Friday, October 18, 2013

I think I will call it not so formal online art training!

I've been thinking a lot about my skills as an artist and how much I have grown. I think back about 7 years ago when I first took an online class from Suzi Blu. It was my first lesson on how to draw faces, real and stylized. I wasn't sitting in a classroom filled with other eager to learn students. I was at home in my sweats printing PDF's and watching online videos from Suzi.  I look at some of my first drawings and I can say there was definite room for improvement but I practiced and kept working at it. I worked really hard to get the eyes in the right place and the lips were a tough one for me those took me sometime to get them just right.  To be honest everything was hard but I loved practicing and I couldn't get enough of it. That's when the art bug bit me! I spent the next years taking online classes from abstract art to art journaling. I still practice almost every day and I love still take online classes.

Over the years I have watched countless videos from amazing artist all over the world. I have learned how to draw, paint, make marks and even how to start selling my art. Each of the teachers that I spent hours watching their video's have made such a huge impact on me and I bet if you are someone who has taken some class from these same teachers you might see a little of them here and there in my work.

 I think the online workshops, classes and the teachers from all over the world influenced me so much.  It has taken me some time to figure out how to use those influences and not copy them but use them to create my own style. 

It has taken me some time to figure out my style too.  It changes often and I don't ever seem to be very happy doing the same thing over and over. I've decided that I will embrace this and go with it. Instead of trying to make the same style or piece over and over again I will make series. Who says you have to do the same things over and over again right!

While I can't say I have a degree in fine arts, I don't think I would call me a self taught artist. I think I will say that I have been formally trained online!  I have yet to take a live class and maybe someday I will but what I have learned online has been life changing for me.  So today I say thank you to all those amazing teachers for helping me a long the way in this journey through the artland. 

Next step for me is to work towards getting my art out there in the local sense.  I will be putting my work up at Louvre in Edmonds WA. It's a cute coffee shop surrounded by art galleries. Maybe I will get into a gallery or two myself. I am also thinking about creating my own online art video. I'm ready to turn this corner in my journey with the hopes to someday become a working artist! Wish me luck!

Thank you to the following and check them out sometime:

Suzi Blu- You were my first online teacher and I loved so much watching you paint and draw.

Julie Prichard and Cris Cozen (Land of the lost luggage) Thank you ladies for showing me how to make some amazing backgrounds as well as some fun substrates to work on. Can anyone say vinyl!

Tam and all the amazing artists from Lifebook!  This is year two in the amazing LB and I will for sure be joining 2014. It is worth every penny.

Jane Davenport- Your "I heart drawing" class really helped me create body portions that don't look all wonky.

Martiel, Ilysa and Kira from Things Crafty and Amazing Success Academy(formally known as DYS).  These ladies are awesome! I have learned so much from them on how to start an art business. I am so grateful to them for the time and energy they put into this class. If you are looking for some help and support on growing your art business Martiel is a great person to turn to.  Check out To see what Ilysa and Kira are up to in the world of polymer clay go to.

Here are my two newest creations.  My favorite flower is a peony and so I created my girls with peony flowers for their hair. Broken Puppet is a tattoo artist I found on youtube that has some really good tutorials on how to draw a peony new school style. I also watched his video on drawing an owl.  Perfect example of me using what I learned from watching a video online and using the skills to create my own piece in my style. Check out Broken Puppet on youtube he has some mad skills!

She is painted on a 5'by7'wood canvas. The canvas is distressed to look worn. Acrylic, pen, pencil, marker and inks were used to make her.
She is painted on a 11'by14' watercolor paper.
I used pen, pencil, water color, ink sprays, acrylics markers, stencils and a gelli plate to create here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dia de los Muertos and Sugar Skulls what do they mean?

So I have this fascination with sugar skulls and masks. For some, they are creepy and scary but for me I see beautiful colors, shapes and designs.   I think there is something beautifully mysterious about them. 

It's October and that means it's the time of year when sugar skulls can be seen all over the internet, grocery stores and everywhere in between.  I decided to look into why we are so fascinated with sugar skulls and what is their meaning as well as the history behind Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). 

Doing some research I found some interesting articles about Dia de los Muertos. 
I already knew that this was traditionally a Mexican holiday and that sugar skulls are used decorate grave sites or altars but why? Does Dia de los Muertos have anything to do with Halloween? Why are sugar skulls designs rising in popularity? What does the Mexican and Latino community think of this commercialization?

Here is what I found.  These excerpts where taken from articles that I found on the internet.

Like this one...

 Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico and parts of Central America, and the tradition of making colorful skulls out of sugar to honor deceased loved ones. In the celebration, sugar skulls typically represent a departed soul, whose name is often written in icing on the forehead, and are placed on home altars or gravestones to honor that person and the return of their spirit.

The sugar skull’s rising popularity in mainstream culture isn’t so sweet, though, for many in the Mexican and Latino community who celebrate the holiday and feel that the symbol is being stripped of its spiritual and cultural heritage as it is commercialized for other uses, often unrelated to the celebration.

Not all who celebrate Día de los Muertos see the sugar skull’s rising popularity as a problem. Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator and visual arts director for the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, likes seeing reminders – in any form – of his heritage in pop culture.
“I love that they are being used more and becoming more popular, but every time it spreads it does lose some of its original meaning,” Moreno said. “This happens with a lot of different popular icons. A few years ago, many people were upset that images of the Virgin of Guadalupe were appearing everywhere. It’s the same thing with sugar skulls. As the Mexican community in the U.S. continues to grow, a lot more of our culture will permeate U.S. culture and it will be transformed by it and become something different.”
Because of the image’s evocative mix of levity, dark humor, and death the sugar skull is likely to remain popular.
or this taken from
Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico during the chilly days of November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul's & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.

They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
and this from sugar skull history...
How are Sugar Skulls used during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) today?
Sugar Skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos which is November 1st and 2nd. Smaller skulls are placed on the ofrenda on November 1st to represent the children who have deceased. On November 2nd they are replaced by larger, more ornate skulls which represent the adults. These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are decorated with stripes, dots and swirls of icing to enhance the features of the skulls. These designs are usually whimsical and brightly colored, not morbid or scary. Feathers, beads or colored foils are "glued" on with the icing to create highly ornate skulls. Some companies manufacturer small, edible skulls to be eaten during the holiday and many artists sculpt, paint or create beautiful and ornate skulls to be used as decorations, jewelry and cloth design.

What I found out is that  Dia de los Muertos is meant to welcome spirits of our ancestors.  It’s a day for you to reconnect with your ancestors, not something you mourn and instead, celebrate.  It's not Halloween in Mexico, or something meant to be scary or creepy.  
Like anything that goes mainstream or becomes popular with the masses, it's design and use might change but it's roots will forever stay the same.  They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and I think as long as you understand and respect it's meaning, using it in your art isn't necessarily a bad thing.  
As for me I am glad I took the time to do a little research on sugar skulls and Dia de los Muertos. While originally I was fascinated by the colors and designs, I am happy to have a greater understanding of their meaning and appreciate what they stand for.  To me it is an interesting part of the hispanic culture and that culture also happens to be part of my heritage which I know very little about.  You see, my Grandmother (my Dad's Mom) was a Hispanic American and I was never able to meet her or learn of her culture since she died before I was born.  
The next time I use the sugar skull design I will not only appreciate the colors and design I will appreciate the meaning behind it and think of my Father and Grandmother who are no longer with me here on earth.
Oh, and check out this California artist that I found while doing my research.  What amazing work!  Artist Rob O
Here is my Dia de los Muertos Doll...
Dia de los Muertos Doll