Monday, September 9, 2013

There's a class for that! My Evolution as an artist...

My girls Olivia & Hanna!
Our family spent most of this Summer looking at colleges with our girls. As we prepare for them to 'fly the coop' over the next two years the thought of us being empty nesters terrifies me. I am wondering for the first time in many years about what I should do now. All those years when life was so busy with the girls in their sports, school plays and play dates that I wished that I had more time for me. For my art. Well I guess that time will be coming ...and it's time to go back to work!

I graduated from The Art Institute of Boston with a Graphic Design Degree and worked in that field for 8 years before taking an extended hiatus from my professional career to be home with my beautiful daughters. A choice I was lucky to have, and I will never regret. I have loved every minute!

Over the past 16 years I have continued to grow as an artist and my interests have taken many twists and turns. I didn't meet a medium that I didn't like. In an effort to learn more about each one, I took classes. Lots of classes...
Mosaic using glass and river stone.
Ceramic 'elephant ear' platter.
Watercolor 'mushroom' study.

Alabaster sculpture. 

Classes in 
stone sculpture, 
mixed media, photography, cake decorating, crocheting and countless fine art classes in watercolor, acrylic and oil. 
Lino cut and print.
Mixed Media photo transfer of my girls.
My friend Lois and I reinvented old pieces of furniture into beau-ti-ous almost-new gems. We re-upholstered furniture, made pillows, cushions and painted signs for our little company Figgy & Fern! But first... we took a class in upholstery!

Our Figgy & Fern booth at the Palm Beach Gardens Farmers Market!!

One of our reinvented chairs! 
Some of our pillow designs using my free-motion skills.
Then there were the online classes. I have an obsession with encaustic art and have loved exploring videos on YouTube by many encaustic artists who have taught me their tricks of the trade. 

 'Orchid 21' by Patty Rybolt (encaustic)
'the dress' by Patty Rybolt (encaustic) 
'waterlily II' by Patty Rybolt (encaustic)
'jupiter beach'  by Patty Rybolt (encaustic tryptic)
'holiday front door' Art quilt 

'turtle' Baby quilt
Felting ...learned on-line
My first quilt!
'spa day'  art quilt using
my orchid photos and beading.
Red eyed tree frog detail from art quilt.
'Heron II' art quilt
'Hanna' Bird Ornament
Then there was sewing... I had opted for typing in 9th grade and missed out on the sewing class in school. My Mother-in-law Pat bought me my first sewing machine when Terry and I bought our first home. She showed me how to do the basics, just enough to make simple curtains for the house. Years later I picked up a copy of Quilting Arts Magazine and Pokey Bolton hooked me. I had no idea that sewing could be yet another medium for my art. I took a basic quilting class at my local quilting store 'Quilters Choice' in Jupiter Florida, and got my first Bernina.  I joined an art quilting group and printed on fabric using my photographs on ink-jet fabric sheets. Then experimented with free-motion stitching, which allowed me to draw with my sewing machine. So much fun! 

'Heron' art quilt
'Olivia' Bird Ornament
I fell in love with the graphic nature of quilting, and wanted to somehow merge my graphic design background with fabric. I wanted to design my own fabrics for my own projects. I started experimenting with dying fabric, then turned my laundry room into a darkroom to make silk screens for my designs. (All learned on the internet. YouTube and online classes are an incredible resource! I watched the Ryonet videos for silkscreening). 

The need to take it to the next step lead me to Spoonflower.  This company allowed me to print my own designs in small or large quantities. If I wanted, I could sell my fabrics on 11 different fabrics or wallpaper, wall decals and gift wrap! The website offers weekly design contests that I have participated in often, and even placed in the top 10 six times this past year. It is a resource for learning how to make a repeatable pattern and use many mediums to merge graphic design, watercolor, collage, illustration, quilt and pattern design with fabric! Love Spoonflower!  
My Spoonflower mini successes had lead me to stretch myself once again. I wanted to learn more about selling my art and fabric designs. My skills need some sharpening once again, so like I have always done in the past, I decided to take a class. All of the classes that I've taken over the years have been about my personal growth as an artist. Now my art has to appeal to clients. Online research lead me to a trade show in New York City where artists can meet up with Industry to sell their art.  So, last year I went to Surtex in New York City to take classes on how to 'copyright art', and 'art licensing' with Tara Reed. I walked the floor to get a feel for what kind of art is being licensed by companies today. There were large manufacturers and retail companies there to buy art to go on their products for their upcoming year. (For things like bedding, paper products and fabric). 

The 'Show'
While walking the floor I saw many licensing agent booths and took note of the artists that they represent. Lilla Rogers was one of the agents at the show. I got one of her business cards and signed up to get e-mail info from her agency.  In April of this year Lilla Rogers Agency announced an on line class she was having called 'Make Art That Sells'
I had already bought her book and loved it, so I looked into taking the class.This class was much pricier than any class that I had ever taken, but I saw it as money well spent. An investment in my future as a commercial artist! 
Lilla Rogers Book!

I participated in Part A in May & June of this year, 5 weeks of intense design, illustration and invaluable industry information for anyone in the art field. The class was worth every penny! Part B of the class begins in October, and I can't wait for 5 more weeks of training. I'll detail some of the projects that I produced from Part A in my next post, and will keep you up to date on Part B as it happens!