asks me in all seriousness "Are you going to sell your booty there?" I can honestly say I never thought I would hear those words. Somewhere along the line the kids were told that girls have booties and boys have butts (sounds like something Dad might say?), so he was very amused at the thought of me selling my booty. Thankfully Trey explained the correct meaning while laughing the whole time. So Thanks Craft Mutiny for the great show and for making my kids almost bust a gut laughing. If you are in the DC Metro area, please stop by and say hello. I would love to meet you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inspired by a Splash of Red

Last week, we had our first snow storm of the winter season. The next day while playing in the snow we saw a beautiful red cardinal admidst all the white. What a lovely, inspiring site. So inspiring that I decided to create a treasury of Etsy items featuring the male cardinal.

One thing I think the cardinal can teach us is to not be afraid to stand out, or to be afraid to create things that stand out. While most animals try to hide and blend in with their environment, the bright red cardinal is bold and is more concerned with attracting a mate than hiding from predators. So take some time this week to take a cue from the male cardinal. Create something bold, be courageous and step out of your comfort zone (strut your stuff!), create something inspired by love (or lust) and of course create something with a splash of red! Here are some words inspired by the cardinal which will hopefully help to inspire you :

Here are a few more inspiring items that I feel embrace the spirit of the cardinal, that offer a splash of red, or convey one of the inspiring words.

Click on each photo to be taken directly to the Etsy listing and to see more of each artists work!

1. Lust by
2. Striking Holiday Cards by
3. Sweet Stripe Earrings by
4. Pop Art Heart Necklace by

Here's my little homage to the cardinal. It is a birdhouse I painted for my father in memory of the cardinals who lived in our yard when I was a kid. the female is on the other side of the entrance.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hand Made Gift Guide - The Man in your life

My man works hard, is a great father and husband, so this year I plan to spoil him with some handmade goodies. While he is not what I would call artsy or crafty, I am sure he would appreciate any of the fabulous handmade items I found on Etsy. Check out my mini gift guide for some ideas of your own for a husband, brother, father, son, uncle,etc.. but please leave a few things for me to buy! Just click the photo to be taken to my Etsy favorites, where you can navigate to the Etsy shops featured.

I also want to wish my oldest son, Trey, a Happy Birthday today. He's the best 8 year old a Mom could ever ask for! A belated birthday wish to Kyle (the best 5 year old a Mom could ask for)too who turned 5 this past Sunday. The birthdays, coupled with holiday orders, the PCAGOE challenge, preparing for the show on the 15th (see my side bar for more info) and preparing for the holidays are what have kept me from blogging all week. Updates will probably continue to be spotty for the next 2 weeks, so please be patient with me!!


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