24 February 2013

A New Style of Clog

Replicating designs, as I mentioned in a previous post, has always been a huge challenge.  Painting the clogs in the more common style requires not only replication, but symmetry as close to perfection as possible.  To help myself work up to doing more elaborate designs I've started working on something a bit different.

Sometimes you can have a unified design without the direct implication of symmetry.  It gives a contrast between the two shoes, but this style of landscape makes it seem as if a whole painting was trimmed into shoes. They're enjoyable to do, gives me the challenge of replicating a design, but presents an opportunity to not be overwhelmed with challenge quite yet.  This also means that I'm more comfortable doing some more elaborate designs, like the osprey over there.  I'm looking forward to creating a few more with pelicans, seagulls, and a few other shore birds!

04 February 2013

Black Tail Rattlesnake & Orry Martin

First feather I've painted in a LONG time.  While stalking around Facebook, I came across Orry Martin: Texas Snake Hunter.  Do you know how difficult it is to find excellent reference images for snakes?  I know there is a lot of fear surrounding them, but I've never seen so many blurred photos from a distance than when trying to look for snakes.  There's also a large amount of images where they are striking or stretching...which is just unappealing as a painting.  I was excited for several reasons as I was looking over his page, the first being that he had tons of beautiful photos from a lot of venomous species.

The second is that he is taking on a huge mission to stop the way rattlesnake round ups are done.  I will be the first to say I have a love for snakes.  I have two at home, and have little issue picking up the non-venomous ones outside.  But these round ups catch a large number of rattlesnakes, rip their fangs out, stitch their mouth shut, and then use them for sick entertainment.  Below is an important video on why these are something to be stopped made by Orry in his quest to spread the word.

 So Orry is having a fundraiser for a round up where no wild snakes are harmed!  Why is this important? Other than the fact they are absolutely amazing animals, they are a vital part to nature.  You don't have to like them, but there's no denying how they help keep nature in balance just by what their diet consists of.  He's even having giveaway's on his Facebook page (link is above) every month as he tries to raise the funds to be able to do this.

 After getting over my excitement, I sent an inquiry as to using his lovely photos as future reference images for my work.  I hadn't painted in a while, but I thought this would be the perfect inspiration.

I quickly got the go-ahead and compliments on my work.  There was a half-joking comment made about a free sample, and while I don't normally do that kind of thing, I figured this is a wonderful cause and anything I could do to help get the word out and support is well worth it.

So I chose a headshot of a Northern Blacktail Rattlesnake, dusted off my brushes (metaphorically, I promise they are actually well taken care of) and went to work.

Snakes are a bit difficult to get right because of the number of scales, I can't just smoosh paint and hope it works out alright.  But I feel it turned out beautifully!  I'm looking forward to sharing more in the future!  In the mean time...go check out those links above and help support Orry Martin and the rattlesnakes!

A New Path Along the Road

I met a really fantastic woman in Nags Head, NC that ran a clog shop.  It's called Chameleon Clogs and if you ever visit the Outer Banks it is in the new Food Lion plaza on Hwy 12.  A friend had shared one of my feathers with her and it just so happened that she was looking for local artists to help with hand-painting some designs.  All of this happened during a party at her shop where I got to not only see the finished products, but watch the creation of some of her woven clog designs from start to finish.
The main challenge for me is that it has to be a mirror image. Normally, I do one shot paintings. I find something inspiring and I put it into a painting or other design. Very rarely do I duplicate, let alone mirror. But I am always up for a challenge!  My first design is a bit simpler than what I do with my feathers, which made it easier to replicate for the clogs.  They are approved and I am expecting more blanks to make some more dragonflies and try out a few other designs that are cooking in my head.  This is a really exciting and unexpected opportunity that I am happy to have a chance to take part of!

Winter Wedding in Winnipeg

 I had a fantastic opportunity to create wedding jewelry for a bridal party!  I do really love creating things for people.  There is something super exciting about creating a special piece for a person.  These were to celebrate the marriage of two of my dearest friends from Canada.

When I make personalized jewelry, it help for me to know the person.  Are they ostentatious?  Do they tend to dress up often?  What is their personal style?  What is their personality like?  If you've ever browsed a lot of jewelry shops or sites you start to notice that each and every piece seems to be suited for someone special.  There are huge, chunky necklaces just as often as there are dainty charms on delicate chains.  So, in a way, I was really fortunate to have a good friend as a client!

I wasn't given many variables to work with.  She wanted them to be mostly amethyst and the other wedding color was sapphire.  Other than that, she wanted it to be a Red Tail Arts original.  Would you believe having less guidelines is more difficult than having a long list sometimes?  After scouring Fire Mountain Gems website for a while, I finally found the types of beads I wanted to use.  There was high-grade dark Amethyst and lavender Amethyst spheres, sapphire Swarovski crystal, glass seed beads lined with silver, and some tab-clasps in sterling.  The hook clasp on the necklace was an after thought, because who really wants to struggle with a tab style clasp on a necklace?

Strangely enough, once I got the beads all the initial design idea I've had in my skull fell away.  My initial goal was to have a different balance, more silver and less amethyst so it was almost like ice with amethyst peeking out.  To be honest...it looked silly.  So I took a few days and just played around with the beads.  I probably made about 7 different designs before settling on the final.  It has just the perfect amount of silver accent, and the Swarovski brings out the color and shimmers just right in person.  Off it went for the bride's approval, and they were all shipped shortly after.

Sometimes the creation of jewelry doesn't go exactly as I plan, but it always turns out just the way it's supposed to.

Cross Stitch for Christmas

I wanted to do something really special for the holidays this year.  It can be difficult to create gifts sometimes, or maybe that is just my perspective.  I mean, how many dreamcatchers can you give someone?  So I am always looking to do new things.  I used to do cross stitch when I was younger, so when I saw these dishtowels in WalMart that had a customizing panel on them...perfect!  But what I didn't figure was the difficulty of trying to come up with a design to put on them.  So after half a notebook of graph paper and a few sacrificed pencils I came up with two designs to go to two very close people in my life.

So the hardest part was done, now it was just the time consuming stitching.  It ended up to be kind of a meditative process, but the best was still being able to look at the finished product.

Though I highly doubt this will become a running thing in my line of work, it was definitely a lot of fun to make.  I may consider creating custom designs in the future, but the construction takes too long compared to a lot of other work that I do.

If you're looking to do your own cross stitch as a gift, remind them that because of the delicate stitching it is only to be hand-washed and not put into a washing machine!