Speed updating!

I just have half a minute–I’ve got a quasi-sick child home from school, so my plan for the day just got blown out of the water–but I wanted to give you a peek at what I’ve been up to–working as fast as I can on those cute treasure boxes I told you about! Three done (mostly), 4th in progress, one more to go…

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Stay tuned for more!

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.

Here come the “twins!” Custom ordered footstools

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imageGot to ship these little cuties off this morning–the client and I have taken to calling them the “twins” (fraternal, of course).

This was SUCH a fun process, and completely collaborative with the client. Every little item on top of the stools represents what her grandkids like to do when they visit, what they might find when exploring, and the general theme of the “bunk room”  where they stay (I’m dying to see pictures of this room: train-berth-style bunk beds, a horse collar framing the mirror, cowboys and bandana print and red-and-white-check…completely charming, yes?). Even the flowers are ONLY species that grow locally–what would I do without the internet as a research tool??image

It’s kind of like a surfeit of riches when your client shares your esthetic, and is a genuinely creative person in their own right, and is both willing to let you as an artist stretch your imagination, and have terrific, on-point suggestions that truly improve the concept and design. Can’t really get better!image

So meet the twins–as the client said, they are “precious and while different…equally delightful!”imageimageimage

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.

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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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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.

Have we met?

I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced, have we? My apologies. So….hi! I’m Lara!

Oh. You want more details? <deep breath> OK. You asked for it.

I’m a suburban housewife, shockingly without my own reality series (yet). I have two marvelously beautiful children who keep me laughing in between tearing out my hair, and an amazing, patient, supportive, wonderful computer geek husband. I tend toward creative avenues of expression–I sing (pretty well, actually), I write (you can be the judge of the quality there), and I paint.

I started painting on furniture…oh…15 or 20 years ago, I think. It started as my mom’s idea (hi Mom, thanks) to paint an unfinished rocking horse for a family member who was having a baby. There were several of those. I discovered I really, really liked painting on a three dimensional canvas. I could be inspired by the shapes and details of the piece, and play with them to go in surprising directions. It started to become kind of a game to make the piece simultaneously as realistic as I could produce (one memorable example was when I  painted some jelly beans that the poor baby spent months trying to pick up) and as whimsical as my imagination wanted it to get.

Then my own friends started procreating, and I branched out into rocking chairs–and in one notable instance, a whole child’s table and chair set. side note:there’s an accidental joke on this one; my mom and I decided to label all the little creatures, but in French. We used a translator program to find out what to call the dragonfly and the butterfly, and innocently assumed that when it told us “ladybug” was translated as “bogue de Madam”, that it knew what it was talking about. Not so much.

For a brief period, I flirted with the notion of building an entirely new kind of table, out of cardboard hatboxes–sturdier than it sounds, there’s wood and reinforcements involved. There are two in existence, one at Mom’s house, and one downstairs in my living room. There was a third, but I can’t remember where that one got off to.

Those were a little harder to deal with than I thought, and required the assistance of the resident builder at the time, fondly called Dad, because I’m not really to be trusted around power tools. And honestly…kids stuff is more fun.

Once I had my own house to play with, things got really interesting. I had walls of my own. Blank ones. I think it is now safe to say that any surface in my house that can be painted/faux finished/trompe l’oeiled, has been. And then, lo and behold, children of my own, and a whole new motivation for painting children’s furniture and children’s walls, as well as a deeper understanding of little issues like “durability” and “easy to clean various fluids off of”. Here’re some examples of the wall stuff–hopefully the kids don’t mind sharing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All along the way, I’ve gotten all the “have you ever thought about selling these” questions, which I mostly shrugged off, but I admit, I thought about it…a lot. I guess the time just wasn’t right yet. Well, guess what? It is now. So I’m taking this big leap that my little pieces of what I’m daring to call art, can find a wider audience than just my inner circle.

So I want to thank all my friends who have let me practice on them over the years, and I’m finally answering all those questions with a big ol’ yes. Here we go!