24 April 2009

Meet My New Friend: Andy

"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have."
~Andy Warhol

Andy may have believed that, but I don't.

I believe that we need to have art and beauty in our lives. I believe that artists are the purveyors of all things that bring joy to the heart and challenge the mind. From earliest time we see evidence that we are continually seeking to put our unique stamp on the world and to document our ever-changing point of view. That is what art is all about. Turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and coloring the world with your perspective.

As one more in my Master Artist series, I wanted to tackle the unpredictable and totally off the wall Andy Warhol. The piece that I created (which is now the newest blog banner above) is pure fantasy. There are times when I produce something that seems so outrageous to me that I cannot imagine anyone wanting it or even paying me money for it. And then I am pleasantly surprised. I fully expect that no one will ever want to wear it, much less buy it. But then again, there is always a match for every piece of art, much like there are matches to people or condiments or shoes.

Nobody really needs to have my jewelry. Nobody needs to buy my wearable art. Nobody needs to have me create something one of a kind and unique in all the world. Nobody wants to be like everybody else.

I would like to meet this Ms. Nobody.

Somebody give her my card.

If you would like to see more of my process in creating this Warhol-inspired piece, head over to this post at Watch Me Create.

22 April 2009

Meet My New Friend: Claude

"It took me time to understand my waterlilies... I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them... A landscape doesn't permeate one's being in one day... "
~ Claude Monet

The gardens at Giverny are singing. The flora and fauna are awash with color and vibrancy and life. The return of the water lilies makes the heart sing.

Second only to Claude Monet's love of painting was his talents as a Master Gardener. When Monet bought the land near his home in 1893, he envisioned a horticulturalist's heaven. Gardening was considered an art in 19th century society and the evidence of his talent is still with us today. And although he didn't start out with the gardens as his muse, he soon realized the beauty that awaited him right outside his door and for 30 years he produced the most prolific symphony of sights found in his garden.

"Suddenly I had the revelation of how magical my pond is. I took up my palette. Since that time I have scarcely had any other model."
~ Claude Monet

Giverny is comprised of winding paths with drooping willows and a visual feast of flowers and plants. But the most recognizable feature is the water lily pond. The garden is located near a train trestle and every day Monet sent a servant in a row boat out into the pond to gently wipe the leaves and lily flowers clean of the soot that was prevalent from the passing trains. He was a devotee of Japanese gardens and the bridges that span the pond show his love of that architecture. His love of his garden and the care with which he cultivated it a great legacy to the world.
Monet produced over 250 different studies of the water lilies on the pond. The light and weather provided an ever changing palette from which to paint. Near the end of his life, Monet could not have seen these treasured gardens as well due to the fact that he suffered from cataracts. So he painted from memory and the canvases grew ever larger. What we see as a series of small posters in a local shop to be framed actually took up entire walls. The effect of the most recognizable water lily studies is breathtaking in their enormity. I had the good fortune to see the Monet exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute way back when I was in college with my mother who was an art history major. We waited in line for hours shuffling through a maze of other rooms just for a close up glimpse of his genius.
It was so worth the wait.

"The motif's essential is the mirror of water whose aspect is constantly being modified by the changing sky reflected in it, and which imbues it with life and movement."
~ Claude Monet

As part of my Master Artist collection, Monet was at the top of my list. And what other iconic painting is there to represent the Impressionist movement than his Water Lilies.

Coincidentally, my good friend Pram had given me some neglected jewelry pieces that had broken and asked me to salvage them into a statement piece for her. These metal pieces are not precious metal, but they are precious to Pram, so I wanted to put them into something special for her. They are painted with various hues that just so happen to be recurring colors in the Water Lilies series...the brilliant green of the weeping willow leaves...the deep teal of the lily pads...the soft blue tufts of the lily flowers...the pops of salmon flower buds...the deep blue shadows of the pond...I just knew that this upcycling project was the perfect vehicle to bring the Water Lilies to life.
When seeking some inspiration for this piece, I stumbled upon a blog written entirely in French about the gardens at Giverny. Now I took a little bit of French in high school (actually, I got A's for the lovely bulletin boards I made for Frere Robert). I was never very good at conjugating verbs and can barely speak beyond the simple 'my name is...' line, but I can generally read it out loud with great inflection and cadence. I noticed that a recent post was titled "Le Chant des Fleurs" and I knew vaguely what that meant. So I grabbed a paragraph and headed over to the Google Translator and attempted to let Google tell me what they were saying.

What the author was conveying is basically that the gardens at Giverny are now in full bloom. And those blooming plants are like an orchestra that is working together to create the most beautiful symphony of color and light. In essence, the flowers are singing, and our French guides were celebrating that.

What better name for this piece than "Le Chant des Fleurs" or the "The Singing Flowers."

You can see my attempt to interpret this iconic series of paintings below. I know that Pram agrees that this is truly a one-of-a-kind statement piece with specifically selected gemstones that were selected as a complement to her treasures.

(And yes, Pram, you do deserve something so pretty.)

A ripply green and blue vintage German glass cabochon set in a sterling silver box clasp from A Grain of Sand...Bali sterling silver star spacers and teeny tiny sterling silver dot spacers...teal blister pearls that mimic the lily pads and pale blue coin pearls like the flower tufts...bright green apatite nuggets as the weeping willow leaves touch the deep blue goldstone water...and soft cherry quartz faceted rondelles are like the fresh spring buds.

So, how did I do in my interpretation of Monet's Water Lilies? I am hoping that I have done my new friend Claude justice.

Do tell!
Which would you rather do...paint or garden?

"I'm good for nothing except painting and gardening."
~ Claude Monet

16 April 2009

My Many Colored Days

"Some days are red, Some are blue.
On different days, I'm different too.
You'd be surprised how many ways
I change on different colored days..."
~Dr. Suess, from My Many Colored Days

So begins one of my very favorite (and least known) Dr. Suess books.

I knew this one by heart and could recite it at the drop of a hat when my kids were toddlers. Now they are 8 and 11 and I rarely have cause to break into rhyme.

But I often think of that poetic language when I am confronted with colors. The Suessically penned phrases will pop into my head depending on my mood...

"Gray day. Everything is gray. I watch but nothing moves today....
All of a sudden I'm a circus seal. On my orange days, that's how I feel!"

I have been seeking some color to spice up my designs. I have books that are devoted to color theory like The Beader's Color Mixing Directory and others that arrange gemstones by their position on the chakra or zodaical signs. But often I am not sure exactly where to start. So I needed some inspriration.

A trip to the local hardware store offered all that I needed. I was on a quest to get a couple of cans of paint for my friend's new art gallery space. We needed to paint the shelves black. Not Total Eclipse or Abe Lincoln's Hat, just....black. Amazingly I was able to find one paint chip in a thousand that was actually called black.

But as I left the paint department I got to thinking... Why am I worried about combining colors when someone already got paid to do it? And why not raid their racks for the inspiration I need for the perfect color palette?

So I circled back to the paint aisle and started pulling off every single brochure from every single manufacturer. There was an "Enchanted Bedroom" card consisting of Lavender Luck (purple), Royal Liquor (burgundy) and Surfing U.S.A. (blue). And then I moved virtually outside to the "Endless River", the "Whispering Desert", the "Sprawling Meadow" and the "Enchanted Forest" collections. Some brochures attempted to label me based on the colors that I chose...what does your color palette say about you? Does it say...I am romantic? or festive? or casual? or sophisticated? There were yellow-greens and red-oranges and blue-violets all happily co-habitating in such an orderly rainbow parade.

These brochures are brilliant! Not only have the paint manufacturers done a stellar job of combining the best color combinations, but the names are so cool! (How can I get a job like that?) More specifically I discovered the treasure that is Devine Color Paint ("The Wisdom of a Woman in Every Can" -- I love that byline!) available online at http://www.devinecolor.com/. Below are some of the fabulous color combinations that they say "goes on like yogurt and looks like chiffon!" (Note to self: got to get me some of that paint for the next color journey I should really take in my own home. Free shipping, too!)

It is very important to me that each piece I create has a name. I find that often times the story about the piece is almost as important as the components in it. And the name can create a mystique about the piece and a story that someone connects with which makes them ready to buy. And color often plays a role in what a piece is ultimately called.

I don't know about you, but I would rather buy a piece called Night of the Dreamweavers than one that is simply titled, Black Onyx and Coin Pearl necklace. I have seen that in soooooo many publications and websites and blogs...zzzzzzzzZZZZZzzZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

So, to spice things up ("I am {trying to be}...Festive!") I plan to utilize my paint chip library not only for the color inspiration, but for the names they supply...like...
Velvet Morning
Blue Dusk
Golden Cricket
Cinnamon Diamonds
My Inner Sanctum
Leaf Glimmer

What do you think?
  • Does the name of a piece of jewelry/handmade object or the story behind it influence you?

  • Do you choose your jewelry to match each outfit by color and pattern, or by the uniqueness factor?
  • Would you rather have accessories that change with the seasons, or keeps up with the latest trends, or do you seek out your style no matter what they say is in vogue?

  • What is the role of color in your life?
  • Do you jazz up everything you touch with color, or do you live in beige? Would you like to break into color but are just not sure how?

  • If you could be any color in a box of crayons or any paint chip on the wall, what would it be and why?
Do tell!

Check It Out::(It's a three-fer!)
http://claireteschel.wordpress.com/paint-chips/ http://www.devinecolor.com/colorpeeks/colorpeeks.html

(This lovely palette was created by Claire Teschel of Huesdays.)

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."~William Shakespeare

Enjoy the day!

06 April 2009

Meet My New Friend: Francois

"Any great work of art...revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world -- the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breath its strange, special air."
~Leonard Bernstein
Back in February, when I was in that inspiration slump, I found a contest for beaders hosted by Scarlett Lanson of The Beader's Muse. Scarlett is really young (in her teens) but yet she is already making a name for herself in the world of all things sparkly. Inspirational enough, to be sure.
Scarlett decided that she wanted to share her love of beading through hosting a contest called the "Use the Muse" challenge. Basically, each participant had to buy the kit she sold with the same components, and a mystery component...the Muse. The only requirement was that the Muse component had to be used. And you couldn't tell anything about it until the winners were revealed on her website.

Well, the contest has ended and it was quite a success. There were beaders from all over the world that she plotted on a map. Really cool to see how far flung the participants were! But not only by geography were we scattered, but in our styles and interpretations as well. I loved the fact that we were each given the same kit and were able to take it in whatever direction it moved us. There were beaders well known in those circles and those of us that are relatively obscure. But what united us was the Muse -- a lovely brass filigree. I added my signature skeleton key, a vintage button and some other beads as well.

In the spirit of replicating Master Artist's styles in jewelry, I used this challenge to bring to life a painting by Francois Gerard. The neo-classical style of this painting from the early 1800s featured a high attention to detail, very distinct colors and the settings were almost mythical in depiction. Portraits were very common, and Gerard was a master at such paintings. The Portrait of Madame Recamier depicted a very beautiful woman who was popular in French society. Scandal was not unknown to her, and among other notable admirers, she was rumored to have a love affair with Prince Augustus of Prussia.
I imagined that this necklace, titled "The Invitation", was worn by the lady with a special key to her private boudoir. I envisioned the following story to accompany the piece...

“The envelope simply read, ‘Come and stay awhile,’ written in the unmistakable flourish of Juliette. Out tumbled the lone key to her private salon. Quickly, Augustus tucked the trinket in his shirt lest anyone see the coveted invitation. And he smiled at the thought.”

Can't you just feel the heat in that room?
I am sure that Augustus would not be able to refuse such an invitation.

My invitation to you is to read more about my creative process in making this piece at the Watch Me Create blog here.

What is the most creative or inspiring invitation that you have ever received?

Do tell!

05 April 2009

You are all winners in my eyes

"The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give."

~Walt Whitman

Thank you for scattering a bit of joy in your corner of the world this week. Here is a bit of joy I found from my trip to San Francisco in September 2008 from the Japanese gardens.

I was really blown away by the creative ways that all my commenters intended to Scatter Joy this past week. You have no doubt made a difference in the lives that you touched, whether you did so anonymously or right out in the open. You have lifted my soul.

From a simple hello to the more complicated standing up for your beliefs to the beautiful works of art and the poignant gift of flowers, I thought that you might like to see what good you have done, in case you would like to be so inspired to continue the goodness, so here is a list of all the joy-filled activities that were going on:

  • Just smiling at someone and making a nice comment ("Wow, that's a great color on you")--what a great way to give someone a little more spring in their step! {Proving that it shouldn't have to be a herculean effort to scatter joy, just a little perceptiveness and a pause in your day.}

  • I'm a SAHM and really spend most of my time with my kids, so I think I will focus on "scattering joy" by putting extra effort into encouraging them! {The greatest gift you can give to your children is to be there for them. It makes all the difference in their world.}

  • Giving a smile is a great way to start!! {So easy, so cheap and yet so often overlooked.}

  • Each day I hope to make someone smile in a different way. I want to help someone out there see the world a little brighter. {I enjoy trying to find just that thing that will be the difference to a person. All it takes is a little bit of listening to really hear what would make someone happy.}

  • This week I've been bombarded my negativity in the workplace - people gossiping, blaming, and complaining. To help scatter joy - instead of joining the complainers - I am going to be an ally with the poor targets of those complaints and help come up with a SOLUTION to the problem! {This was truly one of the most wonderful things I read. It is so easy to be dragged into the spiral of negativity and to have the courage to stand up for others is the best way to scatter joy.}
  • I want to be an example of a joyful heart and raise up a son who will seek out ways to bless others. {How blessed to be raised to have a joyful heart. It really does start at home.}

  • A smile to a stranger at the grocery store. A compliment to a tired mom at the bus stop. A few minutes really listening to a lonely senior citizen. A show of enthusiasm when my kids create a picture. {It doesn't get any better than doing those things that we should really be doing already. Just a conscious effort to be a brighter star in another's world is such a great place to start.}

  • I will scatter joy this week by going to the coffee shop and buying the next persons drink. {Which coffee shop will you be at? I am at Emy J's every day...just in case you happen to be in line ahead of me! How about paying for the next car at the drive through?}

  • I will also be thinking more about the impact we have on others - it's easy to hold a door, smile and say "beautiful day isn't it?" I will be more thoughtful of ways I can scatter joy... {I am definitely a "half full" kind of gal... even if the sun isn't shining, I know that there is something good in every day and I actively seek that out.}

  • I have always enjoyed bestowing random acts of kindness upon absolute strangers. {I love to see the faces of those I don't know who are the recipient of a kindness, like when I invite the person behind me at the grocery store with only a few items to jump ahead of me and my cart overfloweth. They truly cannot believe it, but I know they appreciate it!}

  • Today I'm going to be scattering joy by visiting blogs and spreading some love and encouragement! {We bloggers love to have your comments and know that what we wrote makes a difference to you...I make a point of going to a new blog everyday and providing written encouragement. I find the coolest things that way and it is easy to follow a random link on a blog that you already like.}

  • I will be scattering joy this week by leaving little works of art behind on my travels for others to find. {Oooh! That is so very cool! Random works of art would be a welcome treat to find.}

  • I think to scatter joy I am going to contact a friend of mine in southern Wisconsin that I have not heard from in over a year! {Reconnecting is a great way to perk someone up. They may have thought the same but not had the courage. You may be the blessing that someone needs right now.}

  • Today I will gather two bouquets of roses from my rose garden and give one to a friend who became a widow a year ago today. {This was the most touching comment I read...brought tears to my eyes when I read, "Isn't it just like God to have beautiful roses blooming on a day when my friends need special touches of joy!"}

  • I will give one random compliment to a co-worker each day this week. Work will be such a great place to be this week! {Imagine if you did this...the ripple effect would be amazing...and then the clients you talk to on the phone would catch your positivity...and they would spread joy where they are...ripples!}

In the spirit of scattering joy, I decided to spread a little more of my own. I was so inspired by what you had to say that I decided to giveaway not one...not two...but THREE W.O.W. Pendants. After all, you have been an inspiration to me!

So... I printed out each of your posts and assigned it a number in the order that it was received. Then I made sure to give extra entries to those who posted on their blogs or even Tweeted about it (thanks so much! I have never been "tweeted" before!). And finally, those who sent others to scatter the joy got yet another entry.

First... from Random.org the random number generator:

Anna L. (*Joyful*Heart*)! (How wonderful that you stopped by!)

Second... I had my daughter Tiny Dancer pull one of your names out and she chose...
Jenners! (I will be in touch :)

Third... so my son Sport-O didn't feel left out, I let him pull another name and he chose...
Laurel! (So glad you found my blog!)
So Anna L., Jenners and Laurel... congratulations! I will be in touch to find out exactly which letter you would like (perfect as a gift for someone else, or as a mother's necklace with the initial of your child, or to celebrate yourself) for your W.O.W. pendants and then I will get busy creating them just for you!

I am so glad that each of you chose to spend a few moments stopping by to visit my blog and more importantly that you all chose to spend a few moments this week scattering joy in your neck of the woods. I cannot help but think that by spreading these little ripples of joy we can start a chain reaction. I hope that you will continue to find ways to share your blessings. And I would love to hear about it!

P.S. Since I had so much fun with this, my first, giveaway, I have decided that this should become a monthly event. So watch the blog at the beginning of each month for something new to win!

"You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give."
~Winston Churchill

Check It Out::http://www.charliewrites.com/

Enjoy the day!

01 April 2009

Celebrate good times......Come on!

(I know you are singing that song right now and groovin' where you are! It is such a perfect party song, don't you think?)

Hello my friends! Great news tonight...had to share...

A few weeks ago I blogged about a necklace that I created using Jangles ceramic beads for the Art Bead Scene challenge based on the Matisse painting "The Goldfish". At the same time I was also attempting to enter the Jangles Creative Celebration. I realized quickly that the necklaces were one and the same. Jennifer Heynen graciously agreed that I could post the necklace in both places.

I was so honored to be chosen as the Art Bead Scene Designer of the Week for March 16-20.

As if that weren't cool enough, tonight was the Jangles Creative Celebration. On her website, Etsy spot and blog, Jennifer continually posted the most wonderful creative entries all night long. Jennifer is a master marketer and networker. How cool is it to see all the great things that people dream up to use her beads? The way that each artist used the array of bright and happy beads was so inspiring. I made a point to look at each one and make a comment.

I took a short American Idol break around 9:00pm cst. When I came back to refresh the page, imagine my surprise to find out...

I was steadily filling up my cart on Etsy with Jennifer's funky finds all night as I saw how very cool all the designs were. Well, now I have a $100 to play with in her store! I have to get back to her shop quick before the special one day 25% off sale ends! But I just had to toot a bit...

"If I need a cause for celebration
Or a comfort I can use to ease my mind
I rely on my imagination
And I dream of an imaginary time."
~ Billy Joel

Thanks for the inspiration, Jennifer at Jangles!

Enjoy the day!


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