Art makes a House a Home

An interesting thing has happened as I’ve put my art out into the world… My home has started filling up with beautiful art from other artists.

It comes from seeing more art, meeting more artists, and fundamentally believing that art has value. The more art I see, the more I want to surround myself with pieces that have interest and meaning to me. The more artists I meet, the more I appreciate how much time and energy they spend to create something special. The more I get out there and share my own work, the more I am willing to spend real money to buy something that makes my heart sing, especially knowing it supports my fellow artists.

Maybe it’s a little bit of good karma, because this is what I want to happen to my art too. I want it to go to good homes where it will be loved and cherished. Where the owners understand it’s a little piece of my heart, hanging on their wall.

It didn’t come as an conscious thing, this idea of becoming an art collector myself. It came as a natural extension of participating in a world that appreciates handmade, local art. But it’s been a delightful and surprising experience which has helped me realize: A house is just walls and a roof, it’s the people, and what they bring into it, that make it a home. A home should be a space that protects and refreshes. A space that you love to be in. Adding art you’ve carefully chosen makes your space something truly special–a home.

I thought I would share some of my growing collection, and a little bit about the artists who made them.

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The newest addition is this porcelain plate from Carol Lebreton, a ceramics artist in Portland. She had a booth across from me at the Lake Oswego fair a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn’t help but admire her work. I love her use of pattern and texture, and the green celadon glaze she uses is not only gorgeous, it’s the perfect match for one of the colors in my kitchen. Yay! Someday I would like a whole set of tableware from Carol, not just one showpiece in my kitchen.

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This gorgeous piece is another recent addition, from glass artist Jerri Bartholomew. Jerri is one of my fellow Philomath Open Studios Tour artists and I loved being able to visit her studio to learn about her process. She’s also a microbiologist at Oregon State University, and her science comes through in her art. As someone who also has a technical background, I love seeing how other scientists blend their art with their science. And of course, I love that it’s a tree!!

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This monotype by painter Mike Baggetta of Portland fulfills my cravings for abstract art. I discovered his work when I bought this piece at an art auction here in Corvallis, and I was excited to meet him when I visited the Art in the Pearl art fair last year. It was wonderful to learn more about his process, and how his monotypes influence his abstract paintings. I would love to have one of his large abstracts some day!

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As you enter our home, the dining room wall is one of the first things you see. This area is one of my favorite spaces, a collage of art from various artists:

  • The centerpiece on the top is from Ron Dobrowski, a photographer from Springfield, Oregon who was my mentor for the Salem Art Fair & Festival last year. He does film photography and these gorgeous silver gelatin prints.
  • On the top left is a piece from Meri Walker, aka @iphoneartgirl, another iPhone photographer who lives in Oregon. I met Meri through the Expanding Vision exhibition I helped The Arts Center put on last year.
  • Top right is another photographer I met through the Expanding Vision show, Angie Lambert. She came all the way from West Virginia to attend the opening, how cool is that! I loved the simplicity and the mystery of this piece.
  • Bottom left on the wall is a small pastel by Kate McGee, another artist I’ve gotten to know through the Philomath Open Studios Tour. She does mostly color, scenic landscapes, but my heart lept when I saw this black and white, more abstract piece.
  • Bottom center is a photograph from a teenage artist, Emma Spakoski. This piece received an Honorable Mention in The Arts Center’s Howland Community Open show, and I just loved the composition and beautiful softness. I hope she will keep creating as she gets older! (Her Mom, Alexis Spakoski, is a local illustrator and ceramics artist, so she has a great example to follow.)
  • On the shelf is a wood-fired vase from local ceramics artist Eric Moran. The colors and textures in this vase are amazing, I wish you could feel it. Eric is another artist like me, who works a full-time corporate job, as well as creating and teaching his art. He’s a ceramics instructor at the OSU Craft Center.
  • Last but not least, the photograph on the shelf is from Lorraine Richey, a Portland photographer who I’ve gotten to know through the PhotoArts Guild. She also does quite a bit of wonderful iPhone work!

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In the corner of the dining room there is also a shelf unit with several wonderful pieces:

  • The top print is an etching of the Duomo in Milan, one of the things we brought back from Italy with us. Unfortunately we never met the artist for this one, but I love the intricate details of this print, a reminder of our time in Italy.
  • The funky vase in the center is by Corvallis ceramics artist Cynthia Spencer. Cynthia is an amazing supporter of other artists in our area! I first met her when I took an Art Marketing class from her last year, and learned so much from her. She’s done the art fair circuit in the past, was the Director of the Corvallis Fall Festival art fair for many years and is currently the Director of The Arts Center. I love having a little piece of her fun personality in our home.
  • The bottom photograph is from another local photographer, Rosie Saraga, who passed away about a year and a half ago. She had an amazing eye for form, and I feel so privileged that I got to know her through the PhotoArts Guild. Her vision and love of the world is very much missed.

Now, if only my dining room furniture were as pretty as the art! A local-made dining room set is currently on my wish list.

There are so many other amazing artists I’ve met and work I’ve seen, there is so much more art I would love to own. I’m afraid I’m going to need a bigger house! It’s gotten to the point I tell my husband that I don’t want gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or other holidays. I just want to buy art when something strikes me. As our home fills up with beautiful art, he’s finally to the point he believes me. And, he’s getting in on the action and helping to select the pieces more often, too.

Do you have art from local artists in your house? If not, I bet there are an amazing number of artists in your area, who would be happy to provide some of their art a new home. Keep your eye out!

What Living Abroad Taught Me About Being an American

In the USA, today is a day of food, fireworks and friends. It’s a celebration of the birth of our country. It’s a uniquely American experience, one that we missed greatly when we were living in Italy years ago. You see, when you live in another country, you don’t just learn about other cultural traditions, you also learn about your own. You learn how your cultural traditions and beliefs, ones you may not even realize you have, affect you and shape you, and make you who you are.

I truly learned what it meant to be an American, a citizen of the United States of America, by living abroad.

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I didn’t fully realize how much country and culture shaped me until I lived in a different one. When you have to navigate everyday life in another country, you discover how deeply rooted cultural norms and expectations are. It shows up in simple things, such as paying bills or grocery shopping, and more complex things, like navigating government processes or building friendships. There are certain ways you expect things to be done; certain procedures you expect things to follow; certain behaviors you expect people to exhibit. And when you live in another country, you realize how much those rules and expectations are based on a cultural understanding.

You realize that a shared culture is the foundation for all of our interactions.

Culture affects everything. And when you step away from the culture of your home country, you step away from that foundation onto what, for you, is shaky ground. It’s scary and it’s exhilarating. You realize that there are more ways of doing things than you ever imagined. You realize that the “right” way is relative to the culture you come from. And you might realize, as I did, that being “American” is fundamental to who you are.

As Americans, we have this shared basis of how things work, why we do the things we do, and what possibilities are available to us. Sure, it might vary based on geographic region, religion or socio-economic background, but underpinning it all are similar values and expectations. Really similar. In fact, I would say that we are more alike than we are different, here in the United States of America.

That might be hard to recognize when so much of what we hear around us is categorized as “us vs. them.” Look at the news media, always focusing on controversial issues. Of course they do… Conflict sells. It’s not exciting to talk about the things we all share in common, or the greater cultural foundation that underpins us all. But it’s there. I know it, because I had to live without it for two years. I learned and grew from the experience, but there is nothing so comfortable as coming back to that foundation, to live in a place where you feel at home.

My experience living abroad gave me a greater understanding of what it means to be an American. It gave me a deeper appreciation of our history, and how that has shaped our shared values and norms. It helped me understand how important my country is, to my history and my identity.

My experience living abroad also helped me see how we can’t expect every other country or culture to behave as we would. The USA is but one country on the earth. And each country has a unique history and culture, many of which transcend lines on a map. They go back much longer and are held more deeply than most Americans can comprehend, with our short 200+ year existence on the global scene. We all need to take the time to understand and respect that history, as much as we do our own. It helps to step outside of your cultural foundation, once in a while, and see the yourself and the rest of the world with a different perspective.

Now that we are back home, I greatly appreciate celebrating Independence Day. It’s not just a day of food, friends and fireworks. It is a celebration of the beginning of my country and the shared ideals and history that have shaped me and my fellow citizens.

I hope that on this day, more than any other, we can celebrate the common foundation we all stand on. Happy Independence Day!

The Influence of the Camera

I like to say that the photographer makes the photograph, not the camera. A camera is just a tool.

That is absolutely true. Cameras don’t create photographs by themselves. The photographer chooses what to point the camera at, the framing, the settings.

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It’s also true that the camera influences the photographs you make. It’s not possible to make the same photographs with every camera out there. A pinhole camera is going to create a different photograph than a dSLR. An iPhone is going to create a different photograph than a large format film camera. Each camera has differences.

So the photographer makes the photograph, but only within the range of parameters available from the camera.

When I choose my tool, the iPhone right now, I am choosing a range to work within. I am choosing both the limitations and the options, the advantages and disadvantages, of the specific camera system. That in turn influences the images I create.

I tell people the iPhone changed my art. It changed how and when I take photographs, it changed what I take photographs of, it changed what I do with them. All this fundamental change, because of the tool I use.

The camera I am using influences me as much as I influence the images coming from the camera. It’s a give and take.

As much as photographers might get frustrated with the ever-present gear obsession and the question, “What camera do you use?” As much as we might want to say the camera doesn’t matter, it’s the photographer…

The reality is, the camera we use does matter. How could it not? It’s the fundamental tool we use to create our art.

Your turn: How does your camera influence you?

Going to Market

Do you feel uncomfortable with the idea of marketing and selling your art? If so, you are not alone. For a long time I was uncomfortable with everything around marketing and selling my art. In my mind, “marketing” was equated with someone who wouldn’t stop talking about what they were selling, and “sales” equated with a pushy salesperson who just won’t take no for an answer. But you know what? There are lots of other ways to market and sell, and there is nothing inherently wrong with selling your art.

In fact, there are a lot of wonderful things about selling your art… You connect with other people. You make them happy. You learn and grow. The beauty of selling art is that no one buys art because they HAVE to; they buy it because it makes them feel good. So when you get to the right people for your art, you have this fantastic connection that you and they wouldn’t have had otherwise, and you don’t have to push anyone to buy. They just do, because they want the feeling the art brings them.

It’s taken time, but I no longer feel “icky” about marketing and selling my art. I’ve found ways to share what I do that work for me. One of those ways is to take my art to places people are looking for it: Art Fairs and now, a shop on Etsy.

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I’ll be at an art fair this weekend, Lake Oswego Art in the Park, from Friday through Sunday. I love the interaction that art fairs bring. What other way can you get a whole bunch of your work in front of a whole bunch of people, and then be there to talk with them in person about it? I’m learning to talk about my art, how I do it, what I love about it. I’m learning to engage people and ask them what they like about it, what connects for them. I learn more about them, and I learn more about myself. And, along the way, I sell some art! People hang it on the wall, they send a card with my art on it to connect with someone else, it’s all good.

And if people don’t like my art? They can walk on by. There are no hard feelings from me.

Etsy-Shop

Last weekend I also opened an Etsy shop, you can find me here. I chose Etsy because I want to be where people are looking for art. Sure, I’ll have to do marketing of my shop personally, as well as learn how to best utilize the Etsy platform, but at least I’m out there where the people are looking. I have the chance to connect with people, and maybe make someone happy to have a piece of my art on their wall. If you have time… Stop by, check out the shop and become a follower. I’ll be adding new items regularly, once I get into a groove.

If I love creating my art and I love sharing my art, why in the world shouldn’t I sell my art? There is nothing wrong with making money from something you love doing, especially when you make other people happy along the way.

I’ll see you at the market!

Creating Permanent Albums on your iPhone (Mobile Tutorial)

It’s been a long time coming, but today we cover the final installment of the File Management series of Mobile Tutorials: Creating Permanent Albums on your iPhone. In earlier installments, we covered how to transfer image files between devices, how to transfer image files from device to computer, and how to delete all of the files on your device camera roll. The only problem with deleting all the image files from your device? There may be some files you want to keep on there! Like your portfolio or your favorite images of your kids. Let’s cover how to get those back onto your device after you’ve cleared it off.

But first, an excursion through the forest, from my latest series…

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Aaahhh… Don’t you feel better? I do, every morning I hike in this beautiful place! OK, back to our tutorial…

Create Folders on Your Computer

The first step to the whole process is to create a place on your computer where you will create your permanent albums. In “My Pictures” Library, I have created folders called “iPhone Sync” and “iPad Sync,” so I can have a different set of albums on each device.

Within each Sync folder, create subfolders. Each subfolder will be an album on my device, so name the folder what you want the album to be named, and copy the photos you want in that album into the subfolder on the computer.

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On my iPhone, I have albums I use for teaching classes (the “Example” folders) and albums for my Portfolios (starting with “P*_”). Since the albums will show up alphabetically on my iPhone, I name them alphabetically in the order I want them.

On my iPad, I also have texture and background images acquired from other sources or created in the past. It’s nice that I always have these favorite image files available, and easy to find on my device.

Set up iTunes to Sync with your Folder

The second step is to set up iTunes to sync your chosen folder. Attach your device to your computer, open iTunes and then…

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1. Select your device by clicking on the device icon.

2. In the Settings menu on the left menu bar, select Photos.

3. Check the box to Sync Photos.

4. Select your Sync folder.

5. Click the radio button next to All folders, so that all of the subfolders you created will be transferred as albums. You can also click the checkbox if you have videos in these folders, and videos will be included too.

Sync your Device

Sync your device, and voila! You now have permanent albums in your Photos app. Open the Photos app, select Albums at the bottom of the screen, and then scroll down. You will see the albums you created in your sync folder.

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You can open these image files as you would any other image file on your Camera Roll, but you can’t save into the album or delete images from the album. If you open and edit an image, you save a new version onto the Camera Roll like normal. That’s nice, because you can’t accidentally delete these images from your device.

When you want to delete individual images or an album, delete them in the Sync folder on your computer, and then sync your device. It’s that easy!

Days in Del Mar

Another week come and gone, five days in Del Mar went by in the blink of an eye. You think when you plan a business trip that you will have more time than you really do. But between early meetings and late dinners, there was very little free time. So much for taking advantage of staying near the beach! That’s why it’s called a “business trip” and not a vacation, I suppose.

I did get a couple of morning walks in on the foggy beach…

I had one beautiful evening…

And managed to get a quick stop in at the San Diego Museum of Art. A wonderful find there is the work of photographer Lalla Essaydi. These incredibly detailed, large format color prints were exquisite and intriguing in their subject matter. I encourage you to look her up and learn more.

Now I’m back home and getting back into the routine. Until Thursday, that is, when I’m off again. Stay tuned to find out where!