Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Falling in Love With Fall

Fall is in the air. Have you noticed the change in the light? The subtle color shift in the dogwoods as their leaves begin their transition from green to copper? The stacks of pumpkins now appearing in stores and markets? After the heat and humidity of our long Georgia summer, I embrace these welcome signs of Autumn. It's my absolute favorite season! So I thought I'd treat my readers to a few photos I've taken in years past, just to whet your appetite for the beauty that's almost upon us. Enjoy!

©2014 Lynn Edwards
©2014 Lynn Edwards
©2014 Lynn Edwards
©2014 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, September 28, 2014

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." -- Louis D. Brandeis

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How to Get Your Collage to Lay Flat

Watercolor paper that's 140 pounds or heavier is an excellent substrate for collages, but it does have a tendency to buckle or curl when subjected to multiple layers of paper and medium. This can make matting a finished piece a bit challenging. Fortunately, there's a simple way to overcome this problem. Here's the method I use to get my non-dimensional collages to lay perfectly flat:

1. Lay a piece of freezer paper down on a clean, flat surface, with the waxy or shiny side facing up.

2. Place your collage face down on the freezer paper.

3. Using a spray bottle, lightly spritz the back of the collage with clean water. (Do not soak your collage!)

4. Cover the collage with a second sheet of freezer paper, with the waxy or shiny side facing down.

5. Place a sheet of plywood on top of the freezer paper, making sure all parts of the collage are covered by the plywood.

6. Set a heavy weight on top of the plywood. (I use a stack of books, but you could also use bricks or a bucket of water.)

7. Leave the whole thing undisturbed overnight, then remove the collage. It will now be nice and flat, and ready to be matted.

For very small collages, 5x7 inches in size or less, it's not necessary to use the plywood. Simply place the stack of books directly on top of the freezer paper.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, September 21, 2014

"We are all, it seems, saving ourselves for the senior prom. But many of us forget that somewhere along the way we must learn to dance." -- Alan Harrington

Friday, September 19, 2014

Creating and Maximizing Collages

The past few weeks have been super busy. I've been working a lot on jewelry, mostly on domino pendants, as well as a special order for some mosaic earrings. So far I've completed 24 domino pendants. I haven't photographed any of them yet, but I did photograph the earrings before I shipped them to the buyer.

The earrings have designs on both sides so something pretty is always visible while they're being worn. Here's a view of one side:

©2014 Lynn Edwards

Another project was this mini collage, pictured below. It came about somewhat serendipitously. I was fooling around with some painted scraps, placing them side by side just to see how they looked together, when a design began to emerge.

"Auditioning" various papers to see how they look next to each other is an intrinsic part of the collage process. It's one of the most enjoyable, too.

About two dozen individual pieces of paper form the collage. As you can see, only half of the papers in the photo above became part of the finished work. Evaluating what works and what doesn't, what enhances and what detracts, is what makes collage so much fun to do.
©2014 Lynn Edwards
I'll be offering this mini-collage in my Etsy shop next month as I stock my shop for the holidays. Wouldn't this make a sweet little addition to someone's office cubicle? At 3x4 inches it's original fine art -- in miniature!

I've also been creating 6x8 inch freeform collages on watercolor paper. My plan is to turn these into greeting cards. Looking them over, it occurred to me that by cutting them in half, each would fit nicely on a blank greeting card if a slightly larger piece of colored card stock was inserted beneath the collage.

As luck would have it, all of them looked just fine when cut in two -- no compositional adjustments needed. So six 6x8 inch collages yielded a dozen 3x4 inch pieces. To get even more mileage from them I'll scan them so I can use portions of these images in future works. When I photograph the domino pendants I'll photograph the cards and will eventually post pics of all. But for now these photos of the earrings and the mini-collage will have to do.

Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Great New Find: Marietta Reclamation

If you're an artist, chances are you enjoy putting your own unique stamp on your home's decor as much as you enjoy expressing yourself on canvas. If you're like me, you love poking around in thrift stores and yard sales. They're often great sources for items that can be revived and given new life with a bit of paint and elbow grease.

The thrill of the hunt

I've found all kinds of treasures at these places. And I visit them regularly, always on the prowl for something that fits in with the look I want for my home -- probably best described as Quirky Eclectic with a touch of Shabby Chic .

So when my friend Pat lured me away from the studio recently with the suggestion that we go check out a new architectural salvage company in Marietta, I could hardly contain my excitement. I positively adore architectural salvage companies (oh, the many uses for all those magnificent old doors, corbels, pediments and light fixtures...!!!)

Salvage Salivation Syndrome

When we walked through the door of Marietta Reclamation, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Before I could remove my sunglasses I had spotted at least half a dozen items that would look sensational in my house and on my porch. Unless I exercised extreme self-control, I was in danger of impoverishing myself in under 10 minutes.

A massive pine drafting table immediately caught my eye. Good thing my studio is too small to accommodate such a substantial piece, but oh, how readily I envisioned myself as its new owner. Dozens of marble slabs, many of which had gorgeous colors and patterns, also grabbed my attention. Now I know where to get a slab to use as the top for the potting bench I've always wanted.

Had I been looking for old doors, I'd have had plenty to choose from, in every size and style. Old doors can be turned into so many useful things -- tables, room dividers, headboards. Oh yes, I will definitely consider turning one of them into a headboard for the bed in the guest room. Beyond the doors I saw columns that would have been gracious additions to my entryway. Heck, just standing one up in a corner of the living room would be such an eye-catching accent...! And that planter made with salvaged wood? I could just see it on the corner of my front porch, spilling over with cheerful red geraniums.

Yes indeed, my brain is constantly whirling with images straight from the pages of This Old House, Southern Living and HGTV Magazine. My home isn't big enough to contain all the projects I want to do, but that doesn't stop me from dreaming and drooling over what I see in these magazines. I want it all. I want my house to look like all of those houses. I think I might need an intervention.

Uh-oh, there goes my willpower

These shutters from Marietta Reclamation will soon become a part of my home's decor. To the right are a garden topiary and an old wrought iron patio table, both thrift store finds.    Image ©2014 Lynn Edwards


When I got to the shutters, my resolve crumbled. I have a thing for shutters. And sitting right there was a pair of chippy painted vintage shutters perfect for flanking a mirror over my mantel. I had envisioned them in my mind's eye for years, and here they were. I just had to have those shutters. Pat and I measured them and I called Hubs to see if they'd fit. Yes, they would. The price was more than reasonable for their size ($43 for the pair, each of which measures 41x16 inches), and they were in great shape to boot. SOLD!!! Those babies were going home with me to start their new life in the Edwards' hacienda.

If you're into architectural salvage, you'll love exploring Marietta Reclamation. It's tucked away just south of the Square at 52-B Powder Springs Street, just a few doors down from the Murray House.You may have to drive around the block a time or two to get a parking space, but it's worth the effort. (Call 404-556-3127 for store hours; at present they're open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday only.) Owners Deanie and Gordon Brans offer an inventory that offers plenty of dream fodder. So much to see, so many possibilities! Bring your wish list -- you're guaranteed to find something here that brings your decorating dreams to life.

 Text and image ©2014 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, September 14, 2014

"No matter how small and unimportant what we are doing may seem, if we do it well, it may soon become the step that will lead us to better things." -- Channing Pollock

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Seducing the Muse: Regaining Your Motivation and Overcoming a Creative Block

Every artist I know, myself included, experiences a creative "drought" from time to time. You know the symptoms: you wake up in the morning without any inclination to go into your studio. You worry that you'll never have another creative thought in your life. When you do manage to get to your easel, the sight of the blank canvas seems to paralyze your brain. You stare at the white expanse for an hour, at a total loss for what to do with it, then set it aside, untouched. You spend inordinate amounts of time on tasks that aren't art-related, telling yourself you'll "get around" to painting/drawing/sculpting/carving etc. just as soon as you've done the laundry, called your mother, mowed the lawn or cleaned out the linen closet. All the while, you're beating yourself up mentally for not being creative or productive. You feel inadequate, anxious, and guilty. You feel utterly miserable.

This, too, shall pass.

Believe it or not, this dark cloud that has settled over you can be banished. It can actually be turned into a benefit -- if you're willing to look at things through a slightly different lens.

The first step to getting rid of it is to embrace it. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

A "creative drought" is often a prelude to a period of sustained creativity. But to get there, you must sometimes walk through a dark valley, so to speak. The landscape in this valley is fraught with depressing thoughts and self-doubt. It's where our deepest fears and insecurities lurk. Oddly enough, it's also where you can make tremendous strides in your artistic practice if you can accept that this gloomy state is temporary. You have the power and the ability not only to end it, but also to gain from it.

I believe a creative block is our psyche's way of seeking release from the relentless pressure we put on ourselves to produce, produce, produce. In my experience, a period of being blocked sometimes follows a very demanding period in which we've worked feverishly preparing for a major exhibition, completing a significant but mentally exhausting commission, or channeling all of our creative energies toward peripheral activities that produce revenue but leave us little or no time for making our art.

A creative block can also occur when you've been faced with a deeply distressing personal crisis such as the loss of a parent, child or spouse, dealing with a serious illness, losing your home or losing your job.

No matter what triggers it, I'm convinced a creative block is the response to intense mental or emotional pressure whose source is either internal or external. The mind and temperament can only handle so much. At some point as stress and tensions build, something's got to give. Usually it's the desire and will to make art. At this point the Muse simply throws up her hands, screams, "I'm done! I quit!" and stomps out.

So what can we do to regain the sense of joy and excitement found in creative expression? To once again look forward with eagerness to working in the studio? To find our way out of the dark valley?

We must "seduce" our Muse. We do this not by forcing a creative assignment upon her, but by gently coaxing her to come out and play. The idea is to focus not on projects or results, but only on enjoyable diversions. We allow ourselves to play, with no thoughts whatsoever of outcomes, sales, completing projects or creating masterpieces. Instead, we pursue many interesting, fun, intriguing things we've always wanted to explore but never allowed time for. This can include activities or interests that do not relate directly to our artistic discipline, but which nonetheless are creatively satisfying in their own right. Below are a few strategies that have been used successfully by artists I've known, including some I've used myself. Maybe they'll also help you.

Seven Ways to Seduce One's Muse:

1. Have you ever thought of collecting fabric scraps to use for color inspiration? Gift yourself with an afternoon of browsing a fabric store. Bring a notebook to jot down color combos you find appealing. Look for fabric remnants or trims with textural patterns. Could these be turned into stamps? Used in future mixed media pieces?

2. Treat yourself to a photography field trip. Go to a park and shoot different kinds of tree bark. Walk through a historic neighborhood capturing interesting architectural features. Make a photographic study of parking meters. Or pigeons. Or people sitting in outdoor cafes. Use the resulting shots as reference photos or work them directly into future pieces.

3. Hold an artist's swap meet. Invite some fellow artists to bring art supplies they no longer use or want, serve up some wine and cheese, and trade goodies with one another. You'll come away from it with new materials to try and lots of helpful insights, too.

4. Reorganize your studio. Tidying up your workspace literally makes room for new ideas and inspirations. In the process you'll unearth long-forgotten supplies that could help rekindle your creative spark. Rearrange all the furniture for even more excitement. This simple act can give you a whole new perspective. It can be almost as exhilarating as moving into a brand new studio.

5. Hold a Turkey Party. Turkeys are those less-than-wonderful paintings, abandoned starts and other "failed" pieces you've been hiding under the bed. Invite a group of trusted, supportive artist friends to bring turkeys of their own, along with some paints, collage papers, and other supplies. Have everyone swap their turkeys for someone else's. Then set about developing each turkey into something new. You'll enjoy plenty of laughs as you come to see that we all produce turkeys, and that when we do, it's not the end of the world. Turning those ugly ducklings into swans (or simply into something different) can reawaken your creative energies while strengthening the bonds you share with other artists. Note: invite only those friends whom you know to have one another's best interests at heart. This event is not suitable for one-upper types on ego trips!

6. Do Zentangles. This art form -- similar to doodling but managing to be both meditative and engaging -- is highly therapeutic for artists who are blocked. Many such individuals say making Zentangles enabled them to overcome creative inertia as it calmed their fears and anxieties. All you need is a pen and paper to get started. Zentangle resources abound on the Internet.

Doing Zentangles is both meditative and calming. This Zentangle is titled "Peacock." ©2014 Lynn Edwards

7. Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. A copy of this book should be on every artist's bookshelf. It is THE go-to guide for creatives experiencing all forms and degrees of artistic constipation. It's not a complicated read, but it's profound in its analysis of the condition and dead on in its suggestions for solutions.

Have you struggled to overcome creative blocks? This problem seems to affect artists in every culture and era and at every level. For some it persists for weeks or months, for others, years. What are your thoughts on it? Your own experiences with it? Do you think it's a legitimate condition, or just an exaggerated form of procrastination? Let's hear your thoughts!

©2014 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Thought for Sunday, September 7, 2014

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul." ---
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, September 5, 2014

Using Construction Paper vs. Card Stock

Recently I was asked whether construction paper and card stock can be used interchangeably for art/craft projects. My answer was: use construction paper when longevity and colorfastness don't matter. Use card stock if you would like your project to look good over the long term.

What's the difference?

Construction paper:

Construction paper is a very soft, absorbent paper that's much like newsprint in the way it takes wet media. It soaks up ink and paint like a sponge. Blobs and splops are often the result, making it hard to control the application of the ink or paint.

Also, construction paper fades incredibly fast. Leave a sheet of it in a patch of sunlight for a day or two and you'll see a big difference when you compare it to another sheet that wasn't exposed to UV rays. The paper that was exposed to the sun will be noticeably paler in color and washed out looking. Construction paper is very high in acid content and is very "pulpy" which is why it degrades so quickly.

On the plus side, it comes in a wide range of colors. It's easy to crease and fold, making it ideal for children to use. And it's usually inexpensive even when it's not on sale.

Card stock:

Card stock is much sturdier than construction paper. It retains its color much better over time, although -- like all papers -- it will eventually fade when exposed to UV rays if it's not sealed and varnished with a UV protectant. Even unsealed it takes card stock much longer than construction paper for its color to start looking pallid.

When inks or paints are applied to card stock they tend to remain where you want them to, depending on the quality of the paper. My recommendation is to purchase acid free card stock whenever possible. If you're making handmade greeting cards or other paper projects that might be cherished by their recipients, using acid free card stock will result in something that's likely to look good for years.

Card stock doesn't fold quite as readily as construction paper does. Using a bone folder on it results in a nice crisp fold. Bone folders are readily available through arts and crafts stores and Internet sellers.

Card stock might cost just a wee bit more than construction paper but in my opinion paying the slight difference is worth it. Stock up on a range of colors when you catch it on sale. You're sure to find plenty of uses for it!