Sunday, May 31, 2009

Least Skipper Butterfly- Bug #16

Today I was thinking about charismatic bugs. You know, the bugs everyone loves. Probably because I've been pretty delusional about how most people really feel about bugs. Sure on Etsy I can find tons of bug related accessories (click these to see results for yourself!)- purses, jewelry, art, clothing, needlecrafts- everything! Etsy's got quite a bug loving crowd!

So, back to reality- what is one kind of bug everyone likes? Butterflies of course! Why else would there be so many Butterfly House attractions all over the US?


And one of the cutest families of butterflies has to be the Skippers! They almost look similar to moths in that their bodies seem large in comparison to their wings, which might explain why they are not the best of fliers. They're also quite fuzzy like a moth. But what made me want to draw one was its big, round eyes! Its eyes seem HUGE compared to its head!

This one here is a Least Skipper (I think). He's perched himself on some red Butterfly Weed, a color I thought would set him off nicely. I kept the background somewhat simple since I wanted all of the emphasis to be on the butterfly, plus they are so small that in order to get a good macro shot of one, the background would likely be quite out of focus anyway!

If you'd like to read more about the little skippers, here's a page with lots of great information!
http://www.cirrusimage.com/skipper_photos.htm


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beautiful 6 Spotted Tiger Beetle: Bug 15

I have to admit, this is one of my favorites so far!

Beetles come in so many shapes, sizes and colors. But some of the most beautiful ones I remember seeing in my own yard in the summer were these gorgeous iridescent bluish-green ones. They like to hang out in the woods, on the ground, along paths or near the water.

I've illustrated this Tiger Beetle on a fallen oak leaf, lit up by the sun. I thought the orangey-browns and yellows of the leaf was a good color to really make this bright beetle pop! And when you see these guys in real life, they really do like to be on leaves!

Here are a couple of websites if you'd like to see or learn more about them:
http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/six-spotted_tiger_beetle.htm
http://www.cirrusimage.com/beetles_green_tiger.htm
Click here for some gorgeous results from Flickr!


Friday, May 29, 2009

Damselfly: Bug 14 done!

Closely related to the Dragonfly is.... Today's Bug, the Damselfly!


This one is called a Bluet Damselfly. They like to hang out in grassy areas by the water, as I illustrated here. The males are blue, and the females are can be brown, greenish brown, or blue as well.

So what's the difference between a Damselfly and a Dragonfly? Are they the same?
Nope.
There are many differences, but one of the main differences is that Dragonflies do not have the same hinges on their wings as Damselflies and therefore cannot put their wings together when at rest, as Damselflies do. Damselflies cannot fly as quickly as Dragonflies. Damselflies' eyes are located closer to the sides of its head, whereas a Dragonfly's eyes are more toward the front of his face.


Art... Bugs... Feedback!

So now that I've been doing my cards for almost 2 weeks, I have to ask:

Which is your favorite?

The easiest way to see all of my bugs so far by clicking the little Flickr slide show on the upper right of my blog.

You can also see them and read about them by clicking the "30 Bugs 30 Days" tag in the tag cloud on the sidebar.

Or you can see some of them in my Etsy shop, but one has sold and another hasnt been included yet.

Please leave a comment and let me know which of the bugs is your favorite! :)



My feelings on the series so far:

I'm so glad that I decided to take on my bug series, as it has forced me to take on a slightly different style and conceptualize the final outcome with that style in mind. I'm looking at/thinking about subjects and art in a new way.

Working in ACEO format of 2.5" x 3.5" means I've had to make adjustments to my usual technique, and has shifted me a little out of my comfort zone of working with photos and keeping things as realistic as possible. The first two bug cards don't have any outlines, and some of the details appear a bit fuzzy to me. For the 3rd bug, I picked up a pen to show a little more detail and add contrast, and I liked it so much that I've done the same on the rest of the bug cards (so far). They look more cartoony than realistic, and it's been interesting to explore ways of keeping things somewhat realistic, while playing around with colors and using my imagination more than usual. I'm not used to allowing myself to be whimsical.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

13th Bug finished! Ants today!

These ants are on their way to a picnic!
Is it your picnic?
I hope not.
If it is, hopefully they are just stopping by to check out your leftovers!



Ants,
Having fun.
On the run.
In the sun.
The one in front
Looks like he has a mustache
Wait
That doesn't even rhyme.


This card was inspired by the swarms of bugs that attack me down by the river when I go walking, biking, jogging- anything. Sometimes it's gnats, sometimes it seems like little mosquitos but thank goodness they don't bite. Today it was just these little teeny black specks that looked like pepper. You could hardly see them, but you could feel them... YUCK!

I thought, I should do some kind of swarm of bugs, but what should I draw? What would be a fun group of bugs to draw? Gnats and no-see-ums aren't very interesting...

So ants, while not in a swarm, crossed my mind as I was jogging along, and I visualized how they're always in little lines- you can put sticks or rocks in their path and they'll just go right over it. A long path of ants sounded like a fun thing to draw...


Hydrant Hyperventilation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I'll be posting today's bug later on....)

I received quite the surprising email late last night...

I am one of 58 artists selected to participate in "HYDRANT HYSTERIA"!

I had written the project off, since the notification date had come and gone a couple of weeks ago and I had heard nothing. (Turns out my own handwriting did me in. One of the numbers in my zip code looked more like a 9 than a 4, rendering the original notification undeliverable. Ooof.) I decided, instead, to focus my energy on my 30 Bugs in 30 Days series! I figured I would create a new challenging project to distract myself from not having been picked. Imagine my surprise when the email arrived! I wasn't sure whether to panic.... vomit.... scream with delight... or a combination of all three?

I spent days working on my design, and I tweeted about it, but didn't want to do an elaborate blog post about it because I was almost certain that I would jinx myself. In fact, I convinced myself that by tweeting about it, the damage had been done.

Since pollinators all around the world are in trouble, I thought a pollinator themed design would be a good way to raise awareness. Of course to most, it might just look like a cute design, but pollinators are so important and they need to be appreciated!

Here's my design: "Pollinator Paradise."
(This wraps around on itself in a cylinder.)
Click to enlarge!


I tried to include almost all of the pollinators I could think of. I will have to work extra hard at making the bat very cute, since I already know people generally have this "Eewwwwww!" attitude toward them.

In the design, the 3 circles/sunflowers and the red flowers going in a circle represent the water outlets (not sure what they are called?). The dark purple part will be painted on the back of the hydrant, and shows the night pollinators.

In a way, I'm worried that my concept might not come across clearly (even though I was dorky enough to print this out on a small scale and make a mock-up hydrant out of a toilet paper tube. YEAH, I DID IT!!!!). But I also think that as long as the flowers and bugs are executed well enough for people to know what they are, with bright colors of course, the design will look nice. Doesn't everyone love colorful butterflies and flowers?!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

12th bug done: A Monarch Emerges...

Today's bug: A monarch emarges from her chrysalis!

Today's bug came from inspiration of how I spent the afternoon. It was my first day as a volunteer at the Butterfly House! When they emerge from the chrysalis, for the first few moments they aren't exactly the beauties we see fluttering around in the summer! I wanted to illustrate that for those who may not have realized what they look like when they first come out.

I did a lot of pollinator/butterfly gardening back in Maryland, and I thought I knew a lot about butterflies and their life cycles. I learned so much today, and I'm sure this summer I will learn a lot more.

At the butterfly house, there is a box of about 200 Chrysalis. Today 4 or 5 opened, but I only got to see one open while I was there. It wasn't quite as dramatic as one would think, as a staff member had to assist it... so I didn't really feel I got to experience the full magical effect. But today was a cold day, barely even 60, which is a very unhealthy temperature for butterflies to decide they want to come into the world. We also had no sun, so after they came out of their chrysalis, there wasn't anywhere for them to warm up.

A few of them didn't make it. They kept falling, failing to cling to anything (which is necessary so that their wings can hang down and unfold) , or they would hang but their wings just wouldn't fill out. Poor butterflies, what should have been a happy and exciting time for all was filled with worry instead.

For most of the afternoon, I checked out the different kinds of chrysalis and which butterflies would be emerging from them. I studied the different stages, and how the youngest were still the bright colors of their caterpillar, and the ones just about to pop open were much darker (in cases of monarchs and black swallowtails).

Photo by MsEli (Eli Griffith) on Flickr.

Here is an example of a monarch very close to emerging from a chrysalis.


A black swallowtail chrysalis, newly formed (it's bright green!).


I learned that Luna Moth cocoons look like a simple rock or old leaf that you would never even see, sitting there on the forest floor. The caterpillar wraps itself up in a leaf, and spins a silken chrysalis inside. So even though butterflies have a chrysalis, and a moth has a cocoon, inside that cocoon is a moth chrysalis. Check them out!
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=luna%20moth%20cocoon&w=all


Outdoor Art Show Advice, part 2- Display Walls & Panels

This blog post started life as a Squidoo Lens, which you can find here:
http://www.squidoo.com/OutdoorArtShowInfo

I wanted to take the information from that page and elaborate on it a bit.
My blog is mostly geared toward 2-dimensional artwork, therefore this post is mainly weighing different options for walls and panels on which artists can hang their artwork.

However, this Flickr pool has lots and lots and LOTS of ideas for displays, booths, tables, indoor and outdoor, for anyone who wants to do craft shows! You may want to bookmark this and refer back to it from time to time.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/craft_fairs/pool/

Now that you're overwhelmed with display ideas...!!

My advice for finding a tent (if you decide to purchase one) applies to panels, too:
Look for used!
Save money and be eco-friendly! Or if you can't find used, start with a few new panels, and keep your eye open for good deals on used ones and snag them as you find them.

Craigslist

Pro-Panels Trading Post
Pro-panels are sort of what I refer to as the "Rolls Royce of Art Show Display Panels." In my opinion they're the best of the best! They're expensive though, but the company is very helpful in putting up a forum on their own website where people can look for used panels to buy, or sometimes rent.

The Wet Canvas Swap Shop
This is a forum from the WetCanvas art website. There are mostly art supplies in this forum, but you may be able to find display equipment too.

Ebay
Check Ebay for good deals on both new and used craft show supplies.

There are so many manufacturers of panels out there. You can set up your booth in so many different ways, too! Walls on 3 sides, walls and miscellaneous walls that stick out and about, making your booth a little like a maze (but in a good way), or just a wall in the back. If you can, you may want to go visit an outdoor art show and take a look at different booths. Decide what you like, what you don't like, or if you notice a trend (such as, most artists tend to leave a space open in the back where they can put their chair and desk and sit, out of the way, but still be accessible to customers), take note of it, and factor that into your layout.

I'll price these out by panel, and give you a few more pricing options for walls and booth as well. For these below, cost and wall size is figured for a standard 10'x10' booth.

Pro-Panels
Carpeted, lightweight, heavy duty VERY nice looking panels.
I've talked to artists who have been using these for over 10 years. They are highly recommended (and my panels of choice). However I couldn't afford them for my first show, so at that time, I made my own (scroll down and you'll see!). But these are definitely worth the investment. There are also a lot of different size options and colors available, too. They offer panels that break into two pieces and fit into most sedans- NICE! The cheapest options for a wall would be to get 3 of the 38.5" wide panels (6 or 7 feet tall, do not break apart), at $115 apiece, $345 for a wall, $1,035 for 3 complete walls (doesn't include shipping).

My current booth, with Black ProPanels. I use shutters (found at any hardware store) to display greeting cards.

Armstrong Panels
Carpeted, lightweight, heavy duty VERY nice looking panels.
Different break-down options, again for smaller vehicles. Also come in lots of different colors. For "The Gallery" panels, 38"wide x 7' tall, the cost is $125 apiece. You need 3 to complete one wall, so the cost for a single wall would be $375. For 3 full walls of a 10'x10' booth, $1,125 (doesn't include shipping cost).

Graphic Display Systems
Metal mesh panels that you can use as-is, or purchase fabric covers for them. The metal mesh is also really good in the wind, as it does let the wind pass through it.
Fabrics are offered in different colors or if you're crafty, you can make your own covers! I have talked to artists who have used these for over 10 years as well, and the panels still appeared to be in very, very good shape. These are also offered in break down options for smaller vehicles. For their Standard (non-break-down) 37.5" x 6' panel, each costs $75. Again, 3 are needed to complete 1 wall, so $225 for one wall, and $675 for 3 walls of a 10'x10' booth. Not sure on the cost of shipping for these.

I've seen a lot of different options for covering these, including burlap or bamboo mats for a natural look. Your options are almost limitless! Go crazy with creativity!

Here is the site for the covers you can order:
http://www.flourish.com/graphic_display_covers.html
DIY El-Cheapo Panels
Lowes or Home Depot or your local hardware store.
Miscellaneous PVC pipe and garden wire. You would want to cover this with fabric, trust me. You can try and design your panels to the same sizes as the Graphics Display Panels and order covers from
http://www.flourish.com/graphic_display_covers.html
(or order a cover first, and see if you can create a panel to fit in it.)

When I did my first show, I used PVC pipe costing about $12 for all of it, duct tape costing maybe $8 , and garden wire at about $30 for the roll I needed (and I still had a lot left over). I spent maybe another $12 on fabric to cover it- pretty cheap.



Supplies for panels all laid out...

First frame constructed. I constructed my own break-apart panels so I could fit them into my car. I would give you more info such as measurements, etc. but I made an error when I made these, and instead of a 10-foot long wall, I ended up with a wall more like 11 feet. This wasn't a bad thing, as I ended up angling the panels to compensate for the extra space.

These panels were made with PVC pipe frames and garden wire duct taped to the frame,
then covered in fabric.
I angled the panels so that people coming from either direction could see as much of my work as possible, since I didn't have enough panels to cover 3 of the sides.



Lowes also offers white plastic lattice or pegboard, which are other popular options at shows!
Once you have your panels, do a test run. There will be a learning curve in setting them up, and you want to be as relaxed as possible on your big day! Set them up in your back yard, or in a parking lot that isn't busy- somewhere that you can have room (and time) to lay everything out and really learn what works best for you.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

11th Bug Done! Hey, what is that!?

My scan didn't come out very accurate here, which is disappointing because the background has a whole bunch of different shades of green instead of just the two that are showing up here. I hate to say "It looks better in person" but... eh... it does. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to photograph it outside in the daylight...

Today's bug is another not-so-well-known bug. I had these all over my yard in Maryland in 2007 and 2008- they LOVE butterfly bushes!



Hey!!!1 That's no bug. That's a baby hummingbird! Wait, are those antennae? So it must be a bug. It looks soft and fuzzy like a bumble bee. But it has a proboscis like a butterfly. Is it a mutant butterfly!?
Wrong again.

It's actually a Moth!!

These closely mimic the color and movements of hummingbirds. They have olive green bodies with reddish brown stripes toward their fuzzy little bug butt. They're known as Hummingbird Clearwing Moths, part of the Sphinx and Hawk Moth family.

There is a close relative to the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, called the Snowberry Clearwing. I know that name is ridiculously cute and adorable as hell, and no, I didn't make it up. It looks a lot like the Hummingbird Clearwing except the body is very yellow in color and its bands and wings are black instead of brown, mimicing a bumble bee.


Here is the collection of reference photos I used. I took these last summer, probably 20 or more pictures of the same little guy. These bugs are very tame and will let you get quite close without flying off.

Click here for a ton of other images of these Clearwing Moths... they are just so cute, I can't get enough, either.


Monday, May 25, 2009

#10 "30 bugs in 30 days" Done! Luna Moth...


I've been asked by several friends if I would be including a Luna Moth in my "30 Bugs... " series.

Indeed I am! (And, did!)

Here he is, about to alight on a blooming Moonflower. Not sure if Lunas actually pollinate Moonflowers, but it seemed like a reasonable conclusion, especially for an art card composition. Plus "Moon child" is a beautiful song by Chris Cornell (click to listen!), and that was going through my head while I sketched this. The song (and entire CD) reminds me of college.... and makes me quite happy :)

Open your arms to the lonely shine
Lonesome as gold in a poor man's smile
See how the moon is full
Follow the push and pull
Follow the ebb and flow in the breathing tide

Come on moonchild, you're so far away tonight
The door is falling open and we're flying wild

Cat on the road, down in the living night
See how the black dog grins
In the diamond light
We're dreaming and we're real
We're broken and we're healed
Give in to what you feel over what you see

Come on moonchild, you're so far away tonight
The door is falling open and we're flying wild
Come on moon flower
You're so far away from now
You could bloom forever in the hour

And when if is only yes and no
And now becomes too soon
I know you'll be alright if you only
Come away to the moon
In the blue shine

Come on moonchild, you're so far away tonight
The door is falling open and we're flying wild
Come on moon flower
You're so far away from now
You could bloom forever in the hour


Sunday, May 24, 2009

9th Bug: Roly Poly (a bug for my dad)

(Hm, this might just be the most personal I've allowed myself to be on here. Not sure if that's good or bad.)

A couple nights ago I was at the grocery store. Toward the end of the trip I was on the hunt for a new spaghetti sauce to try. When I finally settled on Newman's (when in doubt, go with Paul Newman!), I turned around and headed down the aisle. The aisle was empty except for me, and a teenage girl and a man who I assume was her dad. As they walked past me, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was reminded of grocery shopping with my dad. I couldn't even remember the last time I had gone grocery shopping with him. I wondered if I even ever would again, since I don't live with him. And my mom, too. I realized that I probably hadn't gone grocery shopping with either of my parents in the 9 or so years since I moved into my own place. If I was still living near them in Maryland, it probably wouldn't have been a big deal. But for some reason I was suddenly overwhelmed with sadness. Not the kind that makes you start crying, but the kind that makes you just feel kind of helpless. I stared into space for a while, letting the thoughts pass, and thankful that some big loud obnoxious crowd of shoppers didn't come down the aisle and make me move out of their way. I took a few steps forward, hoping to clear my head a bit and attempted to distract myself with the impressive array of flavored coffee creamers.

Even though I see them about once a month, I still miss my family so much. It's not something that weighs heavily on me all of the time, but it's always there in the back of my head. I think what depresses me even more is that I'm only 3 hours away, yet the only person who has come to visit me so far was my sister. I keep wondering why my parents are too busy to come up here. They've both talked about it, but combining just talk with a lack of phone calls (unless I initiate), sometimes one can't help but feel like "out of sight, out of mind." Of course I know that's not the case, but on the worst days....

Anyway, the grocery store thing got me thinking of other fun stuff I used to do with my dad as a kid. I'm not even sure why "grocery shopping" would fall into the category of fun; I guess it's just one of those things that you take for granted when you're growing up. We both had high metabolisms, so usually grocery shopping meant a lot of time spent in the ice creams and desserts section! I also thought about his huge yard and the woods behind it, and how if it was over 50 outside, I always wanted to be outside with him. Which got me thinking about bugs (since we both love them- guess I know where I get it from) and I figured I should do a bug for my dad.


So today's bug is a Roly Poly, or what we called them (jokingly) in what we assumed must be their very scientific name, "rolus-polus." I had another more complicated composition sketched out but I wasn't feeling it, so I kept today's bug really, really simple. The tiny roly poly is hanging out on a little Bluet flower, which we also always had all over the yard when I was growing up.

This card won't be in my Etsy shop, as I think I'll send it to him with his Father's Day stuff. I might make stationery out of it though, because how cute would he be in the corner in a little piece of lined paper? :)

Here is some fun Roly Poly (or Pill bug, or Potato Bug, or Wood Louse, or Sow Bug, or whatever else you call it) trivia that my friend Doris of "Crocheting in Georgia" told me yesterday:

"Did you know that Pill Bugs aren't really bugs at all? They aren't even insects! They are members of the only group of CRUSTACEANS who live on land. Pill Bugs perform valuable jobs in our environment by eating detritus and aerating the top layer of soil. They don't bite and they are fun to watch and play with...."

here's the blog where I got that from. They have all kinds of interesting information, if you want to look:

http://www.squidoo.com/groups/bugs-insects

Thanks, Doris! While it's not technically a bug, it's considered one by most, so I thought it would be safe to include it in my series!


One of the cutest things I've ever seen.

I have to thank Sarasophia of Tout-Est-Des-Roses blog for sharing this with her readers- now I would like to share it with you.

It's quite the happy, sweet, uplifting video.

(I promise it has a happy ending)



Saturday, May 23, 2009

I told you I was freakay!!! 8th Bug done: Praying Mantis...

Are you a bug person?

How do you know if you're a bug person?

A QUIZ:
Please see the picture below of my 8th ACEO in my "30 Bugs in 30 Days" series.


Your reaction is:
  • a) "OH HELL NO!!!!!"

  • b) "Praying Mantis. Pretty cool."

  • c) "Ohhhh, it's getting warm outside. I wonder if there are any of these in my garden yet!" (and immediately running outside to see)

If you answered C, yay, you're a bug person! But you're not even reading this, since you went out into your garden.
Those who answered B may not hate the mantis, but might be happier seeing it on the computer or in a drawing than actually being in its presence!

The Praying Mantis seems to be a real love-it-or-hate-it bug. And for those drinking the Haterade, I can almost understand why. First of all, they are BIG. Therefore, they cannot be ignored. And they're just..... strange. They do that stagger-waggle-walk back and forth and creep slowly around, then launch forward to catch their prey in 1/20th of a second.
(The one at my old house used to like to strut around to Tom Petty's "Don't Bring Me Down" as the beat matched its swaggar perfectly. I actually wished I had a video camera to have recorded it. It was hilarious.) And their face, you can't deny- this is clearly the inspiration for a lot of alien character faces.


Thank you to my wonderful husband for suggesting today's bug.

Want to know where the title came from? Check out this Flight of the Conchords video. When I look at this Mantis, I can hear him singing the chorus in Brett's high voice. The rest of the song seems to suit the Mantis too, the strange voices whispering and the electronic- almost alien sounding- music!




* * * * * * * * * *

And now a little bit of insight as to what goes into these cards I've been creating for the past week!


Research: You can see my paper and outline of the mantis on the left, and 3 books on the table. There are 2 Audubon insect guides there, and a book called "Bugs!" from Usbourne Books (great kids' books with LOTS of facts and pictures. I love them, and they have a few other bug books too!). There is also a Park seed catalog and a Jackson and Perkins catalog, for plant and background references.



And here is me, at work, in my studio: Curled up in true potato bug fashion at the couch and family room coffee table. Glad these ACEOs are small.


Friday, May 22, 2009

#7 in my 30 bugs 30 days ACEO series: Velvet Ant!

The 7th in my bug series is done! Just like the last few, she's pen and colored pencils on art paper made with recycled content. Until I get tired of the pen and pencils, I'll probably stick with it for a while- it's different than my usual stuff and I'm enjoying it!

So, about this bug, since it's not quite as charismatic as the others I've done:

The red Velvet Ant, also known as the "Cow Killer," is actually not an ant at all, but a flightless wasp.
http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/cimg344.html

It received the nickname of "Cow Killer" because its sting is said to be painful enough to actually kill a cow.



I was stung by one of these a couple of summers ago. When I saw what had inflicted this blinding pain during a session of monotonous community garden weed-pulling, I feared for my life and was shaking in my garden clogs not because of the pain, but because of its BRIGHT RED COLOR. My first thought was that this bug was poisonous.
(And regarding the pain, I did pull my hand out from the weeds and fully expect to see a nail or some other sharp object embedded into and piercing through my finger.)

Luckily it isn't poisonous, as some brightly colored insects and frogs and other animals tend to be. The red is just this insect's way of saying that it has at least a quarter inch stinger buried in that cute furry looking body and it's NOT afraid, nor hesitant, to use it. And it can use it more than once.

So even though they look sooo pretttyyyyyyy and sooofffffft and fluffy DON'T PET THEM! This is a wasp, not a bunny. But sometimes you can pet bumblebees.


They like dry, arid conditions and they live in the ground. So unless you're some kind of weirdo masochist, wear gloves when you're weeding.

What's funny is when you look on websites for information about them, the websites will tell you they only get "up to an inch long." I blame it on the nearby power plant, but the one I saw was at least twice that size, and my boss (who was also part of the community garden that summer) can vouch for that, as he also saw it. If only I had known that we were seeing a mutated-freak-of-nature specimen that day, I would have taken some pictures for some kind of proof.

Maybe we could have sold it on Ebay.
Maybe we would have made millions!
Maybe this post will save millions from being stung by one because now you will wear gloves when you weed, won't you?


Thursday, May 21, 2009

#6 of my "30 Bugs 30 days" ACEO Series: Honeybees!



Admittedly, I am exhausted right now so this won't be a very long or in-depth post! But I did finish the 6th ACEO in my series, and this one is depicting some busy honeybees capping cells full of wax. The dark cells are full of wax, and the lighter cells are full of wax and have been capped!

Unlike the other ACEOs in my series, this was created specifically for honeybee research funds- so it has been listed in my Etsy store for $11 plus $1.50 shipping and handling, and $10 will go to honeybee research at pollinator.org.

Visit my Etsy shop if you're interested in purchasing any bug from my series! :)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

INCOMING!!!! #5 in my 30 Bugs in 30 Days ACEO Series: Cicadas!


Tonight I played around with a few different bug options. Cicada... Luna moth.... Hummingbird moth... Honeybees....
(All of these WILL make appearances in my series by the way!).
In the end, the cicadas won.
Coincidentally I was watching American Idol's finale while I created my 5th card in the series. I guess in regards to winning, that makes Kris Allen sort of like a Cicada.

I'm not even sure what made me think of doing a cicada. Maybe because it was so warm today, and summer makes me think of cicadas. (I wonder if I will hear them this year, now that I live in the city??)
Or-- Maybe because a LOT of people don't like cicadas. Which is strange because they're harmless and totally cute! So maybe I wanted to glorify them and bring an underdog into the spotlight.

Just like Kris.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

30 Bugs in 30 Days ACEO Series #4


4th in my "30 Bugs in 30 Days" ACEO series!

A dragonfly, suggested by Katie in my previous bug ACEO upload!
Thanks for the suggestion, Katie!

I wasn't quite sure how to color him after creating the composition. I know most dragonflies tend to be shades of green and blue, and they like to hang out by the water. I figured I'd color him in his traditional colors and have him resting on some dried marsh grasses- which are usually shades of tan, but 'tan' isn't exactly in my vocabulary (at least, not most of the time) so I went with bright yellow and orange instead. I thought the complimentary colors would create a more interesting picture.

I definitely welcome any suggestions for bugs as a part of my series. There are millions of bugs from which to choose, so many that it can be overwhelming.


Monday, May 18, 2009

"30 Bugs in 30 Days" #3

Click on him to see him in my Etsy shop :)


My third ACEO in my "30 Bugs in 30 Days" series is complete! A grasshopper, based on a combination of colors from my imagination and somewhat based on real photos.

He's standard ACEO size and created in black ink and colored pencils. It's been a really long time since I drew anything cartoony like this- and by "cartoony" I just mean with the black outlines and no gradients/shading within the piece. There is a little shading on a couple of the grasshopper parts, but I wanted to keep that to a minimum and keep this one as simple as possible, just to do something different than I normally do.

Thanks for the recommendation of a grasshopper from my friend pixy0stix on Twitter!


Outdoor Art Show Advice, part 1- Tent / Canopy

Booth set-ups, canopies, panels, banners, signage, print bins, tables.... it's getting to be that time of year again, isn't it?
For a lot of artists, the end of Spring/beginning of Summer marks the start of Outdoor Art Festival season!

There are so many helpful tidbits of information and advice that I learned through experience (good and bad!) or talking to artists at shows. I want to share them with anyone who's thinking about doing outdoor shows, and those of you who've already applied gotten into some shows this summer.... and you're excited but nervous, wondering what the hell you've gotten yourself into!! (And from other artists I've talked to, that was always the initial feeling!)

For the next couple of weeks on my blog (alongside my 30 Bugs in 30 Days series!) I'll address some of the biggest questions I see over and over again in Etsy forums and WetCanvas forums (and coincidentally, the very same questions I had before my first big show).

I've also created a Squidoo page (I guess they call it a 'lens' there) that isn't as in-depth as these articles will be, but I'm sharing some links to tents, panels, supplies, and other goodies!
http://www.squidoo.com/OutdoorArtShowInfo


If you've got a specific question, please leave a comment on my blog, or ask me! :) I'll be happy to help or at least point you in (hopefully) the right direction.


Today's post starts at the very beginning (a very good place to start, as Fräulein Maria will tell you) the first thing you'll need for outdoor art shows...
Your canopy/tent.
(I use the term tent, because a tent implies that it has walls and if you're investing in a tent for more than one show, you had better plan on having walls!) The standard size is 10' x 10'. I'd strongly suggest a white tent because many shows actually require white tents. A colored tent can be dark inside and cast a colored tint onto your artwork. You can add color in other ways, but we'll get to that in another post.

My first and foremost piece of advice (no matter WHICH tent you choose, this applies) and I can't emphasize it enough so I'll make it really, really big so you don't miss it:

LOOK FOR USED!!
You will save yourself a lot of money

(and, yes, it's also ecofriendly to buy used)!

There are a zillion tents out there, which one is the best? Like most things, it depends on who you ask.

A lot of people will tell you if you're just starting out, to go with a standard pop-up-style tent (AKA "EZ-up," which is actually a brand name and has become sort of like "Kleenex," used universally for all pop-up tents) for your first tent.

Different Tent Styles....















Left: Pop-Up (EZups, etc.),
Right: Dome Style (TrimLine, Craft Hut, Light Dome, etc.)

Pop-Up Style Pros:

* Not huge & easy to transport: Doesn't take up too much precious cargo space (you WILL be surprised how quickly you can fill a vehicle!).
* Light weight (relatively speaking): can be carried a short distance without too much of a hassle
* Easy to set up: You can set it up by yourself in about 10 minutes. Even little teeny tiny personnel like myself can handle it.
* Cheap: These start around $100 (shop around) if you find a great sale and don't have to pay shipping (and will be even cheaper if you find a used one).

Sounds good! Why isn't everyone using these!? Because of the
Pop-Up Style Cons:
* Not made to last forever: It might need to be replaced in a couple of years. I've talked to some artists who have used these tents for many years but it turns out they've been pretty lucky and had amazing weather at each and every show.
* Light weight: These can easily become a giant, dangerous, almost-guaranteed-to-get-someone-sued flying and flailing metal octopus if not weighted/tied down properly on a windy/stormy day. Almost every experienced artist who does outdoor shows has a story about "that one show where a storm came through and this guy's tent went flying and landed up in a tree after blowing across the entire festival and wiping out people and expensive sculptures in its path of destruction". I've used a pop-up on a windy day, but you have to REALLY weigh it down (see further down in this post).
* Limited weather proofing: Some pop-ups are coated with waterproofing, but I've been told that after one or two good rains that waterproofing is gone. There are ways to help make them more waterproof, but these aren't guaranteed- they just help. The water can also tend to pool up in the corners of the tent roof if the roof sags which may cause your tent to collapse. I've seen this at a show and it's absolutely awful, because not only will your art be ruined, but possibly the art of the artist(s) next to you.... which adds insult (and $$$ expense) to injury.
* Some might consider these too heavy. They're 50 lbs easily (some go up to 60 or 70 lbs) and are all one piece, so there is no disassembly to make them lighter. Weight is good, but if you've got to carry it for a while or you have a bad back, it's not fun.

The more experienced artists who have decided to make a long term investment in their tent tend to go with a dome-style heavy and very waterproof canvas tent. There are lots of manufacturers you'll hear over and over (click these for their price & website): Craft-Hut, LightDome & Finale, TrimLine, ShowOff. So which of these is the best? Everyone who has one will probably tell you that theirs is the best. Artists decide on which one to get based on different things- weight, price, customization, expansion opportunity, etc. Each dome-tent artist with whom I've spoken has told me they're absolutely waterproof, and if that's your main concern, you'd be safe with any of these... But do your research.

Dome Style Tent Pros:
* Waterproof. Most will come with a patching kit if you get a rip, or a simple duct tape repair will do in an emergency.
* Heavy: You'll still have to weigh it down, but it's sturdy and won't appear to be doing a spontaneous rendition of The Elaine dance on a windy day.
* Sound and sturdy design: The roof is shaped in a way that rain (or SNOW) won't collect on the top, and the legs of these are made from very, very heavy aluminum or steel (depending on the model you choose) and won't collapse under the weight if anything did start to pool up on top.
* Comes apart into many pieces: If the one-piece EZ-up is a little heavy for you to lug around, you can break this down into light pieces to carry. You'll make 5 trips carrying light loads, rather than one trip with a heavier load.
* These are so sturdy, a lot of artists see it as insurance for their work. You're almost guaranteed to have no worries of collapse or weather problems if you've got one of these.

Dome Style Tent Cons:
* NOT cheap! This is probably the main reason why every artist isn't using one of these. But, you get what you pay for. Some full-time outdoor show (a show every weekend almost all year) artists have been using these in rain, wind, and snow for over 10 years!
* Comes apart into many pieces: Takes about 30 minutes to assemble, after you've gotten the hang of it. Your first few times might take close to an hour- which is fine if you're not in a hurry. This is the other aversion artists have to these tents, as the set up seems too complicated. The first set up can be confusing, but after that you'll be fine.
* Bigger pieces & more of them + thicker tent walls = takes up more real estate in transport.


Here are some great posts with information about different tents and things to consider- these should help in your decision making process!
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=352267
http://www.potters.org/subject73367.htm/


Weighting Your Tent....

No matter which style of tent you choose, the most important thing you need to do to your tent: Weigh it down! (Most tents come with stakes, but I've never used them- I don't trust them.) There are many different ways to do this, and at least 50 lbs per tent leg is recommended if there is any chance of wind or storms! This is also something I can't emphasize enough- you can't have too much weight holding your tent down and better safe than sorry. If having to manage 50 lbs by yourself sounds daunting, you can use multiple weights to add up to the 50 lbs...

- Freeweights. These are what I use. My pop-up has feet on the bottom of the legs, and my freeweights (weight plates) are the kind designed for use with a bar. I insert the foot through the hole and then rest the weight on the foot and tie the tent to the weight. On a nice day, I just use 25 lbs on each leg. If the weather is questionable, I use more. You can also use dumbbells, many times I've seen tent legs tied to 25 lb dumbbells (for 50 lbs, cross the dumbbells over one another and tie the whole works together and then tie to the tent).
- 5 gallon buckets. You can fill these with sand and set them beside your tent legs and tie the tent to the bucket, or actually set the tent leg in the bucket (and tie the tent to the bucket). If you're doing a show on the beach, this is really convenient- you can grab sand right there and dump it out easily at the end of the show. When I participated at a very windy show at the beach, I put a 25 lb weight into a 5 gallon bucket, put the leg of my tent into the bucket, tied the tent leg to the weight, then piled sand into the bucket on top of the weight. It also rained, which added more weight to the bucket. It was very sturdy! You probably don't have to buy buckets- if you know anyone who has a pool, chances are they've got some of these buckets around from chlorine. If not, post an ad on your local community website, freecycle.org, craigslist.org, or ask friends and family. Keep an eye on these though, because at crowded shows I've seen them used as an ashtray- which is not only kind of gross, but actually presents a fire hazard if a cigarette isn't completely out.
- Cement & PVC pipe. I have seen these at shows too, and these probably look the nicest of the different weights. I have no experience with them myself, but I see them all the time, so they must be reliable. You can make these yourself. If making single 40-50 lb weights for each leg is too heavy, make two smaller 25 lb weights for each leg.

Here is a GREAT blog with step-by-step instructions!
http://ronfrazier.blogspot.com/2006/06/pvc-and-cement-corner-weights.html


And another- Check out her booth, these weights are hardly even noticable:
http://artsycrafter.blogspot.com/2008/12/make-your-own-weights.html

Another great website with weight advice:
http://www.southendopenmarket.com/tips1.htm

If you just can't get enough of the tent weight info:
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/market/msg061846005122.html
http://www.artfairinsiders.com/forum/topics/weights-1

Weather-Proofing Pop-Ups....

If you decide to use a pop-up tent, there are definitely ways to make it last a long time and survive in storms.
Again, weight is important. These really DO fly away if not weighed down!
You'll also need:

Hula-Hoops or Swimming-Noodles. I'm not kidding! These are essential to prevent water from pooling in the corners of the tent roof. The corners of the pop-ups tend to sag, and when it rains, water will collect up there. During a show, sometimes people use a stick, broom, or their fist to poke the corners up and empty the water- but please make sure if you do this, it isn't going to splash onto customers or your artist neighbors' tents! If you have hula-hoops or swimming noodles, you can wedge them between the metal tent structure and the roof to create tension in the canopy material so the water will fall off and prevent the problem. (If you're unsure, someone at the show can probably show you how.) Look for these at a thrift store or the dollar store. You might be able to find some for free on freecycle or craigslist- post an ad and see what happens.

Our friend, The Artsy Crafter has a post about this and even a helpful photo! Check it out!
http://artsycrafter.blogspot.com/2009/05/hula-hoop-solution.html

Plastic Drop-cloths and Clamps. The pop-ups aren't the most waterproof, so this will definitely help when you've got a really rainy weekend. To completely cover the top of your tent, you'll need a drop cloth larger than 10' x 10' so that plenty of plastic hangs down over the sides of the canopy and directs the rain down and away from your art. If you need to, buy several clear plastic drop cloths and attach them together (before the show!!) with clear packing tape. As you're putting up your tent, you can throw this over the roof and as your tent goes up, your drop cloth will already be in place. You can pull the sides and center it after your tent is in position. Clamp the drop cloth down along the tent structure. I know this sounds like it will look terrible, but surprisingly it's actually not that noticable. I had to do this at the Neptune show last year, and I was afraid it was going to look dreadful and make my tent stick out like a sore thumb- but my tent easily blended in with everyone else's, and when it comes to rain possibly destroying your entire inventory, you gotta do what you gotta do!!
You can also take plastic drop cloths and hang them along the sides of your tent with the clamps. Just be sure that your roof plastic hangs OVER these and not under, or it will direct the rain flow right into your booth.


Clamps attaching the drop cloth to the tent-
There are still small areas where the rain can collect, but if you've got tension on the plastic, it should be minimal.


So while weather proofing a pop-up isn't easy or even guaranteed, it can be done. Mine has lasted me longer than most artists I talked to who had them, because I've taken a lot of precautions with it.

Waterproofing Spray:
SpareGus on Etsy recommends this as another good way to waterproof your tent: Spray the whole thing down with the waterproofing spray used on hiking boots and outdoor gear.
She says, "Basically, you would use it like you would on your gear - set it up, spray it liberally, and let it dry...make sure you've got nice weather when you do this, drying takes at least 24 hours. Most cans tell you to apply another coat after a couple days, but we have noticed that you really don't need to do that until after it's been rained on a bit...especially since doing a whole ez up, with sides, can take nearly a full can. Worth it, though, to keep everything dry. :)
Glad I could help!"

Other Resources....
Where to look for used tents:
Do a search in your area and if you live within a couple hours of other cities, do a search in those areas as well. It's worth it (to me) to drive a couple hours and save a few hundred bucks!!
Try searching for these terms & combinations of them:
"Canopy, Art Show, Display, Tent, Craft-Hut, TrimLine, Booth, EZup"
If you don't see one, post a Wanted ad! Lots of people hate taking the time to type up and place an ad. If they've got a tent sitting in their garage and see your ad, they'll probably contact you!

Craigslist: www.craigslist.org
Freecycle (I doubt you'd find a tent for free but maybe some parts?): www.freecycle.org
ProPanels Trading Post- this is more for panels but I've seen tents here too: http://propanels.com/forums/
Amazon- they have new products, but sometimes you can find used there too: www.amazon.com
The Wet Canvas Swap Shop: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/
Ebay: www.ebay.com



Sunday, May 17, 2009

My art is featured in an Etsy Treasury!

I'm always so flattered when this happens!

I got a convo from EndlessSunner (who creates stunning beachy jewelry!) on Etsy that my Baltimore Checkerspot print was featured in this beautiful Maryland Treasury that she created!


(You can click this photo to enlarge it)


Thank you so much, Maria!

Treasury link:
http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=58398

The treasury expires on Monday, so be sure to see it before it's gone!

I'm also about halfway through today's "30 Bugs in 30 Days" ACEO. I'll post later when it's all done!

UPDATE-
I finished #2 in the series and gave it a nice coat of fixatif (or fixative!? I've seen it spelled both ways...) and attached the ACEO backing to it. Yay! Now to start coming up with ideas for #3....

30 Bugs in 30 Days- #2
Click on him to find him in my Etsy shop!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

30 Bugs in 30 Days Series


Today is the start of my new ACEO series, "30 Bugs in 30 Days."
Here is number one!
Colored pencil on acid free art paper with recycled content.
Click the image to find it in my Etsy shop!



I've wanted to challenge myself with a series for a while now, but I didn't want to have to interrupt the series with my Alaska trip in mid-June. 100 days was a nice even number, but daunting, and I would have to interrupt it with travel. I settled on 30 days and if I start now, I'll finish a few days before I leave for our trip.
Also, by "30 Bugs in 30 Days", I do mean 30 small finished pieces of art. So if I were to draw 2 bugs on one drawing (like today), it does not count as 2 of the bugs.... I am not going to allow myself to paint 1 swarm of honeybees and call the 30 bugs done! ;)

My original plan with my series was to include small paintings, ACEOs, embellished reproduction ACEOs or prints from paintings sketches, etc. Just some kind of art, each day. I decided against that because it seemed a little too simple (but that might be applicable if I do a 100 day series).

For this project I thought a collectible series of ACEOs would be more of a challenge and give me more finished products at the end, because sometimes I tend to start a project but have difficulty actually finishing it. Especially small projects that could be seen as insignificant, like just a sketch. By specifying finished ACEOs each day for the 30 day duration, I'm forcing myself to endure all stages of the creation process on a daily basis: Beginning (initial concept, research), Middle (sketching), and End (the final piece). Some parts of the process may take place over the course of a day or two, such as when I finish a piece and begin jotting down or sketching ideas for the next one.

I also want to challenge myself by not using photographs in the creative process. I may use them for reference on occasion, but I don't plan to use entire compositions of bugs and flowers I've already captured with my camera. I want to force myself to do something different, and while I love realism very much, I also enjoy looking at whimsical artwork- I just stink at creating it. In one college art class, we were told not to use compositions or subject matter from our heads but rather do lots and lots of research to get everything perfect and REAL. Since I love realism so much that seemed like a great idea, but I do feel that it may have slightly altered my creative process. I want more experience coming up with an idea and composition in my head first, maybe playing around with representative shapes rather than absolute reality, and later I can research some specific things if necessary.

At some point, the ACEOs from this series will probably go up for sale in my Etsy store. They'll be identified as being part of the series, with their number and completion date, and signed by me (initials on front, full name on back).


Friday, May 15, 2009

Art and Bugs and a new series (possibly)!

We're supposed to be notified today whether or not we got selected to participate in a VERY cool downtown improvement project. I've got no idea how many artists there are in the area, but there are a lot of spots open in the contest, so I've really had my hopes up. I also had my hopes up that maybe we might be notified a little earlier than the projected notification date, just because it's been driving me a little crazy for a couple of weeks now. And since I've heard nothing, my heart is sinking a little.

Since I do hate getting my hopes up for things, I don't do it very often. I like to think that things happen for a reason- like if I don't get selected for the project, maybe there is a little more to it than I would have thought, and I wouldn't've wanted to be involved anyway. I've decided to line up a back-up project just in case, so I have something I'm guaranteed to look forward to.

I'm going to attempt a series, 30 bugs in 30 days. This way I'll be sure to finish before I leave on my big trip next month. I want to do ACEOs, but some might just end up being simple sketches or other miscellaneous projects. But something bug related is my goal.

I've heard that doing daily art helps to really spark creativity, and also trying to keep it as a daily thing will help me settle into some kind of routine, I hope. There may be days when I feel extra creative and 2 bugs may happen, or if I'm anticipating a particularly busy day, I might try and get a little ahead of myself.

So there. And by writing this little goal down and publishing it, I do hope that it forces me stick with it!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Story of Stuff...

Since a lot of people seem so down in the dumps about the economy, not having enough money, the environment, pollen, the lack of mustaches among the under-30 male population, pollution, not getting their free KFC meal, or whatever else... I wanted to share this little film.
(If you're very busy, you can put it on and just listen to it while you're working and still get something out of it.)

It's called the Story of Stuff: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Some of this might be STUFF you already knew, maybe some you didn't. It's got a little bit of politics in it and if that isn't for you, it's a small part and easy to ignore- I'm not trying to force that on anyone by promoting this. But a large part of this is an undeniable look at how much STUFF we have and how we always seem to need MORE, BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER STUFF.


...No we don't!

Give it a watch, listen, whatever, share it if you like. It may give you a new perspective on shopping and what you really need to spend moneys on, especially if lately money is something that you've been concerned about.

(PS...

Mustaches are free!!!)

(PPS so are LolCats!)


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What a productive weekend!

I started my Saturday morning FINALLY making use of some of the packing supplies I've been hoarding since we moved (old sheets, towels, pieces of fabric, bubble wrap, paper wrap, huge plastic bags, the vinyl tablecloth from this post) and making a few Art Bags. I created them for transportation but they can (and will) be used for storage as well. Now that I'm doing 4 (or 5? I forget) art festivals this summer, I know my paintings and frames are going to take a beating in transport. And I hate that. I'm not going to buy a chinsy frame in case it might get damaged in transport, but when you spend a lot of money on a nice frame, you're constantly fretting over the fact that every time you go drive over a bump in the road, it might get hurt! Yikes!

Previously, I would wrap my art in bubble wrap and then some sort of fabric, but when packing up at the end of a show, you just want to hurry up and get everything taken down and loaded up and head home. And when it's raining you're trying to do it even faster. Bubble wrap just gets thrown around, a blanket or towel wrapped sloppily around the painting and then maybe an exposed corner sticking out by the time you've got them all loaded into the car. Not good.

For my transporting bags, I cut a section of vinyl tablecloth that would fit around the whole painting with enough room for a flap to hang down over the top, to protect it from rain and water. On the inside is a pocket of sorts, with padding in the front to protect the painting or glass. I sewed up the sides by hand because I wanted to roll them up and then use a very large stitch around the seams to try and keep it closed. I was able to make 3 small bags from one tablecloth and some shoe laces are currently keeping them shut. In the future I might add velco, but I am currently investigating other more ecofriendly options.

Next to my art bag in the picture above, is one of my small tulip tree studies. I finally got those all framed up, too. (Now they just need to have their bags made!)

I also finished up the green grapes in my 2nd grapes painting and on Sunday I gave the purple ones a 2nd coat. They'll need a few more, and I didn't finish that painting last week like I wanted, but I did get those other things out of the way that aren't a big deal but were definitely time consuming and on my "to do" list.

Since I probably won't continue to offer small prints (5"x7") as standard sizes at art shows (but will create them upon custom request), I printed, matted, and framed some small prints, too. I've got a lot of 5" x 7" frames around that are just sitting there empty, begging to be filled with some art. I framed one small one in a bright blue picture frame and was happy with the result, so I might paint some of the other frames I've got laying around here in bright colors and put a print in them. It will be great to bring them to shows this summer and see people's reactions to them- buying something already framed is obviously one less step for anyone to have to do, so people might like that! (I would!)


Since I'm almost done with my grapes painting, it's time to figure out what's next. And.... I currently have no idea. Or too many ideas? Tropical flowers are my favorite things to paint, but I like to highlight local things too. I've got a canvas that is 24" x 36" and this picture of passion flowers is just the right proportions for it. I'm not sure if this will be what I paint next, as I'm getting a little tired of looking at green and purple.

And lastly, I finally listed a print of the first grapes into my Etsy store.... Took long enough!


Let's hope that my next blog post is a picture of the finished 2nd grapes painting!!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sugar Cane Paper - EcoFriendly Fine Art Paper review

I got my Hahnemuhle Sugar Cane paper in the mail a few weeks ago! The company from which I bought it sent it in this GIANT box with about a million inflated plastic protection bubbles, and my husband commented that just in the packaging alone, I probably undid all the energy and resources I was trying to save by investing in an eco-friendly paper.
Sadly he's probably right :(


The official website is here:
http://www.green-rooster.com/
And a quick overview of the product can be found here:
http://www.green-rooster.com/site/us/46/products.html

This is a new inkjet fine art paper. It's made from a by-product of sugar cane processing
(bagasse). 75% of the content consists of bagasse fibers, 25% consists of recycled content made from the company's paper trimmings. To produce the paper, Hahnemuhle is using renewable energy.

Hahnemuhle is also donating 5% of the sales from the paper to environmental protection projects!

Although sugar cane farming itself isn't very good for the environment in most cases (the usual: hacking down more and more natural habitats to grow the stuff, then dumping the fertilizer and pesticide chemicals into water sources, yuck), using a by-product to make a paper is still better than having to create a brand new source for it, which is why I chose this paper over a bamboo paper.

I was very impressed with the quality of the paper upon opening the box.

-It's quite thick! I've never used a fine art paper made specifically for inkjets, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's 300 gsm: Metric for grams per square meter. I learned something new as I never really paid attention to paper weight before, I just bought what was recommended or what looked and felt nice or seemed appropriate for what I was doing with it!

-It has a texture to it, too, and again since I hadn't used that kind of paper in an inkjet before, I couldn't imagine the image would come out looking very nice- even though the paper IS specifically designed for use in inkjets. Boy was I wrong! Obviously the paper is meant to be used with inkjet printers but until you see for yourself how it looks, at least for me, it was hard to imagine a perfect image reproduced on paper with that much texture.

-It has a warm tone to it. If you tend to leave white space around your print, inserting it into a bright white mat may make the warm tone of the paper stand out- something to consider.
I do not usually leave white space around my images, but I do think sometimes that looks nice, so I will have to keep that in mind.

One concern I have is that I'm using an Epson printer and I always hear that Epson printers work best with Epson papers (go figure). I just hope that if I start using the bagasse paper on a regular basis as I plan to do right now, it won't have any weird long term effects on my printer.

Aside-
I also have to admit that a couple of years ago when I first started researching making my own prints, I saw the
Hahnemuhle name (which at the time I had never even heard of) being dropped all over the web by the snootiest-sounding of artists. I remember reading paper reviews and forum discussions about different papers, and some artists would jump in and make snide comments about any other papers being discussed, saying they would ONLY use Hahnemuhle and everything else is just worthless garbage, etc. To be honest, talk like that sort of turned me off to it because a lot of artists recommending it sounded pretentious. I looked up this company-with-the-impossible-to-pronounce-name anyway, and I was in for a surprise! Their papers cost WAY more than anything I was considering using.

Fast forward to last month, when I researched eco-friendly archival quality art paper options. There they were... That fine art paper company from Germany with the long name that started with an 'H.' I was intrigued. I remembered all the things I had read before, but I decided to order some and see exactly what all the fuss is about. And now I know.
Turns out there's a reason people speak so highly of it. I'm not going to say HP or Epson or any other papers are crap though, because that's not me, but I will say that now that I've tried this paper and know it has a good name and great reputation, and will last a long time, I see it as a great investment for my prints and it would be hard to go back to anything else for my art prints!


Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh nooo.... WHERE IS MY WINGS CD!?

I can't stop singing Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five!
Ohh, I just found it! In the classic rock CD book.

And in other good news, I've been invited to return to Artsfest in Solomon's, MD again this year! :)

Just found out today! What a great week!!!