A Little Housekeeping…

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I finally got around to cleaning up some things on my website; shuffling Sold pieces to the portfolio page, removing a certain fungus piece that no longer exists in that form.  And adding things needing to be added; you will notice “Sun Streak” is now on the main page though I still have to do a write-up.

I have been giving a great deal of thought lately to the fact that my website needs a bit of a makeover.  It has looked this way for about four years now and I am ready for change.  As my work has evolved so too has the statement that I want to make about myself and my art.  I would like to change the whole layout of the site- I find the current set-up of my pieces too “list like”.  I am tired of the banner- it is too “cutesie” and I would like something a bit more sophisticated, cleaner and simpler.

These changes would also mean changes to other things, like my business cards.  I have been keeping note of business card styles and ideas that I like for when I make the change.  I really want to move to a two-sided business card and incorporate my work rather than a graphic design.

I would love to make these changes sooner rather than later but realistically I think it will be something that I finally get a chance to tackle in the Fall when I have a bit more time on my hands.  It also gives me plenty of time to think it through, jot down ideas and likely change my mind a hundred times.  I would like to have new business cards by the October show though, so that part I may have to work on ahead of time.

I am excited and ready to embrace change!

Karen

Oh, and that is totally not the view from my window.  This is the view from our favourite cottage where we have stayed all three times that we have gone to Iceland.  Speaking of change, if I could change my current view I would change it to this.  🙂

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Inspiration Photo #6

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What:   Dried hydrangea flowers in my backyard

Why did this catch my eye:   While chasing after my son one day I happened to look out the back window and these dead, dried flowers caught my eye.  I planted these hydrangeas right under the family room window, so in the summer I can see them from in the house. But something about them at this time of year, even devoid of their colour, struck me as beautiful and I had to grab the camera.  I am already coming up with ideas of how I can use this in my art so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this theme pops up soon.

Karen

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I committed to posting 40 inspiration photos on the blog in 2014.  The purpose of this exercise is to get me out of my comfort-zone:  finding inspiration in my everyday surroundings.  This series will continue throughout the year.

Deconstruction for Reconstruction

Anyone who has followed this blog for long enough will knows that I am no stranger to taking apart pieces that I am no longer thrilled with- like this and this.  Amongst a number of others.  I know that everyone’s work evolves and gets better over time, but if there is a piece that I am just too embarrassed to ever show to anyone, ever, then I don’t see much point to just keeping it in “the bin.”   I still have the first piece I ever made, which of course there are things I would do differently in it now if I could, but I am not totally embarrassed to say that I made it.  I think that is a key difference.

I have a couple of pieces in my storage bin right now that are likely slated for destruction once I get around to it. But I also have another piece that I am not totally happy with but that I’m not quite wanting to completely destroy.

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 Remember “Fungus Adventure” (so named by my daughter).  I made it in 2012 and at the time I was pretty happy with it.  For some reason I thought it would look “cool and edgy” in the lobster trap frame.  Well, some time has passed and not much has happened in the life of the fungus.  It won a local award and did a stint at the coffee shop in Corner Brook.  But it has never seemed quite…right.  My husband has said from the start that the problem is the brown background.  It makes the whole thing too muted.

I do, however, love the organic shape of the fungus and the layering of colours.  I think I was first drawn to make this piece because I thought the fungus on the tree was really quite pretty and I loved the rounded shape.  Somehow in my piece I didn’t quite capture the beauty- it fell a bit flat.

So I decided recently to give the fungus a bit of a face-lift.  I told my husband this and he said that once I was done doing all of my other pieces for the October show that might be a good project.  Well, you would think he would know me better than that because when I get an idea in my head I find it very hard to let it go until I have tried it out.  So I spent the past week working on the fungus.

Here’s the plan:

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Envision circular to complement the rounded shapes of the fungus.  Envision it out of the lobster frame (this frame will get used for something else…just something that works better with it).  Envision smatterings of bolder and brighter colours in the fungus.  And envision a background that isn’t brown.

So far I have punched up 90% of the fungus and still have to decide on a background colour.  It has yet to be decided whether it will be framed in a circular frame or just finished in a circular form.  I can tell you that it already looks a whole lot better and more in keeping with my original vision.

I plan to alternate working on this with working on my “brown” piece and will give you a peek as soon as I have a bit more done on it!

Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Sketchbooking 101

One of my goals for 2014 was to get into the habit of sketching things out in my sketchbook more often.  So far this has been a bit of a fail. Mostly because to this point I have been working on pieces for our show that I already have a plan for.  That may change as the one I am currently working on is not completely planned out.  So I fully anticipate that I will be trying to do some sketching to try to best figure out what direction to head in.

I did, however, discover one way in which the sketchbook can be helpful to me, even if I have a good idea of what I am doing.  My recent piece, “Sun Streak” was based on this photo:

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As you can see, the sail is not at all orange.  But I thought the composition would be kind of boring if I stuck with the white.   You can also see that the actual sun streak is much more prominent in the photo.  I did try doing a much more pronounced streak but I felt like after trying a number of different approaches that they all looked like a big blob to one side of the sail.  In the end, I took out the blob.

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I started with a yellow sail and not long after decided that I didn’t like that.  After some thought I determined that the orange might work well:  it would be different, bold, and would stand out nicely against the blue sky.  That orange is the complement of blue was also a consideration as I thought that that colour combination might make the piece pleasing to the eye.  However, I didn’t want to waste a lot of time trying the orange just to rip it out again.

So I broke out my sketchbook and sketched out my design, making the sail the various values of orange that I thought I would use.   This helped me to determine that orange would work.  What I should have done was make another sketch to see how it would look without the blob of light.  That would have saved me a lot of time and heartache in that section of the piece.  You learn as you go and I will file that away for next time.

I certainly do want to also get into the habit of using my sketchbook to jot down new ideas.  I think now that I have my sketchbook out and accessible this may come a little easier to me!

I also wanted to thank everyone who provided me with feedback on my new piece, both here and on facebook and in other places.  I loved hearing what people thought of it.  I may change the title of the piece.  My original title made reference to it being a sail and I think that may help people to understand what it is at first glance.  But on the other hand I might not change it as I liked that people were seeing it as an abstract piece and drawing their own conclusions as to what it was about.  Hmm, something to think about and lots of time to decide!

Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Inspiration Photo #5

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What:   My Valentine’s Day roses

Why did this catch my eye:   Without a doubt roses are beautiful.  Their fullness and texture, not to mention their rich colour and scent.  But I also noticed the patterns that the petals make- a multitude of circles that culminate in a fabulous spiral center.  I think there is a lot that can be done with the patterns found in roses and other flowers.

Karen

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I committed to posting 40 inspiration photos on the blog in 2014.  The purpose of this exercise is to get me out of my comfort-zone:  finding inspiration in my everyday surroundings.  This series will continue throughout the year.

 

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Sun Streak

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

So, you win some and you lose some.  This piece entitled “Sun Streak” did not make it into the show that I had entered it into.  Which I am ok with as it means that the piece is now available to bring along to our show in October.  As I have mentioned in the past, I have long ago come to terms with the fact that every piece of art doesn’t always resonate with all people.  And that is ok.

The piece is based on a photo that my husband took while he was out sailing last summer.  As I’ve said before, I don’t usually use photos that I haven’t taken myself but he had captured such an interesting angle of the sail, in addition to both a rainbow and a large sunspot that radiated across the sail, that I thought I would give it a try.

The sail was not orange, but I didn’t want to go with just white.  I played around with a few colour ideas and then settled on the orange.  Since orange is the complement to blue so I thought it would really be set off by the deep blue sky.  It measures 12″W x 16″L.

I think it is a piece that just may not appeal to all people.  My husband thinks it is great.  He thinks it is edgy and almost abstract in its design.  He feels the orange is a bold colour and it is a bit of a departure from my usual work.  It definitely was a step out of my comfort-zone.  It took me awhile to warm up to the piece -I think mostly because it is a bit unusual in its perspective and colouring.  Now when I look at it I kind of like it just because it is so different and while I don’t think it is my “best ever” I do think it is another rung in the ladder of my personal growth as an artist.

I would be really interested in hearing from you- what do you think of this piece?

Karen

Brown

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I am currently working with the colour brown; a really lovely multi-layered brown silk sari ribbon that has a lot of different tones and undertones all the way through it which actually makes it kind of shimmery and beautiful.

It got me thinking about brown.  It is a funny colour- I don’t think there are many people who would say that brown is their favourite colour.  But brown can oftentimes be actually quite beautiful.  When I think about the role that brown plays in my own life it is actually quite prevalent.  From the stark brown tree trunks and branches in my yard that are waiting for Spring to come so they can regain some colour.  To the many pieces of both functional and beautiful pottery in my home.  The colour of my kids’ hair which like mine gives off glimmers of red when caught by the sun.  And the objects that I use on a daily basis as I run around carrying out the tasks of daily life.

When I look around, I see brown everywhere.  And to my surprise, more often than not it is beautiful.

Karen

Photo by Karen D. Miller

Around Here….

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It has been awhile since I have done one of these generally-what-is-going-on-around-here posts.  But truth be told, I’m waiting.  I have two submissions in right now for different shows.  And you see, I’m one of those “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” kind of people so I pretty much never reveal that I have entered something until I know I am in.

And so I wait.   I should be hearing results for them soon and as soon as I do I will share those pieces with you!

I continue to plug away at the three-panel piece that I am working on for our October exhibit.  But really, I find that the Olympics is getting slightly in the way.  Is Canada not having an amazing Olympics??!!  So productivity has slowed but is definitely continuing.

Speaking of our upcoming show in October- I am so happy and proud of my fellow members!  Trish Johnson was just named the Canadian Rug Hooking Artist of the year by The Hooked Rug Museum in Nova Scotia the other week.  In addition, she also won Third place in the Adaptations category for the Readers Choice Awards in last year’s Celebrations magazine.  And then Simone Vojvodin just found out that she won Third place in the Originals category!!  This is going to be an amazing show with all of these talented artists!!!

I was thrilled this week to find out that the first in my “Postcards from Newfoundland” series had sold at Harbour Grounds in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.  It was my first sale of the year and I am always so grateful for the support!

What else has been going on?   I am still volunteering a lot at the school.  And still loving that time.  My little guy loves seeing his big sister at school too.  I think it is great that I have this chance to participate in the school setting and I try not to pass up on any opportunities that I can!

Myself and some friends were dissatisfied with several of the local playgroups that we had tried over the years and so decided to create our own.  We rotate houses and I love having that time to look forward to.  The kids play great together and we get to have a good chat.  I have been so fortunate to have many friends home (some permanently and some off-and-on), at the same time that I have been at home with both my kids.  I think being able to have those social connections adds a fabulous layer to the whole at-home experience for both myself and my kids.

At the back of my mind these days is Birthday party planning.  It is still several months until my daughter’s Birthday but Birthdays are a big deal around here.  I have handmade her invitations since her first Birthday party and each year I try to come up with something really creative.  Last year I had one mum tell me that she liked the invite so much that they were going to keep it on their fridge even once the party was over!  And then there is the actual party itself to plan!   Truth be told, I am already thinking about my son’s Birthday and it isn’t until the Fall!  So this is why I start early and have already started to accumulate ideas.

And around here it seems like there is constantly snow and more snow.  And cold, cold and more cold.   I’m so ready for Spring.  I’m so ready for the world to get colourful again.  I’m so ready for new inspiration!

Hope everything is wonderful where you are!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I plan to celebrate with my three favourite Valentines!  🙂

Karen

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller Photo by Karen D. Miller

Inspiration Photo #4

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What:   A cool tree with a hole through it that I spotted while snowshoeing

Why did this catch my eye:   I think I have always been attracted to things in nature that you can look through- holes in rocks, holes in trees, etc.  I like that the hole acts as a frame around the scene that you see through it.  The shape of the hole can also be very interesting and inspirational for abstract designs.  There is so much inspiration to be found in nature if you just keep yourself open to the possibilities.

Karen

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I committed to posting 40 inspiration photos on the blog in 2014.  The purpose of this exercise is to get me out of my comfort-zone:  finding inspiration in my everyday surroundings.  This series will continue throughout the year.