26 Jun

Meet Me on IG?

In May, I was lamenting my lack of blog posts. Since then, I’ve blogged a couple times, but not really picked up the pace. I’ve been paying attention to my social media use though, and invited readers to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I’m now thinking the answer is a shift in focus. For over ten years, my blog has been my main story and then Facebook, and more recently Instagram, have played supporting roles. But I’m finding that I like the immediacy and accessibility of Instagram. I can take photos of whatever I’m doing and post it right away, all from my phone. I find that things are much more current on my Instagram feed, and I’m happy with the balance of personal and professional inspiration. I won’t be ditching my blog altogether, but I think that Instagram will now be my main story, and the blog will play a supporting role when I need something that can be more verbose, or contain links, or do whatever it is that blogs do best. My professional Facebook page has it’s merits, as does my personal page, so those will live, but I’m trying not to spend too much time there. (By the way, if you’ve friend requested me and I haven’t responded it’s probably because we’ve never met in person, which is pretty much my criteria for my personal Facebook page. However, please like my professional Facebook page — that’s where all the arty stuff is anyway.)

So, please follow me on Instagram, because I think that’s where it’s at for me right now.

IG Feed

19 May

Follow Me

Thinking about yesterday’s post and what to write about, it dawned on me that now might be a good time to remind readers that I do post shorter, but more regular, images and thoughts on my professional Facebook page, and even more so, on my Instagram feed. So, between sporadic blog posts, I encourage you to follow me:

Home is Where night Follow me on Facebook! This is my professional page where I post information about what I’m working on and where to see my work. No cat or food photos here — just art.

Shroud WIPFollow me on Instagram! Here are my creative endeavors and what inspires me. It’s mostly art, but there’s a good amount of knitting and home renovation as well. Plus the occasional pretty flower, cat, or food pic.

16 May

The One About Nothing

I hate it when the first thing I read on a blog post is, “I can’t believe it’s been x months since I last posted,” or “I know I’ve been away for a while but this is where I renew my commitment to my blog.” Just blog or don’t blog — no need to explain or apologize. But I find myself in exactly these shoes. I have the best intentions of blogging, and then other things take precedence, or more likely, I can’t think of anything to blog about.

I was wondering the other day what has changed in my life that I no longer have anything to write about. The obvious is that I’m not going to cool German fests, or exploring exotic Hawai’i, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write about my new locale. There’s certainly a lot going on in Portland. No, I think my biggest stumbling block has more to do with expectations. My expectations. I am constantly influenced by what I see on social media — mostly Facebook and Instagram — and most of it is beautiful and curated. I get that it’s branding. Consistency is good. I get that the people posting are known for the kinds of things they post. And I have to admit that I like the way pretty scenery or carefully staged projects look. They are putting their best foot forward and I admire that.

I think that subconsciously (or maybe pretty consciously), I’m not blogging because I don’t have anything finished or aesthetically pleasing to post about. I can’t post weekly if I’m not completing things weekly. The home renovation projects are inching forward, but who wants to see a new light fixture next to the same old sink with no faucet? The embroidery progresses, but who wants to see another word in condensed san serif type when the last thing I posted was a word in san serif type. I’m working on a commission, but it’s in it’s ugly experimental phase and not ready for prime time. I’m making samples for work, but they’re not complete yet.

So bear with me while I sort out how to tell stories on my blog in an era of quick (but seductive) glimpses on social media. I feel like this space deserves better than just copying my Instagram photos, but at the moment I don’t have anything cohesive.

08 Jan

The Ubiquitous New Year Blog Post

So here’s where I sum up what I’ve accomplished in the past year and lay out what I hope to do in the new year. But I’m not doing that this year.

Everything changed in 2015. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but it was a year of transition for sure. My husband was medically retired from the Army, where he had served, and I have followed, for nearly 20 years. For the first time in two decades, we got to choose where we wanted to live. Needless to say, there was much soul searching (mostly on his part) as to how we/he wanted to see ourselves/himself. We decided to move first and find employment later and long story short, we purchased our very first home and moved across country to be closer to our families.

So now that we’ve been in Portland, Oregon for nearly six months, we’re settling in. For me, the biggest change is probably home ownership. We bought a 65 year old fixer upper and it will suck every ounce of time and energy I have if I let it. So, art has taken a back seat to home decor and renovation. And I’m OK with that.

I joined the SAQA Education Committee in 2015 and have been doing some writing for exhibition catalogs and venues. I need to continue to make time for that.

I had considered starting a new business, making custom quilts from military uniforms. I have the samples and the bones of a website ready, but the move, the house, my computer dying, my web host screwing things up, and now my camera in hospital, have all conspired to delay this project. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I just might not be the entrepreneurial type.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I was feeling a little guilty about all the plans I have for the house and how to pay for them, so I decided that maybe I should get a part time job. And wouldn’t you know it, a job practically plopped right into my lap. I’ve now been working at The Pine Needle quilt shop for three months and I love it. Making art is fraught with angst. I might like what I create, but does anyone else? Have I communicated effectively? Has anyone else done the same thing before? Of course they have, and done it better too.  I’m always doubting myself. My making art is a negative cash flow too. I can’t seem to sell enough work or somehow monetize it so that it pays for the supplies and promotion. Case in point, I was invited to send work to a show in NY and now the unsold work is on it’s way back to me. The shipping costs are just a few dollars less than my percentage of the one sale. Getting work into group shows is a money loser too since I have to pay to enter and pay shipping. In contrast, I’ve caught on quickly to the systems at the quilt shop. I get along well with my co-workers. I love helping customers choose fabric, and I enjoy being part of combining fabrics for kits and bundles. I can sew samples if I want — thus playing with patterns and fabrics without expenditure or increase in stash. AND I get paid to do this! Imagine that — instead of me paying others hoping they’ll like my artwork, my boss is paying me for doing a job I enjoy and do well.

So I’m going to let 2016 unfold in whatever way it chooses. There will be art making, but there might be more house projects. And there will be work at the quilt shop. I’m donning the social media hat there, so I’ll be blogging my own story here and on Facebook and Instagram, but I’ll also be sharing gorgeous fabric and fun events on The Pine Needle’s blog, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.  I’ll share details as I get things up and running.

2016, show me what you’ve got.

TPN Katya

04 Dec

Feeling The Need to Rant

I try not to make this blog too ranty or political, but every now and then I just need to use my outside voice, and this is my platform. Yes, I ranted about gun control two and a half years ago and my opinions have not changed much since then. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since then about what I want to do about it.

Murica_detail

I could “like” and share posts on social media that align with my views, but outrage on social media is just so much hot air and nothing actually tangible. I could vote for leaders who’s platforms include issues I agree with, but I’ve been doing that for decades and even if my local politicians support the issues I support, overall the majority and/or oligarchs of this country have very different goals than I do.

I do think that we should continue to pressure politicians to pass (or simply enforce) gun control laws. Sure, background checks, limits on certain types of guns, and limits to amounts of ammunition won’t stop all gun violence, but it has been shown to slow it down in countries that do have stricter laws than the U.S. My vote will reflect this.

I also agree that this country is in dire need to increased mental health services and funding for them. What I don’t believe is that the majority of gun violence perpetrators could have been stopped by better mental health services. I sincerely think that most gun violence is much more a result of poor anger management skills. I have no problem paying higher taxes if that money is going to more and/or better social services.

One thing I think could actually happen soon is to lift the implied ban on gun violence research. In recent news, many doctors are lobbying lawmakers for this. I believe that in the long run, more research on the myriad motives for gun violence and mass killings, and research on gun violence as a health issue will lead us to better understand the problem and to better combat it.

Since it is highly unlikely that Americans as a whole would willingly “give up their guns,” I support the suggestion that gun owners purchase liability insurance for said weapons. Sure, illegal guns wouldn’t be covered, and home intruders and mass shooters couldn’t necessarily be held accountable, but how about the toddlers that accidentally shoot their family members, or the school shooters that use their parent’s guns to kill classmates, or the guy who shoots his girlfriend thinking she was an intruder? At the very least, the insurance could go towards hospital costs, burial costs, first responders, legal fees, etc. in a more direct line from gun owner to gun incident. Having a tangible way to account for the monetary costs of gun violence might encourage some to be more responsible gun owners, or to consider if gun ownership really is the appropriate choice.

Finally, I think that we as a nation need to start thinking long term and seriously work towards changing our gun culture. To this end I wish I knew how to attract the attention of Hollywood. Celebrities have as much, if not more, influence than politicians. Actors can refuse gun-heavy parts. We could enact common sense gun laws all day long, but as long as news and entertainment media keep convincing us that we are in constant danger and that we are all Bruce Willis saving the day with our indefatigable firepower, the short fused among us will keep turning to guns as the go-to problem solving solution. Lets stop watching TV shows that are quick to pull out a gun with the justification “I had no choice.”  Hey Hollywood: you are dynamic and creative — use that force to write scripts that solve problems and bring excitement without guns (or lets start with 50% fewer guns). Personally, I think use of cunning and martial arts is pretty exciting. How about inspiring creative thinking, hand to hand combat, and bloodless suspense rather than going first to shooting from the hip. (Wouldn’t it be interesting if disaffected young white men chose to practice parcour over collecting bullet proof vests and long guns because their TV hero is a parcour and MMA badass.) I’m not saying turn away from action and drama shows, I’m saying find ways to create that action and drama with fewer guns. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick — but maybe the next generation will view gun violence with more disdain just as we’ve come to view cigarette smoking or drunk driving as socially unacceptable. Of course, maybe the next generation will view gun violence with disdain because they’re growing up with regular lock-down drills at school and that can’t not affect young minds. News and infotainment can work to change public opinion as well. I think recently there actually has been a shift away from giving attention to the perpetrators and putting more focus on the victims. This is a good shift. I saw a hashtag the other day, showthebodies. That’s probably too visceral a solution, but point taken.

Personally, I’m saddened by, frustrated about, and resigned to, the state of gun violence in the U.S. today. I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. My thoughts are barely organized. My voice is small, but here it is.

 

18 May

Goals

Never satisfied with where I’m at artistically, I like to set some goals every now and then to keep me accountable in one way or another. I usually do this at the beginning of the year when the mood is in the air, but we’re moving from Virginia to Oregon in the next few months and that seems like a good time to make a plan so I don’t lose my way.

When we moved to Virginia, I decided that was the time to find a life drawing group and refresh some art school basic skills. I also made the decision to connect to a general art community rather than a quilt guild community. It worked out wonderfully, and now I’m looking forward to continuing that lesson in our move to Oregon.

I will definitely seek to continue with regular life drawing sessions. I am also going to try to find a community like the one I found in McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville. I’m not sure if that will be a co-op gallery, or an extension of the drawing sessions, or an informal gather of like-minded people, but I will look for something. And I want to up the ante as well. One of the ways many artists support their work is via grants for projects and education. Now is the time for me to put on my big girl panties and do the planning and the writing to seek these opportunities. I don’t foresee ever being the kind of artist that can break even with sales alone, nor am I one for much schtick or marketing, so I think grants are a good pursuit. I also need to stop waiting for invitations to exhibit, and again, make those kind of opportunities myself by writing proposals and searching out venues. It’s not half as fun as just going in the studio and making art, but it’s what I’m going to need to do if I want to move beyond this as a hobby. And, I think I spend far too much time and effort on my work to get away with categorizing it as a hobby.

So, here’s to our first house, what should be our last move for a good long time, a new beginning in Portland, and a solid set of goals for when I get there!

29 Jan

And Now For Something Completely Different

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art with my friends Lorie and Jill. We went to see the Forbidden City exhibit of Chinese treasures, which was absolutely gorgeous. We took a little time afterward to wander around the museum’s permanent collection and I stumbled upon two tiny pieces that cracked me up.

Indian mini1

 

Indian mini2

 

These are part of a series by Italian artist Francesco Clemente. He takes antique Indian miniatures of little value and replaces their images with his own in the same style — except that his subject matter is much more subversive. I think what attracts me to these is that they look like one thing from afar, but tell a completely different story up close. I also like the absurd.

08 Jan

Part of Those New Year’s Goals

Some of my goals for the new year are to post to my blog more, update my website, and get better at promoting my work. I tackled an easy one first. I created a Facebook Fan Page and it’s going to be awesome. Why? Because I am somewhat ambivalent about my personal Facebook page. I know that FB is a good way to connect to people who might be interested in my art. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends. And then there’s the people from past lives or professional connections, who I want to stay connected to, but don’t necessarily want to know what they are doing on a daily basis, or want them to see all of my goofy antics. I’ve limited my Facebook “friends” to people I know personally or have established professional relationships with, and I try to keep my posts pretty art-related. It’s a tough balance and it means that not everyone who is interested in my artwork will be able to find me on FB to see what I’m up to.

A fan page is open to everyone. I will post my art, some inspiration and in-progress work, and information about where to see my work. February is a big month for me, so be sure to “like” the page to get updates, and tell your friends too. I may even end up posting more on my Kristin La Flamme – Artist page than on my personal page. My personal page will probably narrow down to travel, family, knitting, goofing off with friends. I may even unfriend a bunch of professional contacts if I know they are happily following my artist fan page — where my professional info will be. That would come in time though.

Next step should be to create a newsletter. That will be awesome for those who don’t do much Facebook.