Thursday, September 27, 2007

Be Inspired by a Favorite Book

I don't know about you, but I love to read. I can easily get lost in a book and they can be very inspiring. This month's PCAGOE Challenge was to create a polymer clay item inspired by a favorite book. My entry was the inspired by the "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. Eric has been a favorite of mine since childhood. The bright colors and texture and childlike quality of his illustrations have always inspired me. This book was also the first book I bought for my first son, Trey. I knew I wanted my kids to have a love for Eric Carle and his books too. We now have a small library of just about all of his books, and they are always favorites at bedtime and while I will probably pass most of their kids books on to someone else once they outgrow them, my Eric Carle library will stay and hopefully I will be able to share them with my grandkids too! The other reason I chose Eric Carle is because I wanted to try a new polymer clay technique. I received some alcohol inks from (they also have a tutorial available) and was waiting for a reason to use them. The water color painting in Eric Carle's illustrations was something I thought I could duplicate. It was fun to try something new. They had frames on sale at the craft store, so I thought a frame would be fun. I ended up backing it with strong magnets, and now it is on my refrigerator!

The other PCAGOE Members really found some creative ways to interpret their books. Some created images of main characters, some used the illustrations as inspiration, recreating colors, textures and patterns, others created scenes as they "saw" them, while others used the meaning and themes of the book to translate them into art. These are all fantastic ways to be inspired by books. Take a some time to vote for your favorite entry in this months challenge. Just go to to vote! You will automatically be entered to win 1 of 2 polymer clay prize packs worth over $75 each!! Here is a mosaic of this month's entries:

After you vote, take a little time to find a good book and enjoy a little reading. Let the book speak to you and think about the characters, themes, events, illustrations, the emotions, and even the words and see where inspiration takes you! You may be surprised to find that reading is not only fundamental, but it is also inspiring!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Be Inspired by Hives??

OK, This is not actually the be inspired post I promised, but for the last week we have been dealing with my oldest son, Trey and his mystery hives. He has been breaking out in big itchy for hives off and on for the last 5 days and last night they were really bad, so today we headed to the doctors and have spent the better part of the day trying to figure out what is causing them. So far, no luck and Benadryl and Claritin are not helping. So the mystery continues and needless to say, I haven't had time to create a proper inspiration post, but in honor of Trey's hives, I will post a little visual inspiration for you from some Etsy artists who also have hives, lumps, bumps and spots (and a little oatmeal soap for the itch)! Please click on the pictures to see more work by the artists whose work is featured!

Monday, September 24, 2007

We Have Winner

Sorry I was a bit delayed in announcing this, but since my blog is pretty visual, I was wanted to get a photo of Kyle doing the drawing and I had a hard time wrangling him this weekend. The weather was just too gorgeous, so the boys were outside exploring, bug collecting and digging. Once I finally got them in, it was too dark to get a decent picture. Fortunately I was able to get him to cooperate this morning (he'll do anything for Doritos!).

The little sculpture was a Moray Eel (anyone that guessed Eel was included in the drawing!). Check the comments for the some of the other great guesses. Kyle's older brother Trey is extremely fascinated with animals, and he "studies" them daily by reading his animal books and researching them on the internet. Recently Kyle has started to be interested and was looking through one of Trey's books and found the moray eel and decided that he could make one too, so he did! Now that we know what it is, on to the winner.

Drum roll............The winner of the $25 gift certificate to the Block Party Press is Knitsteel!

Congrats to Knitsteel and thanks so much to everyone who participated and joined the new Flickr Group, My Kid's Art! Don't forget to check the group today for this week's theme! Here is a mosaic from last week's theme, Flowers:

1. The BEST Flower I have ever received, 2. postcard, 3. 4yo's EtchASketch of Spiderweb, flower, ant butterfly and sun, 4. 9 yos Spare clay rosebud, 5. 9 yo's Waterlilies in Watercolor, 6. My favorite picture by my older son, 7. kid art 4, 8. kid art 6, 9. Pink Flower Guy, 10. Volcano detail - Kyle's flower, 11. Rose, 12. Flower Spy

Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

I will post my Be Inspired feature tomorrow, so come on back!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Kid's Art - A New Flickr Group and a Contest

Well, if you have been checking my blog, you will notice that I post my 4 year old son Kyle's latest art project on my side bar. He loves seeing his artwork on the computer so much that it inspired me to create a new flickr group just for kid's art called My Kid's Art.

The group is for showing off your kid's artwork. The group is like an online refrigerator where you can share your kids' artistry with the world! They will get a kick out of seeing it on the computer and will love all the comments receive (don't forget to comment on other artists too!). The art is by kids 18 and under and can be in any medium. You do not have to have kids to join the group, your can also share the art of your nieces, nephews, children you babysit, your students, brothers and sisters, grandkids and just about any kid who's art you want to brag on.

There will also be a weekly theme and kid's projects so you can encourage your kids to create something each week. Come by, check it out and join in the fun!

We already have over 100 members, so to start the group off right I have decided to do a contest. I think part of the fun of kid's art is trying to figure out just what it is they made. Their views are so different from our own that sometimes it is difficult to know what they created. How many times have you looked at one of their pictures and said, " That is a great house, only to be told it is a tree?" Take a look at Kyle's clay creation in this post and leave a comment telling me what it is. Everyone who guesses correctly will be put into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to my Etsy shop. You have until midnight (EST) Friday, September 21, 2007 to get your comment in. Only one guess per person please! I won't post the comments until after the contest!

Create a little art with your kids everyday!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Playground Through My Eyes

OK, I have been busy juggling responsibilities all week and have not been able to post anything , and today I really don't have time to catch up on my Be Inspired feature, so I will just post some inspirational pics I took this week at the playground. I thought the shapes, textures and colors were very inspiring and hopefully you will too! Happy Creating!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Golden Raintree PodsThrough My Eyes

From time to time, I will start posting a little visual inspiration. I enjoy taking pictures, and I already take them for my own inspiration, so I thought I would start sharing some things that were inspiring through my eyes (hence the title). All pictures were taken by me and will show something that I thought was inspiring (disclaimer: I am not a photographer, so bear with me). Sometimes I will include comments, explanations for the pictures and why they were inspiring to me, and sometimes I will just include the pics and hopefully the inspiration will speak for itself.. This week I didn't have to go far for some inspiration. We have a golden raintree (thanks for the name knitsteel and luvmypups) and all year long we have pods everywhere. They are very entertaining for the kids who love to pop them and throw the seeds. They are also quite lovely to look at. They have a great shape and look cool hanging from the tree in bunches (couldn't get a good shot of that because it was too windy). They start out a

very soft green that turns to a bright green that turns yellowish and eventually turns a golden brown. They also have a great texture. Very smooth when they are new and if you look closely they have a web of veins which create some very inspiring patterns. So here is a little visual inspiration through my eyes for those of you who don't have a golden raintree near you! Enjoy and of course let me know if you create anything that is inspired from the photos. I will give you a feature and send you a little surprise in the mail!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Inspired by "Trash"

Have you ever been taking out the trash when inspiration hit? Ever thought that the bottle or box in the dumpster could be come something more? Well trash is exactly what brought inspiration to Lee Gainer and it led to some amazing art pieces that you can really feel great owning. One because they are gorgeous. I mean, hello, circles, colors texture (I think I'm in love) and two they are environmentally friendly, what more could you ask for? Here is Lee's piece, Magnolia, it's description and the interview about what inspired it.

Original and unique design on 48" x 48" cradled maple board. This piece is from a series of very large collages I created with each being named for a flower. The title is an expression of the "opposition" or things organic and natural, which this artwork is the opposite of. It is organic in it's appearance (like a field of flowers) but created from completely man-made materials. Each took just over a month to build. This piece contains a variety of recycled (upcycled) materials; fabric, paper, felt, foil, caps, carpet, metal, plastic, styrafoam, dried paint, beads, padding and cardboard, that have been hand-rolled into circles and swirls and placed perfectly and securely using Golden Soft Gel. Featuring a rainbow of colors and textures, this piece is unusual and gets noticed by every viewer.
What inspired this piece?
I used to live in a normal townhouse burb that threw out an amazing amount of "trash" each week. I am talking about entire living rooms sets, working light fixtures that just needed a new bulb, $150 of blown glass Xmas ornaments (with the tags still attached), perfectly good stuff! I knew there was something I could do with all these things so I began creating my rolled work in larger forms, using found materials. I had to find a a way to keep some of this good stuff out of a landfill.

Can you detail how you translated your inspiration into your work of art?
I was already working with various materials (dried paint, felt, papers, etc.) by rolling them up into "swirls". I wanted to use those "trash" materials and decided to work bigger. I contacted Al Souza and inquired about the boards he glued his puzzle pieces to. He gave me some pointers, nice guy! I taught myself to use a table saw, went to my local lumber yard and started making my own huge cradled boards. This allowed me to use the heavier, larger "trash" materials.

Where do you tend to find inspiration for your art pieces?
All over. How a shadow falls, the shape it makes. Trash, other artists, lights at night, images from books, bird's nests (they use all sorts of things!), video game screen shots, childhood memories (water slides, girls in parades, ice cream trucks), just about anything.

Any advice for someone feeling uninspired?
It's so frustrating when you get "that block". I will go read a book, do some chores, anything to get my mind completely away from art. After a while, I get an idea or the "spirit" again and hit the ground running. I think that your mind needs to rest its creative side sometimes. In physical exercise, you push a muscle just past it's strength. The fibers tear. You rest. The fibers heal and grow stronger. I think it's the same with creativity.

Lee is also a talented painter and I don't think it will take you very long to see what inspired her paintings! My personal favorite is her M&M paintings. My boys collect the little M&M guys that come out at every holiday, and they would look perfect on the wall over top of their collection! And the Necco wafer one really brings back memories! So fun!

You can find more of Lee's incredible work in her Etsy shop, her website, and her blog .
Wouldn't it be great if we all followed Lee's lead and started upcycling trash into amazing art. We could probably reduce global warming by at least a third! Al Gore would be so proud! But, seriously finding inspiration in your trash is a great way to add something new (or old) to your artwork! The next time you head to the dumpster, the recycling bin or trash can, take a closer look and you may be surprised by what you find, and no I don't mean the leftovers from last week (or maybe I do). Look at the shapes of containers, the colors of junk mail and even the strange, alien shapes of the mold that starts to grow after awhile. Remember, keep your eyes and mind open (I did find inspiration in spillt milk after all) and your nose closed, because while there is tons of visual inspiration in trash, the smell is still not so inspiring.

Also remember, supporting artists who use recycled materials is good for the environment!!
To see more cool upcycled art, jewelry, clothing and home decor items, search "upcycle" or "trashion" on, visit the Trashion Street Team page and it's member shops, check out the article, Upcycling for a Greener Living in the Storque and if getting close to trash is not your thing, check out check out these Flickr Groups: Trashion Nation , Trashionista, Free Market (the bargain bin), and The Reuse Project.

The trash photo was found on Flickr and was taken by hammerf.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Inspired By Leaves

I don't know about you, but the first thing I think of when I think of fall is leaves. All the amazing fall colors are so inspiring, so I thought I would take this week to pay homage to leaves. Plus leaves are a favorite subject of mine and I love to recreate them in my work. Hopefully you can find the same inspiration this week. There are so many shapes, textures and colors of leaves , that the possibilities are vast. The life cycle of a leaf is incredible to watch and offers so many different inspirations; from the first glimpse of a sprouting leaf to the soft, smooth, bright green baby leaf, to the mature leaf in all its dark green splendor and distinct shape, to the dying leaf as it changes color to reveal something completely different. Even a dead, dried up leaf or the "skeleton" of a leaf can provide interesting textures, shapes and patterns which can be translated into some form of art. Of course you can also use the actual leaf in your work, or as the subject of a photo. Here are some leaf items I found on Etsy. It was very hard to choose just a few, there were so many gorgeous leaves (I told you they were inspiring). To see more work by the artist or purchase one of the items, just click on the photo to be linked to their Etsy shop! The skeleton leaf photo above was found on Flickr, and is titled "Delicate" and was taken by Kit, the 2nd is a photo, titled "Fallen" was found on Etsy and was taken by .

So take a little time over the next couple weeks to study leaves, especially as they begin to change into their fall colors. I love to see the leaves that are just beginning to turn or are halfway there. You might find vivid bright greens next to bright yellow or red with a little brown. They truly look like watercolor paintings at that point. Look carefully at the structure of the leaf, it's shape and it's veins and pay careful attention to how they connect, and the patterns they create . Look at how the leaves are arranged on the tree and

it's branches. For example think of the fern and how it is leaves are very symmetrical and made up of many tiny leaves. Pay careful attention to texture as well, like the texture of my favorite, the ginkgo leaf, or the texture of a dried leaf and how it contrasts with the smoothness of a new leaf. The best way to study leaves is to get out in nature and observe them in their natural habitat. Take a walk in the woods, or just look at the leaves in and around your neighborhood or yard. I make it a practice to collect interesting leaves whenever I take a walk. I dry them and save them for later when I need a reference or a little inspiration. If you can't get out to see some leaves in person, then get a reference book from the library or check out the amazing photos in these Flickr groups: One Leaf, Leaves, Leafs and the Like, or Leaves.

A great way to share a little inspiration with your little one is to do leaf rubbings. Gather some leaves and place them under a piece of paper and rub crayon over the leaves to see the impression. This never ceases to amaze kids. They think it's magic and they get to create a beautiful piece of art.

So get out there and jump into a leaf pile for a little inspiration. You may never look at raking the leaves the same again. It may seem more like a treasure hunt than a chore!


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