Sunday, June 8, 2014

A little something different. 06.08.14

So, I am still working on my large commission every day. But I've also been working on other pieces... Over the weekend I started working on a painting for The Sunday Morning Project. And another. And another. I wasn't in a groove: I was stuck! I ended up gessoing over three "failed" canvases, and I'm still working on one I may be able to salvage.

But as you might guess: I felt blocked.

So instead of trying to continue to fix broken pieces, or make something beautiful from my frustrating attempts, I just walked away. I decided to try something completely different: a softie (or stuffie, as I used to call them growing up.) This is what I ended up with:

"Yellow" by Julie Tillman for the Sunday Morning Project
"Yellow" by Julie Tillman
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know I have a rabbit named Lucy who I adore. We had rabbits when I was a child, but Lucy is my first official pet rabbit (and, yes, by that statement you can safely infer that we ate the rabbits we had while I was growing up.) Lucy is sometimes sweet, forever feisty, and a super snuggler. I feel like the rabbit I made (above) channeled at lot of Lucy's attitude!

I used a vintage hankie, folded it in half, and drew the general outline of the rabbit. I added a thicker, more opaque lining, and added embroidered details on the face and ears. Then I cut the shape, put the fabric facing itself, and hand-sewed around the majority of the bunny, leaving a couple of inches at the bottom to stuff the bunny, which I did, after turning her right-side out. I used (a very amateur version of) a ladder stitch to then close the bottom.

This little bunny is slightly wonky, with a few mistakes, but I love her, nonetheless. I also felt SO GOOD after she was done. Not at all how I was feeling when I started her. I didn't want to quit making those paintings, but my frustrations were growing high, so I decided to redirect my creative juices elsewhere. Into something I'd never really done before, and had no (high) expectations for its outcome. I feel good about the decision, because, not only do I have this sweet little bunny, the process of making her helped me clear my head and refocus on my paintings.

What do you do when you get stuck in your art?

Thanks for reading,

Friday, June 6, 2014

art challenges, literally.

I really love getting commissions; it means someone likes my work well enough to trust that I can fulfill a vision of what they want. It makes me happy to make others happy through my art.

So recently I got a commission for a really large, yet simple (or so I thought) piece. I said it would take me about three weeks. Well, when the three weeks were up I realized I a). needed a bit more time, and b). it was going to by anything but simple.

I would post pictures of the piece, but I would not want this patron to feel bad about the trouble I've had with this.

But here's the lowdown: The client saw a smaller watercolor piece of mine, and wanted something similar, but in the (very specific) color of their choice, and on canvas. So I though, DONE! Easy! Absolutely I can do this! I ordered the custom canvas and went to work on recreating the exact color that was requested. But because I was working with acrylic on canvas, the effect was not the same. The painting seemed flatter.

And when I contacted the buyer about it, she agreed. It was too flat.

So it was back to square one, and already a few days past due. I had to come up with another solution... but what? I let the idea roll around in my head for a few days, and then recalled a product that basically makes any surface into a watercolor paper-like surface. I ordered it up and put 4-5 layers (that had to dry 48 hours in between) over the original painting. Bye bye, hard work... Here comes my second try!

But honestly, I don't mind! In fact, I'm GRATEFUL for the experience... For many reasons: first and foremost, I want to make art that I am proud of and my patrons love for years to come. Also, this particular patron is SO SWEET. Patient and understanding, and even felt bad for asking for what they wanted! Which they shouldn't have felt bad about, at all. Plus, it's been a HUGE learning experience, and I got to work with a product I'd never used before.

The piece is still not done... but it's SO close! And all I can hope for is that the buyer loves this second try.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and let you know I've held true to my promise; I'm still making art every day... it's just no longer finished in a day.

Thanks for listening.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My challenge with the Daily Art Challenge

I've been struggling with how to write this for the last several days now. I wanted to post it on the 1st, but everything from dishes to difficult customers kept me away. (Really just excuses and procrastination at their worst.)

But after some thought, I realized that two of my own favorite bloggers are talented, beautiful, and inspiringly  HONEST. They share their real thoughts, struggles and successes. Here they are, accomplished and successful, and willing to be completely vulnerable with their thoughts and feelings. And that is what I aspire to do with my own blog... and life!

So my honest thought is; the Daily Art Challenge has been a mix of success and struggle since its inception in January 2014. I had a certain vision of what I thought it would be, or could be. I definitely thought a lot more people would participate along with me. I realize these things take some time to gain traction, but the fact is, I really didn't have many other people joining in.

Of course, that wasn't my only goal. I also wanted to challenge myself as an artist, and explore new ideas, techniques, and mediums, etc. In those ways, it has been a total success! I've made everything from portraits to abstract to characters to embroidery to mixed media and more. In fact, the little characters I was making towards the end were a surprise and delight to make. I had all these little stories in my head about how they were all connected in one way or another. It was a lot of fun! My mom has always said I should write a children's book, and I could (finally) see that happening with them. I even dabbled with printmaking, which I haven't done since college. It's all been a huge learning experience, which for me, also makes it a success.

But the whole time, I noticed some things that really stressed me out... Mainly: making art each day, and then photographing it, photo-editing those pictures, blogging and adding them to other social media sites, and finally listing them on my etsy page was A LOT OF WORK. Not to say I'm afraid of hard work! But my art is not the only way I make a living: I also sell vintage at (as well as locally). And my vintage business has been neglected. Badly. Not to mention my laundry and other to do list items! (Even worse!) My BIG, long-term goal is for my art to sustain me fully... but that day has not yet arrived. So in the meantime, I have to balance things out a bit.

I also realized the limits of what an artist can make in one day. (Or, at least, this artist.) So another success from the DAC is coming to the conclusion that I really want to make art on a larger scale. Being constrained to 24 hours didn't fully allow that for me. I want to make work that is bigger, more thoughtful, and has more layers of meaning for me. Which is almost impossible to complete (for me, anyway) in one day.

So, after a lot of thought, conversations with my friends, family, peers and mentors, meditation, and struggle, I have decided to re-shape what the DAC is for me. I want to continue to make art every day, but that does not (necessarily) mean making one complete piece of art each day. I will continue to post pictures, hopefully every day, but they will more often be pictures of my work(s) in progress. I also hope to do more of this: Blogging about my struggles and successes being an artist! Hopefully connecting with other artists who go through the same, or similar, issues.

I also hope to share some art-related projects, ideas, how-to's, and maybe even add some videos! Either way, I am grateful to everyone who has played along so far, and most of all, to all of the people who have supported me through this; with their words of encouragement, their "likes" and follows, their feedback, as well as by buying my art. I am truly grateful for every bit of it, large and small!

With gratitude,

(By the way, the two bloggers I mentioned above are Ann Flowers Gosser from and Jen Neitzel from