Art is My Job…Finally!

When I started blogging, my hope that was someday, somehow, I would figure out how to monetize the blog, or my art, or both.

The goal was simple: make art, post stuff, get subscribers, make money.

Have you ever seen the episode of South Park with the Underpants gnomes??  You know, they steal underpants, the kids follow them one night to figure out where all of the underpants were going…and the kids find the gnomes with enormous mountains of underpants.  They ask the gnomes what’s going on, and the gnomes tell them:

  • Phase 1: collect underpants.
  • Phase 2: ?
  • Phase 3: make profit.

The boys ask them, what about phase 2?  All of the gnomes stop and start mumbling and look around at each other, asking Phase 2???

That’s kinda how I feel…I have no idea what happens in Phase 2.  I just know that I make art, I like to slap paint on stuff, and I want to get paid.  Then I have way more time to art.

Oh, and I also love to talk about what I love doing, and I love sharing fun tips and ideas and inspirations, I feel a NEED to give it back cuz that’s how I found this whole thing, by checking out other artists’ blogs and videos.  That’s how the blog really got going.

And I knew only that if I kept blogging, somebody would eventually look at it, and I might be able to build up the following from there.  Doesn’t that seem like what others do?  They blog a bunch, they get a bunch of regular readers, and somehow they get paid.  Advertisers just magically want to start paying them for space on the blog, I’m sure that’s exactly how it goes,right??

Okay, so I understand that’s not reality.  And I have found all kinds of other satisfaction from the blog.

So as we kept plugging along, praying for some opportunity to get paid to be artistic, I got more and more frustrated with “practical” jobs, “practical” choices and so on.  I was having more trouble smooshing myself into that mold.

Now, over the years, my hubs has painted houses, sometimes all white (boring) and sometimes with super-cool faux painting schemes.  He’s re-done cabinets and installed awesome wood-work and helped people with color schemes and decorating diy ideas.  We just hadn’t really pushed it to become a more consistent and financially supportive part of our lives.

But now we are doing just that. 

What I realized is that I want to get paid to paint.  Commissioned work is pretty cool because I know the piece is sold before I make it.  And the customer gives me the idea and the inspiration.

Painting a house is exactly that: a commissioned work. 

It’s not exactly what I was thinking I was working  towards, but it is so way much better than calling people all day long, looking to make a sale.  Stuck in a chair all day long, no sunshine, no exercise, and no painting.  That kind of day sucks for me.

And because I’m playing in paint and painting tools and Home Depot for jobs, I am thinking about other projects and inspirations while I’m working.  And while I’m working, I’m listening to music, chatting with the hubs, and finding new ways of doing things all of the time…

It’s taken a few jobs to get in the swing of the physical exertion part of my day, but I’m feeling stronger and more energetic and more excited all of the time.  In fact, I had a break because my oldest kiddo and babysitter was at camp.  I had to send the hubs to the job without me…and what did I do?  I painted the walls in my living room in between art projects at home!!

Here’s the point…

So often many of us pine for an artist’s life.  We ache for a way to make money arting so that we can spend all of our time arting.  We feel a pang of longing looking at the artful lives of those out there and feel like we’ll never get there ourselves.

If we can broaden our scope of possibility just a bit, we can find ways to live the life for which we’re pining.  We might be able to find other ways to explore our artistic selves and to financially support ourselves and our art supply habits! :)

And all we did was put up ads on craigslist, fairly often, and eventually built a free little website so that we could give that link on the ads.  People can go to our website and see explanations of what we do and see examples, as well as click over to our flickr page for more pics of our work.  We also believed in ourselves, that we could do it, and kept up our optimism.

And people do call us.  We do get work.  And I get lots of left-over supplies to play with!

pink room

Pink and white walls, black doors, and stencils and stickers to decorate.

Painted walls, trim, and stained and painted stair rails and posts.

Painted walls, trim, and stained and painted stair rails and posts.

 *Now I’m looking for someone to get brave and hire me to do a full-blown mural!  Then I’ll really be having some fun :)

 

 

 

 

How-to Make Your Own Stencil, the Easy Way

I have been making my own stamps for a while now.  I have made a few of my own masks as well.  And I have learned a lot from both, like which materials are easy to cut, which materials absorb too much product versus which ones don’t absorb enough, and so on.

What I haven’t done much is make my own stencils.  I’m not sure why, it seems like a natural next step, right?  I think that I had some crazy block, telling me that stencils are always made out of that plastic sheet stuff, and who can actually cut a neat, crisp stencil by hand out of that stuff??

Silly, I know.  That’s a look into my personal type of hangup.  I have a creative difficulty: I can’t always see the possibilities from my neatly-packaged black-and-white world.

Seriously?!?!

How can I possibly be an artist, you ask.  How can a creative type be stuck inside the proverbial box?  I dunno, but sometimes I find myself sitting in the middle of a really tiny box, and I never know what’s going to burn it up around me, freeing me out in to the world of fearlessness and color.

This time, it was making my own stencil.

I can’t tell you how joyful and good I feel to finally have gotten out of that stupid box!  I love stencils, love them so much!!  I fondle stencils at the store, I pine for them, I ooh and ahh over stencils I see other artists playing with in youtube videos…and I ache that I can’t just run out and buy every single one of them (I use my art supply monies on color, everything else I improvise, I have to have colors)…

I was just sitting here, pondering my next journal page, and I started pawing through the ole art cabinet.  I was actually thinking of cutting more shapes out for another stamp.  And that light bulb up above my head started to flicker and turn on.  Duh.

The easiest stencil ever.  Craft foam, if you haven’t ever played with it, is the greatest thing since, well, since bubble wrap and punchinella.

Craft foam is really does cut like butter, it’s fairly forgiving, you can draw on it, you can layer it, you can use it to make stamps and masks, and as it turns out, it makes great stencils!  AND, it’s cheap and commonly available!!

Stencil 3

Here’s the how-to part of this ramble:

1. Draw some shapes on the foam.  Start with something simple.  I used circles the first time.

2. Cut out the center of the shapes, in my case, the center of the circles.  Leave the outer parts in tact.

3. I went back and trimmed some of the outer edges so that the corners of the foam sheet didn’t show up in the stenciled images afterward.

Stencil 2

Ta-da, a stencil!

The trick really is to play and practice a bit.  After the simple design, you kind of get the feel for seeing the design that you’re leaving after you cut out the centers.  It took me a couple of tries before I figured it out.

 

 

The foam is also not absorbent, which I like.  When I use the stencils with sprays, the spray that collects on the stencil just kind of sits there, which makes for an awesome flip-side ghost print.  Just flip the stencil over and press.  Usually I can get a couple of presses out of it, depending on which sprays I’m using.

Stencil 1

 

And they also work great as caulk stencils because they have thickness.  The design comes out nice and deep or tall.  Or whatever you call that :)

Your Prompt??  Grab some foam, draw some designs, and give some stencils a try, let me know what you come up with, and have FUN!! 

 

 

Ink Sprays, My New Obsession

I have a new love, a new obsession…Dylusions Ink Sprays.

They are so very vibrant, so yummy, so colorful!  They blend wonderfully, you can use water to thin them out or to mix them together, and you can spray them directly onto your project or into a little puddle to then use with a brush.  I love using them on watercolor paper, canvas, gesso’d papers, book pages, cardboard, and muslin.

I love them!  I wish I had all of the colors, but for now, six colors is what I’ve got :)

I have also been playing around with making stencils out of foam sheets…and the sprays work great with them.  After spraying through the stencil, the ink sits on the foam and makes for an awesome ghost print after that, since the color doesn’t absorb into the foam.

Joy.

And I do use them along with my very favorite versatile medium, NeoColors.  The spray inks have not usurped water color crayons from their number 1 spot, at least not yet!!

And here for your enjoyment, an example of sprays and color and foam stencils and watercolor paper…and yet another mash note to my hubby :)

And I’ll work on bringing pics of some of my fun foam stencils, coming soon!!

PROMPT: What’s your favorite new supply of the summer?  Have you tried the Dylusion Ink Sprays yet?? 

*On a side note, you can find them at JoAnn’s and usually you can find a 40-50% off single item coupon to go with your purchase :) 

Two HeartsTwo Hearts 1Two Hearts 2

 

Soundtrack of My Life

So, I have an ongoing interest thing obsession with paint chip cards.  You know, those sample cards that you can grab at any paint store.  I love all of the different colors, all of the different shapes of cards for different brands of paint, and the weight of the paper.  I love searching google looking for cool things people do with these little gems.

It just so happens, Christopher is always taking me to Home Depot and Lowe’s :) I am a lucky gal ~ I love the hardware store, it’s brillo for Art Fodder™!!!  Poor hubby, he has to deal with me smuggling out paint chips.  I feel a need to be super-nonchalant since I’m always there.

Maybe the paint section workers don’t think anything of it as we’re always actually buying paint…at least that’s what I hope…

Sometimes I just sit and flip through my collection of cards.  It is extensive and worthy of pondering.  Other times, I use the cards for making teaching aids for the kidlets.  We’ve made sight word flash cards, multiplication fact cards, vocabulary cards, Bingo cards (I’ll have to come back with some pics later, those turned out way cool!).  And I’ve made party invitations, Valentine cards, RAAK cards for art mail, Mother’s Day cards, and mini-books.  And I have a whole computer file of great ideas for the little boogers!

As I was reminiscing just now, I kind of forgot my whole point.  Those little cards do that to me, lol.

This particular journal page is not terribly ornate or anything, but I was experimenting with using the paint chips and silhouettes.  I think they’re pretty neat, and I thought you might like the idea:

Dancers

Clearly I was also pondering some of my favorite Pandora lists at the same time :)

PROMPT:  How do you use paint chips or paint sample cards?

*On a side note, if you’d like to check out what we’re listening to on a regular basis (cuz wordpress doesn’t have a super-duper Pandora widget), you can check out our Pandora station: http://www.pandora.com/profile/stations/motherdana.  I’m not completely convinced that leaving this link here for you will work, but let me know.  My profile is Dana Saint John.  The harder rock stations belong to my teenager, so don’t think that’s my music, lol.  But DO check out the others, lots of good art music contained therein!!  Some of the stations I have actively spent tons of time cultivating, others are still needing my input…

I am currently, right at this very moment of typing these very words, listening to my Greenskeepers Radio station.  Enjoy :)

 

 

I Art Because I Must

More than two years ago, when I first started blogging, I tackled the topic of why I art.  And I asked my readers, Why do you art??

I don’t really think that the answer is totally different, exactly, but it is more.  Or more defined.  Or, hmm…the answer is more.  Full.  That’s it: more full. 

I understand why art is a discipline.  I understand why it’s a hobby.  And I understand why it’s a passion.  I think that art is all of that, for most of us that art.  Sometimes, we have to force ourselves to sit down and art.  We don’t feel like it…we don’t feel inspired…we don’t have a good idea

But if we can just do it anyway.  If we can just dominate our feelings and do something.  Anything.  We can overcome that inner critic that says we don’t have anything worthy of arting about right now.  We can own it.  We can ART.  We can art anyway, to spite all of the crap that tells us we’re not good enough, or our inspirations aren’t worthy of immortalizing, or that it’s only time to art when we are in the right place with the right materials and the right light and the right ambiance.

All of that is crap.  Total crap.

Sometimes we’re going to make something that’s a bit less than great.  That’s okay.  We have to get through those creations to learn something.  Maybe we have to learn a color combination that we love or that doesn’t work at all.  Maybe we have to try a new pen stroke or brush stroke to see if it works or not.  I know you get it.

Maybe we have some unspoken quota of garbage-to-fabulous-ratio, like 30:1 of crappy so-so creations to amazing creations.  Then we just have to get through the 30 less-than-stellar practice runs before we hit the home run, museum-worthy artistic wonders of the world.  We just have to get them done.  And that 31st creation will be the one we were waiting for all along.

I once heard a golfer explain the game of golf like this: Golf is a series of terrible shots that make you curse and hate the game and wonder why the hell you’re wasting your time.  And then suddenly, Whack!  You hit the perfect shot, the shot that you know will land you on the Pro Tour, the shot that just connects your club with your ball perfectly.  The Universe is in total alignment.  The sound, the feel of the club, the whisshing of the air as the ball goes flying, it’s all perfect.  And you’re like, Yeah, I love this freaking game!!

Art can be like that for me.  Sometimes I wonder why I even made that mess on the canvas in front of me.  But whether or not I get the perfect shot, the messy ones make me feel better.  I enjoy arting.  I feel more aligned, I feel more relaxed, and well, I just feel way COOLER when I art.

Yep, I’m an artist.  Just sounds cool, right?  Did you know you’re cool, too?  I always loved artists, you’re an interesting bunch, you have a lot of feelings and things to say.  Share them.  And don’t give up.

What about me??  It’s simple…

I art because I must. 

photo(1)

 

Face Practice

GirlWow, so long since the last post.  Sometimes I wonder how I miss so much time??

Our painting business continues to grow.  We built a small website (take a look here).  I am amazed at how much better I feel getting out and painting and refinishing cabinets, and really physically working.  For so long I have used my brain and my conversation skills, selling and serving customers and, well, sitting.  Way too much sitting, talking on the phone, using the computer, and not getting up and moving around and doing more physical labor.

I really like it.  My body is feeling strong, my back feels better, my soul feels better…this kind of work is so meditative!  And I get to spend my work time hanging out with my hubby, making things beautiful!!  It just really doesn’t get much better than this :)

And in my art time outside of that, I have been continuing to focus on drawing faces.  Maybe soon I will start practicing bodies to go with the floating heads, lol…

The biggest challenge for me with faces is the coloring…I thought I would battle more with the features, but nope, it’s the coloring.  I have really come up with some interesting color combinations, that’s for sure!  But I keep at it, I’m actually learning to not fight it, but to just keep going…like so much else in art.  That’s a common theme for me, it seems.  Trust the process (I wrote ages ago about that here).

What a feeling of accomplishment, though, to keep at it and begin to see the success!  And this particular girl has a special place in my art journal…she is on the last available page of my current large journal!

Finishing an art journal…that has a very solid feeling of accomplishment.

I have been working in that particular journal for two full years now.  It’s funny, when I first started journaling, I would work in one journal straight through, then moved to the next journal.  Along the way, I started working in a whole bunch of art journals at one time.

I have old books that I used as journals, I have kids’ board books as journals, I have loose pages that I journal together, I make mini-journals out of bags or cards or junk mail, I have composition books as journals…and I have my sketch books.  I have themed journals, I have chronological journals, and I have extra paint journals (you know, the ones where you slap extra paint or ink on pages that you use as backgrounds for stuff later).

And the journals are all over the house!  I was cleaning up some shelves, and I counted…seven journals going at the moment!!  My kids thumb through them, they show them to their friends, and my hubby looks through them all of the time.  My art has become such a way of life in our home, I never imagined how ingrained in our lives it would all be.

That has its own very satisfying and fulfilling level of accomplishment, too.

More Art Time, or Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart?  If it does, then the path is good.  If it doesn’t, it is of no use.

~ Carlos Castaneda

It’s funny…I hated my day job, I prayed for a way out, and I had been pining for more work time with the hubby…and I had been praying for new ways to bring in other sources of income so that I can work on more art and make money with my own hands.

I sort of thought, in all of that pining and praying and fervently hoping, that I would have some alternative worked out BEFORE I left the hated job.

Well.

So I don’t always get to choose the timing or the details or the exact path of how prayers are answered, or so I’m learning.  I did not get a new job lined up, I did not make sure I had plenty of savings at the ready, I did not have a whole bunch of multiple streams of income all neatly lined up.

Nope, I sure didn’t.  My prayers got answered with a big old fashioned kick in the butt as I lost my grip on the slippery rock of seeming safety.

I have been through this before.  When we opened our business consulting firm 6 years ago, I fought to keep a hold on that rock.  I was so afraid to let go and flow with the river.  I was afraid of the unknown, even though I hated the work that had me “trapped” in the known.

While I have since moved away from so much business consulting as the economics of small businesses have changed these past couple of years, I loved my work and my rules and my customers and my way of being able to sink or swim on our terms.

Then I got foolish and took another “Joe Job”.  And in the short time I was working it, I got complacent and liked the feel of the rock under my strained fingers.  I lost sight of my priorities and how I wanted to create my life and how good it used to feel when I felt good about the work I did everyday.

Then comes my answered prayers.  I lost my job.  Before I was ready, or not exactly on my terms and on my timetable and when I was all neat and tidy and “ready”.

And guess what??  I’m living through it!  It seems that I can earn money and art at the same time!  It’s a bit different than what I imagined, and is not the total sum of what I want to do in paying art time, but it so totally works!

Christopher and I have been painting the walls in people’s homes…faux painting, which is just an enormous art journal background!  And re-finishing cabinets and designing murals and playing in color and going to Home Depot…it’s what I love to do, just on a much larger scale than my art journals.  Of course, not so many rub-ons or markers :)  But I get to hang out with Christopher and listen to music and wax rhapsodic and paint and make something that looks beautiful and brings joy!

I am still fighting the fear a bit, it’s certainly uncomfortable still, but I have faith that we are moving in the right direction, and I feel so inspired when I come home from a day of painting!  And I have time to art more and get back to so many projects that were falling by the wayside…Now it’s just a matter of scheduling enough jobs to keep the lights on and the art supplies coming!!

xoxo

Happy Fish

 

Keep Visiting, We Are Still Creating

Life is beauty through and through
Life is sunny, life is cool

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros,

Life is Hard

We have been working to redefine and sort out what we want with our blog.

I guess I’m not completely sure where the blog world needs St John Family Studios, but the times that I’ve asked I seem to get few responses.  I’m unsure how y’all all get interaction on your blogs…but I seem to get nowhere in that department.

I do know this: during this past hiatus, our blog continues to have momentum, it continues to have this weird life of its own…it keeps going, people keep searching our art and coming to our page and looking at it over and over again.

I really have NO idea how that happens, but it’s pretty cool.  So something we do here is interesting :)

I’ve been completely involved with some new classes, a job outside of the house that I really do dislike a whole bunch, and other regular life stuff.  But my goal this year is to figure out what’s next, where the blog fits in, and how to keep sharing cool art and techniques and inspiration…and to figure out how to get the art and the surrounding stuff get to be the focus and the stupid job less of a focus.

Do you feel that pull?  How do we get to the place where what we love and feel passionate about is what we spend our time doing, and still eating and paying rent??  Any thoughts??

The other big goal this year for me is to learn to not be afraid of drawing and painting the human form, faces, hands, noses, eyes, hands, and all of the super-duper things that float around in my mind’s eye.

So I leave you with a sample of how I’ve spent my recent time arting.  Please keep coming back.  We will figure it out :)

xoxo

Class from LifeBook 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

Class from Life Book 2014 with Tamara LaPorte

What’s Up at St John Family Studios

Wow.  Once again I find myself realizing I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time!

My J-O-B has taken way more of a toll on me than I previously expected, which has been kind of a downer…but this week I was able to change my schedule around a bit…which gives me early work times and home earlier in the day.  Unbelievable how much difference it’s already making after only one week!

My mood, my attitude, my soul feels way better.  I get home before it’s dark, I have time to play with the kids and art a little, hang out with Christopher while he’s cooking dinner…I may be working the same number of hours, but I feel like I have more time and way more quality time!

Hopefully that will mean more blogging time as well.  I do miss the blog when I’m away too long.  I have a number of different projects going that I want to share soon.  I’m working on a design for a pencil/marker roll-up case, made of denim from old jeans to give to each of the kidlets for Christmas.  I’ve been working on a fun jounaling-arting prompt list to share with you.  And I’ve been doing more art journaling and trying to get some more canvases ready for the etsy shop, as I’ve sold most of what we had listed in the shop.

So I’ll leave you with a couple of pages from my Little Red Art Journal and look forward to coming back with some completed projects to share :)

JoyShine

 

Check It Out, Our Project is LIVE!!

It never hurts to help.

~ Eek the Cat

 Please visit the project page here SWAAK Paks™ and read about the project!  You can share the project page there!  Leave us comment, give us some love :)

Now, when you watch this video, keep in mind that throughout these years I have not much put my own face to anything…not in the photos, not in the couple of art videos…this is WAY out of my comfort level :)

So be nice.  And help us out.  Share this post on YOUR blogs, facebooks, twitters, all of that jazz.  We have only 45 days to spread the WORD.

Much love to all of you, we totally appreciate your help in this!!

xoxo