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For the last couple of weeks I’ve been re-posting old blog posts that I originally made for my online Artomatic account. I would initially write a rough draft using a HTML editor then do a quick copy and paste directly into that online blog. The only thing is that the people behind Artomatic tend to wipe the official site of old content whenever a new Artomatic event is announced. Since Artomatic is going on this year, I’d thought it would be cool to re-post some of those old blog posts that exist on my hard drive.
This entry focuses on the posts I wrote when I took part in the 2009 Artomatic event. Things were pretty good for me. I was in the process of recovering from my hip replacement surgery that I underwent in late 2008 but I had felt so much better compared to the year before. I took part in Artomatic that previous year even though I hobbled around on a cane. The organizers would put me in desk jobs for my volunteer shift whenever they saw me with my cane so I was still able to do the required three volunteer shifts.
Here are some of the posts I wrote that year.
Tired, May 21, 2009
I’m participating in Artomatic this year but I’ve been a bit on the disorganized side. After spending the past year dealing with a bad left hip, I’m now getting used to being in good health once again. Six months ago I had hip replacement surgery and it was a very slow healing process. This past Monday was my six-month anniversary of the surgery. The good news is that because I’ve made great strides, my doctor told me that I can now discontinue the physical therapy that I’ve been on since the day after the surgery. (Yes, it started while I was still in the hospital.) It was only last week when I felt confident enough to stop using my cane.
Well, in any case, I’m now able to do more than I did last year. My left hip was so bad that I signed up all of my required three volunteer shifts in the Events category because I was so unsure about being able to do either Installation or Deinstallation.
This year I signed up for one shift in each of the categories. My first shift was last night, which is still in the Installation phase. My main assignment was to patrol the 8th and 9th floors to make sure that people present were actually installing their spaces and to confront anyone who didn’t seem to be installing at all. Well, everyone who was there were doing some kind of installing so it was a pretty calm night.
At 9:30 p.m. I had to let people on both the 8th and 9th floors know that the building was going to close for the night in 30 minutes. Then I did the same thing at 9:45 p.m., except to tell them that everything was going to close in 15 minutes. After 10 p.m. I went to the 8th and 9th floors to make sure everyone was gone then I turned the lights off.
It wasn’t a hard job, although it required a lot of walking since I had to cover two floors. (There weren’t enough volunteers at my shift so a few of us had to do with two floors instead of the usual one floor per person.) I really did appreciate the surgery because there was no way I could’ve done this last year with my bad hip.
The only real snag came when I got off my shift because the Washington Nationals were playing at the stadium nearby and the baseball fans were crowding the Navy Yard Metro station. In any case, I’m pretty tired from last night plus I’m getting over this head cold that I caught last week–which is why I’ve been very slow about installing my own work.
I should sign off now and get some sleep.
Finally Finished With Installing, May 27, 2009
I spent most of Memorial Day weekend on finishing with the installation of my artwork. I finally finished on Monday, Memorial Day, itself. I was totally exhausted but at least I’m done.
I’ll update my catalogue soon.
What I’ll Be Exhibiting at Artomatic This Year, May 27, 2009
This year’s show will be a mix of new work that I’ve done while I was recuperating from undergoing hip replacement surgery last November and older work that I showed last year and will be making a return visit.
First will be the images of artwork that I haven’t actually showed at Artomatic before but I uploaded them online earlier this year because Artomatic was sponsoring a special Valentine Day’s show at a few buildings in the same neighborhood where this year’s Artomatic was being held and the entires were selected from those who had updated their Artomatic catalogues. I created and uploaded two small paintings plus one photograph just in time for the deadline but none of them were selected for the show. The two paintings will be included in my exhibit. (I left the photograph of the two dolls out of this year’s show due to space issues on my wall.) Neither one have been exhibited anywhere else prior to Artomatic. Here are the paintings:
Now for the artwork that is making a return to Artomatic this year. All of them are photographs and all of them were exhibited in last year’s show.
Here are some additional artwork that will be making its debut at Artomatic for the first time.
Here is a promo video I made for YouTube.
Dance Performances at Artomatic, June 13, 2009
Here’s a video I shot of two women who performed this dance routine under the name Hairloom.
I also shot this belly dancing performance by the group Sahara Dance.
Meet the Artists Night, June 13, 2009
I shot two videos of that night. Here is my exhibition space as it was set up on that night.
Most of the action took place on the 7th floor, where PostSecret author Frank Warren was having a book signing event. That floor turned into one large party complete with music and flashing lights. Here is what I shot on that floor.
The Sarah Palin Tribute Band at Artomatic, June 17, 2009
I shot two videos by this band called The Sarah Palin Tribute Band who, as far as I can tell, had made their performing debut at Artomatic but haven’t performed in public anywhere else since then. Here is the group doing the song “This Land is Your Land.”
And here is the group performing “This Little Light of Mine.”
Artomatic Musings, June 25, 2009
A few days ago I finally finished visiting all the floors and viewed all the artwork. How I did it was that I would devote a few hours a week to seeing art and I did only two floors at a time. I started with the 9th floor and worked my way down. Here are a few videos of what I saw, starting with the display of the winners of this year’s Peeps diorama contest that was sponsored by The Washington Post.
Here are the interactive displays I saw on the first, second, and third floors.
Here are the interactive displays I saw on the fourth floor.
Here are the interactive displays I saw on the fifth floor.
Here are the ones on the sixth and seventh floors.
And, finally, here are the ones on the eighth floor.
I saw incredible amounts of artwork. I saw lots of art that I liked but there was so much of it that I can’t remember which ones I liked. I did pick up a bunch of business cards and flyers and many of these artists have websites so I will be spending the next few months with gradually visiting all their sites at my own leisure.
A week ago I spent the second of my three required volunteer shifts watching the loading dock. I was glad that I brought my iPod Touch and my puzzle magazine along because it was a bit on the dull side. The highlight came when I helped another volunteer with washing out the recycling bins using a hose then spraying them with Lysol. All I can say is that stale beer is an absolutely disgusting scent.
But I still can’t complain about having to do it because last year my left hip stopped working and I had to hobble around on a cane. My hip got so bad that I had to undergo a hip replacement then go through a few months of physical therapy. Compared to the hell that I went through for the past year, washing out recycling bins is no big deal.
I checked out the first ever Zombie Prom and it was a riot!!! I wore this evening gown that I had originally purchased for my brother-in-law’s wedding a few years ago and I even had my face made up into a zombie. It was pretty fun. Here’s a video I shot at that event.
There are times when I wished Artomatic had been held in the spring like the last few years. That’s because this year both the Artomatic 500 Cardboard Car Race and the Peeps Diorama Reception are being held this Saturday and I’ll be out of town. My family had booked a week in Ocean City months before Artomatic announced its show and it was too late to re-schedule. I will be back next Friday, although I’m not sure what time I’ll arrive. If I arrive relatively early in the day and if I still have energy, I’ll check out the Art in Fashion show later that evening. But everything is really iffy. [NOTE: I ended up not attending the Art in Fashion show because we arrived late from the trip and I was pretty tired by then.]
The Last Entry for 2009, July 26, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I managed to retrieve my artwork from Artomatic. This past Friday I served the last of my three required volunteer shifts. I basically helped with taking down the partitions in the middle of the floors. The shift I was on managed to finish with the few that were left on the 9th floor before taking down all the ones on the 8th floor. By the time we started on the 7th floor, our shift was over. When I left there was still a lot of work that needed to be done but I’m sure everything will be eventually cleared out.
On that note, I’m going to stop updating this blog for the rest of the year. While I enjoyed myself at this year’s Artomatic, the big disappointment is that I didn’t sell a single thing. I don’t know if it’s due to the poor economy or the fact that Artomatic was moved to the summertime or the fact that it was located near the Nationals ballpark or a combination of all three. But right now I’m up in the air as to whether I will participate next year. It really depends on what the organizers do and where the event will be located and my own schedule.
But I’m really disappointed that all my efforts have amounted to naught when it came to my own sales and even lucking out on meeting influential curators or other movers and shakers in the art world who could help me make it to the next level. I’m at the point where I’m questioning whether it was worth it at all.
I’m not going to make any decisions about my participation in future Artomatics until next year. In the meantime I’m just going to pursue other opportunities and hope they pan out.
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Last week I mentioned that I’ve been going through some old files on my computer hard drive and I found the original rough drafts of my old Artomatic blog posts from previous years. (There was a time when Artomatic gave everyone who participated their own blogging account. For Artomatic this year, I had to step up and volunteer to be a blogger before I received my own blogging account.) It’s pretty appropriate to share some of these posts here since Artomatic is going on until next month.
While I visited a few previous Artomatics, the first time I actually participated was in 2007. I enjoyed that experience so much that when Artomatic was announced again in 2008, I jumped at the chance to participate in it again.
2008 was a momentous year for me for reasons other than Artomatic. I was born with a dislocated left hip and, as some old baby photos have documented, I was placed in a body cast for several months. My left hip joints snapped into place, the cast was removed, and I learned how to walk like an average child soon afterwards. I sprained the same left hip in a roller skating accident when I was 12 but I managed to recuperate and I walked like a regular person again. All that changed by late 2007 when I began to walk with a limp. As time went on, I had a harder time walking and by the time of Artomatic 2008, I had to use a cane to get around.
Despite my hip problems, I wanted to participate in Artomatic and I did so. That year I decided to focus mostly on photography, with the exception of this Peep Floyd diorama that I originally did for The Washington Post‘s annual Peeps diorama contest but it failed to make even Honorable Mention. Here is the original online catalogue that I put up to promote my exhibition space.
Here are just a few selected posts I made in my Artomatic account’s blog that year as archived on my hard drive. (That blog has long since been deleted since Artomatic tends to totally revamp its website whenever a new Artomatic event is announced.)
I’m Participating in Artomatic 2008, March 27, 2008
I’ve finally finished with registration. This year I’m going to emphasize my photography more mainly because I’ve been more successful at that than doing strictly drawing and painting.
Now my next task is to sift through my vast trove of digital photos to pick out the right ones to display. I am quite a shutterbug. I’m glad for the invention of digital cameras because I still remember the pain of running out of film and I had to choose between shelling out more money for film (then have to shell out more money to get them processed) or quit my picture taking for the day. I have a monumental task ahead of me so I’m going to sign off now.
Latest Stuff About Me, April 18, 2008
Last Saturday I went to the Artomatic orientation where I picked out my site. I’ll be located on the 7th floor, NE Quadrant, Area C4. I know it sounds like gobbledygook now but I’m sure it’ll become more apparent once the show opens and the maps/brochures are printed. For the time being, I’ll just say that my wall space is located right next to the men’s restroom on the 7th floor.
My Exhibit for This Year, May 8, 2008
I know that some of you who are familiar with my exhibit at last year’s Artomatic will be wondering if I’m doing anything different. Well, the answer is yes. I’m going to describe the difference between this year’s exhibit and last year’s.
Last year I had a variety of different media ranging from digital photographs to drawings to paintings. I even had a couple of dolls I customized myself that were on display in small glass cases that were mounted on the wall.
This year I’m focusing exclusively on digital photographs. That’s mainly because I wanted artwork that was more transportable than my larger art pieces. All of my photographs are either 8″ x 10″ or 5″ x 7″. Keeping the photos at those two sizes made frame shopping really easy for me since those two are standard sizes. On top of that, I’ve had people tell me that my biggest strength is in photography so I decided to highlight that some more.
The biggest challenge I had was whittling down the hundreds of digital photographs that I have on my hard disk to just 32 photos. (Sixteen of them are 8″ x 10″ while the rest are 5″ x 7″.) Then I had the additional challenge of printing since, as experienced digital photographers and computer graphics artists know, what is seen on the computer screen doesn’t mean that the print version will turn out the same. But I managed to get everything done in time for the opening tomorrow night.
I’m also pricing my photos at $10 for the 8″ x 10″ and $6 for the 5″ x 7″. I know my pricing methods may become controversial but there’s a method to my madness. If you’ve been reading a newspaper or watching any of the cable news channel, you’ll know that this country is in an economic crisis due to rising gas costs, higher food prices, and the subprime mortgage crisis. I really don’t think that people are in the mood to shell out $100 or higher for a piece of art no matter how much they love it because of the economy.
I also had an epiphany around the end of last year’s Artomatic. I got someone who wanted to buy one of my drawings but she wanted to know how much it would cost if I would remove it from the frame. Since I didn’t have any other serious buyers of my artwork last year, I told her that I would take $25 off my drawing. So I sold it to her and took home an empty frame.
This year I scoured the local big box retailers looking for the lowest frame prices. A.C. Moore had the best prices with many frames being sold for $3 and $4 and with some going for as low as $2. What’s more, the frames still looked pretty decent despite the low prices. Then I went to Staples where I bought a pack of satin-finish photographic paper for $35. I calculated each sheet as costing around sixty cents per sheet, which isn’t bad.
I even have a catchy ad phrase that I put on a sign in my area: “Affordable Artwork for Uncertain Economic Times”.
What’s more, since I have my photos on a hard drive, I can easily print multiple copies so if one person buys one of my photos and someone else wants that same photo, I can print and frame another copy and sell it to that other person.
I will have a small table next to my photos where I will have a guestbook for you to sign and a digital frame that will rotate digital photos of some of my other works of art like my drawings, paintings, sculptures, and crafts. I purchased this digital frame at Target and I love it because I can display more of my art than the space that’s alloted to me.
I will also have a diorama displayed on that table called Peep Floyd. I originally created this diorama for The Washington Post’s second annual Peeps contest but it didn’t make the final cut among the judges. I was disappointed but my husband was even more heartbroken than I was. (He felt that I was robbed.) So I decided to give my little diorama a second chance by displaying it with my artwork. I’m even putting it up for sale for only $5 (which is about how much money I spent making it in the first place). What’s even amusing is that there will be a display of the winning Peeps dioramas on the 10th floor while my display will be on the 7th floor. So if people decided to start on the first floor and work their way up, chances are that they will see my own diorama first before they see the winners on the 10th floor. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Last year I printed three photo zines that I sold on the honor system where people can put money in a box if they wanted one or more of my zines. I did it mainly as a promotional item, even if it was a pain to print multiple copies for the duration of Artomatic. (The fact that I was using a 10-year-old Epson color printer didn’t help matters much.) I thought that I would get some sort of opportunities from the zines after Artomatic in the long run so I toughed out the time spent printing, collating, and stapling the zines. I also gritted my teeth as I spent lots of money on printer ink since those zines did use up tons of ink. Even though the zines sold pretty well (some people did leave money in the box), nothing ever came of those zines after Artomatic ended. No one contacted me saying, “Hey I liked your zines and photos and I want to do some work with you.”
Basically it really wasn’t worth the time or money spent making and distributing the zines so I’m not going to do any more this year. I know that some of you will be disappointed but that’s the way things go.
The biggest change from last year to this year is myself. Yes, I am a year older but my health has gone down a bit. I have an old injury in my left hip that was repaired a long time ago but I’ve now developed osteoarthritis in it. Last year I was able to walk normally most of the time (although I did limp if I overextended myself by doing too much walking or other physical work). This year I’m walking with a limp and I use a walking stick whenever I have to walk around outside for any great distances. I’ve consulted an orthopedic specialist and he’s recommending that I undergo a hip replacement, especially since my left leg is now a little bit shorter than my right leg, thanks to the osteoarthritis.
But, before I undergo the surgery, I have to lose weight and do exercises to strengthen my hip. As a result, I’m still able to participate in Artomatic since I won’t be able to undergo the surgery until July at the earliest.
Having osteoarthritis is a bit of a bummer. I get more physically tired than before, partially because of having to take prescription version of ibuprofen (which has drowsiness as a side effect) and partially because it’s just more physically taxing to limp around. My current condition was a major factor in my decision to focus on smaller photographs than my larger canvases since the photos are easier to cart around than a big canvas. Since I decided to eliminate the zines, I will find Artomatic less taxing than last year.
I will be at the opening tomorrow night with my husband. This weekend I will be working as a vendor at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland. I will have a packed schedule.
I’m Doing Pretty Well at Artomatic This Year, May 26, 2008
So far I had someone who wanted six copies of my “Shalom Y’all” photo because she wanted to give them away to her Jewish friends. I also have one other person who may be potentially interested in purchasing something from me but I haven’t heard back from him.
So far I took part in a drawing workshop on Opening Night and I’ve also worked one shift so far. (It happened to be on the same night as the “Meet the Artists Night” so I couldn’t be at my area, with the exception of a brief break that I took around 8 p.m.) Right now I’m typing this entry from a hotel room in Charleston, South Carolina but I intend to participate in more Artomatic events once I return.
I happened to be in Charleston at the same time as their annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival—an art-filled festival that includes special exhibitions at area art galleries, special theatre shows, special musical concerts, and a crafts fair. I intend to check out the crafts fair at least. I also intend to visit the City Market, which is filled with stalls of people hawking food items and various types of crafts. It’s also where a local African-American group of people known as the Gullahs sell their speciality craft–making baskets, vases, flowers, and other items out of sweetgrass.
Well, anyway, see ya later!
My Artomatic Videos, June 2, 2008
This year I’ve been doing more at Artomatic than just showing my artwork and attending a few events. I’ve also been taking photographs and shooting video. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the photos yet but I’ve already edited and uploaded three short video clips on my YouTube account.
All three videos are of the firedancing troupe known as Flights of Fire. I shot this during the second hour of their show on May 16. (I missed the first hour because I was finishing up the last hour of my own volunteer shift during that time.) I was pretty exhausted after working my five-hour volunteer shift so I basically went outside, sat down, and unwind a bit by watching the group perform the rest of their show. I happened to have my videocamera with me so I filmed them as they did their various fire tricks to some lively dance music.
This first clip is a general highlights reel as I focused on the troupe’s most spectacular firedancing tricks:
The second clip is a very sexy and erotic routine that is performed in its entirety:
The third clip is the grand finale that is also performed in its entirety. Imagine a bunch of people dancing and swinging flaming torches at the same time and you’ll get something like this:
Two More Artomatic Videos For You to View, June 5, 2008
I shot two more videos at Artomatic that I’ve uploaded to my YouTube account. The first one is the Peeps artist reception that was held on May 31, 2008.
The second one is the first-ever Artomatic 500 cardboard car race, which is just as hilarious as it sounds.
A Posting From Artomatic, June 13, 2008
I’ve just finished the third required volunteer shift over an hour ago and I’m waiting for this workshop on “Urban R & D: Developing a Community Research and Design Lab” to begin in a few minutes. Actually volunteering wasn’t too bad despite my totally arthritic hip (which has given me a bad limp in recent months and has definitely put a crimp on my mobility) because I was given desk jobs. (I worked the front desk on the first floor the first two times and I worked the fourth floor this final time today.)
Last night I attended the Artists’ Social. I met someone whom I had volunteered with on a previous shift and I also met up with other people whom I had met at other Artomatic events. What was cool was that I sold two of my photographs to someone who loved by two robot photos (one of the Toyota Partner Robot and the other of the Honda Asimo—both taken at a Japanese cultural festival at the Kennedy Center a few months ago).
I’m looking forward to attending Artomatic tomorrow night–they are having the first-ever Art in Fashion show, which is supposed to have fire as the theme. From the way this event is being hyped, it sounds like Project Runway on steroids.
Well, anyway, I gotta wrap this entry up and head off to tonight’s workshop.
More Artomatic Videos, June 21, 2008
I shot and posted a few more videos at Artomatic before it ended last Sunday but I’ve only gotten around to blogging about it now.
First is a video of my own exhibit, which was displayed on the 7th floor next to the men’s bathroom.
Next is a video of a couple of interactive exhibits that were done by other artists.
I previously videotaped the Peeps artist reception where I spoke with prolific Peeps diorama artist Carl Cordell. At the time he was working on a fourth diorama, “The Day The Earth Stood Peeped”, that wasn’t ready in time for the reception. I kept on going to the Peeps area for the next few weeks but the diorama didn’t make its appearance until last Saturday, the day before the last day of Artomatic. I made a short video highlighting that diorama.
I did a three-part video about the Art in Fashion show, which was the closing event of Artomatic. (It was held the night before Artomatic’s final day.) It highlighted fashions created by fashion designers in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. I had fun attending this because I’m such a fan of Project Runway and I had never seen a fashion show in person before.
After the fashion show ended, there was a big party that included all kinds of activities. I videotaped some of it but I was running out of battery power by that point so I didn’t film as much as I wanted to. But it should give you an idea of what it was like. (Some parts of this video are definitely NSFW because it includes scenes of body painting on partially or fully nude bodies.)
Well, anyway, that’s it for the Artomatic videos.
Visiting the Artomatic Site for the Last Time, June 21, 2008
I had successfully sold yet another photo to someone and he and I agreed to meet at the Artomatic site today. After the transaction was made and he took his newly-purchased photo with him, I took down my exhibit. I felt wistful as I did it but, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Goodbye For Now, June 23, 2008
Now that Artomatic is over and I’ve picked up my artwork from the site, it’s time for me to say goodbye to this blog until the next time I decide to participate in an Artomatic.
Three months after I wrote that last farewell Artomatic post, I underwent a hip replacement followed by physical therapy that lasted until well into 2009. In early 2011 I suffered two falls within a week that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment so I had to undergo hip revision surgery followed by more physical therapy. Right now my hip is doing fine. <knock wood!>
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For the third week in a row there have been no new instructional videos from Ady Almanza. I don’t even know what on earth is going on. I knew that she was on a two-week vacation to France but I’d thought it would be over by now. I still have extra pages in my book so I decided to wing it once again by creating original doll-themed art that have nothing to do with those tutorials.
For this week’s session, I decided to try something different. Looking through Ady Almanza’s work, I noticed that all of the ones I’ve seen online have featured only females. I have a few male dolls at home so I decided to do some art featuring one of them.
This doll is a Fantasy Doll Tobias, a 1/3 scale Asian ball jointed doll that I purchased from the Fantasy Doll website a few years ago. He stands at 60 centimeters/2 feet tall and he’s currently the largest doll that I own. In the above photo he models the Red Prince Outfit that I made from scratch. (For more details on how I made that outfit, check out my post from 2011.) I had him wear that same outfit when I decided to draw and paint him.
Here are the original pages of the children’s board book before I started working on them.
Here are the pages after I finished working on them.
I decided to have him in a sexy pose, which was influenced in large part by the cover of this 1977 Peter Frampton album I’m In You (which I once owned as a teen—I was such a fan of his previous album, Frampton Comes Alive, and the fact that I loved that album cover that I bought it with my allowance money and, well, let’s say that the cover was way more memorable than the music <LOL!>).
I had a hard time getting my doll in the same exact pose as Peter Frampton on the album cover. I think it’s because of the fact that the fabric of the pants he wore wasn’t very stretchy or accommodating of action poses. So I ended up keeping his legs straight and just have the shirt go partially off his torso so one gets to see part of his chest.
I did the outline in waterproof black ink then switched to acrylic paint for the rest of the project. I applied a thin layer of red glitter glue on his pants. The results weren’t too bad.
I still have a few extra pages left so if Ady Almanza decides to go another week without posting any tutorials online, I can wing it again with original doll-themed art that have absolutely nothing to do with the video lessons.
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So far I was happy with working on the cover of my book (which was formerly a board book edition of Dr. Seuss’ classic Hop on Pop). I had little trouble with working on it and I expected the rest of the project to be a piece of cake.
But then I watched the next tutorial video and I realized a few things. The book I selected had more pages than the book in the original video tutorials. On top of it, the artist, Ady Almanza, had only used one page at a time to do her artwork. If I was to follow her example, I would be working on that book for much longer because my book had more pages. She didn’t specify how many pages the board book had to include so I naturally assumed that any board book would do.
The video mentioned that the next doll would be a mermaid yet the final picture shows just a close-up of her face. While her skin is colored blue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s a mermaid. Any onlooker would assume that she’s an extra-terrestrial creature or maybe an extra from the movie Avatar. (LOL!)
Then there was the requirement in the video that we paint the background with matte acrylic paint. Here’s the problem: I don’t have any acrylic paint marked “matte.” I tried Jo-Ann’s, Michael’s, A.C. Moore’s and none of them have any acrylic paint that’s marked “matte.” (I later found out that they can be ordered online through the stores’ websites. They just aren’t sold on the store shelves in real life.)
The biggest surprise was finding out that, while the background would be painted with matte acrylic paint (which I couldn’t find in any store), the female in the foreground would be colored in with colored pencils. Whoa! I’ve never tried mixing colored pencils with acrylic paint before but I figured that there was a first time for everything. Here’s the video tutorial I followed.
So it was time for me to create the mermaid drawing. I decided to do a full page spread with a full mermaid body because, let’s face it, the fish tail is the only way the average person knows whether the person is a mermaid (or merman) or not. (Besides, I would use up more pages that way.) I decided to use a real-life doll as my muse once again and my Volks Dollfie Dream would spend another week serving as the model. In addition, I happened to have a mermaid tail that fits her that I purchased at an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll meet-up a few years ago (back when I was involved in that fandom until I witnessed some creepy behavior both online and in real life that caused me to leave it because, without getting into a lot of details, there are a bunch of borderline crazy people in that fandom). The mermaid tail was handsewn by another doll fan who was trying her hand at selling handmade doll clothes for a while. I paired it with a doll-sized tribal-looking necklace that I won in a raffle at an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll meet-up a few years ago. (I don’t remember if I won it in the same meet-up as when I purchased the mermaid’s tail or if I got both at separate events.) I positioned her long hair to obscure her breasts in order to not have to deal with the issue of whether to portray the mermaid as bare-breasted or wearing a bra.
I initially did the drawing in ink using a black waterproof marker. I not only decided to draw the mermaid’s full body but I decided to add a dolphin in the background as a way of showing that, yes, the mermaid is swimming in the ocean. When it was time for me to do the underpainting, I still had to deal with the issue of not having any matte acrylic paints on hand. I began reading on line that watering down acrylic paint could create a matte effect. So I decided to add a lot of water to the paint so it would create a watercolor effect (which is appropriate since I was working on an underwater scene).
But then it came time to start using the colored pencils. While most of the areas were okay, there was one or two areas where I literally could not color at all. In fact, the more I colored in those areas, the more I inadvertently wiped away the watered-down acrylic paint until I somehow managed to wear it all the way down to the gesso layer. It was frustrating to say the least because I had most of the area colored except for those two white bald patches that were large enough to be noticeable by anyone.
So then I came up with the idea of spraying a fixative on top then continue to work on it. There are two types of fixatives: One is a final fixative, which is used as the final layer and is meant to seal the work in permanently. It’s meant for when you’re absolutely positively sure that you’re finished with working on your piece because it’s hard to work over it once you spray it. The other is known as a workable fixative, which is meant to seal the work that has been finished to date but one can continue to work on top of that layer. That one is meant for people who are taking a layer approach to creating art where you draw or paint lightly, spray a layer of the workable fixative, then add another layer on top of it, then spray another layer of workable fixative, and so on. I looked around my art supplies but I found that I only had the final fixative, which meant that I had to go to a store to buy a workable fixative. Fortunately I had a 40% off coupon so I didn’t have to pay too much for the workable fixative.
Once I sprayed the workable fixative and let the piece dry, I found that I could cover up the bare white part on the dolphin but there was still a bare white part on one of the mermaid’s arm. So I sprayed another layer of the workable fixative, let it dry, then tried again. It was still no use. I just could not get that colored pencil to cover that bare white area. I became so frustrated that I switched to acrylic paint, painted a light purple skin over the mermaid (which matched her purple tail and purple hair) That worked like a charm so I let everything dried then embellished the mermaid’s tail and hair with glitter glue. Once I let it dry I sprayed a few layers of the final fixative and considered it done.
So here are the pages before I worked on the project.
Here are the pages after I finished.
I learned a few things, like if I can’t find matte paint, I’ll have to do other things (mix acrylic paint with either water or matte medium and use workable fixative spray). That’s the only way I can add a layer of colored pencil over a layer of acrylic paint.
I’m hoping that there won’t be any more obstacles like what I faced because it’s supposed to be a fun project for me and not a source of more stress.
Subsequent Entries in This Series
Last summer I undertook this ambitious endeavor where I read and reviewed a series of books that American Girl (yes, that’s the doll company) had put out about a young girl growing up in the 1970’s. Each Throwback Thursday I would review another book in the series by comparing what Julie and her family and friends went through in the 1970’s with my own memories of what I and many of my friends and relatives went through in the 1970’s.
I kept at it even as American Girl had decided to revamp its historical line into something called “BeForever” (I still think it’s a stupid name but I digress) when I was about nearly done with posting all of my reviews online. As part of the BeForever makeover all of the dolls had either gotten completely new outfits (like Addy Walker) or had slightly modified ones (like Josefina Montoya, whose outfit changes were more subtle between the original and BeForever versions). Their original companion books went from six slim books to being combined into two thick volumes while a third book was added where each one was basically similar to those Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I finally ended my weekly reviews when I reached A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey With Julie, which was the new Choose You Own Adventure-style book released under the newly unveiled BeForever line. There haven’t been any more reviews since last year because American Girl hasn’t released any new books featuring Julie Albright.
This summer I’m embarking on a summer-long project that’s way different from my review of the Julie books. I’m taking a free online tutorial on how to take a baby book made from thick cardboard and turn it into a book called “Doll Dreams.” I first learned of it through Facebook when I saw this video listing the required materials and I found that I had most of them already on hand so I didn’t have to spend a lot of money.
The only new material I bought for this project before I started was a pack of Crayola glitter glue in a variety of colors. I had a 40% off coupon so I ended up paying only $5 for a pack of 15 colors.
The only real hassle came when I needed to get a baby board book. Ideally one is supposed to use an old board book because it would’ve been an exercise in recycling (since such books tend to eventually get thrown away due to being spat upon and demolished by babies and toddlers). I don’t have any children so I didn’t have any board books around. The nearest thrift store to my home had used baby board books but they were only available in bags of 2-5 for $5 each. While I have to admit that it’s a great price for a financially-struggling parent, I didn’t need that many books and I would’ve had problems with what to do with the unused books because there aren’t too many very young children among my extended circle of friends and relatives at the moment.
Ultimately I ended up going to Target where I paid $5 for a baby board book edition of Dr. Seuss’ classic Hop on Pop. (I remember reading that book as a child. I don’t remember if it was one my family owned or if it was one that my family frequently checked out of the local library.)
I was initially reluctant to start priming the book with gesso because it was a new book and I’ve always had a soft spot for Dr. Seuss. But then I had to convince myself that Hop on Pop is NOT a rare book and if I ever want to buy another copy for myself, I can do so. (But I probably won’t do it because I don’t have any small children living at home.) Once I started the gesso painting process I felt okay because I knew that once I started altering the book in any way, I could never restore it back to the book that it once was because such a process would’ve been impossible.
I’ve been giving this new project a try for a few weeks now and I find that I’m enjoying myself. It’s a nice change of pace from reading and reviewing all those Julie books last summer. I generally tend to work on it a little bit at a time a few nights a week. I find working on it to be so relaxing.
The teacher for this series is a woman named Ady Almanza, who was born and raised in Mexico but now lives in Germany with her husband and children. For the past few weeks I’ve been watching whatever new instructional videos show up on her Facebook feed and I would work on my project based on that lesson. Here’s the first lesson.
The first lesson I focused on the front, spine, and back of the book cover. While Ady Almanza has an optional template for this first lesson on sale in her Etsy shop for only $5, I decided to just do a freehand drawing and come up with something uniquely original. I decided to use my Volks Dollfie Dream doll as my muse mainly because I hadn’t touched her in quite a while. The dress she’s wearing in the painting is loosely based on an Easter outfit I once made for that doll called Easter Bunny Lover.
I did the entire painting in acrylic and I embellished the front button/brooch with glitter glue. I was okay with the result. Here’s the cover of that book.
Subsequent Entries in This Series
Four years ago I wrote “Trump: The Poem” when Donald Trump was flirting with the idea of running for president. I performed it at a few local poetry slam events to great laughter and acclaim. I later made this video where I recited the poem while I showed off this talking Donald Trump doll that I purchased as a gag gift for my then-husband for Christmas.
Who could’ve predicted that this poem is now more relevant than ever? Donald Trump has not only decided to enter the political race for real but, in the process, he had alienated the Latino vote with his comment that Mexican immigrants are rapists, criminals, and drug dealers.
So far he had not only had a giant Mexican piñata made in his image but he had lost deals with both NBC and Macy’s in the same week because neither company were thrilled to be associated with that buffoon.
As a result of all this, I didn’t have to alter my poem in any way at all.
So, once again, here is “Trump: The Poem.”
It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)
I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.
Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.
I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)
I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.
I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.
Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!
While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.
I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.
That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.
I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”
Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of my blog readers.
The above picture shows my Volks Dollfie Dream doll modeling an outfit that I made myself called “Easter Bunny Lover.” You can read more about how I created this outfit in this blog post I wrote five years ago. In any case, yesterday I came across this interesting link on Facebook that I think is appropriate for today. It describes how the Christian holiday of Easter was originally derived from a pagan holiday that was centered around honoring an ancient Teutonic goddess known alternatively as Eostre, Eastre, Eostra, or Ostara. The title of this page says it all:
What a difference a year makes! Last year I was greeted with this.
I was literally snowed in my home and the entire Washington, DC metropolitan area literally closed down because we got a whopping seven inches of snow.
This year it’s different.
That’s right, it’s a crocus that’s currently blooming in my front yard.
Last year the only outdoor activity I did was where I dressed my Volks Dollfie Dream doll in an appropriate outfit for the occasion, stepped outside my front door, and took a few brief snapshots in the snow.
And here is the same doll in the same wig, shoes, and outfit just one year later.
By the way, I made that St. Patrick’s Day outfit she wears in the photographs. For more information about how I made it, see my blog post on Irish Lass that I wrote five years ago.
Today is just a warm, gorgeous day outside with temperatures reaching the high 60’s. Here’s a photo of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center that I took just a few hours ago.
I managed to cook up the usual Guinness Beef Stew with Guinness Bread and a side order of carrots glazed in honey. I had to do the prep work the night before because I’m currently taking a class that meets Tuesday nights (I’ll write more on that later) and St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year. I did the advance preparation so I would have something Irish to eat on the actual day itself.
I don’t really mind going to a class on St. Patrick’s Day because this time last year I couldn’t get out of my house even if I wanted to. All around it’s a great day today!
Originally profiled on February 28, 2011.