Art Projects · creativity

Art Project: Galaxy Ring

artprojectIt’s been an eternity since I’ve actually posted any completed art here, and it’s only partially because I haven’t been creating.  I’ve been working on some projects, albeit slowly and sporadically, but I’ve not completed many lately.

However, I have a few things I finished up a while ago and just never got around to posting.

First up, here’s a return to something I love, but don’t do a ton of anymore, and that’s upcycling.  The last upcycled project I completed had to be, uh, like six years ago, which, holy shit, is longer than I thought, but I was definitely in our old apartment and Bear wasn’t around yet, so yeah.  Jesus.

That time around, it was an old, rusted out decorative birdhouse that had been languishing and rusting away in my parents’ yard, and after a fresh coat of paint, some rub on appliques, and a bit of decoupage, it looked awesome.  This time, it was the broken pieces of an old pedestal ashtray.

20191111_124713.jpgMost of it was pretty broken down, but for some reason when they pried the ashtray base off, my father turned to me and asked if I wanted these two pieces, “to paint, or whatever.”  I mean, I probably need to start saying “no” to some of these offers of refuse, lest this become an Altoid tin situation¹, but I was pretty sure I had a decent idea for what I wanted to do with this.

My first thought was decoupage, but now that I’m no longer doing mail trades, scrapbooking, or thrifting the way I used to, I’m fairly limited as to my materials; really all I have are back issues of Cosmo, and that’s a pretty narrow range of thematic options to work with.  So I finally settled to straight up repainting.

20191111_130636I did all the work in craft acryllic (Applebarrel); undilluted black for the base background, and very thin wash of navy, blue, and white for the nebulae.  I also used a cheap children’s paintbrush with stiff plastic bristles to splatter the stars (in antique white), and then free-handed the planets (loosely based on those in our solar system).  I sort of wish I had a stencil for these , but I’m okay with the shapes for the most part (the exception being the ersatz-y Jupiter, which looks a little wonky).  I textured them with a round brush, using stippling, and a lot of layering with diluted paints. 

I finished it with a coat of gloss Mod Podge, and layered the two pieces to create the idea of planets orbiting the sun.  Sadly, when I actually assembled it, the hot glue I had on hand didn’t hold well enough, so I attached the pieces with nails… which sadly split the wood on the ring, but only on one side, so I don’t think I have to worry about it falling apart.  Still, I’m sad about the way the crack mars the project, which overall I’m very happy with.  This is going to hang in Bear’s room once the Mod Podge cures fully in a day or so.

I’ve got to keep my eye out for more things to transform, because upcycling is so crazy satisfying, to take something people have given up on and make it something people are, like, envious of (seriously, I got more comments on this project on Facebook than on any of my original art in the last year).

What are you all working on lately?


¹The nearly 50 empty Altoid tins my parents collected for me when I was doing altered boxes — which I keep meaning to return to, but haven’t yet — and are currently taking up a ton of space in my craft corner.

Art Projects · creativity · Life Updates · Uncategorized

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

lifeupdateI really am not a fan of trying to place the blame for any of my less-than-stellar attempts on anything but a less-than-refined ability.  I’m still a total amateur newbie when it comes to anything art related, despite some huge progress, and I fully own up to that fact.

That being said, I often feel embarrassed sharing my work online because even on those occasions when I’ve been satisfied or — dare I say — even happy with what I’ve produced, taking a photo of it has always yielded decidedly subpar results.

While not to downplay that fact that I am not an amazing photographer, my phone camera was decidely lacking.  Grainy zoom, poor focusing, and horrible light balance.  Could some of that have been rectified by investing in a quality camera and, like, studying up on photography?  I mean, probably, but I’m no particularly interested in photography as a personal hobby so I don’t want to sink money into a high end piece of equipment, and I’m only a hobbyist artist, so I don’t need to take exquisite photos in order to market or sell my art.  I really just needed something good enough that I could post fairly true-to-life photos of my projects, and honestly, the easiest way to do that was simply to get a better phone.

Now, I didn’t upgrade my phone because I wanted a new camera to photograph my work, but it happened to be a huge bonus.  I tested it out today in less than stellar conditions and the results were so much better than even optimal condition results with my old phone.  I have a small cache of projects I’ve been waiting to share and I’m thrilled that I should be able to start doing that this weekend.

I know that the creation of art in and of itself makes me an artist (even if the work is amateurish), but I’ve got to admit, it sometimes feels hard calling myself that when I share my work so infrequently, and especially when my shared work looks so much less proficient than it is — I have a long way to go, but I’ve come a long way as well, and I want people to be able to see my progress accurately.

Anyway, I am excited to share some actually good quality photos of my work in the coming weeks.

Adventures of the Everyday · creativity · Personal

Rock and Roll Dreams¹

adventures of the everyday

My son has always been into music.  I sang to him in utero endlessly; traditional lullabies, TV theme songs, Night Vale weather reports, musical theatre standards.  He came out with an innate sense of rhythm (unlike his father or I) and an eclectic musical taste.

In the last year or two, he has become obsessed with “writing” his own songs, and has recently formed his own band – Fire on the Loose – whose members include, at any given time, himself and any adult he can rope into it (his Grandpapa seems to be a favorite).

I’ve got no musical inclination – I love music, but I have no innate talent, and don’t have the ability to juggle the pursuit in tandem with my art, writing, and language learning – but I try to encourage Bear as much as I can.  He has cymbals, maracas, triangles, recorders, tambourines, and a keyboard, and after an afternoon of playing an “writing” songs, he decided to make a poster for his band:
67569551_10156497754724352_1316584901322997760_oWritten independently by Bear, including spelling.  Honestly, I was impressed.

So of course, I shared my enthusiasm with Facebook, because in some ways, I am very much a Millennial Mom.  While most friends offered encouragement or amusement, my cousin decided to stir up repressed memories.

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We eventually coaxed from the depths of our collective consciousness that someone’s name was Sour Apple Spice, at which point I think we all had a painful, full-body shudder and decided to leave well enough alone.  Literally none of us could so much as pluck out a tune, and we had a band??  Come on.

But I came back to the conversation later, re-read it, and realized how much and how painfully I missed that time in my life.

Because we weren’t completely oblivious — we knew none of us could actually play music.  But what we could do was come up with a band name, write song lyrics, put together costumes and personas, create posters and back stories — and that?  That is creating a narrative.

That is storytelling.

I started thinking about all the other geeky shit that we got up to during those summers when we were all in junior high and high school, and my cousin Nikki all but lived at our house: the videos we made on my uncle’s old camcorder, staging talk shows and performing skits to send to penpals; piecing together costumes from old clothes, thrift store finds, and vintage costume jewelry to stage photo shoots; keeping notebooks full of handwritten, free-form role playing games, some spilling over online and encompassing a dozen people, some just between the three of us; writing elaborate self-insert fanfics and illustrating them for each other in Painter.

Those summer nights, we were costume designers, choreographers, writers, artists, photographers, models.

It was the silliest shit in the world, but it was freeing, and fun, and undoubtedly an exercise in unbridled creativity.  It was something that, in a lot of ways, I would spend the rest of my life (thus far) chasing and never quite finding again.

I miss those nights.  I miss that time with my sister and my cousin, huddled sleeplessly in front of the TV, re-watching out latest raw footage, or passing our roleplay notebooks back and forth.  Those are nights I’m never going to get back.

But I see my son scribbling out his band poster, which is now hanging on his wall, and I am so, so happy that he still has so many of those nights to look forward to.


¹Literally apropos of nothing, but I was struggling to title this entry, finally stumbling on “Rock and Roll Dreams,” and then was fucking bowled over with a powerful wave of nostalgia for this song: