Art with Cause

Copyright notice: All original photographs, images, designs and text appearing in Art with Cause Blog are the property of J.Murray and are protected under United States and international copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, stored, or manipulated without the written permission from the Artist: Jessica J. Murray. No images are within Public Domain. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Be well and be creative

How has it been 2 weeks since I posted last?!

For the most part, I have spent that time fighting off a cold which wasn’t. By that I mean: I know I am getting sick as I am congestion, runny nose, and tired – but it’s not yet a full-blown cold.  I have an autoimmune disease and so I will probably be fighting it off for weeks. Sadly, because I probably am not sick at all anymore, it's just my immune system in overdrive still creating mucus to trap the germs and fight nothing so hard that it is tiring me out.  BUT I am taking my medicines, supplements, and staying hydrated (and when I am home I am keeping the humidity high) – doing everything right. Including resting. So, very little to post or report in on. 

Warm comfy bed where I have been living

I am starting to get inquiries about some orders that have been delayed. I am trying. Honest.
Work has been super busy and put in some extra hours – not as many as I expected.  I turned down some side shuffle work to be prepared for the extra hours at work – so that sucks. Although the extra time to rest was good.

* * *

In other news – I am a (pet) grandma!!! YAY!!
The happy couple and me in the center
(feeling so blah from this congestion)
My son and his lovely girlfriend adopted a few fish! And like a good grandma, I spoiled my new grandbabies with a fabulous crib – a SpongeBob toy and a castle as well!  That is how I spent last weekend! Took a whole day to set-up, get things to the right temp, and wait the right amount of time for the quick set-up chemicals to do their thing. Then go to a fish adoption center (a/k/a PetSmart) and select our new family members (along with the castle and food for them).  Bring them home and let the bags float while we went out to eat - and finally introduce them to their new home.
The babies' new crib and toys

Meet Jellybean (on left) and Avocado (on right)

Meet Dumpling, who is a bristle nose pleco

A Frightening Tuesday Morning this past week:
My brother is stationed in Kodiak Alaska - and as many of you know they had a 7.9 earthquake and tsunami warning.  
At 5:30 am my time - he told us they were safe through the earthquake and at that point national news said it was an 8. on the Richter scale, making it a major earthquake (last major earthquake in Alaska caused a tsunami that wiped out Kodiak island and killed over 100 people - just for perspective). 
At 6:30 when I saw the national tsunami warnings on the news and my coffee was kicking in - I realized that my family was in a real life-threatening situation and it could be the last conversation I was having with my bro, via texts.  
7:30 am I learned they downgraded the tsunami and my brother was in a location considered "safe".  
8:30 am I learned that a 1-foot high wave had hit the shores of Kodiak hours ago and I learned that news from Alaska to the east coast of the US takes a very long time!!! (even with all this great technology)   - 
So thankful for this best-case scenario and that the tsunami literally fizzled out. Tuesday (and this week and this blog) could have been a very, very sad story. Very thankful!

Tracking Christmas Packages:

As you might remember from December 31st post - my sister's Christmas gift (shipped to Germany on December 14th) was missing in action! Tracking was able to tell me it was somewhere between Frankfurt and Berlin - just no one really knew where. 
"receiver unknown" and returned to me
And since on Tuesday her visa was renewed for another 13 months (woo-hoo!! congrats!!!) - I think I now have a new sweater!!! (Because I am not trying that again!) However, I LOVE IT!! tee hee

Back in my studio:

*The baby blanket I am crocheting did run out of yarn before it was finished! Had to order more yarn online. Should be here in 2 weeks (so early next week??) I posted a pic of it started in my last post on here. (on other social media I was sharing how nervous I was that I was not going to have enough to finish the project)

*My sewing projects are cut and laid out. I need to pin them.  Have to finally sit at the machine and sew.  But since I do not work from a pattern – it requires a clear head and thought to sew it in the right order and in the right way. AND I need to measure Auntie for hers!! (Do you hear that, Auntie??)

*And my canvases are almost ready – one more sanding of the gesso and one more layer is needed – but I might just skip ahead since I add deep texture to my painting the texture of the canvas does help hold the paint better than a smooth canvas (although I do adore a silky smooth canvas).

And because I have not yet committed to more than I can accomplish (maybe I have, but...):

A friend of mine twisted my arm to join her - so next month I am starting a “Temperature Afghan” on her birthday.  (google it - It’s a fun concept and a commitment of very little time.) The idea is that you crochet or knit a certain number of stitches a day (or week) with the color yarn that you have assigned to the average temperature of that day (or week). Or something like that - I didn't really read the directions.

Here is an example:
and here is one of many suggested color charts for the project:
Image's Pintrest Link was disabled
I cannot cite source 
And here is me: “ . . . . . uh . . . no ”

I think THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO USE UP MY YARN STASH!!! So, like I ALWAYS do – I am tossing out the directions! I want to make a lap blanket – I think if I crochet about 20 stitches per day (maybe a double crochet?), for 7 days and then start the next row it will be manageable (and if I fall behind then that should be easy to catch up on).  I am assigning yarn from my stash to each temperature range and not necessarily blues for cold and reds for warm – nope. Much more random than that. And we will let the HIGH temperature every day determine the color choice!  I will be mixing it up quite a bit – what fun!! So I have until her birthday to sort through the stash and create my chart for temperature and set the yarn aside, so I don’t accidentally use it on some other sudden inspiration! Lol 

Well, friends - thanks for visiting. Be well - stay well - and avoid all these viruses and colds going around! Best bet is to avoid people and lock yourself in your creative space and do something magical! (or if you are trying to get well, then hide in bed with plenty of fluids and don't forget to wash your blankets to get rid of those germs!) 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thoughts on the creative process - of a painter

Remember all those canvases from my last blog???  Well, the holidays are officially over and it is time to get to work! (especially since the beginning of this week was still TOO cold to use the sewing machines to finish up those projects - since I had to put a space heater on the same circuit to keep the pipes from freezing)

It has admittedly been way too long since I painted.  I have been working on a few printmaking type paintings over the last few years and lots of drawings - different process and different preparations.

But it has to be like riding a bike!
So I have all those canvases - step one will be to gesso and prepare the surface to the texture I prefer.... ok... but I have no gesso! Monday night I go online and compare prices and end up with my favorite online retailer of art supplies:  Best price for the total purchase.  Total purchase? I know - I couldn't buy only gesso...  just like the meme that goes something like this:
women with a full closet have nothing to wear and artists have a studio full of supplies and nothing to paint with!
So, while I was there I purchased a few colors I was out of. And it will all arrive on Thursday! Wonderful - I will ship it to my day job so that nothing happens to it!
So I start a baby blanket for a lil guy due in May. A nice little break from sewing and stuff - watch a movie or two.  Even cleaned the house - and no one was coming over!
Cut out a few more sewing projects as well.

Then, Thursday comes and my shipment does not arrive! So I log into my emails where the confirmation email does say Saturday delivery!! I swear at check out it said Thursday! That is why I sent it to work! OH - I NEED GESSO!!!!! and the office is closed on Saturdays! 

Meanwhile..... Didn't I used to crochet faster?? I know I said the same thing about sewing (over the holidays). I guess I always remember things taking less time than they do!
I have double the number of rows done since the first picture - and a deep fear that I did NOT buy enough yarn!

Unfortunately, all of this supply hunting, buying, waiting, and doing other projects in the meanwhile is all very much a part of the process of being a painter. Back in the classical period procuring supplies could take years so I guess this isn't too bad (see, I am still working on being positive about things - altho I have lost all hope of being positive about the postal service in Germany as my sister still hasn't received her Christmas gift).

I went with studio-grade for two reasons:  1. price  2. quality - most studio grade (student grade) products from reputable companies are very similar to professional and museum grade they just keep the prices down for students.  Blick's Studio Gesso is a bit chalkier in final texture it is not ideal for classical style oils (who does that anymore, so who would notice?) Since I use mixed mediums and my paintings always have surface texture, it is good for me.  I tint it with Grumbacher's Academy Acrylic Burnt Sienna. These are inexpensive cotton canvases so they will require a few layers of gesso and lots of sanding in between. I forgot how much preparation goes into painting.
While talking about supplies - I am planning to use the Grumbacher Academy Acrylic for the base colors of these painting.  Although not the least expensive of the student grade paints - I used these when teaching painting classes for Grumbacher (at their request) and fell in love with them.  (I used to be a HUGE Golden's fan - until somewhere in the mid-1990's everyone else discovered them and the prices went up!) The colors are true and when blended they behave as expected - can I ask for more from the paint I will be using as the base??
Also - some of you who are familiar with my art and colors might notice - I have not laid out any of the cadmiums!  That is right, folks - I am planning on changing up my usual color pallet to something a little cooler.  We will see how that works out for me.

Ya see - I notice while priming these: these are MUCH small than usual, this is taking a lot longer than I thought it would and now I am worried I bit off more than I can chew. I look at my sketches and I think I might have to simplify my ideas to fit on these tiny canvases and I might need to incorporate subject matter that I find easy to paint and takes me less time - in order to meet my deadline.  I can't say I am happy about it.

As I always say - painting is a conversation between the paint and the canvas that the artist has the pleasure of witnessing.  Sometimes the conversation goes a different way than you had hoped when you introduce a new color to the canvas - but it is their conversation, not yours. So sometimes you don't end up with the final product that you had expected. - This also seems to be true about finished paintings and deadlines! giggles
This might have turned into more of an art lesson than you had hoped to read - but let me be honest about this creative process...
as a painter, a huge amount of time is waiting for paint to dry 
and what does one do while waiting?  Laundry, make food, do yoga, wash your hair and put in temporary purple color and pull your hair up into space-buns, drink, sand the dry canvases and apply another coat of paint, fold clothes, play fetch with the dog, lay/sit on the floor taking selfies, and updating your blog and instagram (not an all-inclusive list).

I could sew - but I am using the space-heater to dry the canvases faster! (as if you couldn't tell, by me being in a tank top in my studio!) Maybe I will work on that baby blanket or take a bath!

Until next time, my happy readers, please try to do something creative every day! - jj

Monday, January 8, 2018

What a way to start the new year!

2018 has come in with all sorts of wild excitement! 

January 1st - I resolved to be more optimist (at least for the day). So let's not say I had a terrible stomach bug --> instead I will say I began the new year with a colon cleanse! Nice fresh and clean! 

January 2nd - My car wouldn't start. But let's think about it: the weather was -50* F with windchill (even I didn't want to start).  It was easy to remain optimistic when the 4th person I called was able to bring me to work and pick me up. That day brought me on quite an adventure with an hour car ride to the middle of nowhere, to locate a battery for my car and multiple friends and multiple helpers - which ended in a running car (it was almost 11 pm, but it was still within the same day)!! No need to "try" to be optimistic when you are surrounded by loving and supporting friends! 

January 3rd - I came home from work to the smell of something burning! I had left the space heater running near the pipes so they wouldn't freeze - and after having that heater for 15 years or so, it finally kicked the bucket. The safety 'shut-off' kicked in and saved me from a much worse fate.  So I sat at my computer working and searching for the same space heater (if it lasted 15 + years and the safety worked - I think I need another of the same). But of course, it is impossible to find... and we were expecting a snowstorm in the middle of this deep freeze... so everywhere I looked was in short supply of space heaters (and if I ordered online - the delivery might be delayed due to the storm). So finally I just drove up to the store and bought the only one (of the size I needed) that they had left.  That was a wasted night. But I did get some typing done and I did end up with a space heater and the piped didn't freeze. (AND my son came back to my house after visiting his father. Always a joy to see my son.)

January 4th - I cooked up a turkey breast and my son's favorite fixings... and we cleaned the house... and my son says: I still need to finish that painting for school.
He started it at school - this is what it looked
like when he began to work on it in my studio
So we drag it out and I showed him how my painting set-up in my studio is laid out. And I taught him basic color mixing and color theory... and as I do with all my students: I let him go at it and explore the medium and his abilities.
I know I shouldn't be surprised by his ability - he has been learning about art through osmosis for 20 years. But with little skill and no formal lessons he really knocked it out of the park! SO VERY PROUD OF HIM!
January 5th/6th - While he painted for two more days, I made YET ANOTHER fuzzy wrap/sweater/poncho thingy as a gift (pretty darn close to the last of them).  I can't post a pic - cause I forgot to take one! And - my son, who magically decorated for Christmas, magically undecorated from Christmas (it truly was one of the most magical Christmases ever)! 

January 7th - It is time to return my son to college to finish his 3rd year.  We spent the morning packing and then Auntie joined us (especially since my car is still acting goofy in this cold - her Jeep was much appreciated)!  And we are half way there and it is just about noon and... well... this happened...
Cause why not give the kid one last tasty meal before he must suffer with campus food. It would have been very enjoyable except he ate a big old hot pepper from Auntie's plate (too much too fast) and much hotter than expected.
Yes - he is suffering and I think - this is a perfect time for a selfie! Cheese! Don't my little hair buns look cute?! The darn window behind me is so bright that you really can't see.

Auntie and I left my son at school - then wandered off to the fabric store.  She picked out fabric for me to make her stuff. I finally found some nice pants material. Then Auntie was giving knitting lessons in the yarn department while I randomly ran amuck around the store playing with glitter and anything that had textures and talking to too many strangers. We left a few hours after we got there - but only because we were getting thirsty! AND before I even got to the painting section - but I actually NEED brushes and some paints. (guess I will be ordering with Dick Blick)

January 8th - I worked today. I skipped my usual Monday night grocery shopping to come home and get some of this creative stuff done. Step one: update blog! Step two: let's make a list. Step three: Then let's get it done!

My to-do list:
~make Auntie a poncho [complete by mid-February]
~finish two scarves (I can't run the sewing machine the same time the space heater is running - without tripping the circuit. So I have a couple things to finish that should have been done last week!) [make time machine and finish by last week]
~finish two shirts [make time machine and finish by last week]
~crochet a little (Someone is expecting a baby this spring and you know I just have to make a blanket) [complete by April]
~make myself a couple pair of pants and mend some of my clothes [open ended deadline... let's bet on if it will ever happen]
~paint - I need 25 new paintings for a show opens in November 2018 [complete one every 2 weeks]

So if you don't hear from me as often. I am sorry - I will try to post. I will not be able to post my finished paintings as the show will remain unpublished previous to opening. (Yes, I know those canvases are small - show requirements.)

- so until next time: go ahead and do something creative! (Even if its just silly hair buns on both sides of the top of your head!) -JJ

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