Christmas Vacation has officially begun in the Chambers’ household! The only work that will get done around here for the next 4 days will be holiday related. Or it will just have to wait.
I will not answer my phone unless this face appears under the number:
or this face:
I will encourage lazing by the fire:
and wearing fuzzy slippers all day no matter how much they look like Snug’s disemboweled rat toy:
I will be charmed by sequined felt:
and folksy wood block houses:
I mean really, what’s the point of going to the trouble to do all the decorating and baking and party planning and present selecting and making and wrapping and mailing and opening if we don’t take the time to enjoy it too? Anyone?
So, my plan is to do just that! And that, as they say, about Wraps it Up!
I know I announced my intention to “shop my studios” for Christmas gifts this year, but, there are always the hostess gifts and the stocking stuffers and the one last thing needed to round out the boxes to be mailed.
These are my solution for those situations this year…
They are useful but decorative too.
I bought a bunch of bamboo kitchen utensils and then painted their handles in a variety of colorful patterns. New work, but not exactly a new inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with revisiting a good idea.
One year I painted stainless steel serving spoons and forks using the acrylic that’s intended for painting on metal. I kept a few of those for myself.
I could have saved this for a Second Helpings post, but it’s actually a multipurpose post because it’s subject is also Christmas themed, and it shows how I work in both 2D and 3D and sometimes the two approaches inform each other.
Meet my multifaceted friends:
If the Chambers were tiny wooden reindeer cut out of some 1960’s hobbyshop kit we would look just like this: Ma, Pa, Sissy, and Lil Smack.
You don’t even have to ask. You already know that I found them in a secondhand shop, unpainted, unloved. Missing a googley eye here and there. $1.99 for the ziplock bagful. There were more than just the first four…
Lil Smack had a friend. (Both of them have issues making eye contact.) And then there were a couple more that found their way to me as well. Herding instinct is a powerful thing.
It should also come as no surprise that I saw through their plain brown exteriors to their true, technicolor personalities waiting to burst out. Acrylic paint and tiny brush to the rescue once again.
I bring these guys out every Christmas and finagle them into the decorations some place different every time. This year they’re in the new cozy dining room:
I had so much fun painting these reindeer that in turn they inspired a 2D painting which hung in TVAA’s first Foray exhibit two years ago. The painting was done in a combination of watercolor and acrylic. It’s one of my pieces which is available as an archival giclee print. The title of the painting is “Democrats in Idaho.”
You might have to actually live here to understand why that’s funny, but you don’t have to live here to look at these guys and have them make you smile. Nevermind their inability to return the eye contact!
Any excuse to paint a cast off works for me, but Christmas definitely brings out my inner Santa’s little helper. Plus, I think you’ve gathered by now that I’m a sucker for the misfits.
This little number was far from the typical shiny, eye-catching item destined for centerpiece glory we’ve come to expect. It had misfit written all over it. Dusty, and rusty, I knew it would be perfect for a Second Helping.
It is made out of metal. Some kind of metal that rusts. Not very heavy, it can’t be pure anything — I guess it’s what my mom would call “pot metal.” But being metal you can’t paint it with regular acrylic because that would just peel off.
Luckily for us there is an Acrylic craft paint that is made specifically for painting on metal, and any art supply or craft store should stock it, or be able to get it for you.
Don’t confuse it with metallic acrylic paint! Make sure it says right on it “no prep metal paint for painting metal surfaces.”
Besides being made for painting on metal it behaves exactly like any other acrylic paint, so just go ahead and use it in the same way. Mix your colors, paint your piece, clean up with water.
Sometimes all it takes is the right materials, and a second look. Polka dot snow fall, swirls on reindeer, a balsam scented candle, and this misfit can be my centerpiece anytime.
You know how you can see something day in and day out for years and years?
And then one day you move it to a new spot and the light hits it differently and suddenly it is transformed into something entirely new? Something which used to be humdrum is now ta-ra-ra-BOOM-d-ay!
Or when you go on a road trip and you have an opportunity to think about your life back home as you watch the scenery roll by?
And the literal distance from your usual routine gives a clarity to how you are living and tons of ideas rush in of all the things you could change for the better when you get back.
Sometimes it’s a sad sort of revelation, in the “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” tradition. But if you are conscious about it and think of it as a discipline, you can purposely create opportunity for a fresh perspective, and that is a powerful skill to have.
I do it ALL the time. In fact, when I’ve been in a bad mood and I look back at what was going on at the time I guarantee I was in some rut or another and “turning my head” and looking at things in a new way, literally or figuratively, will have been what made the difference and snapped me out of it. It’s one of those skills which works for any size — mini, mega, or meta. A fresh perspective is a one size fits all proposition.
I am using it with our house, and the transformation I envisioned is all but complete. Mike and I are using it in our approach to our careers in art. This blog is a literal example I am developing of how I can share my artwork and my perspective with a lot more people than I ever have before.
Even the Holidays are getting the treatment this year.
I’m taking a fresh look at what I’ve got already and not feeling like I need to make all new art for everyone. It’s actually kind of fun. Like “shopping your closet,” only I’m “shopping my studios.”
So if things aren’t going exactly the way you want them to go, before you lose the mate, sell the house, trade in the RV for a speedboat, or invest in the entire line of Vasari oil paints when before you only used acrylic, consider the fresh perspective. Rearrange what you have. Reshuffle your schedule. Reconsider your ambitions. Turn your head. Look again.