Friday, December 31, 2010

Its a New Year!

2010 was a good year!  But I am really looking forward to what is in store for 2011!  I have been accepted into a Kinetic Sculpture exhibit in February 2011 in New Orleans at Ironworks!  Automata is the name of the exhibit and is comprised mainly of mechanical kinetics but I'm just as thrilled to be part of it!  I have two new kinetic mobile sculpture orders for 2011.  They are single mobile orders but orders just the same!  I think this is a great way to start out the year!

Here are some of the things I have been working on:
I do like the wave style mobile

I call this Bubble on a Wire

I really enjoyed doing the wirework for each bubble

See that no two bubbles or wirework are the same

This is a mobile make with the left over pieces from Jerry's Artarama Junkmail Challenge

I doodled a bit on a watercolor background

Worked on perfecting this painting technique - Still have quite a ways to go!

And for the new year I made this Butterfly.  I can see lots of these in my future

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kinetic Sculpture Design

I enjoy making mobiles which are 3 ft or less in size.  It is my comfort zone.  But when I speak to friends and acquaintances about my current projects, they always ask "When are you going to make the big ones?"  My guess is that if you are not grandiose in your designs, then you will always be a small fish in a very large pond.

Did Alexander Calder become famous simply because he was grandiose in his designs?  I have heard people say that they were surprised to see so many small sculptures in his exhibits.   Laugh, I guess my next question to myself should be:

  • Should I take the next step and attempt to create much larger kinetic mobile sculptures?
  • Should I go the other way and perfect my desk mobile sculptures (bet you didn't know I have developed a line of miniatures, desk and bookshelf size)?
  • Can I remember how to calculate the tensile strength of a beam? 
It has been many years since I have calculated the tensile strength of a beam.  I spent 2.5 years in drafting school doing just that, and other physics questions that made me want to pluck myself bald (calculation for water displacement comes to mind)!  Oh how I wish I could have landed a job in any engineering setting!  For if I had, I wouldn't even question my ability to think on a more grandiose scale.  I would jump at the chance, eyes and arms open wide to embrace the excitement of it all!

I think in 2011 I will try to make a 10ft kinetic mobile sculpture.  Whats the worst than can happen.... I learn through failure!  If it works then I can be more grandiose in my designs :-)  Not so minimalist :-) 

I think that a kinetic sculpture should also be on my list for 2011.  I am so intrigued by wind driven kinetic sculptures like the one outside the New Orleans Museum of Art.  That would be an effort indeed!  Gonna need a bigger torch!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Exercise or Art?

One or the other.  But why?  Why can't I make time for both.  I spent my whole Sunday clearing out one of the rooms in my home in preparation of exercise.  Of course, I got zero artwork done.  I need to exercise... one look at me and you would agree, wholeheartedly.... (you can quit bobbing your head now).  The art keeps me sane!  Oh yea, and keeps the bills paid and food on the table. 

I don't make New Years Resolutions.  My take on the subject is why should you make a resolution just to fail in the end.  I resolve to increase my pants by one size.  Laugh, no one resolves to achieve the realistic.  So, we lift our chin and resolve to do better.  But the resolution is usually so lofty that it is too difficult to achieve without a great commitment. 

Realistically, we are creatures of habit.  Someone who is over 40 and doesn't walk daily will find it hard to begin an exercise routine that involves walking daily and stick to it.  One year later, you will most often find that same person doing exactly what they were doing before making the resolution and said resolution is no where in the current routine. 

We are also creatures who enjoy variety.  I hope that I can incorporate a little exercise into my life daily.  Hope... this means that I will not beat myself up if I don't get 20 minutes in on the bike today.  If I skip the weight bench or the treadclimber, I have not committed a life changing error.  I will of course remind myself that the size of my butt exceeds the maximum limit of the ladder in my shed and therefore should visit the bike, weights, or treadclimber as much as I can.   I really enjoy riding my bike in the spring, summer and fall.  Not so much in the winter.  But I have a great house spinner.... all dusted off and awaiting said large butt!  Art right afterward, of course :-)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rock n Roll Christmas!

I was pleasantly surprised this morning!  Maker of the noise yesterday (husband) pleasantly woke me up at 9:30 am to Christmas Dinner!  Ham, candied yams, cheesy potatoes, and dutch apple pie.... notice, not a healthy vegetable in sight!

Direct TV Channel 101 is featuring some awesome classic and new rock concerts!  I have seen Iron Maiden, Rush, and Buckcherry this morning!  Woo Hoo!  Merry Christmas to me!

Some of my favorite things doodle for Christmas! and some new mobiles!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cities, Doodles, and Ramblings

Just a couple of shots for this fine Christmas eve!  I am now enjoying a nice and quiet morning after waking to the sounds of Iron Man 2 on full volume on surround sound.  Rude, I was sleeping darn it!  The maker of the noise (husband) has now gone to bed.  House cleaning is on the agenda.  I just downloaded a Greg Iles book, True Evil, into my Audible App on the Iphone and am ready to make a little noise of my own.

But first, here is a glimpse of the things I did last night....

Completed my first cityscape illustration.  I'm liking this!

Tried a doodle with a watercolor background.  This is fun!

Sealed the components for four mobiles with polyurethane

And completed another doodle. I especially like the winking hearts :-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Count you Acomplishments - Part 2

 My goal was to restart this blog and make an entry daily.  Its a lofty goal!  And I have failed miserably!  But, it wears on me daily as I think of it quite often and just don't have the time or the imagination to write.  Today is the start of 4 wonderful days off!  Thank you Jordan Carriers, Inc. for granting us all two days off for Christmas!  My goal today was to clean the house but I got stuck in a project and am currently procrastinating here on my blog!  Yup, sometimes its just a tool for procrastination!

And just so I don't flake out on this, here is part two of "Count your Acomplishments".

What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
Books!  Because this was a year of watercolor and kinetic mobile discovery, I bought books.  Have I read them all cover to cover.... um.  no way!  But here is a list of the books that landed in my personal library in 2010:
  • Making Mobiles - by Bruce Cana Fox
  • Calder Sculpture - by Alexander S.C. Rower (Given out by the National Gallery of Art, Washington)
  • Making Mobiles - by Guy R Williams
  • Calder - by Jacob Baal-Teshuva (Taschen)
  • Art School - A Complete Painters Course - by Hamlyn
  • The Tao of Watercolor - by Jeanne Carbonetti
  • The Japanese Ink Painting Handbook - by Susan Frame
  • Expressiver Color - by Stoddard
  • Photoshop Elements 8 - A Digital Classroom - by Wiley
  • Watercolor Solutions - by Charles Reid
  • Watercolor Made Easy - by Janet Walsh
  • Watercolorist's Answer Book - by Rath
  • Color Choices - by Steven Quiller
  • Watercolors in a Weekend  - by Jill Bays
  • Painters Quick Reference - Flowers and Blooms - by North Light Books
  • Color Saves the Day - by Samu
  • The Watercolor Artist's Guide to Exceptional Color - by Jan Hart (highly recommended to all practicing watercolor artists)
  • Color Harmonies - Paint Watercolors Filled with Light - by Rose Edin and Dee Jepsen (a favorite)
  • Complete Book of Watercolors in a weekend - by Hazel Harrison & Frank Halliday
  • Color Mixing Recipes for Watercolor - by William F Powell (Used to color match mobile colors to customer requests - invaluable resource)
I have purchased two video's to date - One I have watched but not tried - The other is a christmas gift to myself.  I'll write about them another time :-)

What organizations were you involved with? I joined the Natchez Art Association and applied for association with our local art gallery, Arts Natchez.

What grants did you apply for?  What grants/honors/awards did you receive?  To me, this question is one in the same.  I applied for and was awarded a mini-grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.  I am so honored by this recognition!

Where did you exhibit or retail your art? Exhibits - M. Schon Gallery - Natchez MS, Gallery 317 - Lincolnton NC, Mango Lane Gallery - Marquette MI, Vivian's Art for Living - Charlottsville VA, Etsy online -, Artfire Online -

I am still trying to find my painting voice.... mobiles... they are pretty locked in!  

Well, that's it for now.  House cleaning procrastination complete.  I think I'll go paint something!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What are you working on?

Seth Godin's blog featured this question recently:

What are you working on?

If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?
I hope so. If not, you're wasting away.
No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there's a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.
Hurry, go do that.

I am almost always working on something that excites me.  My house stays a wreck, my car is stuffed full of stuff just so I can work on something that excites me.  Yes, I know, I live in my own little world :-)  But, I think it is really important to satisfy the soul.  I only get one shot at this thing called life and I intend to enjoy the heck outta it!

Here is a little of what I am working on:

This was the start of it.  Measured about 4" x 4"
This is where it ended.  My husband says I ruined it.  Do you agree?  I kinda do, kinda don't

Did you know I doodle?  I think I should focus my artwork on trying to incorporate watercolors into this type of work.  I enjoy the heck outta it!

This is my first shot at an illustration.  I still need to add the pen part and add just a little more shading.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Accomplishments - Part 1

This has been a serious year of artistic accomplishments for Skysetter Designs.  A great beginning to a new chapter in my life.   Art Biz Blog suggests that you document your artistic accomplishments here so you can look back and review.  So, here we go with Part 1.

How did you promote your art?  Actively listed and sold at least 80 Kinetic Mobile Sculptures on Etsy (most of them created with watercolor paintings).  Etsy advertised my listings on Google which is the best form of online promotion.

What did you do to enhance your online presence?  Recreated my website and restarted my blog and of course, sold my art!

What technological skills did you learn or improve?  Purchased Photoshop Elements and learned to use it to edit the photos of my work in an attempt to produce a more professional presentation of my kinetic mobile sculptures.  Also learned how to use a soldering torch.

Who was your most influential person this year?  Marina Cavette of Natchez Art and Framing.  Marina is an accomplished artist who I am fortunate enough to learn the art of watercolors from.

What medium or skill did you attempt or master?  Attempting to learn the art of Watercolor painting... to be honest, I never tried it before this year and I am totally hooked!  This will be a lifelong adventure!

What worthy cause did you support?  I am proud to say that I worked with my local art association in creating the 1st Annual Miss-Lou High School Art Contest.  We had 30 participants and almost $600.00 in cash prizes.  It was a great boost for Natchez Mississippi and our young artists!

What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?  I took some time out last month to visit the New Orleans Museum of Art for the 1st time.  I went specifically to see the sculpture garden and the kinetic sculpture outside of the museum.  It was an enlightening experience.  The sculpture garden was amazing and the kinetic sculpture was breathtaking.  The only disappointment was the lack of watercolor paintings inside the museum.  I'm learning that watercolors are not as valued as other mediums in the art world.  What a shame!  It is such a beautiful medium!


But this kinetic sculpture by (I promise to get his name) outside the museum is a huge inspiration to me.  I think in my spare time I will attempt to learn this sculptural art.  It is perfectly technical enough to keep me entertained and beautiful enough to keep me interested.

This list will have to be broken down into many parts or I will have to take a very long lunch to complete this. Check back in the next few days for another installment.  Merry almost Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Whew! Christmas Rush!

Now I know why retailers call it the Christmas Rush!  I thought I had a clue before but experiencing it first hand has enlightened me.  I have shipped 7 mobiles in less than 6 days.  Two of them were customs.  Here they are!

I think I now know that the tall leaf design I call the wave it the most popular! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Church - A Work in Progress

I have 4 lovely days off for Christmas!  I plan on painting all 4 days.  Not painting to make mobiles but to increase my watercolor skills.  Marina Cavette, my very talented and patient watercolor teacher, has assigned me the task of completing the foreground brickwork, along with other homework.  Its all I can do to leave it alone until Christmas.  Laugh, my Christmas present this year is time to paint!

Jerry's Artarama Junkmail Challenge by Carolyn Weir of Skysetter Designs

Whew!  No time, xmas rush!  But between completing a few mobile orders I was able to fit in this project for Jerry's Artarama Junkmail Challenge 2010.  I was able to work out some very key issues on my moving picture concept with this project.  One of the issues was alignment of the picture but by removing a small slice between each panel, I was able to retain artwork continuity so you could actually tell it was a painting instead of just individual mobile pieces.  Then I found that it looked quite plain as a moving picture so I decided to add a 1/4 frame around it to give it a little more punch!  I think it worked out well!  I just hope I win one of the 50 $100.00 prizes they are offering.  I would use it to purchase more watercolor paper and continue my kinetic mobile sculpture work on this prototype.  Wish me luck!

Here is a youtube link to the mobile in motion

Friday, December 10, 2010

Try Try Again! Paint Doesn't Always Cooperate!

Try, try again.  That was my motto last night.  As I began to apply the polyurethane coat to my new mobiles from the previous days post, I was faced with a very unfortunate problem.  The paint began to lift off the paper.  Normally, when I have a mobile with a more mottled look or other paint design, this problem does not present itself because it adds to the design.  But, when I am working a beautiful graduated watercolor wash, lifting the paint in miscellaneous spots is not something that goes well.  My former paper manufacturer stopped making the type of paper I have been using in the past.  Can you believe it!  So I have spent the past year making mobiles with a certain type of 140lb paper only to find that I needed to find a different source.

A few of the things that watercolorists look for in a paper is the ability to both retain their color on the paper when it soaks into the paper and also lift color in places after it has dried.  Some paper mfgs put additives in their paper to make the lifting process easier for the artist.  For my work with kinetic mobiles created with watercolor paintings, I don't want my paint designs to lift off the paper when I am applying a sealer to it (I just want it all, don't I).  I have spent at least $100.00 on watercolor paper in recent months and thought that I had found two perfect papers for my work, Fluid Paper (inexpensive) and Lanaquarelle (a little pricey) (of course Arches and Aquarella would work but not cost effective).  I now know that only one of those choices, Lanaquarelle,  will work for a graduated wash without lifting as much color as the other.  I can't always use permanent watercolors, especially when customers request custom color schemes on their mobiles.  And some have asked why I don't just use acrylics..... because they don't have the beauty of watercolors and I like almost everything about watercolors.... the effects you can produce with that medium, the ease of cleanup, the translucence, and many many more things.

So, I had to start over from scratch on my two orders.  I spent last evening repainting the panels but luckily, this also gave me the opportunity to paint an exact color match the photos I took of the panels in previous nights.

Lesson learned.... Test your new materials and mediums throughly before you have to work on a customer's order.  !!! Wisdom.... does anyone have a program for that.... instant wisdom!  What a concept!  Where is a windows 7 developer when I need one!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Just Right Green

Green..... It has plagued painters for centuries.  Too much yellow and you end up with neon green, too much blue and you end up with aqua, and it goes on and on and on.  I spent over 2 hours last night trying to create the perfect sage green in addition to other color panels for mobiles.

But you know what took the most time and work.... getting those paintings into color swatches so the customers could choose their color by number.  I had to photograph them, download them into photoshop, manipulate the pictures so they would look as much like the actual paintings as possible, and then save them into a format that will upload easily to the internet.  I was able to assemble cropped swatches in Photoshop but the darned software wouldn't let me save my grouping in a jpg format.  Thats what I get for buying the $150.00 version of the software.  Then I thought, surely, MS word software would let me save as a jpg.... nope, no luck there.  How about Draw software.... nope, no jpg format available there.  Do you know the only software that would allow me to save my swatches in jpg format was the operating system for windows 7 accessory, MS Paint.  I had to copy what I created in Photoshop and paste it into MS Paint but it let me save it as a jpg.  Go figure, the freebee got the job done when the higher end software wouldn't.

Oh, even better, the windows 7 Snipping tool could have done it quicker and easier for me.  I just used the Windows 7 Snipping tool to bring them into this blog.  Snipping!  What a wonderful invention!

Here are the final products of my labors:

Green, green and more green.  Are any of them sage?  Of course, I'm not color blind.  I can see there is purple, mauve, peach, burnt orange, etc there.  But this blog post is about the green, right?????

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wiped Out!

Last night I was just wiped out!  I was sitting at work yesterday, trying to do the work needed to complete our payroll and found that I was having a really hard time concentrating.  My mind just kept wandering.  So I stood up with the intention of getting a cup of coffee and smelled it!  It was the sealing chemical used to seal stone floor tile (we have renovations happening at the company I work for).

So, essentially, I was buzzed!  I mean really buzzed!  We opened some windows and doors but it was hours before the fumes left the building.  Note to self, when the chemical says it needs open air ventilation, pay attention!!!

When I got home, I was exhausted!  My intention was to paint a few more panels for mobile orders, package a custom mobile for shipment today, and work on the watercolor Christmas ornaments I want to give to family and friends.  What got done?  I packaged the mobile.... thats it.

I hope tonight will be much more productive :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just keep working!

Just keep working the art and I will get to do it full time!  Thats what I keep telling myself.  
So yesterday I......
Put together a new mobile

Cut out and applied polyurethane to two future mobiles

Painted two new panels for a mobile

And chose the painting I will use to create a moving picture mobile for Jerry's Artarama Junkmail Challenge.  I have a chance to win $100 worth of art supplies.  Whats the worst that can happen, I get to make a new moving picture mobile.  Nope, won't be broken hearted about that at all :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Custom order for Mary Baxter

I was so surprised to receive the call from Mary Baxter requesting a custom mobile for her husband, Neil.  It will be his Christmas present for his upscale establishment, the Famous Burro Bar and Restaurant in Marathon,Texas!  It measures 5ft wide by 30 inches tall.  It will look great from afar and below due to the combination of horizontal and vertical components.  Sorry about the background.  I don't usually make mobiles this large and don't have a backdrop big enough.  I hope he likes it!

This is a view from under the mobile looking up


Its Sunday morning and I have a headache.  I woke up with the same headache yesterday that waxed and waned throughout the day.  Barometric pressure change, dry air, any number of things could be the cause.  Whatever, endure, take some drugs, nap.... that seems to be the motto for the day.

I did have some good news yesterday!  Almost all of my jewelry that was in M.Schon's Gallery had sold so yesterday I brought her some more and she took it all!  I'm very thankful for that!  She also gave me back a couple of mobiles she had in her store for display and I'm thrilled that I now have two more mobiles in stock, ready to sell!

A couple of days ago, I began this painting which I had intended to be a color value study.  Note to self.... when you are trying to do a value study, don't also try out a new color.  I got my first tube of veridian and thought it would be a lovely opportunity to see what the color would do, if it played well with others, etc.  Two hours later I was doodling everywhere trying to recover a very overworked and tired painting.  Laugh, my husband wants to rip it from the journal and put it in a frame.....Ummmm... NO!

This was my first attempt at a architectural painting that also went south.  I may try to finish it later, or not.  Try try again. Laugh, I'm 48 not 10 years old.

And this is my progress on the piece I am doing in my watercolor classes.  Guidance makes a huge difference.

Experience... It can't be taught... You have to endure the mistakes, celebrate the happy accidents and get the experience.  How many of these will turn into mobiles?  I'm thinking at least two of them.  I always say that my paintings are so bad that I have to cut them up into little pieces to enjoy them.  :-)