31 May 2013

creativity + the day job

It's not something I talk about a lot here, my day job. Because it doesn't really have anything to do with my art life. It's creative in it's own way but a total 180 from fabric and paint and thread.

But I've been reading a lot online lately about some artists feeling as if they need to defend themselves because they hold full time day jobs in addition to their art careers. As one of them, I'm troubled by this. I wonder at the idea that one artist can feel that another creative isn't fully committed because she doesn't spend her day in her studio. (And for the record, I've never been "accused" of not being a serious artist because I hold a non-art day job. This post is a response to some chatter I've been seeing online.)

It's nonsense.

Choosing to live a creative life is just that - a choice. How we carry creativity through our days varies from person to person, the key being that we carry it. We hold it around us and let it creep into the forefront at every chance it gets. Day job, family, full time artist - it all waits for those quiet moments when we can connect fully.

Being a creative means seeing the details that make your mind churn with energy.

Like bowling balls in my favorite color:

Or the look of a full moon in the pale morning sky when I leave extra early for work:

Being creative means honoring that last half an hour of my day by shutting off the tv, the computer, the iphone and pulling out my worn out journal to write about whatever I feel like.

Being creative means that I am constantly searching for the new thing that will set my spirit spinning, wanting to make something new and exciting.

Being creative means being present in my life, not letting it just happen to me. But rather standing beside it in collaboration and going along for the ride as best I can.

It has nothing to do with how I earn my money.

No matter what your circumstance may be at this given moment, be creative. In your way. And know that that is all that matters.

28 May 2013

now enrolling for the summer session of "The Written Sketchbook"

The summer session of The Written Sketchbook is now enrolling and I couldn't be more thrilled. Why? Because it's been revised and tweaked and made into something so special that I'm beyond excited to bring it to you! :)

Writing is an integral part of my life - whether it's her on the blog, in my journal, in my sketchbook, for articles, for classes. It's a sacred practice for me.

Because it's such a strong part of my life, it seeps into every part of it - including the visual art that I make. The Written Sketchbook is about tying the two together - it's about trying out different forms of writing as a means to inspire ideas and a deeper connection to your art.

If you want a closer look at what the process is about, please visit my post over on the Sketchbook Challenge blog. It's not about making perfect art - it's about MAKING art and working through ideas.

What this class IS:

1. In this class, you will use writing as a tool for self examination in order to feel a stronger connection to your artwork through a series of Prompts.

2. A practice to be learned and developed over time that can allow you to generate new ideas for artwork using writing.

3. A challenge to try something new in your art making process.

What this class ISN'T:

1. No art techniques or projects will be taught in this class. You will be drawing experience and working from where you currently are in your art journey.

2. This class is a tool to help you develop a practice, it will take work. It is not a magical formula, expect that it will take more then one try to get the hang of it.

3. This class does not offer technical writing instruction. The writing in this class is based on prompts that focus on a particular style of writing and your personal insights.


I *will* encourage you. I *will* show you how to use writing as a means of inspiration. I *will* challenge you to go outside of your normal writing habits (if you have some, they are not required) to think differently.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A GOOD WRITER TO TAKE THIS CLASS. That’s not what this is about. Writing is a means of connecting with your awareness and offers you clarity to see what inspires you to create your work. You will be asked to write in your sketchbook and develop sketches (I’m a doodler, you don’t need to know how to draw) that relate to it.

No pressure. No stress. Open mind. Open heart. Willing to experiment. A pen. Some paper. That’s all you need to take this class.

To read about the types of writing explored and the delivery schedule, take a gander at the enrollment listing in the shop.

And to make it extra special, swag is now included. How about a hand screen printed pocket journal to keep track of inspiration?

And a pin to show off your flair? :)

I do hope you will join me. Class begins on Sunday July 21 and I think you'll love it as much as I do. :)

27 May 2013

"The Creative Habit" read along - Chapter 5

If you would like to join the closed Facebook group dedicated to this read along to discuss the book in more detail, please send an email to Lynn at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with your email address.

This is the fifth installment of the read along for "The Creative Habit" by Twlya Tharp.
Chapter 1 and 2 of the read along can be found in this post.
Chapter 3 of the read along can be found in this post. 
Chapter 4 of the read along can be found in this post.

* The read along is one week behind and posts will go up on Mondays from now on instead of Sundays. Thanks! :)

Chapter 5 - Before You Can Think Out of the Box, You have to Start with a Box

This short chapter is an interesting one. Tharp talks about how she organizes the research for projects she works on.

A plain simple box. Stored on scaffolding. Her choices reflect her creative mindset - her want of sturdiness and simplicty.

You all know the struggle I've waged with my studio. I'm calling in the big guns to help with that in a few weeks and it's my goal to have a resolution by the end of the year.

What I'm realizing is that I want functionality above all else. A way to simply corral projects easily and cleanly. But more then just physical organization, it's an insight into inspiration. All those little jumping off points that collide together to make a project a whole. But these are just things - the creating is up to you.

Tharp says: "The box is not a substitute for creating. The box doesn't compose or write a poem or create a dance step. The box is the raw index of your preparation. It is the repository of your creative potentional, but it is not the potential realized."

But she also stresses that the box can be a crutch. She continues, "We all know people who have announced that they've started work on a project - say a book - but some time passes and when you politely ask how it's going, they you that they're still researching. Weeks, months, years pass and they produce nothing. They have tons of research but it's never enough to nudge them toward the actual process of writing the book."

At that point she says to abandon it, move on and start something new. Sometimes we hit on projects that just don't have the momentum we want to move forward for whatever reason. There's nothing wrong with setting it aside and moving on. The idea being that if you've corralled all your research into one place, it will be there waiting for you when you are ready.

I find this happens fairly frequently. I have no shortage of ideas but not all of them have the steam to move on to reality. But I spend time on them and I put reasonable effort into them before sticking a fork in the whole thing and declaring it stalled. And I hang on to what I've done, it might be useful in another way to a different idea.

It's interesting to think of physical boxes as a means to corral not only research and materials but as a metaphor for releasing projects that just aren't working anymore.

How about you? Do you find that the way you organize your current projects is a direct reflection of your creative process?

Next Monday we'll discuss Chapter 6 - Scratching.  Happy reading! :)

26 May 2013

in memoriam: Kathreen Ricketson

I wasn't online a whole lot last week, the day job was keeping me busy. So this morning I decided to sit down with my morning coffee and sift through blogs and found some very very sad news posted over at The Silly BooDilly.

Kathreen Ricketson of the incredible blog Whip Up has passed. And her husband is missing. The details of what authorities think happened can be found here. They leave behind two young children.

image of Kathreen and her family taken from her site

I never met Kathreeen in person, she lived in Australia. But we talked in email and it was one of those connections that would have never happened had the internet not made the crafting world such a strong global community. I was once featured in a blog post on her blog, Whip Up, and read it every day. She was incredibly kind and a gift to the craft world.

I wanted to pause. To pay my respects here. My regular Sunday posts will be caught up with during the week but today is for her, to remember all the inspiration she gave me. Even if you didn't know her, it's one of those things that takes your breath away. And this morning my heart is heavy.

They have set up a fund to help her children. If you are interested in contributing, go here.

25 May 2013

bringing back an old practice

Long before I was a fabric and paint addict, I was a plant keeper. It was a slow, steady practice. It taught patience, persistence and to appreciate every small change that happens throughout life.

As life changed and evolved, I let the practice go. I didn't have the time, I told myself, and it was too much work. The truth is that I did have the time and it wasn't too much work but I let it go anyway. I'm not really sure why, being around plants makes me feel whole. My father was a gardener and more then anything else, keeping these little green fellows makes me feel connected to him.

I'm not an outdoor gardener, never have been. I prefer the indoor garden so this past weekend, I decided to fill that gap and brought these friends home to my studio:

They all need repotting and that fellow on the left desperately needs to be split into smaller plants. But oddly enough, two stops at home improvement stores did not yield small pots, all were too large. So in the meantime, I will water them and care for them as best I can. I want to keep the garden small but would like to add an african violet to the mix, they are my favorite flowering plant. I'll keep an eye out for one in my travels.

They also give me an excuse to use my more utilitarian pieces of my milk glass collection. They seem to approve. (And yes, that is a bar of soap in a bowl. It's grass scented and I often buy handmade soap to use for fragrance. The sun will warm it and it will give off a nice scent.)

I've been spending a lot of time in my own head lately trying to connect with the quiet side of my creative self. I've been running at full tilt and I have no complaints but in the back of my head, I kept hearing a small voice saying, "You need to figure out what the rest will look like. Now is the time."

I want to move into the future with a clear vision of where I'm going with my art. And while it sounds contradictory, it means I need to slow down a bit. I've still got plenty on the schedule to keep me happily busy (I don't sit completely still - not ever) but in tandem, self awareness is at the top of the list.

Somehow that activity feels complete with the return of an indoor garden - a small gesture to signal the recognition of a quiet pause.

20 May 2013

helping Cart Before the Horse turn into a mobile art studio! :)

Do you know Cart Before the Horse? Outstanding artists and all around nice people. I have several of their dolls, can't express how much I love them. Very original, quirky and all kinds of personality.

They've been talking on their blog for a little bit about their plans to leave traditional house dwelling behind and create a mobile art studio to travel around the country and well, live in. It's such a great idea! But they need a little help raising the funds to make their dreams come true.

They've started a Kickstarter campaign to earn the money needed to make their mobile art studio/home a reality. Here's a little video showing their plans:

If you're not familiar with Kickstarter (I'm just learning about it myself), it's a site where you can submit a project to help raise money. If you back the project, you don't get charged unless the full fundraising amount is reached. In exchange for donations, the people running the project can offer incentives or thank you gifts. What you get is based on how much you pledge and let me just say, Cart Before the Horse does NOT disappoint. They've got really awesome incentives at every dollar amount. 

I think the site is great, it offers artists to reach out to others around the world to do really great things. If you're inclined, swing by the Cart's project and pledge to help them if you love them as much as I do. Roll on! :)

19 May 2013

where i stand sunday

Rust and circles. Right there, out in the open, and no one paying it any attention. The patch is out of place, encased by lily white concrete, segregated. I imagine the person who laid the objects on this spot was thinking of how to counteract all that blankness, looking for a way to punctuate the blandness with some movement and color.

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. 

13 May 2013

don't forget - voting for Fabric8 contest ends on May 15!

Several people have asked me if they can vote more then once. The answer is no. According to the official rules, multiple votes from the same person/IP address will be disqualified so they won't go toward the total number of votes received. So one vote per person please! :)

Okay, I know that I'm of a single thought line right now but I'm trying to cover all my bases. I apologize for beating the drum so hard about this but the timeline is so short that I don't really have a choice if I want to advance to the finalist round.

In case you've missed what I'm talking about - I entered a contest on Spoonflower in which the prize is to become a fabric designer for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. My design (shown below) was selected out of 750 entries for the semi-finalist round. There are 100 designs in this round and now it's up to voting. The eight designs that get the most votes will advance to the finalist round. Those designers will make a few more designs to create a mini collection and voting will re-open on June 3. At that point, whoever gets the most votes wins the entire contest.(My original blog post about the contest and all the details can be found here. )

Voting for the semi-finals round ends on May 15 so time is a wasting! :)

My design entry is shown below, "Geometry Test Cheat Sheet":

When you go to vote, they move the designs around so you'll have to look through the 100 semi finalists to find out but really, it's pretty quick.

If you like my design and wouldn't mind giving me a vote, I'd really appreciate it!

12 May 2013

"The Creative Habit" read along - Chapter 4

If you would like to join the closed Facebook group dedicated to this read along to discuss the book in more detail, please send an email to Lynn at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with your email address.
This is the third installment of the read along for "The Creative Habit" by Twlya Tharp.
Chapter 1 and 2 of the read along can be found in this post.
Chapter 3 of the read along can be found in this post.

Chapter 4 - Harness Your Memory

This is not my first spin through The Creative Habit. In the past, for whatever reason, I've not really found this chapter that interesting. I decided though, that maybe I wasn't giving it it's fair due and I listened to the audio version of it a couple of times this week.

Tharp talks about how we use our memory to not only influence the choices we make in our artwork but also to execute the actual act of creating.
I found this passage from the chapter especially interesting, she says: "If there's a lesson here it's : get busy copying. That's not a popular notion today, not when we are all instructed to find our own way, admonished to be original and find our own voice at all costs! But it's sound advice. Traveling the paths of greatness, even is someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill."

I spent some time thinking about this because having my own voice in my work has been a high priority to me. I've even gone so far as to limit the number of classes I've taken in order to avoid becoming a clone. Has it worked? I'm not sure but I do know one thing, I'm at a place in which I feel as if I've got a strong independent voice and now I can continue to build on it.

I think the key is to copy to learn. It's the beginning, not the end. It's a means to start. Once you've acquired the technical skills, make it your own. That's sound advice, it makes a lot of sense.

I also find the idea of our personal memories driving the choices we make in our art. I'm a child of the seventies and I spent my kindegarten afternoons sitting on a burnt orange sofa in a small sunroom watching Mr. Rogers. The room was decorated in macrame and earth tones and had a very safe feeling. 

These colors show up in my work a lot. I strongly believe that they struck a chord with me when I was little and have stuck with me for various reasons. 

I've come to realize now that Tharp is 100% spot on - memory plays a huge role in the art that we create. Whether it's the memory of a skill we learned from someone else or the memory of a color we liked when we were a kid - it's all mixed into our voices as artists.

Do you find this to be true? Do you find that you are influenced by your memories when you make art?

Next week we'll discuss Chapter 5 - Before You Can Think Out of the Box, You have to Start with a Box.  Happy reading! :)

where i stand sunday

My addiction to patterning fabric forces my eye towards considering the mundane everyday surface alterations that we are all accustomed to passing by. Lime yellow on a deep charcoal grey, the shine from the rain pushing the base color to different tones depending on where I stand. Random marks of circles and thin lines creating a secret message. It will be gone soon, removed by the wear of nature, as temporary as this spring season.

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. 

09 May 2013

I NEED YOUR HELP! please vote for my fabric design! :)

Edited to add: Several people have asked me if they can vote more then once. The answer is no. According to the official rules, multiple votes from the same IP address will be disqualified so they won't go toward the total number of votes received. So one vote per person please! :)

I got an awesome email this morning - I'm a semi finalist in Spoonflower's Fabric8 contest!

Why is this so exciting? Well, because the contest is run in conjunction with Robert Kaufman Fabric. The theme of the fabric is Geek Chic and here is my design:

I call it "Geometry Test Cheat Sheet." The background has math formulas and the pattern over the top is hiding them so the teacher won't be the wiser. ;-)

The prize for this contest is a contract to design fabric for Robert Kaufman. It's an incredible opportunity and the winner is determined by voting. Here's how the contest works:

There were 750 entries in the contest and the fine folks at Kaufman Fabrics choose 100 for the semi- finals round. I'm geeked (no pun intended!) that "Geometry Test Cheat Sheet" is among them! Voting on the fabric designs will only be open until May 15 and the eight designs with the most votes will become finalists.

The finalists will then put up a couple more designs for their collection and then voting will re-open on June 6. The finalist with the most votes will win the contest and go on to create fabric goodness with Kaufman.

So the short of it is that I NEED YOUR HELP getting to the finalist round! It's super easy to vote, just GO HERE and look through the seven pages of semi-finalists to find "Geometry Test Cheat Sheet" and if you like the looks of it, give it a vote. Just a quick note that the name of my shop on Spoonflower is Smudged Textiles Studio. That's my soon to be new business name so I use that there. So the name over the image reads "geometry test cheat sheet by smudged_textiles_studio.  (The designs show up randomly for each person so you've got to go looking for it, it's different for each voter that stops by.)

07 May 2013

thermofax screen kits available through Interweave! :)

One of my secret projects was this one:

I'm super stoked to be able to offer two Thermofax screen designs through Interweave - a coffee cup and a tea cup:

  photo by Jackie Lams

They are included in a kit that comes in two varieties - Basic and Deluxe.  Both types include one each of the Coffee Cup and Tea Cup screens, my Print Design Compose DVD, six flour sack kitchen towels for creating a super cute towel set. The Deluxe kit adds to the goodness with four bottles of Plaid Simply Screen Paint.  

There aren't a lot to go around so don't wait too long!

Want to see what the pile of screens looked like after Jackie was done burning them all?

   photo by Jackie Lams

That's a lot of Thermofax screens!! (Makes my heart go pitty pat!) Jackie did a real bang up job executing the order, it wasn't easy. But our determination to convert everyone into Thermofax screen printing addicts runs deep and strong! :)

I do hope you'll grab a kit and have as much fun screen printing your little heart out!!! :)

06 May 2013

soy wax batik DVD giveaway WINNER!

 Wow! You guys really like soy wax batik! :)

I printed out all the comments and did an old fashioned dig around and draw a name:

And the winner is:

Congrats! Send me your name and mailing address at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net and I'll pop it in the mail to you.

And if you are considering buying the DVD, I really encourage you do to so. You can pick up a copy here. The cost is $35. For a 148 minute workshop that you can watch over and over and over and over again. It's really an incredible value - consider how much you pay when you attend a class in person and then you have to try to remember everything. With the DVD you can make Susan repeat herself a million times and she won't mind.

Happy batiking! :)

05 May 2013

"The Creative Habit" read along - Chapter 3

If you would like to join the closed Facebook group dedicated to this read along to discuss the book in more detail, please send an email to Lynn at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net with your email address.

This is the second installment of the read along for "The Creative Habit" by Twlya Tharp.

Chapter 1 and 2 of the read along can be found in this post.

Chapter 3 - Your Creative DNA

This chapter is a personal one, it's about how you approach your creativity. How your work habits actually define your voice.

This one has really given me pause. Here's why:

Remnants Collage #17
Lynn Krawczyk

This is #17 of a series that has defined my artist voice. This is the way I have chosen to work that feels most like home.

It's anything but organized or clear. The meaning? I won't say what it means to me. It's meant to be undefined so that it can be whatever it needs to be for whoever is looking at it.

I've been struggling so much about how messy my creative space is. And while I'm not about to abandon my pursuit of making my studio better then it is, it makes me wonder if I need to be careful about how far I take it.

Clearly I create from chaos. I make from a place that thrives on layers and riot and simply just being. If I completely remove this energy from my studio, will I struggle? My method of working depends largely on reacting to my fabric. If I don't hit an instant emotional reaction to what I've chosen, I toss it aside and dig through the pile again.

There is a disconnect when I work, I just go, let overthinking go. Let the chaos build itself up in the composition.

Tharp discusses her own habit of detachment and involvement when she is working. She is aware that no matter how odd it might seem, she needs them both in order to work. I'm realizing that while the constant chaos that I work in feels overwhelming now, I need some degree of it in order to spark the collages. I need to have the layers reveal themselves to me as I dig through The Heap of fabric I'm constantly trying to organize.

Tharp has devised a questionnaire in this chapter called "Your Creative Autobiography". It's a list of 33 questions that lead you through an understanding about how you came to work in the medium that you do and the habits that you have that let you accomplish your work. It's a very illuminating exercise.

She says, "If you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in your work. You begin to see the "story" that you're trying to tell; why you do the things you do (both positive and self-destructive); where you are strong and where you are week (which prevents a lot of false starts), and how you see the world and function in it."

She's talking about your artistic voice. About all the tiny little decisions and preferences that collide with each other into the thing that defines your artistic style. As with most of the themes in her book, it's about knowing who you are when you step into your studio and start making. It was interesting to sit back and think about the habits I have when I approach my work.

Do you have a way of working that has contributed greatly to your personal style of work?

Next week we'll discuss Chapter 4 - Harness Your Memory.  Happy reading! :)

where i stand sunday

If you've hung around the blog for any length of time, you'll be familiar with this kind of post. If you haven't, let me explain why you're looking at a photo of my feet.

When I started my blog, I was eager for two things: (1) a way to build a regular blogging habit and (2) a long term project. My true desire was to (and still is) to have a daily project but I find it too difficult to keep up with - studio time is sparse during the week. So I settled on a weekly photo essay, one that focuses on slowing down and observing the word both through the picture and a brief piece of writing to explain the picture.

I chose to take pictures of places I stood throughout the week because how often do we really take a moment to pause and observe the ground we tread on? Not often. It's the thing that supports us as we move through our days, it seemed like it was time to give it it's due.

I did the photo essay for five years here on the blog and then felt as if I ran out of things to say. Life became more compressed and I was going fewer places and thought it had simply run it's course. Recently a friend asked me about it, had I considered picking it back up. In truth, I had been. I missed the writing, the habit of forcing myself to look where I was stepping through the week.

So I'm picking the project back up. Starting today. Each week I'll post a photo with a mini essay beneath it. I'm going to supplement it a bit, though and give an eye level view of where I stood as well if it offers anything interesting to look at. It feels good to be doing it again, to be looking where I step.

 The weather here in the mountains does not match the calendar, moodier even then my beloved Michigan. My feet have trouble finding purchase on the heavy packed snow and I grip the guard rail tightly, worried that even though the gap is narrow I'll somehow find myself falling down the side of the slope. I feel small here, truly insignificant in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Their beauty is suffocating in it's immensity, a collaboration that speaks to my human nature in a most basic of ways.

View of the Rocky Mountains from Where I Stood.

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 May 2013

soy wax batik DVD giveaway! :)

I love soy wax batik. I mean, love it. I haven't been doing a lot of it lately and it was on my mind that I wanted to pull out the pots and wax again when Susan Purney Mark announced that her new DVD on the subject had just come out:

It took me about a nano second to order it.

I've long been a fan of Susan's work, she has an incredible eye for color and I'm excited to be able to learn more about this technique from her. (Isn't it great how all you have to do is order something online and then it shows up in the mailbox and you become so much smarter? I love it, the world is so accessible now.)

Here's a preview of what's on the DVD:

Soy Wax Inspirations • Susan Purney Mark - Movie Trailer from Andrew Galli on Vimeo.

It. Is. Awesome.

And Susan very kindly sent me an extra copy to give away on the blog! So you've got a chance to win this incredible workshop for free!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and on Monday May 6 I'll announce the winner. Happy commenting! :)