In some ways it feels like this is my first show, all over again.  I've haven't sold jewelry outside of an online venue, so there are many details to cover to make sure I'm as prepared as possible.  On the other hand, I can't wait to see the reactions on faces as they see my metal work for the first time.  That part is priceless.

This year the Sawnee Artists Association is holding its annual Bellezza show at the Bowen Center for the Arts in Dawsonville.  It occurs during most of April, which is great for both the artists participating as well as those who just want to pay a visit and see the work - more dates to choose from!

I will personally be at the show on Saturday, April 14th from 12-4pm, with jewelry and artwork in tow.  Stop by...I'd love to see you there.  Since it's nearby, make it an art show/North Georgia Premium Outlets shopping day. ;)

Christina

Do you doodle during office meetings, or when you're talking on the phone?  I worked with a friend who doodled intensely during meetings, and it amazed me how he never missed a word of conversation as his pen poured onto paper.  His doodling contained his signature style, with an eerie, "dark" appearance those of us around him would jokingly say.  We would have never used the word "dark" to describe him as a person, so it always made me wonder just what was going on inside his head.

Those were the memories I carried with me into a doodling exercise I completed recently, found in this drawing book I've mentioned before.  The goal was to choose an audio book or the like, set aside 10 preselected drawings tools, and just...doodle.  Doodle without judging the results, and without giving it much thought.  I'd instead be focused on the audio.  (The author even suggests that doodling can help you better focus on what is being said.)  Afterward, I'd study the results to see if they revealed anything about my artistic preferences.

So, I set aside the drawing tools I thought I'd like the most, which included colored pencils, a graphite pencil, black Sharpie marker, colored markers, and charcoal.  For the audio, I listened to the latest message by my pastor, Andy Stanley.

And here are the results, drawn on a large, white envelope:

Friends, I found this exercise very informing!  You can see where I started, at the top left of the paper: tentative, light lines, trying not to judge what was being drawn, but struggling with that.  I reverted to some doodles I frequently made as a child.  A little further down you start to see words (I believe music was playing at that point), an expression of my heart.  Would the results have been different if I was listening to something else?  Perhaps, but I'll never know!

Just beyond the text, you can tell I started to settle in, not paying much attention to what was being drawn and just letting it flow.  The colors became more vivid and my strokes became broad.  I favored making outlines in marker and filling them in with color.  I used the purple and peachy reds the most, and charcoal seemed important.  (I have NO idea where the tornado came from, ha!  Too much bad weather in recent days, I guess.)  Another cool find is that I really like the combination of marker, graphite and colored pencil that appears with the simple ladybug, if you can find it.

I'm so glad I took the time for this exercise.  It's given me new ideas to try and also confirmed some, such as color choices and what influences my art.  Did it help me better focus on Andy's sermon?  I *think* I caught it all, but the jury is still out.  I need to listen to it again to see if I missed anything. ;)

Do you want to know what your doodles say about you?  Go ahead, grab some pens and pencils you have lying around the house, pull up your favorite audio book and just doodle.

You may be surprised.

Recently I heard an artist say that a series is not born because you set out to do it: it is born because you are driven to do it.  At the time I had never experienced that before, so I couldn't relate to her statement.  But, that changed this week as I used my new watercolor paints.  The sunflower came first, and then, I had to make a few more.

I never thought I'd enjoy painting on paper; it's one of the main reasons I haven't tried watercolor in the past.  But with this series, I've realized that it actually feels the most comfortable!  Especially with the shapes blocked in with charcoal, it has a "paint by numbers" feeling to it.  Super fun.  I also like the graphic, stylized appearance of mixing watercolor with drawing media.

Here is the series in full.  Each art work is 5" x 7" and available for purchase in my shop here.

Happy Spring!

Christina

I've been on such a roll making jewelry that I wondered when I'd ever pick up charcoal or a paint brush again.  But, over time I've learned that my interests ebb and flow within 6-month cycles.  I have no idea why.

The other day C and I received a greeting card in the mail that had a beautiful painting printed on the front of it.  To be honest, paintings haven't captured my attention much lately, due to the above.  But for reasons unexplained, I took a closer look at the artwork, noticing the loose brush strokes, the beautiful blend of colors, and the apparent use of charcoal with the paint.  Maybe that's what did it for me: seeing the potential of a beautiful drawing with my favorite medium, enhanced by paint.  I concluded the paint was watercolor, and just like that, had to try it.  It was the same impulse I felt last year when I started working with metal.

So, I made a trip to the art supply store to pick up a few watercolor basics.  It was all I could do to wait to open them the next day, when I had more time to use them.  Here is my little experiment, a simple lamp shape outlined in charcoal and blocked in with watercolor.

I did little color mixing on the palette, since my main goal was just to see how it felt to apply watercolor to paper.  It was interesting to find that to lighten a color, you simply add more water, allowing the white paper to show through.  There is plenty of time to blend the colors on the paper before they dry, yet they dry quick enough that you don't have to wait for hours.  I also expected the charcoal to completely smear under the water (which it did, somewhat) but found it became more or less "fixed" onto the paper, or blended into the paint.

It's a fun combination.

...and the paint splatters?  I added them just because I could. :)

Have you ever had one of those moments where realization came crashing in on you, unexpectedly, because you learned that something you thought you were doing correctly, was in fact wrong?  That happened to me last week.

There I was sitting at my computer, ready to "quickly" complete a tax form, when I realized that from a business perspective, I hadn't tracked my inventory and assets to the level of detail I needed.  If you know me well, you know I'm detail-oriented.  So, I was proud of the record-keeping I had done thus far; Quicken is my friend.  But when I looked at the tax form more closely, suddenly I wanted to cry.  My general categorization of business transactions needed to be split so I could report on them more accurately, in one-too-many ways.  I needed to scrub every transaction I had entered in Quicken over the past year.  In my mind I thought of various ways to get around that painful process.  But in the end, I knew it was the right thing to do, and doing so now would move me into a much better position for next year's taxes.

When I shared my concerns with C, he commented that taxes are probably a big reason why some choose not to go into business for themselves.  I have a feeling he is right.  But am I going to let that stop me?  Never.  Give me a challenge worth fighting for and I'll give it my best shot.  So today I'm happy to say that much of the tax work is indeed, behind me.

In other news, today I added a new design to my jewelry line, a pair of mixed metal, silver and copper earrings.  Sometimes it helps to give a design a name, so I can quickly visualize which piece of jewelry is being referenced.  After these were finished, I decided the copper pieces were reminiscent of flames, so I called them the "flame" earrings.  They can be found in my shop here.

Now that I think of it, "flames" are appropriate when discussing taxes, aren't they?

:)

Hi Friends,

I hope the past couple of weeks have been good to you.  My favorite part was allowing myself to eat way too much chocolate, an indulgence that only happens around certain holidays.  That, and I've been feeling high, literally, from running and doing strength-training again.  It gives me a ton of energy and helps me sleep...a huge relief for this insomniac.  I crave exercise again, maybe even more than chocolate. ;)

Work-wise, slow and steady wins the race?  I've been in the studio as much as humanly possible, which hasn't been as much as I'd like, but I'm not complaining.  With the past few jewelry creations, I've begun to see a trend.

I've been waiting for that to happen.

When others have asked me what my "style" is, I haven't had a clear answer.  I just didn't know.  I hadn't made enough jewelry yet.  But something clicked as I finished these:

Sterling silver, granuled, oxidized "Rockstar" earrings, available here

Sterling silver, granuled, oxidized "Rockstar" stacking ring, available here

Sterling silver, asymmetrical wire pendant, available here

I think each one is a little modern, a little funky, but not over-the-top.  (For example, I will probably never make a skull ring, or one with plastic sprouts "growing" out of it, even if they are beautiful and artistic in their own right.)  These have a tailored appearance of which I'm fond.  Though modern, they have a warmth provided by patina and texture (or in the case of mixed metal pieces, like silver and copper, color).   Over on Facebook I posed the question of whether the term "transitional" could be applied to jewelry, as it is for interior design.  I'm drawn to a mix of modern and traditional styles.  (Side note: the work of interior designer Kenneth Brown has been a huge inspiration to me over the past 7+ years.  Check out his online portfolio and tell me you don't just love it!)  I believe that is being reflected in my jewelry.  And looking back at some of my first pieces, I see those same characteristics, even though I didn't recognize them at the time.

Having this knowledge makes me feel good, too.

It's another week where I have hardly been in my studio.  Those days are still tough for me, but I'm learning to accept that it's part of being in business.  Not every day can be devoted to just creating, although I wish it could.

Lately I've really been missing taking photos just for inspiration's sake.  I need a photo-outing with my photographer friends, and soon!  So this morning I snapped a few pictures around the house.  They capture a few of the visuals that inspire me.

Pattern

Color: especially purple.  You'll see it in my handmade jewelry very soon. ;)

Texture: in this case pattern and texture.  I love the use of a traditional item (wood) in a non-traditional way.

...and the ultimate in pattern, color and texture: nature.

Our precious Hannah-dog had surgery this week and is recovering.  Right now she's weak, unable to bark much (blessing in disguise), and unable to jump or climb stairs.  We have to carry her almost everywhere!  Thank goodness she doesn't weigh very much.  We're experiencing sleepless nights that will, hopefully, end in a week's time.  If you've ever cared for a sick pet, you know how things come to a stand-still as you tend to them.  Hannah is completely dependent on us, even more so than usual.  She needs care by the hour.

Not too long ago we were in a similar situation with Hannah, nursing her back to health.  She has been through more medical trauma than you'd expect a little dog could handle.  But what else do you do?  Hannah is the first pet we've had as owners, and at some point during the years she transitioned (at least in my mind) from "dog" status to...well...more than a dog.  Much more.  How can our hearts not be changed after having her unconditional love for so long?  So we do all that we can to care for her.

I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but with sleep depravity comes thoughts like "will I make it through this week" or even "can I make it through this day without being a total jerk to my husband".  It's okay to be grumpy when you're tired, right?  I remembered the last time Hannah was sick, and how we all made it through...not totally unscathed, but somehow we turned out stronger, only then knowing of what we were capable.  We can survive sleepless nights.  We can face the fear of illness.  We can manage, one day at a time.

Well, since I'm most definitely being melodramatic (after all, Hannah is "just a dog"), I can't help but reflect on other, past experiences.  The earth-shattering kinds.  The ones that rock your world and make you wonder if life will ever be the same.  I've had them.  You probably have to.

Each of those experiences was painful.  I would have never asked for them to happen, to me or anyone else.  But at the same time, in each situation, there was a silver lining, a glimmer of hope, and dare I say "good", that resulted.  That's not just positive thinking on my part.  I can see evidence of something or someone greater at work, something bigger than my circumstances.

Psalm 30:5 says  "weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  Our personal seasons of pain, grief and difficulty will happen, but they are temporary, staying just for the night.  On the other side is a warm, sunlit morning, where there is rejoicing.

Right now, looking down at our 15 pound ball-of-fur as she sleeps nestled in her bed, I'm holding on to that truth.

Finally, finally, late on Friday I'm able to finish a few new pieces of jewelry.  It has been one of those weeks where there have been a million things to do, mostly not involving the inside of my studio.  But, it has been productive.  I caught up on some bookkeeping to help me get ready for tax time.  (Yes, it's the "t" word.)  I did some reading on a new metalsmithing technique I want to try soon.  And, I began to get my brain around a new position I'm filling with the local artists' group I participate in.  There's more, but I won't bore you with the details.  I hope things slow down enough next week to allow for more creating, but that remains to be seen!

Here's the work just finished:

Modern, silver, hand forged post earrings.

...and to celebrate my love of running, etched silver, half-marathon and marathon pendants.

You can read more about these pieces in my shop.

I've been running on a (semi) regular basis again, and it feels really good!  I just wish there was warm sunshine to go with it.  But that will be here soon enough.

Dinner is in the slow-cooker right now and smells delicious.  I can hardly wait to taste it.

So, I won't. :)

Have a fabulous weekend!

Christina

Ah, it's been a great week.  Regarding my handcrafted jewelry, I've made some discoveries and changed some of my techniques for the better.  I won't go into every detail, but do want to highlight a few of them.

One is that I've ventured into the world of beading.  There is a local bead store I've passed many times on the road but hadn't visited.  It kept calling my name, so one day I finally stopped in.  I was overwhelmed (in a kid-in-a-candy-store kind of way) by all the choices of beads in every color and shape imaginable.  Beading by itself has never been an interest for me, but when I thought about combining it with my metal creations it became intriguing.  So this week I created 2 bead necklaces to complement 2 of my new pendants.

That leads me to my second discovery:  fold-forming.  It's a fairly new metalsmithing technique that takes advantage of the elasticity of metal.  You literally fold sheet metal, hammer it, and then unfold it to see the result.  To me, the process results in a "you never know what you're going to get" work of art.  Although, I imagine once you have a lot of experience with fold forming, you can achieve quite controlled results.

Here's a warm, copper pendant I created using the fold forming technique, attached to a Czech glass bead necklace I designed:

Did I also mention I have a new respect for those who bead on a regular basis?  This will sound like common sense to them, but sometimes you have to actually count beads to get the desired result.  That's not something I had ever thought about.

And here's a more organic, asymmetrical silver pendant also created using the fold forming technique.  This time I used black onyx gemstones for the necklace.

And for my last take on beading for now: plum, red agate gemstone earrings.  I love the drop shape of the stones and had fun trying to decide the best way to showcase them with handmade sterling silver findings.

I also had some peridot gemstones on-hand I've been wanting to use, so I designed these etched silver, leaf earrings.  The green color of the stones works well with a nature theme.

All of my new work is now available in my Etsy shop.

Finally, you may or may not have noticed that the photos shown here are a little more crisp, and lighted a little (or a lot!) better than some of my previous photos.  I want to say a big "thank you" to my friend Leah at photographybyleah.com who said the words I needed to hear to get more consistent snapshots of my jewelry.  Now I can actually look forward to it. :)

So, for the weekend I'd like to chill (and by "chill" I mean not be so obsessed with my craft) and recharge for next week.  I hope you have good plans for the weekend, too!

Until next time,

Christina