Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Art of Sign Language and Learning

When drawing from what you see, you have to forget what you think the subject looks like.  No matter how many times you have drawn a hand, you must always look at it without assumptions, as if you have never seen one before.  Only in that state of mind can you see it for what it truly is in that position, angle, and lighting.  Drawing is a process of constant discovery, a great analogy for how to live life.

Here is a sneak peek of a detail of my 30" x 53.5" drawing, which you will be able to see March 3rd, 4pm, at the opening of my solo show, "Cut It Out" at the Bay County Public Library.

I learned something about myself this week.  I realized how much I love to learn.  Here is how I figured that out:

One week ago today I was killing time in Books by the Sea, a used book shop.  I saw a sign language dictionary and started flipping through it.  The sign language dictionary is the only dictionary you will find with a picture for every word.  As an extremely visual person, I found myself drawn to each illustration, and fascinated by the motions of each sign.  Eager to play with my new find, I asked my husband to give me a sentence, so I could learn how to sign it.  He said, "Today is full of art."  Excited, I said, "okay!" and went off and learned the new fun sentence in no time.  After that, I was hooked.  In the past week I have watched 11 online sign language lessons, each about 45 minutes long.  I have also looked up dozens of other words.  In just a week, I have learned between 200 and 300 signs!

As with many other of my current interests, in the past I never thought I would care to learn sign language.  But now it makes so much sense.  I'm visual, and unconsciously talk with my hands a lot.  I signed a bit while on a panel for creative people called, "River Readings" on Saturday.  During lunch, one of the audience members commented on how he noticed my hands even before I signed.  He thought they were beautiful and especially expressive.  I've never been very good with words, so maybe my hands try to make up for that by doing more of the descriptions for me.

No, I don't know any deaf people.  But now, if I come across a deaf person, I am able to communicate with them.  I can now communicate (slowly, since words I don't know I would have to finger-spell) with a whole other large population of people.

While speaking at the "River Readings" conference, I realized that I love to learn.  It seemed so obvious, but I never thought about it.  I often miss learning all the time in art school, I still enjoy learning new mediums in art, and I often pick up new interests to learn

I made a quick list of things I have learned in art, and then non-art things I have learned since graduating college.  I was surprised at how much I came up with!  Maybe you have learned more things than you realize, too.  Perhaps you could share your list of things you have learned in the comments!

Mediums of art I have learned:

  • Drawing: graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, oil pastels, chalk pastels, conte crayons, ink, scratchboard, wood-burning
  • Painting: oil, acrylic, watercolor
  • Printmaking: linoleum, silkscreen
  • 3D: ceramics, figure sculpture
  • Photography: black and white darkroom photography, digital photography
  • Paper cutting

Non-art that I have learned at least the basics of, if not much more:

  • Piano
  • Singing
  • Swing dancing (east coast, lindy, some blues)
  • Musical Saw
  • How to run a business
  • Curation
  • Graphic Design
  • Framing
  • Yoga
  • Beginnings of sign language

Learning itself is exhilarating, fun, and has amazing benefits for your brain, including preventing Alzheimer's and dementia.  The wise man admits he knows nothing.  We should all be forever open-minded, and learning.

Inspiration Source #11:  Sign Language!  If you're interested in learning, I suggest this site.  There are a lot of resources, including two full semesters of lessons.  Each come with a video, vocab list, practice sentences, and more.

Thank you so much for visiting!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thoughts on a Solo Show

The solo show is an extremely sought-after experience for any artist.  It's always a joy to participate in group shows, to see how your work interacts with other artists'.  But there is a strong sense of completion when you have an exhibit of just your art.  After so many hours alone in the studio, working tirelessly on every inch of every piece of art, then there they all are, your babies, taking over an entire space for all the world to see.  You can see areas of growth, experimentation, and perhaps mastery of a particular technique.  With all the works hung together, you get a much better sense of the artist as a whole.  As the artist, you get a better sense of your own patterns, strengths, and weaknesses.

Sure, it's a lot of hard work: creating all the art, promotions, stress, promotions, talking about yourself way too much, promotions, and manual labor.  But it's a labor of love.  It's all worth it in the end, especially when someone takes time to discover and study each piece, and then expresses what they experienced and interpreted from your works.  And when the art makes them think and feel just what you were thinking and feeling as you created each piece....  well it just doesn't get any better than that for an artist.

All of these thoughts come to the surface because I am fortunate enough to have another solo exhibit coming up at the Bay County Public Library.  It's less than two months away, which means I will be keeping all of my new art a secret until it is revealed for the exhibit.  The opening reception will include an artist lecture by yours truly.  There will also be food, and of course, ART!  AND if all goes according to plan, I will be releasing a new BOOK full of my paper cut art!  So if you are in the Florida Panhandle area, I invite you to come on out and enjoy some cut paper art with me!

"Cut It Out: Paper Cut Art by Heather Clements" exhibit flyer for the Bay County Public Library.
**UPDATE:  I got the times for the opening wrong!  The opening will be from 2:00 - 4:00pm.  The library closes after 4pm so the time change is quite important!

The next piece of art I am going to make for the exhibit will be a drawing!  It's been a while since I have done detailed drawing work, even though that's what I did the most for so many years, so I decided I needed to spruce up the 'ol drawing skills.  Here's a few sketchbook moments:

"Unfinished Self Portrait with Hand and Glasses" by Heather Clements.

"Portrait of a Paper Maché Bird on a Patterned Scarf" by Heather Clements.

"Portrait of a Paper Maché Bird on a Patterned Scarf" (Detail) by Heather Clements.

In other news, I now have a Pinterest account.  Once I realized how much art was being shared on Pinterest, I decided it would be worth my time.  I will be pinning my art, other artists' paper art, and eventually other art mediums as well.  And then who knows what!  I would love to have you as a follower, so check out my page and perhaps follow my Pinterest.

Green Tip #11:  Bring your own Tupperware when eating out.  Whenever we go out to eat, and we know that there will be plenty left over, we try to remember to bring our plastic or glass food containers.  It saves just a little bit more disposable materials.  The worst that can happen is you might get a questionable look from the servers, but usually that confused look turns into admiration for a good idea!  Every little bit helps, and just think how much paper, styrofoam, and plastic would be saved if everybody did this!

Thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Rocked

Happy New Year!  As usual, 2012 had it's ups and downs, but overall it was amazing and for my art business, 2012 kicked ass.  My business has grown so much since 2011.  I thought I would share my professional accomplishments for 2012 so you can also revel in the gloriousness.

2012 Art Accomplishments:

  • Solo Exhibit "I Cut Paper" at Studio b. in Alys Beach
  • Solo Art Showing at private residence
  • Participated in the following exhibits: 
  1. "Heather, Heather, Heather" (3 woman show) at CityArts, Panama City, FL
  2. "Clothing Optional" (4 woman show) at CityArts, Panama City, FL
  3. "Top of the Class" Juried Exhibit at Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, FL
  4. "Dia de los Muertos" Chimmaya Art Gallery in Los Angeles, California
  5. "Fizz" at A&M Theater, Panama City, FL
  6. "New Beginnings" Panama City Artist Exhibit at Bay County Library, Panama City, FL
  7. "7th Annual Half Off Sale" at CityArts, Panama City, FL
  • First time showing in Los Angeles, CA, sold one piece in LA
  • Created most expensive portrait commission to date
  • Sold most expensive painting to date
  • Finished art studio (insulation, walls, floors, shelves, paint, etc.)
  • Taught Panama City Artists Workshop with 15 students
  • Went to Italy and Austria - gained inspiration from amazing art
  • 259 Facebook fans (99 as of 2011, 162% increase)
  • 118 Twitter followers (27 as of 2011, - 337% increase)
  • Created an art bra as donation for Battle of the Bras for breast cancer
  • Won $250 Merit Award at 'Top of the Class' Juried art exhibit for "Ecocide VI" paper cut
  • Had my art featured on 'Discover Paper' blog
  • Became a member of the Guild of American Papercutters
  • Licensed an image of my art for a music album cover and merchandise for the band "HoneyLark"
  • Created a paper cut for an upcoming album by "The Silent Few"
  • Sold 47 pieces of art (39 pieces of my art, 8 commissions)
  • Created 48+ paper cuts
  • Taught Figure Drawing Classes, Kids Art Classes, Guided Open Studio Classes, and Private Lessons
  • Guest speaker at River Readings at Gulf Coast State College
  • Increased profits from 2011 by 70%

2011 Income
Art Sold                                             46%
(Commissions 39%, My art 11%)
Classes                                            39%
Graphic Design                                11%
Other                                                  4%

2012 Income
Art Sold                                             70%
(Commissions 38%, My art 32%)
Classes                                             26%
Other                                                   4%

I'm lovin' the 2012 percentages!  My goal was to make the vast majority of my money from art, instead of classes or graphic design, and I did that by a lot!  I've sold more of my art this year than any other year!

Of course, I couldn't have done it all without YOU.  Yes, you!  You have either bought my art, shared it with others, come to my art events, or simply added to the number of blog visitors, which is always encouraging.  So a big THANK YOU to you, for helping me fulfill my passion for art in my every-day life.  Because of people like you, I can make a living doing what I love.

Inspiration Source #10: SNOW.  Recently, I went with my husband, my step-daughter, and my dog, Charlie, to my parents' house in Northern Virginia.  My step-daughter, Madeline, got the most special treat of all: she saw her first snow ever on her 9th birthday!  Best birthday gift ever.  I also enjoyed the snow, thoroughly, it's always so beautiful how the entire landscape is so quickly transformed, appealing differently to all the senses.

Waterford, VA.  Cows, before the snow.

View from my parents' house in Waterford, VA.

Madeline, shortly after stepping outside to see her first snow ever!

First snowman ever!

First snow angel ever!

Charlie LOVES having so much space to run!

Madeline in the snow again!

Happy 2013!