okay.

the tall grasses of my childhood home, 35mm film

So here’s the deal. I need to admit something to you, good people of the internet. I… am really really bad at blogging (and don’t really dig it too much), which you have most likely noticed since I haven’t posted anything since November. But so much is happening! And I have so many photographs to show you! I’ve been spending some time trying to figure out why running a blog feels so intimidating and gross to me, and I’m beginning to realize that my aversion to internet-based chronicling of events is largely based in the fact that i’m not actually making anything. At the end of an hour or two of piecing together a blog post, I have nothing to hold in my hands, nothing to feel the weight of or hang on a wall. And that just feels really weird to me. SO. My plan for this little page (because if you know me in real life you know how ridiculously methodical I can get about my work) is to start treating it like a zine. I’ll be making hard copies of each post (you can even get a copy in your mailbox if you want one!) and scanning them in. So keep your eyes peeled for some handmade pages, I’ve got some in process now and will hopefully be available for your eyeballs soon.

Motivation! New beginnings! Realizing flaws! Embracing them! Yes!

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foxtrot.

gifmaker
free gif maker

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paper.

I’m preparing some new projects for SASS FEST this weekend, enjoy:

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gaining momentum.

Pomegranate seeds are staining my keyboard as I’m writing this. But in the words of Special Agent Dale Cooper, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present.”

I’m finally beginning to feel like I’m falling into a productive creative routine. I’ve been rising early, walking the dog, drinking tea, and pouring some hours into needle, thread, and ink. Having a fixed timeline like this has been so helpful. I’m typically not the most orderly person, and always had a sort of chaotic working schedule. An idea would come in like the winds, I’d start boarding up my windows and seclude myself while this hurricane of a project would pound against me. Then it’d be over, whatever I’d made would be half-done or done-ish, and I’d leave it there and not make anything else for weeks.  But now even if I’m only doing something small every morning at least it’s something, it’s an exercise, a ritual. Some mornings are incredible and I have fantastic ideas and feel buzzed all day by what I accomplished, other mornings I just stuff things with poly-fil and hot glue odds and ends together. But it all adds up, the inspired and the mundane alike. I’d like to share the results of the past week’s morning rituals.

 


I’ve just started a series of pillow-dolls, and I am absolutely adoring them. They’re shown above in various stages of completion. I feel like this is exactly where I am right now, between fiber craft and illustration, and making these in the middle is such a joy. I hope to have at least 20 done in time for all the upcoming shows.
Each doll is hand-drawn with an archival ink pen, colored with colored pencil, and fabric is painstakingly snipped to size for the clothing.
The girl on the far right is my favorite so far, I might have a hard time putting her up for sale. They need names. I’m thinking I’ll make small tags on the back.
Plaid and floral, the only patterns anyone every needs.
I also whipped this up last night/ this morning. It’s a gift for a friend, but she won’t get it until Saturday so shhh! I enjoyed making this, and I’m pretty sure she’ll like it, but I honestly can’t see myself making these too often. I feel kind of weird about that, I know that this design is directly based on the wide-sweeping trend of lace and chain necklaces, and I know I could sell a ton of them, but it’s not a design that’s very “me” whatever that means. That’s a tough spot to be in, when you’ve made something that you know will definitely sell but doesn’t feel like yours- it’s the split between what will make you money and what will make you proud. Maybe with some tweaking I could feel more comfortable selling something like this, but for now, I’ll just use the design as gifts for stylish friends.It did turn out pretty cute though, I’ve got to admit.

Posted in lace., living life., softies. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

growing new roots.

Hello loved ones. I’ve been quiet for some time now, but I’ll try to stay more consistent now.
Since I last wrote, I’ve settled into a new home and it’s been wonderful. I live with four incredible and talented women, our home has been locally dubbed “The Hen House”. I’ve also adopted an amazing dog named Maple. She’s been with us for a week today. I feel so blessed by how this has worked out, I couldn’t have asked for a better dog.

Things are moving and shaking in my life as an artist as well. We’ve formed an alliance of young local artists called the BAAC (Benjamin Avenue Artist’s Collective- a not-so-subtle nod to our beloved local all-ages collaboratively run venue, the DAAC.) I’m feeling so inspired by the energy of these dedicated and talented young artist’s. We’re a young group, we’ve only been meeting for two weeks so we’re still stretching into ourselves, but we’ve already got some great plans on the horizon.

Upcoming events where you can see my work as well as the work of some of the BAAC crew:

SASSFEST– Nov. 19 & 20- Sassfest is a celebration of D.I.Y. living organized by my powerhouse of a roommate, Marlee. This event will feature trunk shops from local artists, artist led workshops and skill-shares, live local music, a screening of the documentary Handmade Nation, a Sunday Soup, and so much more.

+ UICA Holiday Artist’s Market – Dec. 2 & 3- This is the gem of the Grand Rapids art shows, the highly anticipated yearly artist’s market at the UICA. I’ll be showing as a part of the Weaverbird Collective, which consists of myself, Rose, Emily, and Elizabeth. Some of the most talented artist’s in Grand Rapids sell their work here to help our community make sustainable choices for holiday shopping. Buying handmade for the holidays puts money right back in the hands of your own community during a time when spending spikes. Remember, every purchase you make is a political decision, a vote. By buying handmade you’re voting for sustainable economy rather than mass production and its inherent exploitation.

+ BAAC at the DAAC- Dec 17- Details are still in that nebulous phantom-like stage of planning, but this will be the BAAC’s first group show. and what more fitting location to show it than the DAAC?

Deadlines are a powerful motivator, I’m finding myself thrilled/terrified about all of these wonderful upcoming shows. One thing’s for sure, I need to buckle down and start cranking out some work!
Here’s a little slice of what I’ve been working on lately:


I’m really in love with small small small scale lace work. This is a tiny version of a rug I’m working on for our home. Whenever I’m working on a larger-scale lace project, I like to make a tiny version first to practice the pattern and to have a tangible attractive set of instructions to work from. Working from a miniature mock-up is much nicer than being glued to a computer screen to read the pattern. This particular little motif has been mailed off to a dear friend of mine. I hope she receives it before reading this.
I’m also working on how to bring some of my drawings “to life”. I love the tradition of paper puppets and find them to be absolutely beautiful, so I decided to try my hand at it. This first one is a pretty common subject for paper puppeting, a ballerina, but I thought it best to start simple. She’s now all ready to cut out, but i don’t have any brads to hinge her together yet. She’ll also have a translucent vellum paper tutu when she’s finished.
Right now there are few things I’m enjoying more than basking in the glory of my favorite season’s foods. This has been my preferred breakfast, scrambled tofu and roasted chestnuts with plenty of cider. 
And here’s some of the glory of out weekly BAAC potlucks: curried potatoes, whole grain muffins, beet and quinoa slaw, corn bread, green curry, flax chips, and butternut squash. too good to be true.
Last but not least, just look at this dog. Can you see why I’m in love?

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Weak knees and cats: A chat with Caitlin Shearer.

This week I had the privilege to interview the charming Caitlin Shearer, an astonishingly talented and prolific young illustrator from Australia. She’s freshly 22 and has already shown her work all over Australia, as well as in Spain and the Netherlands. She has been featured in dozens of publications including fashion giants like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and several fashion designers as well (edit: I had previously written that she was commissioned by these publications but that was incorrect, a textile design that she created for Karla Spetic was featured in these magazines). Caitlin’s work is playful, coquettish, powerful, and an all around treat to view. I’d like to thank Caitlin again for taking the time to chat with me, I hope you all enjoy the interview.

Well first of all Caitlin, how are you today?
I’m pretty good thanks. Really dying to eat a hamburger actually! The sun is out, and my head is full of romance so i guess i’m pretty happy.

Your work gained widespread recognition when you were still quite young. How would you describe the evolution of your work over the years?
It’s strange to think that people liked my earlier work because for me, it’s a very cringe-worthy thing. It’s like allowing everyone to see into my embarrassing teenage diary. My technical skills and subject matter were not refined, so it’s interesting that people could appreciate the naive things that i was making when i was still figuring everything out. I think my work evolved as i matured and as my obsessions and personality also shifted and solidified (and that’s still happening). Really i’m just looking forward to the day when i’ve got fifty years of experience under my belt and i can hopefully create things that i’m 100 percent content with.

You were among the first wave of young artists to gain a sort of online celebrity using social networking forums and early art sharing sites like DeviantArt. Given that you had a large global audience from early on, would you say this in any way shaped your creative journey? And how do you think the age of instant communication is changing the way we create and share art?
I became obsessed with deviantart in the middle of highschool because it was a place where i could be in contact with kids my age who were also obsessed with drawing and painting… and living in a secluded beachside area, that was something i was seriously lacking. It really helped my self esteem and allowed me to discover many weird and wonderful things about the world. Helped me to emerge from my shell.
Without the internet and it’s vast reach i don’t think it would be nearly as possible for me to work as an illustrator, and I’d say it’s also been extremely helpful for quite a large hunk of young creative types who are perhaps not socially connected or who live in the middle of nowhere. My bedroom is my workspace and the internet is the stage upon which i can present these outbursts. That seems incredible to me because if i was doing this kind of thing even 20 years ago all of my paintings would be hidden under my bed (or maybe hung up around the house by my mother) and i’d probably be working as a teacher or something.



What was your first public showing of your work, and what was that experience like for you?
The first time i showed was at the local regional gallery, as part of a highschool art exhibition. They were these four canvas squares painted and collaged with long necked girls and teeth and skeleton jumpers, and i was completely over the moon! I remember feeling really special, really lucky, really blessed and also happy to see my parents proud. I remember that i wore a black dress with golden buttons down the front and i was extremely nervous and probably kept reminding myself to ‘stand up straight!’ the entire time at the opening.

Your work often has a strong 50’s or 60’s feel to it, what is it that draws you to that time period?
I think i’m so drawn to the aesthetics of that time period because it’s a form of escapism and theres something nice about holding onto and re-creating the past so that it doesn’t become lost.
As a kid alot of the 90’s movies i watched were heavily inspired by that very kitschy 50’s style and i think it must have seeped into my brain. (clueless, to wong foo, jawbreaker, etc…)

What kind of environment do you need to surround yourself with to produce your illustrations?
I need sunlight and peace and a desk space. That’s pretty much it.

Where does the inspiration for your work come from? Is it spontaneous or do you find yourself consistently inspired by specific things?
I become easily obsessed with certain things and these pop up in my work all the time simply because i’m madly in love and need to make homage to these interests. Mostly I am inspired by the things that are happening in my life (or the lack of things/longing). Lately i’ve been stuck because three months ago i moved to the city and finally started ‘living’ and now there’s too much in my brain to comprehend. I want to draw but i don’t know where to begin.

The women you draw are often intensely feminine and also intensely powerful. Would you ever consider yourself a feminist artist? How do you think the women you create communicate with the women of our world today?
I am obsessed with women, the female figure, biographies about important females throughout time… and i suppose i’ve never really thought about attaching a label such as feminist to my work, because it’s more of an introspective outpouring of emotion rather than a broader statement about the world.
I think the girls in my work are relatable because of their longing and romantic notions and sometimes sadness. I guess it’s like playing with paper dolls, kind of voyeuristic.

What do you consider to be your greatest artistic achievement? And what goals do you have for yourself now?
Everything is an achievement really. I laugh to myself every day because i cannot believe that i can paint pictures for a living. That’s too good to be true.
Goals are to fall into some kind of deep maddening romance, sew some black dresses, make a couple of books and find an apartment with lots of sunlight.

What advice would you give to young aspiring artists?
If you love it, then just do it! Don’t give up your dreams just because working in a bank could make you more money. Happiness is key. The universe will deliver what you need, and only when you are ready to accept it. Oh, and drink lots of water and always be polite. 🙂
All images are from Caitlin’s lovely blog, which you can read here: http://caitlinquiet.blogspot.com
You can support Caitlin by buying from her etsy shop (you know you want to!): http://www.etsy.com/shop/caitlinshearer
Many thanks again to Caitlin. Keep an eye out for more upcoming artist interviews.
Kick your shoes off and have a lovely evening everyone.
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snapshots.

If you sit still long enough I will sketch you, be warned.

I’m finally all settled into the new house with four powerful babes, we’re going to have a great year together. Rose wrote a little house bio about us in her blog: boom! We’re still trying to come up with a house name, if you have any suggestions please drop them here!

Keep your eyes peeled for an exciting first on this blog, an artist interview with the one and only Caitlin Shearer. I’ve admired this lovely lady’s work for years and am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be chatting with her a bit soon. The post should be up by this weekend, so stay tuned.

Most importantly of all, how are you today?

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