Friday, April 24, 2015

Dealing with Pain

Spring time in the dance community is slightly chaotic with ballet exams, dance competitions, extra rehearsals and the preparation required for June shows and recitals. I have been teaching/dancing 6 days a week this month and my back pain is at an all time high. My chronic pain is caused by inflammation in my hips and back from a bunch of minor injuries that tend to twist my hips to uncomfortable places. Since I do not have time and am not really willing to take a break from dancing I am forced to figure out how to deal with this pain. Because of my achy back I have not been overly productive with my art this past week as it makes concentrating rather difficult. Ironically my chronic condition is the reason I began to pursue my art in the first place.
This week I am trying to take it easy for a few days and get myself back to a better state. I am reworking my diet to include foods that are supposed to help with inflammation and joint pain. I read an article about a study where shiitake mushrooms were shown to reduce inflammation. In the study people only ate one mushroom a day for 4 weeks, at which time the doctors could measure a reduction in the immune systems inflammatory response. My diet now consists of Shiitake mushrooms, salmon, tofu, apples, kale and a few other things including organic red wine! 
Hopefully these small changes will help me feel better and make more art!
I have been attempting to finish a whole bunch of projects this week. I'm getting close, but so far nothing is done. Which means, in theory, I will have lots to share next week!
In the meantime I did paint this sketch in my sketchbook.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Handmade Paper at Das Buch

 As you may remember I have recently become slightly obsessed with making homemade paper. When I cut paper for the pages in my journals I am left with odd shaped scraps. Making paper out of these scraps gives them a new life! 
I have been making paper every Wednesday for a month now and I finally have enough to start bundling it up and selling it. So far I have three different types of paper. I made a whole bunch of coloured paper that is embedded with coloured flake sparkles. My family and friends have been complaining about the trail of sparkles that has been following me around so there might not be any new sparkle papers for awhile. :P
I have also been wandering around collecting flour petals and pressing leaves for a more botanical looking paper. These ones are my favorite! I plan to collect wild flowers at my cabin this summer and create a whole line of floral papers. These papers have tulip petals, myrtle tree leaves and some pressed ferns from the side of the house. 

These paper packs are listed in my Das Buch Etsy site alongside my journals, bookmarks and illustrated Moleskine Journals.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cost of Being Social

A sketch from my studio sketchbook - working on a painting of it!
I just finished my taxes; and by that I mean that I just finished adding up piles of crumpled receipts, sifting through years of bills and doing more math than I do any other month. Then I hand the mess over to my mom who tries to make sense of my confusing 'self employed' tax situation. (Why didn't they teach me how to do this in school?)
Robert - Just hanging out :)
The great thing about doing my taxes like this is that I get a close look at my yearly expenditures. The amount I spend on gas is always a shocker (over $2,000) but the other surprising number was that I spent $250 on facebook ads. The majority of my audience gets to this blog via my facebook page. When I initially set it up facebook was still a free and open marketplace. Then they introduced ads. Over the next year I saw my posts reach fewer and fewer of the people who had gone out of their way to 'Like' my page. So I started running small ad campaigns. Now every time I post something I have to set up an individual advertisement so that a portion of my audience will actually see my art. I generally only pay $1 or $2 to 'promote' each individual post, and clearly that ads up quickly! For $2 the potential for my post is about 400 - 700 views. I would have to pay at least $5 for my whole audience to see it. The difficult thing is that facebook is still the easiest way to reach people. It would be great if all those fans could subscribe to my blog but I read all sorts of artists blogs and are subscribed to none of them. I don't need more email clutter in my life and I bet you don't either. So I continue to pay to use facebook (the service that will always be free) to reach the wonderful people who take time out of their day to look at the art I work so hard at. I don't like the idea of giving facebook hundreds of dollars each year and if I am trying to make money from art I can't really afford it. If you use other social media sites I invite you to follow me and my artwork! 
I have a twitter account, instagram, Ello  (a new social media site still in the beta stages) as well as this blog and my website!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Illustrated notebooks

This past week I sold three illustrated notebooks out of my Das Buch Etsy shop, so I have been working to restock my moleskine notebooks. The cool thing about the last few sales is that they are going to people that will thoroughly enjoy them. I sold a small kraft moleskine with monarch butterfly illustrations on the cover to someone who raises monarch butterflies and the two notebooks with pointe shoe illustrations are going to be enjoyed by dancers. I love that my passion for art can inspire other people to indulge in their passions, whatever they may be. 
I recently gave the Das Buch website a little bit of a makeover so it is now more up to date with what I am currently making.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bunny Day

Happy Easter, Bunny day, spring time etc. (Religious holidays are confusing when you aren't religious.) Every year I google Easter to try and better understand the rituals behind this odd celebration. In pagan times it was about Spring, fertility and rebirth. Which is why we paint eggs to display around our homes. Bunnies fit into those ideas as well, although I'm pretty sure the pagan bunnies didn't lay chocolate eggs. Easter became a christian celebration when Rome decided to make Christianity the required religion of the area. The new roman catholic church created equivalent celebrations for the pagan holidays so people would be easier converts. That is why Easter has turned into a christian religious event with a side  story of a magical bunny that breaks into your house to leave eggs in every nook and cranny. lol
Since I actually had 3 days off, in a row I decided I should make a little Easter painting. I thought about painting eggs...but only had brown eggs on hand. So I had fun painting an abstract tree using many layers of watercolours and ink and then painted my "Easter eggs" separately on a different sheet of paper. I then cut them out and collaged them into my piece. It's a little busy but I would consider it to be experimental.
My long weekend was reasonably relaxing and I hope yours was too!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Art in the Family

 It is strange how artistic traits seem to have some sort of genetic predisposition. I have three aunts and a cousin that grew up dancing, two of them became dance teachers and the other two pursued artistic careers and hobbies. 
My father is also an artist/painter. When he was young he painted regularly and created enough paintings for my Grandma to fill every wall of her house with his art. As a kid I loved to wander through the rooms, carefully examining each painting. 
When I was growing up my Dad didn't have much time to paint but there was always a painting on the easel, even if the progress was stalled for years at a time. Recently he has found himself with tons of spare time and has gotten back into painting!
He has also switched from painting with oil to acrylic. The canal painting at the top of the page is his last oil painting and the rest is acrylic. The shorter drying time of acrylic paint allows him to work on the same painting a little bit every day. I love watching his paintings progress and we spend a lot of time analyzing and critiquing our respective work.
Following my great advice he has recently put together a website for his paintings which he updates regularly with his latest art. His paintings are also available as prints on Artpal.