Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Choose NOT to be Scared

Swine Flu
Unsafe Travel Abroad
Plane Crash
Tijuana, Mexico Gangs
Life after College

I choose not to be scared.

For the past months (dare I say years?) we have heard nothing on the news but things to be scared about. Swine Flu is the newest threat and everyone could get this airborne disease and die. We are in a recession so our homes go into foreclosure. You may get laid off of your job so watch your pennies. Salmonella taints your chicken and who knows where tuberculous could strike. Go traveling abroad and you may get kidnapped and held hostage or shot down in Tijuana; provided that you don't die in a plane crash before you get there.

I choose not to be scared.

I am making the choice not to be scared, no matter what the news says. Applying this attitude to the last scary item on my list is harder - life after college.

Being in college now is wonderful. I can make art, learn everyday, study abroad all while working part time and receiving scholarships, loans and grants to help me pay for it. But what happens when I get my BA? In this scary economy, where will the jobs be? What will I be able to do with my BA in Art, emphasis in sculpture? Is there a job with this type of training or do I need to go on to a MFA? Could I even pay for a program like that? I am only a year away from graduating - what happens then? Family tells me that I have to grow up (I am almost 32 years old...) and get a real job instead of doing this whole art thing. But why would I want to do that?

I have to choose not to be scared. No matter what the news or family or the environment tells me, it is my choice on whether or not to react to it.

I choose not to be scared. What is your choice?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Artists - Design your PowerPoint presentation

photo (c)

Isn't great when the information you need falls into your lap right when you need it? Talk about synchronicity, energy, attraction or whatever - it happens all the time.

My connection today is has to do with my Japan and China Study Tour scheduled for this summer. Although the trip is not going to include studio time like I had originally thought, we are still going to visit two art colleges, one in China and one in Japan. Now to the exciting news...

I have volunteered to give a presentation of my art a group of about 50 students at a university in Japan! It is a great opportunity for me.

I am so excited to present my art to a captive and international audience. Public speaking is hard for me, and I am not sure how the language barrier will be addressed. Will there be an interpreter? Do I need to calculate my presentation time and speech to include this interpretation? Are they going to be culturally offended by my artistic nudes? Are all the students going to be studio art majors? Will there be time for questions? These questions lead back to presentation itself.

Enter the synchronicity! The article waiting for me in my inbox today is called Design your PowerPoint presentation from Alyson Stanfield, the Art Biz Coach. This post reminded me that 1. Start working on my presentation NOW, 2. Text on the slides will just distract them from my art, and 3. Practice, practice, practice my speech so I won't be so nervous. Wonderful! Please check it out.

For artists who are not in the know yet, let me enlighten you to the power of the Art Biz Coach. Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Coach newsletter, blog, and book "I'd rather be in the studio!" are amazing resources for artists who are marketing themselves. The newsletter comes every Monday and is brilliant start your week. It will help you promote your art, figure out why you need to blog, and help you make your time out of the studio more productive. It kicks me into gear to promote myself, and reminds me why I started my blog - to connect with other artists! If you haven't noticed, most of my blog posts are written on Monday. Guess why? You got it!

So now that I have turned you on to the Art Biz Coach's fabulousness, you can help me with my "Your turn" section! I love hearing from you super-talented and super-helpful artists!

Your Turn: What do you do to prepare for a presentation of your art via PowerPoint? Is there something in Alyson's article that you don't agree with (bullet points, perhaps)? Anyone ever had to deal with a language and cultural barrier when preparing and giving a presentation?

Until next time, happy art-making! Enjoy the journey! ~ Jaime

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April is National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and I almost forgot!

When I was an English major, poetry, especially American poetry, was my specialty. I wrote it, studied it, memorized it, listened to recordings of it and talked about it. Now poetry is not a huge part of my life. I miss it. I still have many poems trapped in my brain, but now they are snips and clips of there former selves.

So to honor the National Poetry Month and my , I give you former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Ironically, his poem "Forgetfulness" is one of the only poems that I can still quote by heart. He is by far the most accessible contemporary poet. With his causal and non-elitist voice, he brings poetry to the masses. There are many recordings of him reading his poetry which you can access on his website. He also uses the ordinary to access the extraordinary which I think is the goal of most poetry.

Enjoy this poem and find others to connect with!

Forgetfulness by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusions, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a small fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watch the quadratic equation packs its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever you are trying to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up a date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Your Turn: What poems can you not live without? Are you celebrating National Poetry Month with reading or writing of poetry? Can poetry be made necessary in everyday life?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Selling Art Online

So I have only just begun to think about really selling my art online. I tried a few years ago to sell on eBay, but mostly it was just stuff and not art.

As I look to this new bright future with my art going out into the world, I am overwhelmed by the choices available.

Here is a quick list of free or pay per sale places that I have come up with:

Deviant Art

Then there are also the pay to be a member ones:

Boundless Gallery

And there are the ones where they make your art into stuff that people buy like T-shirts and coffee mugs:

Cafe Press

I am sure that there are a million more of each of these categories. This list does not even include when you sell art from your own website or Google shopping cart. So many choices!

Your Turn:
Help me sort these out! Any suggestions on which one of these is worthy of my time to turn my art viewers into art buyers? I am also looking for art exposure more than quick sales if that makes a difference on which one to choose. Share your knowledge!

Overwhelmed by choices - but still Creatively yours ~ Jaime Lyerly

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Substance over quantity?

I love blogging. I can honestly admit it now. Writing about art and life. Having interested (and interested) readers responding to what I write. Wonderful!

But I still question how long it takes me to write a post. I have tons of ideas and want each one of them to substance and relevance to my readers. (The fact that I actually have readers makes me want to jump up and down, yelling "YIPEE!") As being a visual person, I also need to have pictures on each of my post. Yet I cram all this into an already jammed tight schedule, shoving out other worthy activities to satisfy my craving for some blogging. Something has to give, and I am not sure what it is going to be.

Do I give in and just post "fillers" like this to keep my blog active? Is there room in my life for all of the above? These questions linger in my mind as I watch the time gallop towards the eight P.M. hour.

Your Turn: My question to you, my beloved reader, do you want substance or quanitity? Personally, I want them both, but I am usually happy to get substance once a week over fast food every day. But what do you want? Please share your thoughts with me as I work out how to go further with my blog.

Body Worlds Exhibit - Amazing Uncomfortable Learning!

Since yesterday was so busy, I am blogging about my new "uncomfortable learning" experience today. Find out about my last uncomfortable learning experience here.

Yesterday, my Life Drawing class went on a field trip to the San Diego Natural History Museum to see the Body Worlds & The Brain- Our Three-Pound Gem exhibit. It was amazing!

The exhibit is of real bodies and body parts preserved using a method called "Plastination" which was developed by the show's creator Gunther von Hagens. The bodies were donated by people for the purpose of being used for this exhibition. The plastination process is too complex to go into here, but you can learn more about it by going to the link above. The result of this plastination are real bodies preserved for us to study anatomy in a whole new way!

This experience falls under my category of "Uncomfortable Learning" because of the creepiness factor. These are real bodies - very human and very similar to my own body. Last time there was a show like this in San Diego, I talked myself out of going. Do I want to see real bodies without their flesh on? Is it going to be like attending an autopsy? Ick! No, not for me.

But this time, it was required for my Life Drawing class (although I could have gotten out of it), so I had to go. The tickets are quite expensive for the show too, so that was also a factor. However since we got a group rate and a student discount, I couldn't pass up the chance to see them. Gross or not, I was going!

As an artist, I am fascinated by the figure, especially figurative sculpture. It is also one of the hardest areas to study because all of the learning materials are two-dimension representations or live models who have to move positions frequently. There is a book called "Virtual Pose" which is the newest form of learning the figure. It is has .jpgs on a CD-rom which are viewed with Quicktime. These models, which are posted like they would be for a figure drawing class, can be rotated 360 degrees, and zoomed in to see all the details. As great as these references are, they are still lacking - and usually with that pesky skin covering up all the muscles!

So my uncomfortable learning experience was to go through this exhibit and sketch some of the plastinates (their proper name for the preserved bodies). My instructor required only one drawing of leg muscles, but I found myself sketching throughout the exhibit. Here are two of the quick drawings that I did that day.

Drawing is not my strong suit, but I think you get the idea of what I was seeing and experiencing. The full body drawing was of a woman who was five-months pregnant when she died. The baby is preserved inside her belly and it is silt open to see how it fits in. The back is also slit open so you can see her black smoker's lung which the cause of her death. This makes me so sad, but it also is a rare opportunity to see inside our most amazing bodies.

There were other fetuses in the show, as well as embryos in viewing tubes. This is the most controversial part of the show. I have no problem with this show, and think that anyone, but especially artists, could benefit from seeing it. The most uncomfortable part of the show for me was seeing the fetuses, and the shock of those first few plastinates.

Towards the end of the exhibit space, they had plastinates in very dynamic poses. The pose called "Head Diver" was particularly spectacular. It had the internal organs in a standing stationary position, the head and some muscles leaning forward in a diving position, and the skeleton and rest of the muscles leaning backwards. The words do not do it justice.

I am so glad I got out of my comfort zone and experienced the Body World exhibit!

Your Turn: What kind of uncomfortable learning experiences have you had? Ever step outside of your comfort zone and been amazed by the experience? If we have amazing experiences, why do we stay in our comfort zone?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Encaustic Painting Series - "Forbidden Fruit"

"Forbidden Fruit" series 1 - Installation view

For all you artists who have been enduring my rambling about things other than art, thank you! I am happy to share with you my new series of encaustic paintings. The photographs of the piece could be better, and I am still working out exactly how I want to install them. However, I think they are ready for your viewing pleasure. I would love to know your opinions on these.

First - The skinny on the "Forbidden Fruit" series -

Technique: 16 6x6x2 inch artist boards. Self-portrait ink jet photographs printed on rice paper. The photos are layered with encaustic medium. The medium is manipulated with tools and heat.
Concept: "Forbidden Fruit" explores the idea of Eve and "original sin." With one bite of the fruit, Eve brings knowledge but also pain and suffering. The fruit that has caused all the problems is now gagged into the mouths of all women. This gagging is my main interest.

Now to the piece:
Forbidden Fruit - by Jaime Lyerly. April 2009. Installation view above, and details of individual pieces below.
Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 1

Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 2

Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 3

Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 4

Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 5

Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 6

Forbidden Fruit series 1- Detail 7

Forbidden Fruit series 1 - Detail 8

Your Turn: Please share your thoughts with me about this series. Do they affect you? How about the installation? Anything else you want to say?

Happy Art Making! ~ Jaime

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Closer to my journey - China and Japan Prep

More good news was delivered to be via email today, with the disclaimer of pending final approval from SDSU...

I have been selected as the 2009 Fu Scholar!

What does that mean? It means I win a scholarship for $1000 from Scholars Without Borders donated by the Charles Wei-Sun Fu Foundation to help fund my upcoming study tour of Japan and China. To read more about my special trip, check out this post.

I am, again, humbled and honored to receive something so special. Add this to my Mortar Board acceptance, and we have a super start to the week! I cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in store for me.

Speaking of tomorrow, we have the meeting for the Japan and China study tour tomorrow, which should be fun. I hope we will get the itinerary, since I am dying to plan my art making accordingly.

In preparation for my adventure, I was thinking of preparing some travel-friendly substrates and/or journals to write and collage in, but I am not sure where to start. Maybe I can print out maps of where we are going and glue them into the pages to have an instant background. Nothing is scarier than a blank page. Any suggestions on what I should bring to create on-the-spot art and memories?

Thanks again for letting me share my accomplishments with you. For all of you who are waiting patiently for me to get back to talking about art, I have a new encaustic painting series completed and I am working on getting photos up for it. They are not your typical encaustic paintings, but I hope you will find them intriguing. Until then, help me out with answering my "Your Turn" challenge question.

Your turn: How do you get prepared for an art related trip? Do you prepare substrates before hand so they are ready? What are the bare minimum supplies you would take for this kind of adventure? Love to hear your ideas!

Keep creating and leaping for your creative dreams! ~ Jaime

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nerdiest Art Major EVER!

Today was a shock! In my Life Drawing class today, we did two three-minute warm ups with charcoal. Then my instructor said we were going to move on to something else. As I am drinking my tea and cleaning off charcoal from fingers, I look up to see about 5 people all in black graduation caps and gowns. My heart skipped and I got all shaky. They call out my name, and I raise my hand. They read the following piece of paper aloud to my class:

"Jaime Lyerly is an Art major and a Psychology minor with a 3.93 GPA. She is a member of Scholars Without Borders, the SDSU Foundry Co-Op, the Women's Caucus for Art, the Association of Nontraditional Students in Higher Education and the American Association of University Women. Jaime volunteers at the Women's History Museum and Educational Center and (formerly) Avocado Elementary School where she gave monthly art lessons and has helped redesign the entire Art Docent program to include multimedia"

I stood there shocked as they pinned a little blue ribbon to my shirt and handed me a black folder with my name and Mortar Board written on it. I mumbled a thank you and my instructor asked them to tell the class more about this society. I waited patiently to get back to drawing.

I was selected for the Mortar Board, a senior Honor Society my university, San Diego State University. Out of about 3,000 eligible students, I am one of the 41 selected. There are over 33,000 students at SDSU, so I am in the top 1% of the university.

The students must apply, and be outstanding in all three areas of Service, Scholarship and Leadership. We must have great grades, professional and leadership affiliations, service to our communities, and have a recommendation from a former professor who thinks we are super. The trick is that they don't send you a nice letter or email notifying you. They notify the selected by "tapping" you unexpectedly during your classes. This is what I experienced today!

So I have officially earned the title of "Nerdiest Art Major EVER!"

Thanks for letting me share my accomplishments with you. Will be posting some more art related stuff soon, so come back to my blog often!

Until next time, keep creating your dreams! ~ Jaime

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

5 books to help Artists to Live their Creative Dreams

I asked myself today: "What inspires me?"I love to read and cannot get enough of books about creativity, art marketing and how to live a creative and artistic life.

A search on my county library system for "creativity" shows a list of 230 books. Living an artistic life falls under "self actualization" and that search shows a list of 423 books!

What is an artist with limited time to do? Jaime to the rescue!

I have narrowed down the enormous selection to 5 books worthy of your precious time away from the studio. Not only are they all fantastic, they will help you to live the life you dreamed of.
Note: All images swiped from where all these wonderful books are sold. The links go directly to the authors' personal sites.

Read and be inspired!
1.Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day by Sark

Sark’s charming art, handwriting and refreshing honesty will delight you. She helps all of us to
choose what we love and do it!

Highlight: “Micromovements” help you go move towards your creative dreams, even when they seem overwhelmingly big. They are short tasks to get past your inner perfectionist and to move procrastinators (like me!) into action.

2. I’d Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson Stanfield

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It helps with everything from social networking, business planning, artist statements, and marketing yourself as a professional artist. An absolute must for any artist.

Highlights: Tie between the Artist Statement and Social Networking sections. Write an exciting artist statement to tell about yourself, your art and your process. The social networking section will help you get out there in the world to tell them what you do. Better get that blog and
website rolling!

3. The Savvy Crafter's Guide To Success: Turn Your Crafts Into A Career by Sandy McCall

Don’t let the term “Crafter” throw you off: this book is for artists too! Interviews with artists who are supporting themselves by making and selling art help inspire you to think outside of the gallery.

Highlight: Full of lots of beautiful artwork throughout the book. The forms (such as a workshop contract) that you can use as a template to prepare your own documents are priceless.
4. Living the Creative Life: Ideas and Inspiration from Working Artists by Rice Freeman-Zachery
See inside other artists’ studios and learn through photos and interviews how they work. Spark your own creativity with prompts that are fun and inspirational.

Highlight: The “Try This” section! Prompts which address different aspects of the living the artist’s life and how to keep the creativity flowing out into phenomenal art.

5. The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real - Lisa Sonora Beam

Using visual journaling, you explore the aspects of business that usually make artists shudder.

Highlight: The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis section helps you figure out your business strategy in a fun and non-threatening activity. The business work that creative people can enjoy!

Your Turn: What books inspire you to live your best, fullest and most creative life? What keeps you coming back for more? Share with us!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

That's my job... Support for Creative Dreams

photo by Jaime Lyerly

Today I spent time chatting with another studio art major very close to graduating. As she worked some dipping plants into ceramic slip, I found out that she was majoring in multimedia. She said once she started taking ceramics, she lost interest in multimedia. But being so close to graduating she has a to make a choice of what she wants to do. As we talked about choices and long stemming family influences on our decisions to be artists, we connected as artists do to one another.

I encouraged her not to settle for what is easiest and to live her creative dream. She thanked me for encouraging and supporting her, I say "Your welcome. That's my job."

"That's my job." I have said it dozens of times in reference to supporting people to live their creative dreams. I say it without thinking but know it is completely true. I say it because I feel that helping other people to express creativity, get over their anxieties or supporting them when others do not is one of my gifts and purposes in life.

But what if that was actually "my job?" The job that pays the bills. The job that I get to talk to people about their dreams, hopes and plans. The job that gets artists together with one another so connections can be made. The job that I can teach others what I know and have learned about making connections online. The job that heals my clients and nurtures my own creativity. Is there a place in the world where this job actually exists?

The smARTist Telesummit that I attended this January had a dozen people who do this job. Each has their own spin on it - social media, business marketing, envisioning your dreams, but all are supporting, helping and nurturing artists. Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Coach newsletters and her book "I'd Rather Be in the Studio" are geared toward the business side of showing and making art. Her book is to help clear the confusion of art marketing and artist statements so you have time to make art. Another resource is a book I just started reading called "The Creative Entrepreneur" by Lisa Sonora Beam which focuses on creating visual journals to dissolve your fears about the business of art. These journals will be your safe and creative place to explore the business side of art and a way to envision the direction you want your business to go.

These resources tell me that "my job" does actually exist. I am not sure how to get to the point where I can help many instead of just one at a time, but I am confident that this is one of my purposes in life. It is part of my journey.

Your Turn: Do you love to help others to express their creativity? Have you had a breakthrough moment when you realized that you needed to share this information with many? Any tips for me on how to continue on the path towards helping artists connect to each other, themselves and their businesses?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Meat-less Monday Revisited

Picture from

Although it has nothing to do with art, I want to share my family's new change in eating to help get us back on the healthy track. After all... healthy body = more energy to make art!

Today I am re-starting a family money-saving and health-conscious dinner plan - Meat-less Monday.

Meat-less because we are using less meat or no meat at all. In a house of mostly carnivores this is a change for the better for at least one day a week. Meat is expensive and very calorific. Especially ground beef which is one of the meat that get the most action in our house.

Tonight's dinner will be Stuffed Red Peppers, with at least half of the ground beef replaced by vegetarian crumbles. I change the rice to instant brown rice and use tomato sauce instead of soup. I am also going to add some shredded yellow squash to the mixture for a little extra healthiness and color.

Here is a recipe from Allrecipes which is similar to my own. Just make the substitutions and you are on your way to a healthier body and a thicker wallet!

Your Turn: Got any recipes or healthy secrets to share? Post them! I need some encouragement to make healthy changes. How about you?

To your health! ~ Jaime

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Encaustic Monoprint Art Tutorial

As promised, here is my own Encaustic Monoprint Tutorial. This tutorial is based one done by HGTV, which I wrote about in this post.

Remember that once you use this equipment for encaustic, it should be used for wax only. Absolutely no food, even if it "looks clean!" There should be good ventilation when using encaustic, such as an open window with fans. So if you start to develop a headache, you know you need better ventilation. I am not an expert at this, but I love to share my techniques with you. Please try at your own risk!

What you need:
Griddle or Electric Skillet Pan
Encaustic paints (in solid blocks)
Watercolor paper (smaller than your pan)
Paper Towels

Optional (but recommended):
Heat Gun or Tacking Iron
Crockpot with Encaustic Medium or Beeswax
Bristle brushes

Note: If you are going to use the encaustic medium or beeswax, get that started melting in the Crockpot while you gather other supplies and set up. It usually takes my wax about an hour to fully melt.

1. Gather all supplies and have them close by.

2. Heat your griddle or electric skillet to Warm or temperature between 160 - 220 degrees F.

  • Each skillet is different, so you have to try out which temperature works for you.
  • Put some chips of beeswax or medium in the pan to test the temperature
  • If the pan or wax is smoking or sizzling, then the temperature is too hot! Turn it down!
  • I like using the electric skillet because the high edges hold the encaustic paints in the pan without worrying about spilling over the side.
3. Using a solid encaustic paint block, draw and swirl the onto the pan. Here I am using a handmade stick from R&F paints.

4. Add more colors and designs. This is the FUN part! Your wax is in motion with you, dancing around your skillet. Use that to your advantage!
  • Each color and paint has its own melting point which varies.
  • It is all experimentation to see which colors melt well together.
  • You can melt a little wax, or a lot. I suggest just melting a little to try it out.
  • You can always add more!
  • When you think you have enough wax, get your paper ready.
5. Press the watercolor paper down onto the skillet on top of the wax.

  • Keep it on the skillet for about 5 seconds or however long it works for you.
  • Just remember to keep the temperature low enough that you can touch the paper in the skillet without burning yourself. Those pans get hot!

8. Lift the paper from the edge, letting any excess drip back into the pan.

  • Lay it flat to dry.
  • If you love what you did, put another piece of paper down try for a similar look. These are monoprints, so none two will look exactly alike.
  • If you didn't love it. Try again! You can do multiple layers on the same print since the wax dries almost instantly.
  • You can put the paper back on the pan to melt it off and add more.
  • I don't worry about heat setting these prints until I am all finished. When you are completely done, then you can set the wax with a heat gun or tacking iron.

7. Clean your skillet between colors using paper towels. Add more colors, and repeat!

  • This time try moving the paper around a bit. Maybe only dip one side.
  • If you have dipped the paper multiple times, note that the longer they are on the pan, the more likely the layers below will start to melt again.
  • Add some beeswax or encaustic medium to the prints to set the colors below. You may want to heat set this layer with a heat gun or tacking iron.
  • You can add layers of beeswax or encaustic medium between layers of prints to give it more depth. But beware that the paper is thin and cannot be put on too thickly or it will crack.
6. Heat set with a heat gun or tacking iron. You're finished! Your own Encaustic Monoprints!

Here are some of the encaustic monoprints I made while making this tutorial. They are on different sizes and shapes of watercolor paper (except #2 done on thick green paper). Most of them are dipped multiple times. Some have layers of beeswax between the layers of color. Enjoy!

Your Turn: Share this tutorial! Let me know what you think about this and what you want to know more about.

Happy Art Making! ~ Jaime