Too Cool Artist: The creative eye of lucybones

Browsing through Etsy on a dull post-Christmas morning, I came across lucybones.  (http://www.etsy.com/shop/lucybones).  Lucybones incorporates nature into the art in a unique way.  For instance, “Stem” is an original oil painting and photomicrograph on Hahnemuhle William Turner 310 gsm paper.  The subject of this piece is bamboo.

Stem by lucybones on Etsy

“Warmth” is another oil painting and photomicrograph.

Warmth by lucybones on Etsy

 The subject of “Warmth” is a silicone breast implant.  Lucybones draws on her appreciation of “the unseen world of minerals, plants, and animals” in her art.

Before Christmas, I was thinking about creativity and analogy.  I’ve read that very creative people are those who can think in analogies.  The Private Eye is an education program based on encouraging just such thinking. Creativity is fostered by looking at common objects through a jeweler’s loupe and asking questions like, “this reminds me of…” or “When I see this it makes me think of…”  When I see lucybones’s art, it makes me think she is a master of analogy, for it’s not just anyone who can find warmth and beauty in a silicone breast implant!

As artists, we should all make a New Year’s resolution  to look at the things around us with fresh eyes.

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The Filigree–A World of its Own

Cromora Nicholson, Tightrope Walker Extraordinaire by the Filigree

ScareCrow Moni by thefiligree

     

Imagine a world where mermaidens sink ships, scarecrows compete to see who is scariest, and the clouds dance in the red glow of October’s Blood Moon.  Just such a world exists.  Last weekend at the Dickens Christmas Festival in Franklin, Tennessee I was bored by the usual jewelry and pottery vendors and tempted by the fried pie booth (which, oddly enough, was right next door to a booth extolling the benefits of cosmetic surgery)  when I was captured by an odd creature about two feet tall offering me a maggot on a serving tray.  The creature–a candy troll – was warty and wrinkly and strangely endearing.       

Candy Trolls Confectionary

 I had stumbled into the world of The Filigree.    

    

    

The Filigree is actually a newspaper, brilliantly edited by Celena Cavala, that is published four times a year.    Articles like Summer solstice in Sangamon Forest – Butterfield Sisters Host Fancy Dress Ball, and State of the Art Haunting – Old School Style at Vic’s Meatatorium,  cover the exploits and tragedies of the  imaginary population of the Filigree world.  Cleverly illustrated advertisements tout the benefit of fantasy products like Never Die Life Elixir and Ligeria Formula stain remover.    There are even classifieds, like this one from the Autumn 09 Issue:    

“Gorgeous assorted colored glass bottles Empty but very large capacity.  Maybe even bottomless as my sister fit a very small storm in one of the blue ones.”    

This is no flimsy, gimmacky tabloid.  The newspaper is substantial and well done.  The writing is engagingly whimsical and original  and the artwork (drawings and photos) is excellent.   But the best thing about this newspaper is that it “covers” the exploits and tragedies of the  imaginary population of the filigree world.    

This is where Martin Obakke, Artistic Director of the Filigree, struts his stuff.  Obakke brings to life these fascinating creatures, dubbed  Filigreetures, with a variety of mediums including resin and polymer clay.  Filagreetures are lifelike and etherial at the same time.  I would not have been surprised if one of the Filigreetures at the festival drifted up with a gentle breeze and landed on my shoulder.  The latent movement contained in these creatures is so powerful, you can’t help suspected they change position in the blink of an eye.  Even the clothes in which they are dressed – whispy clouds of thin cotton – take on life, draping  the creatures like  a gown on a Greek statue.     

The marriage of  the art and the word enhances the power of each form.  It creates a launch pad for the imagination.  Subscriptions to the newspaper are only six dollars for one year.  The Filigreetures aren’t cheap, but it would be worth it to have one of Obakke’s creations join your household.   A selection of black and white photographic prints – filigraphy -are also available.   Be sure to look through the Gallery on the Filigry website.  ( http://www.thefiligree.com/?content=gallery)   The mermaidens escaping from underwater after causing a shipwreck in The Sinking of the Concordia  is heart-wrenchingly elegant.   But, be warned!  A tour through the Filigree’s gallery and newspaper will make you want to lay aside your grown-up things and BELIEVE.    

    

Cromora Nicholson once again claims Crown by the Filigree 

     

Altering Photographs

Collage tile
My altered photograph collage, “Love is Blind” available on ruthsartsandletters.etsy.com

In the process of moving, I ran across a box of photos from my younger days, including lots of the beautiful cliffs and canyons of New Mexico.  I decided to use the photos to practice altered photography techniques.  First, I read a book by Karen Michel, The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery.  The book explains several methods for altering photographs.  One of the easiest ways is to alter 35mm photographs with sandpaper and and awl.    Dip the photo in water for about thirty seconds.  While it is wet, you can sand away the emulsion with sandpaper.  You can start at the edges or sand away particular areas.  You can use an awl or other sharp tool to scratch away finer areas or to create borders or words. 

 
Once you’re satisfied with the sanding, you can add back in or accentuate color with watercolors, paints, and markers.  Watercolor pencils dipped in water work beautifully.
 
The experiments with my photos yielded more failures than successes, but it’s such an easy and fun technique to use.  If you have photos you don’t mind mutilating, give it a try.
 
The image in the collage above, Love is Blind, was originally an interesting rock formation — two long thin rocks that rose side by side from the canyon floor.  The couple in an embrace just kind of emerged as I used an awl to scratch a border of sorts around the rocks.  Unfortunately, I learned a hard lesson.  I forgot to make a copy of the photo first, so I can’t show a before and after image. 

Artists and Myth Makers

If you ever waver in your belief in the importance of the work of the artist, read what Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myths:

“Myths must be kept alive.  The people who can keep them alive are artists of one kind or another.  The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world.”

Nancy Lefko’s Authentic Art

Nancy Lefko is a mixed-media artist in New Hampshire.  She is also, like me, a stay at home mom.  So, I really identified with this great piece that she created while tending a sick child.

Mixed Media Art by Nancy Lefko

Be sure to check out Nancy’s blog and her Etsy shop.

http://nancylefko.blogspot.com/

http://www.etsy.com/shop/collageartgirl

LBJ’s Words of Regret

pictures 076coolwater1

 

Lyndon B. Johnson is quoting as saying the following to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (in current issue of Newsweek Magazine): 

I knew from the start if I left the woman I really loved – the Great Society – in order to fight this bitch of a war (Vietnam) on the other side of the world, then I would lose everything at home.  All my programs.  All my hopes…All my dreams.”

 

I think this is the saddest, most heartbreaking statement.  The regret in those words is palpable and powerful.  I actually cried when I read these words.

I’m trying to think of a way to visually represent the power and loss behind these words.

Etsy Marketing–There’s Visibility in Numbers

I didn’t think I would become so business-minded when I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell the art that was beginning to pile up in my spare room.  After all, doing artwork was fun — exhilerating even.  What I didn’t understand was how huge Etsy is.

There are thousands of artists on Etsy, and the challenge is to get people, more specifically, buyers, to look at the stuff in your shop.  So far, I’ve learned that you have to list new objects pretty much every day to stay visible.   Second, I’ve found that experienced sellers are generous with support and tips if you ask.  I browse through a few shops every day and identify the ones that are impressive, either with their art or with the way they have presented their art.  I convo these guys, telling them specifically what I like about their shop.   I have now joined two etsy teams – Collage Etsy team and Melange Etsy Team.  Being on a team gives you a connection to artists who have similar artistic and marketing interests. 

At this point, the biggest challenge for me as a new Etsy shop owner is learning to use internet technology to bring in customers.  It seems that a successful seller must build a network of sellers.  The old adage – there’s safety in numbers – could be rewritten in the virtual age as “there’s visibility in numbers.”