Monthly Archives: July 2010

Special project revealed!

About six weeks ago, I was perusing the forums at Etsy.  I did a few searches for “art” and “artists” just to see if I could find any hints or advice from other artists. Maybe learn something new.  I came across a thread about something called an Art-o-mat.  My curiosity was piqued, so I took a look.

What are Art-o-mats?  I learned that they are old cigarette vending machines that have been repurposed to vend miniature works of art instead.  (They have a website at, check it out!)  How cool is that???  There are over 90 machines and for $5 at most locations, you can buy a small piece of art, jewelry, or even a little sculpture, for example.  I was enchanted by the idea, absolutely smitten.  What a creative way to recycle and put these old machines back in use.  And I love how it makes art friendly, accessible and affordable for people.

I spent some time browsing Art-o-mart’s website, Facebook ( and even a group on Flickr where artists submit photos of their work and people who have bought some can post their pictures, too.  I studied the artwork and realized that my art might be a good fit for this.  Feeling energized and inspired, I went for it.

I ordered a sample of the wooden block (pre-cut to the exact specifications they need) that they have available.  I love painting on wood, so that was the perfect choice for me.  While waiting for it to arrive, I started working on possible designs.  The painting must measure exactly 2 1/8″ x 3 1/4″ so I created a template in Word with 8 squares that size on a page, then printed out multiples copies and started sketching my ideas in the squares.  I also developed and created the designs for the promotional card to be included with the work and the placard that they would use to advertise my art on the machine itself.

Art-o-mat prototype, placard and leafletOnce the block arrived, I decided on the design to use, then transferred it and painted.  Then I covered the sides and back of the block with black gesso and then, after letting it dry, I sprayed it.  Then it was time to put it all together.  Your submission must be complete and vend-ready.    For the back of the block, I printed out a label with the title of the painting, my name and my email address.  Then I wrapped the block and the promotional leaflet I had designed with the strip of acetate.  I packaged that up with my application and placard and sent it off around the first of the month.

Then I waited.  That was the hard part!  It was only three weeks, but it felt like three months.  🙂  But while I waited, I continued to sketch out more ideas in case I was accepted.  I’m unbelievably thankful now that I did that.

This morning I arrived at work before it was time to punch in.  So I decided to finish checking my email.  And there it was… the email saying that they had accepted me!  I was giddy all day.  🙂  Made it very hard to concentrate on the day job!  But now the fun part of gathering the supplies and finishing up the designs commences while I wait for my package of 50 blocks to arrive.  (Plus I have to finish the pet portrait!)  I’m going to be a very busy painter, but I’m so excited to have this chance.

I’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit an Art-o-mat in person yet, but I’m visiting relatives in Seattle come November and there is one there!  I will be visiting it and starting up my own Art-o-mat art collection.  I’ll also be in Hawaii, but Kailua Kona.  The Art-o-mat there is in Honolulu.  Oh well, one day.  🙂  They have a list of locations on their website.  Check it out… maybe you’ll discover one in your hometown!



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Uff da!

Ever had one of those weeks where  you felt like every time you picked up the pencil or paintbrush (or whatever your  preferred medium or tools may be) it just… sucked?  That’s what’s been happening with me the past two weeks. It’s one of the reasons why it’s been so long since the last post.

I took my acrylics with me when I was house-sitting, along with an older painting that I wanted to touch up.  There were some parts of it that I was never quite happy with and felt that I could spiffy it up a little.  I spent about an hour on it before I gave up.  It’s been set aside to give me time to ponder if it’s worth it or if I should just gesso over it and start again.  I still like the idea, but the execution just wasn’t my best.  I’ve gotten better with acrylics since then.

I sat down with the sketchbook several times while I was gone and scribbled some more mostly uninspired ideas for a project I’m hoping will come through.  If it doesn’t happen, I can still use the sketches I’ve completed (more than just the few I did this past week) for fun little mini paintings for my shops.  But the latest sketches just didn’t excite me.  One thing I’m learning to ask myself  when evaluating something I’m working on is if  it has my touch of quirkiness or whimsy to it.  And if so, is it enough?  These just didn’t have it.

I sat down again tonight with the sketchpad.  One of my art groups just announced another idea for a charity and I felt that maybe I might be able to complete something in time to participate.  I fooled around a bit, trying out a few things, but just got frustrated. I wanted to throw the pencil and pad at the wall, but instead snarked a bit about my frustrations to my Mom, who patiently puts up with me.  She’s a saint.  🙂

It’s been an hour since then and I think something might be loosening up inside.  After that short little outburst, I just started playing around and letting the lines fall where they may.  I grabbed the paper that had pre-printed squares on it and just forgot the normal subjects I usually gravitate to and instead let the lines go.  I didn’t think about if it would be good enough for this or that project, I didn’t try to draw something even remotely realistic, I just felt myself start to follow these wonderful curvy lines, created jagged angles and splattered fun polka dots on the page.

You know what?  I’m feeling better.  None of the doodles are earth shattering or creative masterpieces, but I think two of them may become some abstract mini paintings in the future.  And they got me to see some common everyday things from a different perspective.  Maybe, just maybe this funk I’ve been in is slowly lifting…  🙂


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Oy vey, mermaids!

Mermaid updateI sat down tonight and thought to myself, Self, work on the mermaid.  I should have ignored myself!

Actually the problem is that after fiddling about with the mermaid for about 10 minutes, I ignored that small, smart voice that told me to wipe it all away and work on a different part of the painting.  I kept on working for 20 or so more minutes, then ended up wiping it all off (God bless oil paints), correcting some of what I had messed up, then adding the waves crashing into the rocks.

There are still some areas that I need to retouch, but then I can set it aside for a short time.  Then I can take another look at it and see what else it needs.  I feel like it’s missing something – and I think I know at least one thing I want to add – but I think giving myself a little time will help.  Let my subconscious mull it over a while.

I’ll be house-sitting for the next week and have elected to take only my acrylics with me.  I don’t need an easel to work on them and if I were to take the cat portrait, I’d need an easel as it is being painted on an 18″ x 24″ gessobord.  However, I do plan to come home at least one or two nights to work on the cat.  Don’t want to lose steam on it.

I also have a fun new painting that started coming to me last night.  From about 1:45 to 2:15 am, I kept trying to lay down to sleep, but after putting my head on the pillow and turning out the light, another piece of the painting would come to me.  After 30 minutes, I was able to do a very quick, rough sketch and make enough notes that my brain finally shut itself off and let me drift into dreamland.

I’m going to search for some reference photos this week, then start on the sketch for the painting.  I’m really enjoying the idea for this painting.  It’s a fun, humorous idea, but very personal to one of my own dreams and future plans.  Right now it’s got a working title of Winter Dreams, but that may change in the future.  Very excited about this one and itching to start painting, though I’m not ready for that step yet.

Okay, it’s now past midnight and the work day starts in six hours.  Must get some sleep.  Hope you all have a wonderful week!

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Alaska Flag Day

Alaska Flag Day t-shirtToday is Alaska Flag Day and the agency I work for throws a big celebration for it every year.  (The child who won the contest years ago to design the Alaskan flag lived at our facility.)  Every year they also hold a contest for the staff and students to submit a design for the Flag Day t-shirts.  This year I entered a design and my drawing was chosen!   Pictured is one of the kid’s t-shirts.  It’s a total trip to see everyone walking around with my moose on.  🙂

I’m biding my time – only 50 minutes left to go – before I can go down and start volunteering.  The big festivities start in one hour and 50 minutes.  We’re having unbelievably gorgeous weather, so things are going to be hopping tonight!  I’m hoping there will still be an apron featuring my moose available.  🙂  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!


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Pet Portrait Update

Happy 4th everyone! I spent Friday night and most of Saturday at my parent’s cabin with my family.  They’re still staying out there until Monday, but I can only take so much of the woods (I’m more of a beach/ocean person) and I needed a little alone time, too, so I came back after one night.  Plus a three day weekend?  I needed one of those to work on some paintings!  🙂

Filling in the furHere’s the latest update on the cat painting.  I’ve filled in the fur on the body – though I have to make a few corrections – and have done a little over half of her face.  So much fur.  LOL!  I finally had to step away to give myself a break and let some of the paint dry.  I’ll be working on it some more tomorrow.  I’m hoping to finish up the fur.  Then I get to tackle the bird and feeder.  I’m not happy with how they look.

In the meantime, I’ve dragged out my unfinished acrylic owl painting to work on for the rest of the night.  It’ll be a fun one to work on and a nice break from trying to do a realistic animal.  🙂

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