30 April 2011

how to make art in 10 minutes

I'm like everyone else - I've got too much to do and not enough time to do it in. There's just no getting around it.

Basically it came down to a very simple ultimatum: (1) Stop doing anything but the day job or (2) Figure out a way to fit art and fun into my schedule.

I chose option #2. (Obviously, right?)

Okay, so I made that choice but now what? How in the world do I squeeze in extra time? The answer was very obvious: I don't.

Extra time is not the issue. Effectively using my time is. There are a lot of little blocks of time that go unused in the day. Ten minutes here, five minutes there. They hardly seem like they are worth anything but if you worked on a project for ten minutes every day, you'd have nearly an hour's worth of work in on it by the end of the work week.

Doesn't sound like much? An hour sounds a heck of a lot more then zero. Still not convinced? See this?

Red Eye
Lynn Krawczyk

That art quilt appeared with my article "Experiments with Thermofax Printing" in the 10th Anniversary issue of Quilting Arts Magazine and I made it in ten minute time blocks.

Its a habit. Not one that comes easily and not one that I can always keep up with. Sometimes I'm just tired and don't feel like working. And sometimes all I've got to give is ten minutes.

And that's okay.

Those ten minute time blocks keep me moving. They keep me producing and I feel productive and happy with the amount of work I put out.

So the next time you are sitting somewhere thinking about how you have no time to do something, take the time you would spend worrying about it and do something. Even just for a few minutes.

Ten minutes can make a huge difference in the long run.

27 April 2011

the #1 reason why i love thermofax screens

It might seem obvious why I love thermofax screen printing: its quick and easy and I don't have to think too hard about making the screen, I get to spend my time making the art instead.

It might seem obvious why I sell thermofax screens: because I'm building a business.

But there's more to it then that. And its a somewhat selfish reason for why I have such an affection for these simple screens - they are very empowering.

Printing my own imagery allows me to take control of my art, I'm no longer dependent on what other people produce. I can make it fit the mood of the piece, I can have freedom. And by providing the service that allows other artists to get them, I'm passing that power on.

It makes me feel good.

I think that there are so many influences out there that its difficult to find our voices and hang on to it. Its a process, one that you have to do the work for. But it doesn't mean you have to re-invent the wheel. There's no reason you can't take the tools available to you and make some parts of the process easier, less stressful.

The simple truth of the matter is that I can't do every single thing.

So I choose to find the shortcuts where I can so I can make art instead. And that's the biggest idea driving me to promote thermofax screens. The idea that they alleviate the need for high expense and there are no chemicals involved and in the end, I'm left with something intensely personal that only I can make.

There's a great deal of satisfaction in that.

The shop has been in vacation mode for a few weeks. I've had several projects that needed my undivided attention and now that they are nearly done, the shop is going to re-open on this Friday (April 29). I've got some super exciting things to add - one of which is my DVD.

And the other? Well, you'll just have to wait and see. Let me just say that there is very limited availablity (only 12) and its super super cool - its hard to keep it a secret! So stay tuned - you won't want to miss out! :)

24 April 2011

where i stand sunday

The lazy morning light is what I like best about being out before the clock hits double digits. The low spring sun is hazy from thunderstorms the previous night, sleepily pushing its way through the grating on the patio furniture. It splatters shadows into an intricate arrangement, rearranging the lines as the day goes on.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

23 April 2011

6 bottles of glue & 9 pairs of scissors

If you have been around the blog any length of time, you know the battle I constantly wage with trying to organize and tidy my studio.

Usually the studio wins.

The reason for that is that my version of cleaning consists of clearing the work surfaces and making sure that most of floor is visible and I don't have to navigate anything. (That's not to say there aren't piles there, I just tend to shove them where I don't have to step around them.)

Several weeks ago, some very nice people asked me to see my studio. I was flattered and since these are people that I like very much and want to make sure that they enjoy the experience, I set about the task of tackling the piles.

I've got an organizer fetish which, ironically, seems to only add to the clutter. All the bones for having a really great workspace are there. I tweaked the layout just a tiny bit and then just stood there and stared at all the piles.


I'd be lying if I said that a wee panic hasn't been following me around as I pick away at the whole mess of it. But since I'm actually being forced to go through all the piles, I'm amazed.

Here just a small sample of what I've found to give you an idea of the problem:

* 6 bottles of sobo glue (and that's just one brand, the grand total of glue bottles is impressive)
* 9 pairs of scissors
* 25 yards of PFD fabric (that I wasn't aware I had)
* 4 unused sketch books
* 10 black sharpie markers

My reluctance to bite the bullet and actually clean up all the piles has caused me to buy multiple duplicates of things.

Coming across these few things has actually motivated me to keep cleaning because the fact of the matter is, I've decided to put myself on a stash/supply diet. I'm pledging to not buy anything new through the rest of the year unless its for a particular project and its something that I absolutely do not have and can't be substituted out.

At first I felt grumpy about having to go through all this work. Its not like I'm not constantly cleaning in there to begin with. But I think its actually a blessing in disguise, and its steadily coming together.

The part that I'm really enjoying is the decorating. I tend to treat my studio like one giant assemblage. I'm definitely not of the zen space idea when it comes to where I create. I like the walls to be covered in artwork - mine and the pieces I collect. It instantly throws me into work mode to be around that much creative energy.

The thing that got me wondering today was this: why am I willing to do all this for someone else but not for myself? The thought crossed my mind several times as I worked that if it wasn't for the fact that strangers were going to be looking at my space, I most likely would have continued to plod along with the piles and clutter.

I'm not saying it didn't irritate me, it totally did. But for some bizarre reason, I was completely willing to accept it when the space was closed off to the outside world.

At any rate, it will be some time before you'll see the results but when they do get posted, I'll also be showing the before pictures. Because I think its important to see that all of us start in the same place - from several little piles of scissors and glue.

19 April 2011


{untitled} is a blog post series featuring photos only that I find inspirational - I hope you do too...

18 April 2011

the hardest part about making art...

...is holding on to your style.

At least for me it is.

When I first pushed my artwork out into the world, I was unsure. Then happy when it seemed to be generally well received. And then something seemed to get lost...and I struggled for a little while.

I got nervous that my color schemes weren't happy enough (they generally aren't), that my themes weren't mainstream enough (which often they are not), that people would think I was just plain weird (which they have frequently said).

There was a time period when I made things that I thought other people wanted to see, that would be better accepted, that stayed away from the black and dark tones that I like, from the somewhat creepy edge that sometimes finds its way into my work.

When I realized this was happening, I made a decision: I needed to become comfortable with the idea that I can't make everyone happy. Its not really a feeling that ever entirely goes away but its one of those things that is a necessary evil.

My style is constantly evolving, its something that grows and stretches with me as life plods along. When times are difficult and painful, the work reflects it - somber and black and moody. When times are content, there is more experimenting - a willfulness to try out things that might not work. And as time builds up, a different kind of feeling creeps in - one of confidence, of sureness, of quiet strength.

Its a kind of unconscious diary that can be traced in a slow steady way.

Its something that I've come to guard almost as much as the act of creating itself. I still catch myself considering altering something to suit other people's tastes. It instantly kicks up a fit of annoyance, and three words flash through my mind "This isn't me."

And so I do what feels natural and all the while I know that somewhere someone will probably think "That's awful."

And that's okay.

I make art because I have to. That dictates that I need to find meaning and fulfillment in it. Sharing it with others who find the same thing in it is a gift but not a requirement.

There is room for everyone's voice, no matter how far off it is from our own. There are things that don't thrill me but I know that others see it in a way that feels like home. And that's what I love so much about what we do - the endless possibilities that hold out their hands for us to follow.

Hold on to your style. If you don't do the work, who else will?

17 April 2011

where i stand sunday

Its surreal, looking down at the small neat packages that hold so much. There is a quiet thrill that runs along the edge every time I look at them, a wonder at how I got to this point. It excites, makes me want to reach for more...

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

16 April 2011

random saturday

I'm on the tail end of several project deadlines. And at the end of what can only be described as the spring flu. I've stared at the TV for more hours over the past three days then can possibly be healthy for the human brain.

Because all of the projects I've got in the works are for publication, I have to hoard them, which means my blog is hungry and I've got only random to feed it with - here goes:

(1) My studio looks like Godzilla hosted a rave in it.


I need to train him to clean up after himself.

(2) Decay is pretty. I think its the fragility of it or maybe knowing that this thing has been kicked around a bit and still manages to hang on. I dig it.

(3) I still maintain that there is absolutely no purpose for some bugs to exist. For example, the one that landed in my hair today and made me look like I was having some kind of bizarre fit as I flailed about...yeah - that one doesn't need to exist. Can't convince me otherwise.

(4) Dooley love now has a little ramp to help him get up and down the stairs to the backyard patio. Makes me sad that he needs the help but I also giggle every time he tromps up it and acts all proud of himself.

(5) Isn't he handsome?

(6) 80 degrees + thunderstorms =

(7) I'm in love with this. I wonder how long it would take me to make one...ya know - in my free time.

(8) We got a new cable company installed a couple of weeks ago. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I have to use the down arrow to make the channel numbers go up on the guide. I think its a mean trick. Kind of like the bug.

(9) I didn't make it to IQF this year (if you went, how was the it? Did you like Cincinnati?) so I've decided to go here instead. That means I'll be attempting to abstain from purchasing any yarn between now and then. Makes me twitchy just thinking of it...

(10) I accidentally screen printed my foot yesterday. Don't ask.

And with that, I'm ready to nap again. *sigh*

13 April 2011

lovely rust

I don't know if its because I spend my day designing metal parts or if its because quite often the color combinations are my favorites but I have a special affection for rust.

Just gorgeous...

(click the photo to see it bigger, its so cool...)

1. Rusted, 2. Rust , 3. rust on old car, 4. Rust Texture, 5. Rust macro, 6. Rust, glorious rust!, 7. Rust, 8. Cuba Gallery: Orange / vintage / retro / car / door handles / rust / texture background / grass, 9. Rusting Through, 10. Study in Rust, 11. rust, 12. Rust roest - 3, 13. Rust roest 6, 14. rust never sleeps, 15. Rust, 16. Tractor rust, 17. colors of rust, 18. Rust macro at Filey, 19. Rusted Sheet Metal Horizon, 20. Rust We ┘d

12 April 2011

nagging thought

on the line 5
Lynn Krawczyk

I've been having an odd feeling the past week or two. Something that I decided to hoard but then remembered my promise at the beginning of the year to be more open about the art side of my life. So I'm bringing it to the blog...

Two thoughts have been running through my head nearly every day, pretty much simultaneously:

1) I am grateful for the full artistic life that I have


2) I could be doing more.

The first one is easy to figure out. Even amongst the deadlines and worry about time (which try as I might I cannot convince to multiply), I occasionally raise my head and the knowledge of how lucky I am to have art and all the gifts it has given me in my life is overwhelming - in a totally good way. Its something I'm happy to carry with me through my day, to remind me that my art career is still moving along.

And then the second thought pops in and I'm not really sure where it comes from.

I'm doing plenty - how could I possibly add more? I feel like I'm right on the edge of something that I can't give a name to because I can't see it clearly enough.

I've not had a lot of art time. I mean, I've been making things but they've not been "just because." I think that's the source of the nagging question. Although to be honest, it feels too simplistic of an answer. There's something else rattling around in my brain that doesn't want to speak up just yet.

Being patient with this thought and feeling is like trying to herd cats. It makes me anxious and it makes me question things. Which, in all honesty, I'm totally good with. The day I stop looking to improve or stretch is the day I'll be done with art because for me that's what keeps me interested in the whole business.

I've had these arguments with myself before. They are tiring and exciting all at the same time. But its there and I'm hoping I can corner it soon.

Until then I'll let it stew and enjoy the new season, tinkering with new projects and daydreaming about what's to come.

10 April 2011

where i stand sunday

The metal is worn and intrusive but the color is explosive and captivating. I'm enthralled by the rust, orange, blue, brown and grey all mingling together on such an unexpected substrate. Its a combination I always find hypnotic, extremely beautiful.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

06 April 2011

"Print Design Compose" now available! :)

Holy cow, I can hardly believe it but my DVD is already available for purchase!

Here is the description that is on the cover:

"Learn how to create gorgeous hand-printed fabrics…and learn how to successfully showcase these fabrics in your finished artwork.

Surface design artist Lynn Krawczyk provides thorough demos of her favorite surface design methods, including Thermofax® screen printing, soy wax batik, and the use of freezer-paper stencils.

Viewers will learn how to successfully accomplish background printing on fabric using all of these techniques, as well as how to add focal images to hand-printed fabrics.

Next, Lynn guides viewers through the process of incorporating hand-printed fabrics into a unique abstract composition.

Discover options for arranging the fabrics and how to use hand stitching as a design element.

Finally, Lynn shows how to attach the completed piece to a fabric-covered canvas and reviews hanging methods.

There's a little preview of part of the video on Interweave's page, I look like I'm whistling in the freeze frame. :) The quilt that is featured on the cover of the packaging is the one that I walk you through how to create. But my design process can be applied to more then just that one, I explain how to use it in a general way for making art quilts.

I'm so psyched I can hardly contain myself - WOW!!!

I will also be selling these through my etsy shop but my shop is taking a little break from April 10-April 28, reopening on April 29. If you'd like to buy one directly from me, send me an email at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net and I'll send you a paypal invoice and the DVD when my shipment arrives.


05 April 2011

the top 10 reasons why i sell on etsy

I've been asked many times why I choose to sell thermofax screens and other products through Etsy rather then my personal website.

Sometimes its curiosity and other times there's an edge to the question, like having a shop on Etsy isn't a real business, it implies hobby. The question has come up so often in fact that I decided a blog post about it was in order.

There are many reasons why I choose to sell through Etsy but I whittled it them down to my top ten favorites. Here they are:

(1) Why should I reinvent the wheel?

Etsy has taken al the work out of setting up a professional easy to navigate place of business. Many people operate their livelihood through their shops. Don't let the cute name fool you, its a serious force to be reckoned with.

(2) Instant Advertising

Simply put - Etsy has a wide reach. People gravitate toward it when they think of handmade items or supplies for creating their own projects. I couldn't buy that kind of publicity. Well, I could but I'd have to borrow a millionaire's credit card to do it.

They've branded themselves as the one stop shop for the handmade enthusiast. I choose to capitalize on that by being one of their shops.

(3) It's a bargain.

Compared to other online selling venues, the fees to operate on Etsy are an incredible bargain. Sure, I could add a shopping cart to my personal website but that costs thousands of dollars. Yes, you read that right - thousands. I priced it out, it was scary.

(4) Peace of Mind

Many people feel safer buying from someone they don't know if there is a 3rd party involved. Knowing that Big Sister Etsy (I always think of the site as a girl for some reason) is there to make sure they don't get cheated goes a long way with some customers.

And security for me too, as a seller. I've got recourse if there's an issue with an order, someone watching my back. Its a good feeling all around on both sides.

(5) Feedback

I rarely buy anything these days without looking online for customer feedback. Etsy provides this too. Customers can see if I can be trusted and if my products are good. That's another form of advertising that can be checked off the list.

(6) Where are they all coming from?

You can connect your site to Google Analytics to track where your customers are finding you from. This is a handy dandy tool if you are advertising on an external website. Helps you decide if the expense is worth it.

(7) Bookkeeping simplified

I can download my sales reports from each month. It has tons of information and can be opened in an excel spreadsheet. This cuts down on my bookkeeping activities drastically.

(8) Its all covered.

Etsy has tons of support options. Help with selling questions, teams, forums, communities, blogs. If you're looking to build relationships with other sellers, you've got endless options.

(9) Sales tax

This is a newer feature and I love it. I can tell Etsy when to collect sales tax based on the state. This means I'm not waving paypal invoices around at people asking them to pay more, which is a pain and kind of obnoxious. So that's another item I don't have to pay attention to, its covered.

(10) Coupons!

Who doesn't love coupons?! This is also a new feature but its constantly developing. Its awesome for promotions and it really streamlines the operation of the shop.

There are more - widgets for advertising the shop on your blog or website, workshops for learning and really just the general vibe of the site. And for the record - I have no affiliation with them. I don't work for them, I just dig them.

Is it perfect? Of course not, nothing is. But when I decided to sell online, I spent a lot of time looking at my options and Etsy turned out to be the best choice.

I've been surprised when I meet resistance about it, and have even been told that it dilutes my professionalism. I disagree whole heartedly.

Since I opened my shop in July 2010, I've had over 600 sales. Granted, I work my butt off promoting it but I intentionally chose Etsy because I knew that being part of their community would help with my advertising plans. Simply put - I get sales simply from being part of it.

The question has been posed to me about whether or not I worry about standing out when there are so many sellers on there. The simple answer is: no, not at all.

Here's the thing - if I decided to sell through my personal website, I'd be competing with millions of other websites for top role call in google searches. I'd have to advertise and promote just the same. Doesn't seem much different to me.

Either way, it comes down to how I promote my product. Just because I open a shop doesn't mean customers will flock to it. Would be nice but its not realistic. I can expect a few sales but long term continued success? Nope. That's all up to me.

I blog and facebook and educate and write and make connections with other artists. And that's how I build my business, that's how you build any business.

Etsy simply takes a whole bunch of the work of maintaining the website and shopping carts and bookkeeping out of the equation. Leaves me all the more time to concentrate on my product and being creative.

In fact, I plan to open a second shop shortly with my artwork for sale. Will it get swallowed by the thousands of other artists selling on Etsy?

In. A. Heartbeat.

So I'll work on promoting that too and strive to make it what I want to be.

If you're thinking about taking the plunge to sell online, consider Etsy. Think of it as a partner: they give you a space to sell your greatness and you work your magic to introduce everyone to it.

Its a pretty nifty combo. :)

03 April 2011

where i stand sunday

I have visions in my mind's eye of birds in flight, delicate circles moving in a graceful swing. The idea has been slow to form, stubborn. I'm embracing each element as it comes, pushing forward as best I can. Its like reading a novel with a storyline that is steady plot, giving tiny bits to keep you interested and wanting more. My creative self is happy to surrender to the suspense.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

01 April 2011

art & fear - chapter 2 read-along

Well, here we are. Its April 1 so that means its time to look at Chapter 2 in our read-along of Art & Fear. If you missed the post about Chapter 1, you can find it here. Chapter 2 of the book talks a lot about uncertainty. There is one sentence that I think sums up the ideas of the entire chapter beautifully:

"Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending."

I was particulary struck by the distinction made between stopping and quitting. So often I work along in a particular thing (technique, fabric, medium) and then all of a sudden I find myself without any more passion for it.

I don't hate it. I just feel like there is no where else for me to go with it. But part of me demands that I stick with it because to abandon it would make me a quitter. The authors draw a sharp distinction between this feeling and what it means to actually quit. They point out that stopping a particular pat is not quitting if you are simply moving on to something different.

Quitting means never starting again. Ever.

It was sort of an "aha" moment for me when I read that. It made me realize that just because I don't do something anymore does not meant that I'm a quitter. I stopped and simply made room in my life for the next big thing.

But the overall theme to Chapter 2 is really about embracing uncertainty and our fears. These are two things that we encounter in all areas of our life but I admit to feeling it most accutely in my art life. And I know that no matter how much I accomplish, they will always be there.

There's that nagging voice that tells me a project won't work so don't bother trying. Or the hyper voice that works me into a nervous frenzy by reminding me that my deadlines are coming and I won't possibly be able to get them done in time. They still hold the power to paralyze me and sometimes they still do.

But I'm learning to work through that. I let them do their thing, knock me around for a day or two and then I kick them aside. The truth of the matter is that I'm in charge, not them. And every time I stand up to those uncertainties and their bullying ways, I become a stronger artist and a stronger person.

The artwork I produce does not always come out the way I expect. I'm a stewer, I think a new piece to death before I actually set about making it. Thinking that I can execute it in one pass rather then having to constantly go back and re-work it. For the most part, this way of working has served me quite well.

But things don't always come out exacly the way I think they will. I've muttered on more then one occasion, "That looked way better in my head."

My creative eye and my reality eye don't always jive.

And that's okay.

I don't know if I would continue making art if it was always certain, if I always knew the outcome. Uncertainty makes me work harder, pushes me in different directions. I've come to realize over the years that self doubt and the uncertainty are a necessary part of my process, that without them my interest would wane and I'd probably abandon the whole business all together.

I don't think uncertainty has to be a negative thing. I think a lot of people won't take the risk because they believe that failing means the end of the road, that there is nothing beyond it. But I ask you this: If you submit an article proposal and it doesn't get accepted, does the world stop turning? If you submit a piece of work to a juried show and it isn't chosen, will the sun stop shining?

The answer is no. It doesn't feel good but you have to keep in mind that rejections of these kind are rarely personal. They are what they are and you move on. But without being willing to accept a possible rejection, you won't ever be able to find out just how far you can take things because you won't even try.

Think of uncertainty as your friend. It keeps things interesting, like a good soap opera where you never know what is around the corner.

Next month on May 1, we'll take a look at Chapter 3 of Art & Fear, hope you'll join us!

12 Connected reveal day - bird challenge

Blue Line Lynn Krawczyk

Today is reveal day over at the 12 Connected challenge blog. I have to admit to missing the last challenge but that sometimes happens, life just trucks along at a quick clip.

I chose the theme for this challenge and it wasn’t a difficult thing for me to choose Birds. Its a combination of my love for the little fellows and my intense desire for winter to be done with us. Spring, please.

My favorite bird imagery is birds on a wire. There’s something very romantic about the silhouette of a small bird, high on a single line against the vast sky.

Thrills me every time.

I started my piece with some soy wax batik fabric. I stamped the fabric with a wood batik block I found at a flea market and then did a wash over it with watered down black dye-na-flow. The effect reminds me of the variation in the colors of the sky depending on the time of day and the season.

I wanted to experiment with the stitching on this piece. I am a loud and proud hand stitcher but when I thought of this piece, I wanted really tight long vertical lines. What I had in mind could best be accomplished with machine stitching.

I decided to do the stitching before I printed the imagery. I used two different thermofax screens to print the birds. The smaller scale birds are done in black and the larger birds are white and the one single line of blue.

I particularly like how stitching first broke up the screen printed images, making it feel more daydream, produced more shadows. I think its something that I will do more of.