Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The *Art* of Blogging

We've all heard the chatter (and in many cases seen signs) that in this fast paced, twitter kind of world, blogging is becoming obsolete.

Oh, I hope not!

But then, I'm still lamenting the demise of the beautifully hand written letter. ;)

Between blogging, facebook, twitter, texting, and artsy-crafty social networking sites like TheHive, Ravelry, etc, it often seems it's all we can do to keep up! And while each has it's advantages (although I'm personally holding out on the texting thing, hehe) I have a special affinity for my blog, and for the favorites I visit when I have time. I also have to give a shout out to TheHive for allowing members to import their blogs - I love that.

I realize people generally tweet more often than they post to blogs, and some prefer the immediacy of it, but I find it very difficult to post something thoughtful in 140 characters or less, and tweets just don't have those lovely visuals I find on my favorite blogs.

If I'm feeling in need for something enchanting and inspiring, a relaxing little break in my day, I can always count on a cup of tea and Vanessa Valencia's Fanciful Twist blog. Just *magical*! If I'm feeling cooped up and want a little beauty, I visit my friend Jen's GypsyMare blog and take in all that wonderful photography. If I want to touch base with artist friends and see what's happening in their worlds, I need look no further than my sidebar. And if I want music without having to sift through the rather large CD collection, there's always my blog's current playlist, or the playlist on Jenn McGlon's Noodle and Lou blog. (♥love♥ this one!)

I know I probably sound like one of those cranky old technophobes when I say I prefer more in-depth forms of communication, but I can't help it. As an artist, I'm drawn to visuals, and I like to explore.

How about you? Do you blog? Do you tweet? Do you post, do you text? Do you actually WRITE? (she says in utter shock, falling back against the wall, back of hand to forehead!)

Do you have a favorite blog you visit when you want a little beauty and magic in your life?

Inquiring minds want to know. ;)

♥ Carolee

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked ;)

And so it begins...

The pre-show, late summer, early autumn PANIC that keeps me (and most other Halloween artists I know) working every hour God sends in an effort to met all those obligations and commitments; shows, commissions, eBay, Etsy, assorted marketplaces...We all begin to wonder "WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?"

This is the time of year when (like this morning) a trip to Michaels for supplies seems like a big outing, because the rest of the time finds me chained to the studio chair, trying to make my way, one piece at a time though the stacks of unfinished wood...

I'm seeing these pieces in my sleep too, dreaming of the black cats, witches and full moons that will soon bring them to life.

So no rest for the wicked. No rest for the Halloween artists, and basically, no rest for the self employed, haha. But it will all be worth it when they open the doors at the show, and we see the smiles on the collectors' faces as they make their way through display after display of Halloween eye candy...

Right now I'm off to pick up some new paint brushes, then back to the studio to make some more magic.

Wish me luck!

♥ Carolee

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Creative bARTering!

Bartering. You have to love it; the exchange of goods and services without any money changing hands. :)

I've done quite a bit of it over the years, and in fact, am off this morning to do some sign painting for our local vet, in exchange for veterinary services for our five fur-kids. Here are two of them, Cosmo and Cadie the Wonder Dogs...

Sorry, I can't resist an opportunity to show people their cuteness, hehe...But I digress....

The thing is, I have a skill and the veterinarian has a skill. Neither of us is capable of doing what the other does, so recognizing that, we arrive at an agreement that benefits both of us.

Over the years, I've used whatever artistic ability I have in exchange for a pretty wide range of things, for instance, a year's share at a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm - basically free organic produce for our entire family from May through early November, including produce to freeze for the winter. Here's a pic of the illustration I bartered...

I've also swapped with other artists (sign painting for an absolutely stunning tarot deck a couple of years ago) and have done lettering for an Amish friend in exchange for homemade canned goods. I could go on, but you get the idea. :)

The first step is to keep an eye out for people who may have a need for your services. Whether you paint, knit, sew, cook - whatever your skill, odds are someone else out there doesn't have it. Talk to people in your community about your particular skill - make it known that you Do What You Do! Our vet became aware of my skill when I painted her a little "thank you" canvas for going above and beyond with one of our dogs. She remembered it and approached me about this recent project.

It helps to carry business or calling cards wherever you go, and to have a website or blog documenting your talents. But there's no substitute for word of mouth, especially in a small community. Put yourself and your talents out there - talk to people, and when it comes right down to it, just ASK. The worst that can happen is the other party won't be interested, in which case you're no worse off than you were before.

In this difficult economy, bartering may just be an idea whose time has come. In fact, there's even a hospital in Brooklyn bartering health care for mural painting. And how cool is that?

So give it a try. Not only will you share your skills, but you're likely to make new friends in the community. :)

♥ Carolee

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creativity and "Crazymakers"

I first read the term "crazymaker" several years ago in "The Artist's Way", Julia Cameron's wonderful book about discovering and recovering creativity. Among many other wonderful pieces of advice, Ms. Cameron stresses the need we artists have to surround ourselves with people who support and nurture our creativity, and distance ourselves from those who are instead a drain on our creativity. She writes of the latter:

"Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. They are often charismatic, frequently charming, highly inventive and powerfully persuasive. And for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive."

We've all known people like this. Very often they're a friend or even a family member, and in the age of social networking, we meet them online too. The friend, family member or even spouse who proclaims their support, while all the while creating situations that take us away from creating. The relative who considers what we do a hobby, or "not a real job", and brings constant interruptions. The high maintenance online acquaintances who perceive slights and create drama in groups.

Those of us who feel the need to be peacemakers and smooth ruffled feathers, those who dislike confrontation, are particularly susceptible. It's easy to get sucked into the drama if for no other reason than to calm the waters.

But the thing to remember is all this drama doesn't produce art.

We need to remember we have an appointment with our brushes and palette - or our clay, our fiber, our typewriter...We need to remember that the act of creating is what feeds the soul.

I think this is particularly challenging for those of us who are wives and Mothers, because we're conditioned to be the peacemakers. We're conditioned to put others' needs before our own, to put our own projects, dreams and aspirations on the back burner. But are we really doing our families a favor in doing this, or are we creating resentment instead of art?

I remember an incident when my daughter was young, and she invited a friend home after school. I was immersed in painting, and apparently this child addressed me and I didn't hear. So she raised her voice, quite annoyed that I hadn't stopped what I was doing to speak with her.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, my Mom can't hear when she paints" said my daughter, very matter-of-factly.

Courtney had learned to adapt. Her Mother was an artist and this is the way things were when Mom painted. It didn't hurt her, it didn't put her in therapy - in fact, it arguably illustrated the need to feed that part of the soul, and she's to this day a highly creative young woman herself.

Yet I still have to remind myself to be alert to the crazymakers. To surround myself instead with people and situations which encourage creativity, to spend my time with paintbrush in hand, to tune out the craziness (and sometimes even the day-to-day obligations) and allow others to spin out of control if that is their desire.

It's not selfishness, it's self preservation.

There's ART to be made, and a joyful - and all too short - life to be lived. ;)

Off to the studio now....

♥ Carolee

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

EHAG Swag!

With less than a week until the EHAG Emporium update, the group is hosting a giveaway! Do run over and sign up to win a triple dose of Halloween goodness!!

PFATT HAGS on The Hive!

As some of you know, I'm proud to be a member of two extraordinary online groups; PFATT (Primitive Folk Art Talk and Tea) and EHAG (the Eclectic Halloween Artists' Group) - both juried, and both filled with the most wonderful groups of artists. I've made so many friends in both groups, and have also had the privilege of meeting many of them in person over the years!

Well, now the two groups have partnered to offer the very first public extension of this experience, the "PFATT HAGS" group on the new arts and crafts networking site "Creating the Hive".

Since the original PFATT and EHAG groups are limited as to membership and have very long waiting and jurying lists, we thought this would be a fun way to be more inclusive when it comes to chat.


Yes, the "P" is silent, prompting one of our members to quip that she could be the mascot, teehee. (And by the way, I'm right there with you!)

So if you love Folk Art and Halloween, please grab a cup of your favorite brew and join us there! It's easy-peasy to regsiter if you haven't already, and even easier to join.

See you there?!

♥ Carolee

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Autumn in the Air, and in the Art..

We awoke this morning to a cool, grey mist, and what appears to be the first of the flying leaves - and it's making me absolutely giddy with anticipation!

There's magic in autumn, don't you think?

Mother Earth will soon be painting the landscape with colors more brilliant than any any artist could possibly paint, leaves will be dancing and swirling, geese will be flying south, and frost will appear on our old glass windows. I'll harvest the last of the basil for pesto (frozen for use in minestrone this winter) and replace the withering impatiens on the front porch with pumpkins and mums...

We'll visit local orchards and farmer's markets for crisp apples, and make homemade applesauce and pies. We'll clear the pond of summer leaves and debris, and slowly wean the koi off their summer diet, in preparation for winter dormancy. And we'll put t-shirts and linen pants in the old cedar chest, and bring out the sweaters and scarves. Knitting (done only half heartedly in the summer) will begin again in earnest. Here's a photo of my yarn share from Juniper Moon Fiber Farm - isn't it gorgeous!?

MUST do something with this before I receive another share in the spring - I'm thinking a wrap in the mustard/butterscotch color, and perhaps a scarf or hat in the natural? There's a prayer shawl in the works at the moment, but this is definitely next on the knitting roster. ;)

And in the studio, well - it's been autumn for months! Preparation for the upcoming Ghoultide Gathering is in full swing, with everything from trinket boxes to ornament chests and large paintings, and I'm having SUCH fun playing with decoupage and adding bits of vintage hardware to some of the pieces.

Also making me giddy is the opportunity to meet collectors and fellow artists in person (always the best part of any show!) I'll be sending postcards very soon with an admission discount, so if you're planning to attend and are not already on the mailing list, drop me a line. Oh - and DO mention when making reservations (the Hampton Inn in Northville, MI) that you're attending the show - they'll give you a super reasonable room rate!

Just to whet your appetite for Halloween art, here's a video of last year's show...

MAGIC, yes?!

Finally, I have to tell you to scroll down one post for information on a fabulous new networking site for creatives! I'm there, as are many artist and collector friends - do drop by and register if you have the chance. :)

That's it for today - I'm off to paint some Wicked Jack pieces, teehee...I'll be back very soon, and in the meantime, I wish you all the magic and all the blessings of an early autumn!!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Creating the Hive

Arts & Crafts blogs, shows, directory, ideas

A while back I received an email about this wonderful new arts and crafts networking site, but in typical fashion, was so busy it got put on the back burner. Then I started hearing all this buzzzzzzz (pun intended) and just HAD to check it out. SO glad I did!

Whether you're a professional or hobbyist, an artist or crafter, or a collector and consumer, there's a place on this site for you - from groups to blog posts to events, this site has it all - and best of all, it's easy to join and navigate.

So please do check it out by clicking on the icon above - I'm there (please feel free to "follow" me and I'll happily reciprocate!) along with many friends and fellow creatives!

Hope to see you there. :)

♥ Carolee

An Autumn Soundtrack

Flying in very quickly to share that I updated the playlist here on the blog. I know, I know, it's still early, hehe, but if you're as anxious as I am for falling leaves, hot apple cider and HALLOWEEN, scroll down on the right and give it a listen...

Oh, and I'm always open to suggestions - what are YOUR favorite autumn tunes?

♥ Carolee

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock....

Have you ever had so many projects in the works and deadlines looming, you can practically hear the clock ticking?

Such is life here at the moment, and is likely to remain that way until we pack up the little Beetle and make our way to Michigan for the Ghoultide Gathering. Truth be told, I'm alternating between giddy Halloween excitement and total, abject panic, as the painting kicks into high (or should I say higher?) gear...

I've been busy with commissions too (if you're one of those waiting, rest assured I AM making progress!) and have also managed to paint the first Halloween clock of the 2010 season, now listed on eBay...

Tick-tock, tick-tock. ;)

The last days of summer are ticking away as well, and much as I try to enjoy the blessings of each season, after this latest heat wave I am seriously anticipating AUTUMN!

Cool mornings, bulky sweaters, the scent of woodsmoke wafting from nearby farms, pumpkin EVERYTHING, road trips to the mountains, harvesting the last of the summer herbs....HALLOWEEN!! It's a time of year when magic is in the air. It's almost electric, and all things seem possible - from meeting those deadlines, to creating and sharing a little magic of my own...

On that note, it's back to the studio! The show is just a few weeks away now, and I'm SO looking forward to meeting some of you there!

In the meantime, thanks for dropping by, for your kind words and comments, and thank you especially for the continued prayers and good wishes for John, who's doing amazingly well and remaining as positive as ever.

I'll be back super soon :)

♥ Carolee
PS - If you haven't already read about it, please scroll down just a bit for details about the EHAG Next Generation Halloween Art contest, and pass it on to a young (10-14) artist!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wicked Good

Just flying in quickly to share this month's PFATT Marketplace offering....

It was SUCH fun to paint, hehe. :) UPDATE - SOLD.

I'll be back very soon with a new Halloween clock to share....Until then, wishing everyone a happy and creative week! :)

♥ Carolee

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Halloween Art Contest!

As many of you know, I'm honored to be a member of the online Halloween art group EHAG, or The Eclectic Halloween Artist's Group.

At the suggestion of one of our talented members, EHAG is hosting the First Annual Next Generation Halloween Art Contest....

Just click here for details. FUN!! :)

That's it for now....I'll be back very soon with new work to show you!

♥ Carolee

Monday, August 2, 2010

Of Birthdays, BFFs and Books

It's official.

I'm actually "in my fifties" now. And you know what? It's OK. :)

Seriously. Oh, I know, I'm not in the best physical shape, and I'm far from making a fortune, having my first solo show, writing my first book, or anything even remotely close. But I'm here, I'm creating, and I'm surrounded by people who love and support me, and that counts for a LOT.

The day was celebrated in the company of my daughter (center), her BFF SarahGrace (left), and my niece Sarah (right). They planned a perfectly wonderful day for me, which included presents (a Barnes and Noble gift card and a box of goodies from L'Occitane) lunch out (tapas and fish tacos - yum), a to-die-for carrot cake from the best bakery in Philadelphia, and a trip to the Brandywine River Museum. Wyeth art. Drool.

But that's not all...after the museum, Courtney and her BFF followed me home, spent the night out here in the wilds of Lancaster County, and proceeded to clean the house the next day! How great is that??! An absolute Godsend, that's how great. Between my painting schedule and John feeling sick from the treatments, you can imagine how much has slipped through the cracks lately. What a blessing to have help for a day!

As if this weren't pampering enough, I also received a package of birthday goodies from my very dear collector and friend, Barbara. Soooooo sweet.

And a Vera Bradley tote for my knitting in my favorite Yellow Bird pattern from my own BFF. :)

But the birthday didn't end there. Remember the Barnes and Noble card? Well, I couldn't let that stay in it's envelope for long, hehe....

Added to the "to-be-read" stack are Sarah Addison Allen's "The Sugar Queen", and Diana Gabaldon's "An Echo in the Bone" (yes, I'm a HUGE fan of the "Outlander series).

I also picked up a few magazines; the new BH and G "Holiday Crafts" which features friends Pam Gracia, Nancy Malay, and Johanna Parker. I'm loving the lighter/cottage/whimsical/handmade look of this year's publication - a bit like Etsy in a magazine. ;) and the latest "Where Women Create" (because I need to temper the birthday high with some serious studio envy), and last, but by no means least, the new Art Doll Quarterly, wherein lies a stunning double page ad for the upcoming Ghoultide Gathering which will completely bowl you over...

(That's my checkers game table on the right, teehee!!) A big shout out to Scott Smith of Rucus Studio for making us all look pretty amazing...

And I know I've said this before, but it really does bear repeating: If there's any way you can make it to this show, it's a "must see"! It's also a great fall weekend getaway, with the Hampton Inn offering a special rate to Ghoultide Gathering attendees. If you can make it, PLEASE DO introduce yourself! My absolute favorite part of any show is meeting collectors and Halloween lovers in person. :)

That's about it for today (that's enough, right?! hehe)....

I'll be back very soon with new Halloween goodies and maybe even a few sneak peeks at works in progress. Until then, I hope you all have a happy and creative week!

♥ Carolee
PS - A HUGE thank you to everyone who's sent prayers and well wishes for John. We're so grateful for the support and encouragement, much of which has come from where we least expected it. We are blessed.