Introducing…(fanfare please)…a brand new venue for my Useable Art!

I am so pleased to announce a whole new venue for my Useable Art, a new platform, heck, a new ideology!! See, an odd little set of events over the last few weeks led me to a company I had never heard of before: CustomMade.com. Somebody in their marketing division came across my Facebook page, and sent me the email equivalent of a cold call, which I confess I very nearly ignored as spam–so glad I rethought that!

I looked into it, discovered that it is an actual company, is listed with the Better Business Bureau, and exists solely to be a matchmaker (their word) between “Makers” and…well…Those Who Want Things Made, I guess.

In other words, it’s a platform for custom crafted goods. Nothing pre-made, each and every project unique, one of a kind, with buyers who are already on board with the custom mind set. Right. Up. My. Alley.

This opens up so many possibilities…really, the sky’s the limit! So while I love and am keeping my Etsy shop, I also now have a newly-launched Custom Made profile. Let the fun begin.

Holy Paintbrushes, Batman!

I’m kinda bursting with glee. Like, I’m wiggling around in my seat right now, can’t sit still, can’t quite keep the happy from sizzling and jiving from the ends of my bedhead hair right down to my toes and out into my ratty slippers…it’s really, really good that you can’t see me right now.

Remember last week I told you about delivering that pretty, switched-up trompe l’oeil chair?

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<—–You know, this one?

 

 

 

And here it is in its new home! Leah Chair 2 Leah Chair 3

Love this…don’t often get to see my pieces in their new context, so this is especially gratifying! And could you just die over the adorable lavender room??

 

Anyway, about two seconds after I passed the chair into the client’s waiting hands, she started asking about a handpainted kitchen table, and stools to go around it. I think I managed to contain the jolt of excitement and answer with calm, professional competence, but it’s good I was wearing sunglasses, ’cause my eyes may have looked a little crazy.

So we’ve been emailing back and forth. A LOT. Nailed down a design which is just going to be all kinds of awesome.

Pedastal and table top

 

<——one of these

 

 

 

Round scoop seat stool

 

 

<——with 4 of these

 

 

 

Soooooo….yesterday marked a new adventure for me in my paintiness, and a bunch of firsts all in one: first big sale, first repeat customer, first kitchen set, most ambitious, all-encompassing design. Don’t wanna give too much away about that yet, but think travel theme, iconic landmarks both local and international….yeah. So, so cool.

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My husband is happy about this for a wholly different reason: he finally has my buy-in and commitment to helping clean out the garage–which I would normally attempt to avoid by any means up to and including faking a seizure–just so I have the proper space to work on this piece. So I see an official, organized, dedicated workspace in my future that is NOT in my dining room. More happy sizzly wiggles. Bring it on, 2013, I like your style!

 

Even BUSIER!

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This month has been a time of learning, of reflection, of meditation….NOT!! This month has been running-full-tilt-into-gale-force-winds busy. I’m operating at Defcon 5. I think. Not really sure I have a firm grasp of the defcons.

Anyway, said insane busy-ness actually has caused a little reflection, nonetheless; sort of a by-product, an accidental side effect, like radiation sickness only without the hair loss. Like…I have discovered that I have far less free time than I thought, time when I can focus on something other than my children and their various needs, wants, activities, and nuclear meltdowns, time when I can be utterly absorbed in my painting. Far, FAAAAAAR less. This is good to know.

This led to another discovery, which is that I can have several projects going and children clean, fed, and where they need to be, OR a clean house. (If any of you show up at my door, I’m telling you right now I won’t be home. Even if I am. Or I’ve been eaten by monster dust bunnies. In which case I’m still not home.) I should add blogging as another “OR.” Also, excellent information to have, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that I need a housekeeper. Clearly. (note to self: figure out how to pitch this to spouse)

Happily, this forced reevaluation of my time management has led me to develop, quite unintentionally, an skill that had eluded me till now: the ability to drop my paintbrush, go break up a fight/put on a band aid/make dinner, come back and pick up the brush, and slip right back into that same head space. It’s like guerrilla creativity tactics. Love. It. This would be the up side of radiation sickness…?

But today, I’m taking a break. I’m blogging (you may have noticed). I’m NOT putting on my painting jeans–cute skinny jeans instead. I just had the rare treat of delivering one of my pieces in person (client #2, below)–which means I got to witness the First Look, wallowed in it, can now remember it & replay it for days & days & derive unending joy from it. Totally worth coming out of my hole for! I get to do that again over the weekend (client #1)…major, major up sides.

So…in this momentary lull, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to.

IMG_0365IMG_0458 IMG_0460 Client #1

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Client #2IMG_0469

Variation on the “Lulu”, with fewer ribbons, but added flowers and butterflies. Butterflies are super fun to paint! May have to incorporate more of these in the future.

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Client #3, work in progress! Customized to client’s color scheme, and with all sorts of locale-specific items making an appearance–stuff that will have meaning for her grandkids!

 

 

 

There’s a client #4 and #5 waiting in the wings, and another possible (even bigger) project with one of the above clients…very exciting stuff! I think today may be the only break I get in a while. And I’m rather okay with that.

Don’t forget to check me out on Etsy, and on Facebook!

Taking a breath…

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Golly gee, what a whirlwind!

I think I have an hour and a half to breathe here before I have to get back on the mommy train, so I’m carving out a little artistic catch up time.

So…hi! How ya been? Don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty freakin busy.

In case you haven’t been keeping track, the RAW showcase was this last weekend–the culmination of my mad creative sprint of a painting frenzy. Frenzy over. Which makes me feel a little itchy, like I’m supposed to be painting in every spare second…hard to decompress!

Anyway, the local news article was released the day before the event–a day I spent driving around to every shopping center in the city (mostly) looking for copies, because I didn’t realize the Irvine World News no longer just magically shows up in my driveway. Huh. Never did find the mystical repository of newsprint, so I had to beg and borrow copies from friends–although there is the online version, which is pretty spiffy . Still, I wanted to hold it in my grubby little hands and gloat over it a little. There is something thrilling and visceral about opening up a newspaper and coming face to face with yourself. At least to me! I’ve really got to send that reporter a thank you box of chocolates or something, she made me sound kinda cool.

Thanks to those begged and borrowed copies, however, I did manage to frame a copy, to display at the showcase. So all’s well there.

The whole showcase thing…wow, what an experience. Loud, messy, crazy, fun, frantic…it had it all. Just a side note–nightclubs are kinda gross. And there’s a reason the lights are dim. Dimness does not mix well with displaying art, which meant lights were brought in and…well, ew. There was much handwashing going on. And I think some spraying of Febreze.

But still, cool venue, wide open space, pretty good traffic flow. I just wish I had paid better attention to the artwork already on the walls when I selected my space, and vetted it for suitability with children’s furniture. There was some very careful selective angling with the camera going on, to block out the two naked ladies on the wall, one of whom is apparently assisting the other with lactation, I surmise. This was located right behind the cute little Western rocking chair that I borrowed back from my very nice cousin for the evening. I promise I’ll disinfect it before I return it. Yeah, awesome.

You can just see their heads peeking over the top, because I scrunched down just enough. You’re welcome.

This one was taken before the weird Austin-Powers-round-red-couch-of-love in the bottom left corner was dismantled and taken away to another corner of the room. Where later on I spotted at least four twenty-somethings sprawled out on it, tweeting or texting or something. I wouldn’t have touched that thing if you paid me, let alone permitted full-body contact.

Photo Here’s me at the event! With specially-purchased-for-the-evening bright red lipstick! And with one of the guest stars of the evening, the Tommy chair. Thanks to Tommy for letting me borrow it!

But anyway…I’d like to publicly thank my friends and family for coming, saying nice things about my pieces, and making me look like the hip, happening artist of the evening by virtue of the crowd around me. Nothing like generating a little buzz! I’m kinda glad they all left before the make-up/jewelry fashion show, which also featured whips, handcuffs, nun-chucks, and garter belts…because I just don’t think I could have handled those two worlds colliding like that.

I wouldn’t say I got tons of traffic–I was so very, very different from the other artists there, and I think casual glancers-my-way could not immediately figure out what they were seeing, based on the puzzled expressions. But by and large, the people who actually stopped and talked to me seemed genuinely interested. I had some conversations about potential future projects, some attentive price-writing-down…good stuff all around. And I got to schmooze and trade business cards with other aspiring artists and photographers, which is always fun, and who knows! And technically I made a sale that night–even though it’s to a close family friend, it still counts, right? Of course right.

And I swear, I am really starting to believe in this whole good-vibes-karma thing, because right in the middle of the event I happened to check my phone, and had a message from someone wishing to buy one of my Lulu, Tuffets n Bows, girly chairs (I haven’t totally settled on a name, can you tell?), which she did the next morning. And it had nothing, nothing to do with either the article or the showcase. What are the odds?? Seriously, spooky stuff.

So I actually DO have some projects to keep me busy, so all that frantic energy I had generated which would otherwise have no place to go and would drive me insane until it dissipated, won’t. Drive me crazy, I mean.

Oh, and in all that crazy, I totally neglected to properly introduce my newest piece, my current favorite (and the possible inspiration for a total redesign of my son’s room, if he has anything to say about it…mixed feelings about that, myself), my new Shipwreck Stepstool. Variation on a theme, here, but I really like the direction it took, and I feel like it’s an improvement on my under-the-sea designs (and if there’s now a Disney song running through your head, I’m sorry or your welcome, depending).  Needs a catchier name, though…any suggestions?

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Extry, extry, read all about it!

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This is rather exciting. So you know how I put out my nebulous “I’m directing my energy back into my art” vibes into the universe on New Year’s day–which clearly is rife with mystical powers of make-it-happenness–and one day later was invited to the RAW showcase? Well, now because of THAT little bit of magic (oh, and a cousin who happens to be a reporter and therefor knows other reporters), I just met with a really nice young woman who listened to all my inane chatter about how and why and when and where I paint, and put up with my obnoxiously adoring dog trying to ooze his way into her lap without her knowing it. Really, she was a saint. Oh, and I had a sick child upstairs, too. I was a little distracted. And possibly a little ramped up on caffeine. It’s a good thing she recorded it, because I suspect I was talking too fast for human fingers to catch up with.

So, I am getting press. Real, live, actual, press. This is kind of earth-shakingly huge for me. I forgot to ask when this article would come out–and I’m still a little fuzzy on the distinction between the OC Register and the Irvine World News, and which one it would turn up in…but I’ll just wait and see and enjoy the ride. So aren’t you glad you found me now, right before I hit what will clearly be The Big Time? You can say you knew me when…

Oh, and because I have the deadline of the showcase looming over me, I’m actually being fairly productive. (sidenote: who can I hire to present me with fake-yet-real-enough-to-produce-a-stress-response deadlines so I stay on this train??) So I’ve got those two stools done, and I’m nearly finished with the latest surfboard chair, the Gidget (I’m kinda in love with the name), and I’m happy to see that my starfish (or is it sea star?) painting skills are actually improving.image image image image

 

 

 

 

That side shot is supposed to be so that you can see the bird tracks meandering around the chair legs…which I now realize you can’t see. Hmph.

 

 

AND I got a brand new idea!! For these little oval stools–they’re really dainty, not very tall, cute as a button, inexplicably called cricket stools by the manufacturer. Why? They’re knee-high to a cricket? Don’t get it. Anyway, oval top, looks like….a really small surfboard. Or….an egg. An egg! Not an Easter egg, how about a FABERGE-inspired egg? With the fancy little legs all painted in gold, like they’re the gold stand the egg is sitting in?? Love it!! Must start on it today! Tomorrow, at the latest! (see, trying to apply my own pressure…not sure if it’s working)

So I’ll keep you all posted on the when and the where of the article, maybe we’ll have a party, something small and tasteful, but with balloons. Yeah, I think so.

Meet the artist!

That would be me. The artist, I mean.

Really, you can come meet me. Soon, in fact. I’m doing silent (and largely stationary) cartwheels over this. Which is hard to do, so feel free to be impressed. Go ahead.

Now you’re probably wondering why……

………………………….

You are, right?

Excellent! Allow me to explain!

So you know how you make those resolutions at the New Year, about all the things you’re going to do, be, embody, apply, improve, eliminate, eschew, reconsider, reconnoiter…etc, etc? Big spoiler here: someone’s listening when you do that. I KNOW. I was shocked too.

Here’s how I know: I made one. And it happened. Like, the very next day. One day into the new year, and a message appears in my Etsy inbox from someone at an organization called “RAW: natural born artists”, inviting me to participate in an artist’s showcase. Okay, so it’s not like I specifically said “I resolve to be be invited to an artist’s showcase within 24 hours,” I was vague and non-specific and more about putting woo-woo good vibes out into the universe about my little corner of it, specifically as pertains to my art and business and life. And there you go, flies into my lap. I’m a believer. Once I checked to make sure this was legit, not a scam, and something that would genuinely be a good decision for me. I did: it is, it isn’t, and I think it will be. In that order. THEN I was a believer. Are. Am. Whatever.

Here’s the deal with these folks: they’re all about artists, and helping them in any way they can. That’s it. Seriously. Again, I KNOW! How can this be true, you say? Check them out for yourselves, I say! Honestly, their whole mission is, in an indie, underground sort of way, to give as much support and as many tools as possible to artists of every ilk. Apparently I’m one of the ilk. I didn’t even know I had an ilk!

So I’ll be there. I’m painting my fingers off (well, not right this second, since I need them for typing, but as soon as I post this the fingers are coming back off) to try and get as many pieces ready as possible–did I mention it’s in a matter of weeks? WEEKS? (Hang on, need a paper bag to breathe into for a sec…stand by…’kay, I’m good) Yeah. Weeks. 5 of them. Okay, painting and breathing, that’s all I’ll be doing. Maybe some light snacking. A couple of breaks to watch Downton Abbey. But that’s IT.

Sooooo….you can come too! The skinny is that there are 40 artists in different categories–photography, fashion, music, my kind of stuff, other kind of stuff, many kinds of stuff–at a cool, hip venue called the Shark Club in Costa Mesa, you get to dress up, you get to listen to music and feel all cultured as you peruse the booths, one of which will be mine. Mine!!

Oh, oh, I almost forgot the other kharmic, divine, woo-woo element here: I’m 98% certain that the Shark Club is the same same exact building where my husband and I had our first date. After he cyber-stalked me and tracked me down and was somehow not an axe-murderer…I’ll tell you that story sometime. But…first date! First showcase! Same piece of architecture! Could that BE more woo-woo-y?? See???

So you’ll come, right? I’m slightly worried that I’m not quite cool enough for these people, and that they’ll figure it out…but if you’re there you can nudge me if I start to geek out or sound too mom-ish or fail to use the most current lingo, or something. The tickets are only $15 if you buy them ahead of time, $20 at the door–and did I mention that buying tickets through my profile directly helps reduce my costs? Just sayin.’Kay.

Click here to check out the event!

This is super-duper-mega exciting people!

Let’s all do silent stationary cartwheels together!!

Here comes Lulu! Featured pick, handpainted accent chair

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At last we get to take a closer look at Lulu, aka Tuffets ‘n Bows, aka…the girly chair. This one is just so much fun to paint! I love the color palette, all vivid pastels, and the riot of ribbons going every which way, and most especially the velvety lavender pillow. I wish I had a real pillow like that. I would carry it around with me and put it on every chair I ever sat on, and instantly feel princessy and pampered.

Hopefully those feelings will translate to the past and future owners of this model, because that’s what I was going for. I know of one young lady who drags hers to her desk for homework, and then to the dining table for dinner time–that is some serious commitment to princess-hood which I applaud.

In this model’s second incarnation, the client asked me if there was any way I could work in dinosaurs, as her granddaughter had a current passion for them. This was a puzzler for a while–should I throw in a stegosaurus and drape some ribbons around its neck? Should there be an inexplicably benevolent T-rex reclining on the cushion? It took a while, but I finally came up with a solution that I felt wouldn’t be too jarring: I designed a crest with a Triceratops Rampant, and painted it in gold on the aqua field just under the front of the seat. I have to say I found the little guy rather fetching–and hello, the fact that triceratops have a frill made it sort of a perfect fit with this frilly chair–and the client was pretty pleased with it.

It wasn’t until its third incarnation that this model won its name…it couldn’t be helped, the little girl I made it for is everything this chair is going for, and her name is just…well, perfect. So, here you go, meet Lulu. She’s a sweetheart.

Surf’s Up! Featured pick, handpainted accent chair

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This is the chair that launched my whole beach theme.  It was the first one I painted for my last client, for a family of four siblings, plus a cousin (five boys, one girl; we’ll talk about Lulu later). It was also the first time I started playing with the idea that the unadorned wood tones represented the sand, an idea that I just loved–the bird tracks absolutely delighted me as a concept. From here I moved on to the Tommy, then the Will, and then back to the surfboard theme for Ben–and I’m thinking the beach theme probably has a few more versions to spawn before it plays out…like maybe a more girly version of the Jack, couldn’t you just see it with lipstick pink Hawaiian print? Obviously it would necessarily be named the Jill. Obviously.

And in the process of painting this one, I discovered who my most helpful and appreciative critic is, after my mother: my son. Mom and I, we go waaaaay back with the collaborative thing, so that was not news. My son however–who just turned 7–was the big surprise, even more so when I discovered I really value his input and insight. Case in point, I started to worry (self-doubt, my nemesis, hanging around again) about painting flowers on a chair for a 1st grade boy–would he think it was too girly, would it insult his manliness (boy-liness…)?

Enter Colin. He loves to see what I’ve been working on, and because he loves his Mommy and wants me to know he’s proud of my artistic ability and especially of being consulted, he really takes his time verbalizing what he sees. This means I get to hear exactly how one child, at least, responds to my ideas.

“Ohhhhh, I get it–” (this is always how he starts)–“those are the surfboards and they’re standing up on the sand! Ohhhh, and the palm tree is growing out of the sand, and that blue part is the sky! Oh, cool, look at the starfish! Niiiice.” This is high praise.

Then, being the devious Mommy that I am, I ask him about that orange stuff around the seat. Not even a pause.

“Oh, yeah, that’s the swim trunks.”

Self-doubt, eat your heart out, the seven year old has spoken. Simple as that.