Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to make a quick post to say Happy New Year! I am looking forward to a new year of creating and finding new inspirations. My one recommendation today is to check out http://www.artistaday.com/. I have it on my arts iGoogle page as a gadget. Very interesting stuff shows up there. Check it out! Peace be with you for the New Year.



- Gale

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I am so excited! Gift Certificates!!

Just a short post to mention I FINALLY got gift certificates up and running.  If you love my stuff and want to hint to someone to get something from my site for the holidays, tell them about the gift certificates.  Just send them here and have them click on the image at the end of this sentance and it will bring them right to the sales site where the gift certificates are.  (You do have to have a paypal account to use them).   Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com
Wooo Hoooo and happy shopping!
Gale

Monday, November 30, 2009

Promises kept and new projects



Back in March I was working on a commissioned project for a friend to give to one of her daughters’ teachers who had made the youngest daughter love to read. This project was a pin that needed to look like a book. I had hoped to be able to also use this project to join a challenge on an online group that was a “from design to finished project” challenge. I posted my design picture here (here it is again to remind you) with the promise to post the finished pin. Well the pin was a challenge all by itself! Trying to make a hollow form in PMC that would not collapse on itself as the organic matter burned off had me doing a lot of mental gymnastics. In the end, I decided to fire the piece in two pieces, using paper clay to support the shape at the firing and then firing a separate time to join the top of the book to the base and the pin back to the base as well. I think the results came out pretty good – no idea how the teacher liked it or if she wears it . . . hard to know what happens to my jewelry that is given as gifts. So here is the finished pin. What do you think?


I also had my first home party this weekend. It was a lot of fun and several of my friends made a good dent in their Christmas shopping. One of my items - Modern Holly earrings – was such a hit that I had to take orders to make more. The orders are well under way plus some extras for more potential orders. Check them out (click on image for larger image and to purchase).  There is a wonderful pendent that matches too! Free Image Hosting at www.picturetrail.com

Off to finish up on the earring orders plus work on a fun charm bracelet I had started and never finished in time for the home party.
Gale R

12/8/09 Updated to new picture of Modern Holly Berry earrings - better photo

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stand Up and Be Counted Survey Results

The Artist Foundation of Massachusetts undertook a survey of working and hobby artists of all types in 2008 which I have blogged about both when I encouraged others to respond as well as some initial information released earlier.  The survey was based on a similar one done in 2007, by Springboard for the Arts, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and the Minnesota Craft Council.  Interestingly the results - while based on more participants here in MA - had almost the same results. 
While the report is 63 pages, it is well laid out making it easy to read through the basics and even dig into some of the details without feeling overwhelmed.  Some of the biggest findings were that most of the artists make their living from outside jobs because they can not afford to just survive on their art - especially now with the state required health insurance.  Also, it is important to note that of those responding, over 80% said they vote regularly which make them a political force IF they organized themselves.  To see the results go to http://www.artistsfoundation.org/.
One of the more interesting findings they had was about the economic base for the responding artists, I will quote directly from the executive summary:
Stand Up and Be Counted also provided valuable information about how Massachusetts artists are accessing grant opportunities. Although conventional wisdom is that grant awards support a significant portion of the artists community, Stand Up and Be Counted shows that that isn’t the case. Of the 2,264 respondents who answered the question, only 41% reported that they had ever applied for a grant; of those who said they had applied for a grant, only 35.7% reported that they had ever received one (or an in-kind donation for their art). Last, most of the grants awarded to the 791 respondents who answered the question were for less than $1,000, and 79% reported receiving grants totaling less than $4,999.
I have been following a fellow blogger who has a blog specific to making artists of all types aware of grants, stipends and foundations for artists, writers, crafters, etc., Mira's List http://miraslist.blogspot.com/ and this comment from the survey really struck me because Mira's blog has become so popular (based from a popular email list she had) due to how difficult it is for artists to find grants and other funding for their work.  Also, there were comments on the survey from artists who lived in other countries for a time or who had duel citizenship about how they were supported and valued as artists in other countries.  Wonder what it would take to change the attitude towards artists here?  Let us try to use the power this survey gives us (knowledge is power) to make changes for artists.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Looking for inspiration? Part 2


So in my last post I mentioned I had 2 things I did to re-inspire myself. A few weeks ago I stumbled across back to back programs on PBS called Craft in America and the programs were the most recent programs in a series that started a few years ago. The two programs were titled "Origins" and "Process". Each episode in the series (there are 5 in total) focuses on "a journey to the artist, origins and techniques of American craft". This is done by focusing on a few different types of craft artisans in each episode. Looking at the work of the potters, weavers, blacksmiths, glass-blowers, basket weavers, metal smiths etc. and hearing how they learned their craft or what inspired them to create was amazing!

I was so moved by the two episodes I saw that I had to know more about the series and I discovered that there were three other episodes shows before the two newest ones. You can watch the first 3 episodes of the series in their entirety right off the website http://www.pbs.org/craftinamerica/index.html. Each one is about 55 mins and are broken into segments so even if you can not sit and watch 55 mins at one time, you can watch a few sections and then select the next segment to start at when you go back to watch it later. Also, if you are an educator (not just art, but math, science, social studies and more) there are great study guides to use to go with the series along with some video segments not in the series - like the book artist talking about math skills she uses to figure out how to make the book look like she envisions it.

In the first episode "Memory", the blacksmith Ton Joyce, has some really inspiring and profound comments. He talked about blacksmithing being made up of portions of items that have been made by others in the past. He had found a very old item that had been fixed many times over by blacksmiths of the past. It reminded him of the patchwork quilts his mother made and that thought has inspired his work since then. He was commissioned to create a baptismal font and he asked the members of the congregation to bring in iron items that reminded them of their past and then made each item into a plate that was forged together like a quilt that made up the bowl of the font "the idea being that the babies are baptized in the ancestry of [the] entire community."

Go check the videos out and be inspired to really think about what your art means to you and where it comes from.
 
- Gale

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Looking for inspiration?

To try to get re-inspired after this summer, I did two things to feed my artistic soul. I will discuss the first one I did here and then blog about the other in a few days (don't you just love being teased?).

I took a very interesting live online 90 minute class offered through Alison Lee's Craftcast - "Design: A Blow By Blow Approach with Tim McCreight". Now those that know me also know that I think Tim McCreight is a god. He is one of the original goldsmith/jewelry artists to work with PMC and he is also a major name in metalsmithing education, having written Complete Metalsmith which is available as a student edition, a professional edition and a ProPlus edition. This is the bench "bible" for most metalsmiths. The online class was a master class - which I am not - but as it was a design class and not a techniques class I figured with my art background I could at least keep up with the concepts. The other participants included names of metalsmiths I have heard of and seen their work in jewelry magazines (thank goodness there were no live mikes for us students so I could hide in the webinar masses).

Tim discussed how he was rethinking how he was creating metal work by moving back to a more basic organic approach to metalsmithing. He was using the hammer, chisel and punch to create his work (no saws, no fancy tools, not even anything more then hand polishing). He was allowing the process to dictate the design and having the experiments show him what the final design would be instead of envisioning a design and then trying to recreate that in metal. He said that we (artists) need to "provide an environment where the magic is allowed to show." How often do we do that for ourselves? So my mission over these next few weeks - give myself the environment to allow the magic to show.

- Gale
Note: I know I promised a few months ago to post the final picture of the book pin I created for a commision. I have not forgotten, just need to download the final picture and I will post it under new works.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Memory

My Dad, Halcyon "Rocky" Rockwell, passed away on August 23 after a 2 1/2 month struggle with infection, heart issues and Parkinson's disease. My Mom, Beatrice, who passed away 12 years ago, and my Dad are where my artistic base come from.
My Mom loved to paint and draw and had studied art in high school, in the building where I later studied art in college. She use to pull out her dry or oil pastels about once a year when I was growing up, and work on a drawing. When she retired, she decided to take up her art more seriously and started taking classes. She took a painting class from the local community college (She was so cute at 70 years old, having me go shopping with her for her college clothes). She also took a few classes offered to seniors to learn traditional Japanese brush stroke painting. Her paintings are in my kitchen and family room. Mom taught me my initial drawing when I was not even in school yet because I wanted my dog to really look to an adult like a dog, and my people to not look like stick figures.
My Dad was a custom picture framer when I was young and loved to show me the art work of some of the local artists he was framing (the pictures in my home were almost all framed by him). I learned to really appreciate fine art at an early age because of his work. When he later became a tool maker, he was picked to create two steel picture frames for a modern artist whose work was going up at MoMA in NYC, without the shop owner knowing Dad was a custom picture framer, until after Dad started working with the artist (wish I knew who the artist was). He was always my champion for learning new things. Dad and Mom encouraged me to learn to color in the color by number picture the use to be in the Sunday New York Daily News and once I got good at it, he got me a child size artists easel (a real one not the plastic kiddie ones they have today), and paint by number oil paintings - I was about 8 years old. He then got me the pre-stretched canvas and acrylic paints when I was ready to try painting my own pictures - I was in 6th grade. When I was in college and needed to mat some pictures for a student art show, he taught me the art of matting (of which I have forgotten half of the tips he gave me) and he made me mat my own pictures. When I moved to jewelry, Mom had already passed away (she would have been right there learning it with me if she had been alive) but my Dad was fascinated with the process - especially the precious metal clay work - and was very proud of my work.
I miss my parents very much and I miss their encouragement. I was blessed to have parents who loved art and who taught me as much as they could about art and craft work. I hope I can make something of my art that will be a credit to them and all they gave to me.
Gale
Proud daughter of Beatrice (1924-1998)
and Halcyon Rockwell (1927-2009)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dad's illness and it's impact on creativity

It has weighed heavily on me that I have not posted to my blog (yes the book pin did get completed and I will post updates and pictures of the final product soon). My 82 yr old father who lives with me became seriously ill at the beginning of June. At first it was suppose to be 3 days in the hospital for IV antibiotics and then home. Well 3 days became 10 days and home became rehab. Two days into rehab he went down hill rapidly and no one could (or would) figure out why this was happening, but it was clear he was leaving us. After a week or so of having him there but under hospice care, a wonderful nurse became concerned that the infection he initially had seemed to be showing up again, but in a different place. Her efforts to get him back on antibiotics appears to have turned everything around for him - but the road to recovery and home will be long now.
The effort to mange his care, the finances for it, and even the grieving I went through when he was at his sickest, had sucked all the creative life out of me. During the height of his illness, I could not even muster the energy and mental concentration to read the various jewelry and art newsletters, blogs and on-line list groups I belong to. Art did not seem like an outlet but a joy that I could not bring myself to allow myself when things in life were so serious. Normally, even when I am away from my craft table and workbench for a while, I am still actively getting input and mentally working on new ideas. But with Dad's extended illness - at one point he was barely eating and no longer communicating to anyone - I could not even handle anything that was related to my creativity. It was as if everything on that side of my brain function went numb.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I am fighting my way through the fog clouding my creativity. I am trying to read the newsletters and blogs again and a glimmer of creative thought is starting to occur. I am disappointed that the marketing work I was going to do for the business has gotten lost too but more importantly I am disappointed that I was unable to create at I time when that creativity may have helped my soul the most. I hope to be back at the table soon . . . and maybe this time of struggle will help me re-purpose myself and my work. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Adventures in creativity

Time got away from me again for a lot of reasons. Currently I am working on a commissioned work for a friend to give to a teacher who is retiring. She wanted a pin (as she is giving some other teachers some other pins I make) but this needs to look like a book. I am creating one as an open book and this has managed to be a major challenge. The book design is an open book and I am trying to reduce the silver quantity to make the price in line with the other pins - so it is a hollow shape. If this was a bead - piece of cake - but as a closed shape for a pin it has really challenged me to solve issue like keeping the shape from collapsing during firing without leaving the burnt forming material from being trapped inside. As I usually do pins as a double firing to fire the argentium pin back in place and not cause issues with the pin shape - I decided to create the book in two pieces. The first firing is complete and now the REAL challenge comes to get this all to come together, finished and sent off to NH before the end of the week. YIKES. The rendering for the pin is the picture above. I'll post my results later.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Artists as a political power

I'm not talking about how your art can make a political statement, but rather how artists can have political power by speaking up and letting your government know what you think.

I went to a great working artists symposium on Friday at CCCC and one of the speakers was from The Artists Foundation/Artists Under the Dome. They helped sponsor the Stand Up and Be Counted survey last year which surveyed the artists of MA (see my April 2008 post for the details of the survey). They had over 3000 respondent's!!! The MN survey this was modeled on got just over 1000 respondent. One thing they have learned is that over 80% of the artists responding said they ALWAYS vote. This information is going to make the politicians for MA sit up and take notice. The survey details will be out in the next month or so and I will post more when it comes out.

Also, fascinating at this symposium was the work CCCC adjunct faculty Philippe Lejeune was doing on the Internet using the web as an art medium. Check out his web site at cccc.posterous.com to see some of his work. One of the most interesting sites he talked about was seesmic which is like twitter meets web cam. Its wonderful to see the web move beyond just the information exchange we think of now.

Here are some good sites to check out: The Artists Foundation (Boston) http://www.artistsfoundation.org/ , The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod http://www.artsfoundation.org/ , Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities http://www.maash.org/ , Artists Under the Dome http://www.artistsunderthedome.org/

Hope this gets your mind working . . .

Gale

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More on the arts and the economic stimulas package

I am going to post this update from the Americans for the Arts organization with just these comments - I expect McCain (I won't repeat what my WWII vet father calls him) would vote to kill the arts but I am shocked by some otherwise smart Democrats making the same stupid vote. I also noticed that I could not find a single Republican willing to vote to save the arts (Liberman does not count as he is an independent and former Dem).

From the Americans for the Arts:
Breaking News
On the afternoon of Feb 6th, the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that stated “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.” Unfortunately, the amendment passed by a wide vote margin of 73-24, and surprisingly included support from many high profile Senators including Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and several other Democratic and Republican Senators.
If the Coburn amendment language is included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill. It is clear that there is still much work to be done in the Senate and in the media about the role that nonprofit arts organizations and artists play in the nation’s economy and workforce.
Plan of Action
1. Arts advocates need to quickly contact Senators who voted for the Coburn Amendment and express your extreme disappointment with their vote. We need these Senators to know that their vote would detrimentally impact nonprofit arts organizations and the jobs they support in their state. We have crafted a customized message for you to send to your Senators based on their vote on the Coburn Amendment.
http://capwiz.com/artsusa/issues/alert/?alertid=12612041
The correct letter, customized to each of your Senators will appear when you enter your zip code. If your Senator voted for this funding prohibition, you can send them a message expressing your disappointment and ask them to work to delete this language in the final conference bill with the House. If your Senator voted against the Coburn Amendment, you can thank them for their support of the arts.
2. We need as many news articles as possible this coming week to publish stories about the economic impact of the nonprofit arts industry and how the recession is negatively affecting arts groups across the country. Please click here to customize an opinion editorial to your local media. We have provided you with easy-to-use talking points.
http://capwiz.com/artsusa/issues/alert/?alertid=12427561&type=ME

HOW THEY VOTED-
How the Senate voted on (Yea means they voted NOT to include the arts in the economic recovery bill)

Akaka (D-HI), Nay Alexander (R-TN), Yea
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea Begich (D-AK), Yea
Bennet (D-CO), Yea Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Nay Brown (D-OH), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea Bunning (R-KY), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Yea Burris (D-IL), Nay
Byrd (D-WV), Yea Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Yea Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea Chambliss (R-GA), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Yea Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Yea Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea DeMint (R-SC), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Nay Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Nay Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea Gillibrand (D-NY), Nay
Graham (R-SC), Yea Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Not Voting Hagan (D-NC), Nay
Harkin (D-IA), Nay Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Nay Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Johanns (R-NE), Yea Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kaufman (D-DE), Nay Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting
Kerry (D-MA), Nay Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea Kyl (R-AZ), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Nay Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Nay Levin (D-MI), Nay
Lieberman (ID-CT), Nay Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Yea McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Yea Menendez (D-NJ), Nay
Merkley (D-OR), Yea Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea Reed (D-RI), Nay
Reid (D-NV), Nay Risch (R-ID), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Yea Rockefeller (D-WV), Nay
Sanders (I-VT), Nay Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Yea Shaheen (D-NH), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Yea Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Yea Thune (R-SD), Yea
Udall (D-CO), Yea Udall (D-NM), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Yea Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (D-VA), Yea Webb (D-VA), Nay
Whitehouse (D-RI), Nay Wicker (R-MS), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stand Up and Be Counted Artists Survey & Comments on the Economic Stimulas package

In April I posted about an important artist survey here in MA. I have received an email that the deadline has been extended until this Saturday (9 Feb) to accommodate some artist organizations that are running programs which include having artists complete this survey. You DO NOT have to be a "WORKING ARTIST" to participate in this survey. You can be a full-time, part-time or "hobby" artist. The survey is called "Stand Up and Be Counted" and is going to be used to show the state legislators that we are a constituency to be recognized. It is modeled on the 2007 Minnesota "Artists Count" survey. To take this survey (only takes a few minutes) go to http://www.artistsfoundation.org/ There is an optional section on your 2006 reported income but you are in no way obligated to complete that section. They also break it up into sections so if you only have time to fill in section One your survey still counts!

At a time when the Republican Senators down in Washington are claiming that putting stimulus money into the Endowment for the Arts is wasteful and should not be part of the economic stimulus package, it is more important then ever for artists to make themselves heard. The claims of these Senators make it appear that artists who make their living, or part of their living off of the arts are not really "working" and that any stimulus to help them during this economic crisis is not helping to create jobs or put money back into the economy. Every time I heard their comments claiming this was just pork barrel waste by the Democrats I wanted to scream "So what you are telling all the artists, musicians, dancers, and actors of America is 'Go get a REAL' job'". If you are an artist reading this who is represented by one of these Republican Senators, please email them or call them right now and make it clear to their staff that YOU are a voting constituent and artists are listening and watching what they are saying. Tell them to leave the money for the arts in the package before too many working artists are forced to give up their work and go into the regular work force to compete for jobs that the rest of their constituency are competing for. FDR knew he needed to keep artists working and not needing to compete for regular jobs - why can't these fools understand why that money is actually important to everyone?
Gale

Friday, January 30, 2009

Rose Art Museum Closing

I saw that Brandeis was closing the Rose Art Museum and I foolishly assumed it was another sign of our economic implosion (thank you George Bush). However, I received this email from the Mass. Arts group which was a letter from the College Arts Association:

The College Art Association (CAA) was shocked and dismayed to learn of the decision by BrandeisUniversity to close the Rose Art Museum and sell its entire art collection for operating revenue.
CAA supports the Codes of Ethics of the American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors, which clearly state that works of art in museum collections are held as a public trust and that any proceeds of sales must only support the acquisition of new works. However, perceiving an entire art collection as a disposable financial asset and then dismantling that collection wholesale to cover other university expenses is deeply troubling for all college and university collections.
The closing of the museum at Brandeis will be devastating to the academic community, not only affecting our colleagues at the museum and students and faculty in the Department of Fine Arts, which offers programs in both studio art and art history, but also depriving the entire arts-loving public in New England and around the world. The teaching of art and art history in higher education is untenable without the direct study of physical works of art, and it appears the Brandeis Board of Trustees has disregarded the kind of scholarship and creativity that have been the hallmark of CAA members for nearly one hundred years.
According to news reports, neither Brandeis University nor the Rose Art Museum is on the brink of economic collapse, nor are they unable to maintain the collections. Given that no clear explanation has been offered on the school’s financial exigencies, the closure of the Rose Art Museum and the sale of its collection appear to be in violation of professional museum standards and of academic transparency and due process; the decision also demonstrates a lack of academic responsibility and fiduciary foresight. We appeal to the Trustees of Brandeis to revisit and reverse their decision.
Paul B. Jaskot
Executive Director, College Art Association
Professor of Art History
Department of the History of Art and Architecture
DePaul University


What in the world is Brandeis thinking? I understand even the museum's director had not been made aware that the museum was under consideration for closing. I smell a rat . . . I am sure the Rose family who donated the money to create the building and open the museum would be less then pleased with the Trustees' decision. I know I'm not.

Gale