Friday, February 28, 2014

An interview with Annie Moor

 I've decided to start an interview column here on this blog. I want to be able to showcase other artists and I also LOVE to know what an artist has to say about his/her own art and process. And I thought there is no better artist to start with than Annie Moor. Annie is a dear friend of mine and I'm so happy she agreed to kick off this column for me. Thanks, Annie! Annie and I work together at The Children's Museum of the Arts where we make art with toddlers all day long. Annie is truly one of the most talented people I've ever met- she draws, paints, writes, acts, sings, and improvises all with great skill. More importantly, she is one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and funniest people I know. I asked Annie a lot of questions but I encourage you to read the whole interview as her answers and very thoughtful and interesting. Here is what she has to say about herself and her art. Enjoy!

 K.L. What’s your background?

A.M. Growing up semi-nomadic (Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Massachusetts, New York--oh my!) led me to become an artist of many mediums. I have always been a drawer and painter, making funny little cartoons and characters, and also involved in the performing arts--acting, comedy, directing, filmmaking. I have probably tried most things at least once! I studied acting and stage management in high school, and went to college for film and television production. There, I concentrated mainly in stop-motion animation and life drawing--peppered with printmaking, sculpture, photography and creative writing. I currently consider myself a children's writer and illustrator, and, at least on Tuesday nights at the Magnet Theater, a musical improviser. (I also started making a puppet the other day, so who knows…) In the end, as in the beginning, it usually always comes back to drawing. And making silly faces.

K.L. How would you describe the type(s) of art that you make?

A.M. I write funny, silly poems and attach silly drawings to them. I also love to draw tiny, imagined communities--apartment complexes full of cats (cats on the phone, in a hot tub, drinking coffee on their deck) and detailed indoor alien habitats (where I ask myself, "will the aliens need an opera house? what about a diner where the fry cook is falling in love with a customer?"). I draw a lot of surreal and fantastic characters, usually dancing, flying, or in love, and animals doing things that humans do. I prefer to use pen, pencil, watercolor and colored pencil, in a variety of combinations, while using my experience in theater to color their expressions, their body movements, and their facial expressions.



K.L. What part of your process do you enjoy most?

A.M. I enjoy that moment where an idea is just beginning to be realized on the paper. Whether it's a written line or a drawn gesture, when that thing you see in your head is starting to come together, there is nothing better! I then, of course, enjoy the whole process from then on--coloring, shading, whatever--but that first moment, where you feel in the groove, is very satisfying.

K.L. Is your process structured or do you jump right into making without a plan?

A.M. A little bit of both. I tend to make the same kinds of things over and over again, until the next thing that I make. For example, I will make a Cat Condo picture over and over again (different every time, of course) until I'm inspired by a new idea or a new freelance project comes along. I do sit down at my drawing desk every day, regardless of a plan or of inspiration, even if nothing substantial comes out. if nothing else, I'll have a new panel for a cat cartoon!



K.L. Do you have any rituals around your creative process?

A.M. I don't have any particular rituals, beyond making the cat get off of the desk and making sure I have water in my painting cup. However,I do surround myself with various clutter on my desk and the wall that I look at, and there is something about the curation of that space that calms me, becoming like a ritual. Look at the picture of my dream living room, read a love note, look at a kid's drawing, read the post-its of one liners taped up with my tax information...look at last night's drawings to start figuring out tonight's!

K.L. Do you pursue any specific themes in your work?

A.M. Love comes up a lot. Creatures, animals, humanoids, shapes with faces--all of them falling in love or creating elaborate love letters to one another or the reader. I celebrate the strange-come-familiar, or the underdog. I love weird-bodied people, strange faces, bizarre situations and ideas. I try to portray honesty and simplicity.



K.L. How has your practice changed over time?

A.M. I certainly take it more seriously than I did several years ago. I think because I enjoy so many different kinds of art making, I was content with knowing a little about everything and not a lot about anything. Somewhere in there it changed to knowing that I will never know everything about something, but I could try to know everything about my relationship with that something. I think I also dove in more whole heartedly when I found the language to articulate what I really wanted--to write and illustrate children's books. In defining that for myself, I think my practice has changed dramatically. There is a theoretical goal in sight. There is this idea that I want to do this forever, so in order to do so, I have to write a poem a week. Or at least try! And that sentence does not end with "…for the next four months!" but with "…forever!" There was definitely a mental switch that was flipped for me.

K.L. What do you do when you feel stuck creatively?

A.M. I try to do it anyway! I'll sit at my drawing desk, and at least try to do something. Even if it is not particularly meaningful to my overall artistic life (like, cutting up collage material even though i am rarely a collage artist), I will sit there and do it. Or, if i have no new ideas, I will make something in a series of old ideas--Cat Condos, Alien Habitats… In a way, those become like a fall-back doodle, something to absently work on that hopefully sparks new ideas. Or, if it's really bad, i give myself the permission not to work on art. I'll watch a movie, or clean the house. I will iterate to myself that taking some time to do other things will ultimately be beneficial to the art making. Sometimes i listen!

K.L. Where do your ideas come from? Or do you know?

A.M. I have always been a comedian and a weirdo. (Even reading that line over again, I think that sums it up!) I have a strange and pretty positive way of looking at the world. I was influenced by picture books, tales of imagined worlds, pretend games, and being a latchkey kid in the '90's.
 
K.L. Where do you find inspiration?

A.M. Working with preschoolers is pretty inspiring! They are so funny and weird. They say the most amazing things because they are completely unfiltered, using their own kind of logic to make sense of the world around them. Here's a perfect example: a boy comes up to me and says, "Annie! Annie!!! I had a nightmare last night that there were DINOSAURS in my bedroom PLAYING CHECKERS! And then I went inside one of their teeth! I ran to tell Mom and she said dinosaurs don't exist and I said NUH UH YES THEY DO THEY ARE PLAYING CHECKERS IN MY ROOM!" (Expect to see "Dinosaurs Playing Checkers in My Room" on a shelf near you soon.)


K.L. Name three artists whose work inspires you:

A.M. I know that I love someone's work when it makes me feel physically angry inside. So angry and so jealous. I am so jealous of Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back, Extra Yarn, The Dark) (jonklassen.tumblr.com) who I think is one of the most creative and innovative children's writer/illustrator. His work makes me want to throw a lamp. My favorite painter is Marc Chagall for his use of color and of the symbolic and strange. My favorite painting of his is "The Birthday"--it absolutely blows me away, the way the boy flies, his neck twisting to kiss the woman. And, in a run-on list that I'll pretend is one person, ShelSilversteinJackPrelutskyRoaldDahlDr.Suess!

K.L. Do you remember when you first became interested in art? What is your earliest memory of making art (any kind)?

A.M. I have a very strong memory of an early vacation with my Mom and sister to Destin, Florida. We drove from Texas, which I am sure I colored in my coloring books the whole way, and when we got to the hotel parking lot, I somehow slammed my finger in the door--breaking it! Now, there is nothing one can really do for a 4-year-old's broken finger, so I remember my Mom buying a lot of icy-pops, while I sat at the table trying to color with my ring finger up in the air. I was very determined. In the following years, I carved out my own studio space in our basement (to craft my comic strip "Budapest" about a dog of the same name who was always hungry…Hungary…anyway…) Not long after, my Mom kept a wall of my art in her room, and I was simultaneously painting, drawing, practicing sock-skating and my mime routines.

K.L. Are their other artists in your family? If yes, who are they and what do they do?

A.M. My mom is a mosaic artist and craftsperson; my older sister is a YA novelist ("All Our Yesterdays" by Cristin Terrill); my younger sister is a 14 year old sweetie pie who's proving to be a great artist and performer; my dad is a wonderful photographer and journal keeper; my step-mother is a drawer and general life designer; my grandmother was a painter and sculptor, under the guise of a junior league homemaker; my grandad would follow along with bob ross and paint happy little paintings; and i have a book of my great grandmother's witty poetry published by the junior league in the 1950's. Not until writing this out did I realize how many artists are in my family!

K.L. What memorable responses have you had to your work?

A.M. I think my favorite and most memorable responses have come from "Bobby's Booboo" (lulu.com!) that Tom, my wonderful and hilarious boss, and I did with one another--Tom wrote it and I illustrated it. Seeing it now, process-wise and execution-wise, I would maybe do some things differently, but then we get the responses of the kids and parents that we work with--"when she falls down now, we have to read the book!" or "George makes us read this 5 times a night!" or during story time, someone shouts it out as a request--and it's cool to have a first hand account of the ways in which your work is affecting the intended audience.

K.L. Do you feel like you worry about your art being liked by others?

A.M. Of course! We all do! (Oh God, right? We all worry, right?!) I don't think I am changing my style or what I do or how I approach it because of worrying what people will think, but there is that moment of showing your work that you think about how you hope people like it. As much as we make art for ourselves, it's also made to be shared. And because art can be so personal, it can almost feel like a personal rejection if someone hates your stuff. On the other hand, it is a hard and wise lesson to be able to take a critique. Through working for other people, I have been learning this lesson (again, and again…) and it is actually a blessing. It allows me to take a step back from my personal work and try to look at it with a more objective eye. Unless I love it JUST THE WAY IT IS and I'M NOT CHANGING IT! ..No, but really. I'm trying!



K.L. Do you have a favorite piece of your own art?

A.M. There is a watercolor and pencil drawing that I did about four years ago that hangs in my bedroom. I have never scanned it or photographed it, but I made it the night that I knew I loved the man I'm with.

K.L. Is there a type of art that you would like to pursue but haven’t yet?

A.M. Oooh, probably! I would love to learn how to make puppets and do a preschooler web show with me and a puppet. I would love to know how to make soap and candles. I would love to learn to fire ceramics. I'd love to take a storytelling class and a class on the program Illustrator. I also love cooking, so I would love a pastry making class! I'm seriously down for all kinds of stuff.

K.L. Anything else you’d like to say about art or anything or everything?

A.M. Just that I hope to wake up every day and still be driven to perform and make art, to write and to be thinking of new ideas! It's a fun and challenging way to live, and I wouldn't change it.


Thanks again to Annie Moor for so thoughtfully answering my many questions (and for being a good friend!). You can also find some of her lovely creations on products over at Society6!

Shared to:  Paint Party Friday

*All images used with the consent of Annie Moor*

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pinwheels

I'm having a desire to return to making some of my embroidered pinwheel pieces. I haven't done much embroidery lately, which is a change for me. I'm starting to miss it. I think embroidering over the top of my paintings and collages allows me to meditate on the piece I just made. The painting/collage part of the process is stream of consciousness, messy, quick, intuitive. The embroidery part of the process is slow, repetitive, intentional, meditative. I think I'll try to fit some embroidery in this week.





Monday, February 24, 2014

Keep Making

I feel lucky that this energy and drive I have to make art and put it out into the world is still going strong. I've been making lots of art for about 4 years now and it is only in the last couple of months that I have truly felt the need to share it and go after my dreams. I'm going to keep making, keep putting it out there.

I just listed my new set of magnets in my Etsy shop. There are 5 of them and I'm selling them for $15 each. I had a hard time pricing them. They are small (2.5in x 3.5in) so part of me felt like $15 was too much to ask. However, once I considered the time and effort/heart I put into making them it seemed like $15 was a very reasonable price. I know I'm not alone with this difficulty in pricing art work. I've read articles and talked with many people about this but it's still a hard thing for me. I'm working on it.

Yesterday, after I finished the magnets, I made a new 7in x 5in piece. I'm diggin this one. Probably because the phrase on it, "you are my favorite person", is one of my favorites. I think it's sweet and cute and a lovely way to tell your person that you love them. Here is a picture:


 Yesterday was also a beautiful day. It was in the 50s and Tyler and I decided to go for a walk around our neighborhood in Brooklyn. The first half of our walk was through a sort of dilapidated and dirty part of our neighborhood, but it's still a walk we like to take. We stopped at the newish Whole Foods in Gowanus. This place is pretty fancy and offers bike repair, a vinyl record section, and a greenhouse roof that serves local and seasonal foods. So Brooklyn. But, I still like Wegmans better. Leaving the store, from the Whole Foods parking lot, you can see One World Trade Center off in the distance. The second half of our walk was up Smith Street which has many shops and restaurants and parks. We stopped and sat on a park bench for a bit to soak up some sun. It was lovely.





Now I'm going to check in at Creative Every Day and then spend some time on the couch with the newest issue of Somerset Studio!

xo



Sunday, February 23, 2014

On a roll

I am still on a roll with these mini pieces. Here is another group of magnets, all 2.5in x 3.5in:





They are all reminders for living. I hope to get them into my Etsy shop today or tomorrow. I love working small- with little scraps of paper and bits of color. Whenever I work on larger substrates it just doesn't feel as natural to me. Not that I am against it, I sometimes challenge myself to make bigger pieces. But working small is where my heart is :) I'll share this over on Paint Party Friday and see what everyone is up to over there.

xo

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stickers and Crowns

The stickers I ordered from MOO arrived yesterday and they are so cute! I love them. I had about 50 stickers made using 11 different artworks of mine. I intend to use these stickers for packaging purposes- WHEN (not if!) people start buying my artwork I will wrap the art and seal it with a cute little sticker. Here are a few pictures:





In other news, it has been very busy at work this week. I work at a children's art museum and since the kids are on winter break it gets quite busy for us, to say the least. We have different self guided stations set up with a whole lot of materials at them. Today I made myself a crown at the paper-tape-scissors-marker station. I'm quite proud of it:

The last few days I've worked really hard on submissions and applications for different art related things so tonight I'm going to treat myself to an evening in the studio. I'm very much looking forward to it.

xo

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Whirlwind

Today was a whirlwind of creative activities. It was great but now I'm exhausted! I was so focused on  making and doing today that I totally forgot to each lunch and take a shower. And now it's 8 o'clock and I've yet to have dinner. I'll eat right after I post this! I made two new little cute collages that I love. They are for sale in my Etsy shop here. Here are a few pics of them:



They are both 4in x 4in on wood board, all ready to hang on a wall, you just need a screw or nail. I think with these I was trying to give myself reminders. I'm trying to be present. I'll share this post over on Creative Every Day and check in on what all those creative people are doing over there. But only after  I eat dinner!



xo

Sunday, February 16, 2014

GOOD Morning

It is a good morning and going to be a good day. Not because I'm expecting anything in particular to happen. I'm just going to make it so by being positive and organized, working hard and creatively, and by remembering this morning's reading from Simple Abundance which talks about working through fears and uncertainties by using the powers of light and love. I know that many people suffer from the Sunday blues, myself included. Sometime during Sunday afternoon I start to feel my anxieties move in closer and make it known that they intend to stay for the rest of the day and night. It's such a yucky feeling. If they show up today I'm going to notice them, accept them, and then think about all of the light and love in my life so they don't overtake me. That is my plan.

Yesterday I got a bunch of small substrates from Blick. I got Ampersand aquabords, claybords, and encausticbord ATCs. Nothing is bigger than 5in x 5in. I have so many ideas for these small boards and I'm very excited about them! I started using the ATCs (2.5in x 3.5in) last night and had so much fun. I'm turning this first round of experiments into magnets. Here are a few photos:






The last two photos show the magnets in use, holding up Tyler's mom's watercolor Christmas card and my niece Genevieve's watercolor painting, respectively. I'm going to make some more magnets today, which is just one of many creative activities I have on today's to do list. Better get going!

xo

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope all of my valentines make it to their destinations by today or tomorrow. Who knows if all this crazy weather is slowing down the postal service!  We had another snowy day yesterday and a bit more snow overnight. It'll be a slippery and wet commute into work this morning.

 I spent part of my snow day yesterday in the studio making. I'm liking the collages I'm making lately and think that they could be nice prints and note cards, I'm excited to make that happen! Here is the newest, called "beginning" which I'll share over on Paint Party Friday:



I have a lot of creative energy and ideas lately. It feels good and exciting! There is so much I want to be doing though that I often wish for more time in the day. I need to make sure I balance my creative/studio time with time for wedding planning! We have several big things set for the wedding but we need to keep checking things off the list. We designed and ordered our save the dates and they should be here next week. Next is finding a caterer! I just have to trust that there is enough time. I am working hard and passionately and good things are happening. This is a good time!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Keeping Busy

 Last night I finished up a collage and used my new stamps on it. It was so much  fun! It's titled "allow". What do you think?:





The way I decide what words to put on a piece is by going through a large envelope full of already cut out words and phrases from books. I pull all of the ones that speak to me at that moment then I look at what I've got and start arranging and rearranging until I've got a sentiment that feels like it fits with the piece. I will most likely use this same tactic but rather than glue the actual book cut outs onto the collage I can now stamp on the sentiment. Or, most likely, I will do a mix of both.

It was a busy and productive day. I started the morning out by going to a local print shop to get some prints of a few of my pieces. They look lovely and feel good but I'm wondering about quality. They are digital prints printed on 80lb gloss paper. Does anyone out there have experience with printing and know if this is a decent print to try to sell? Any Creative Every Day Artists have experience selling prints? I'd appreciate anyone's input. Here are a few shots of what the prints look like, although I took the pictures of them at the end of the day when the light wasn't the best, keep that in mind:




Something exciting that I've decided to do is participate in this year's Westcott Art Trail. This is a fundraiser for the Westcott Community Center in Syracuse, my hometown. The Art trail showcases the neighborhood and the artists that are a part of it. Participants get a map and can either walk or drive to each spot on the trail. My mom has said that I could use my parent's yard to set up shop. Thanks, Mom! It'll be a fun event that supports our community and it'll be good exposure for me-it'll help to get my name and art out into the world a bit more!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just Because

I showered and got dressed today (something that doesn't always happen on Sundays!) and put on my fanciest earrings. I never get fancy. Well, rarely. Weddings seem to be the only occasion in my life to get fancy for. But today I felt annoyed about having nicer things and never wearing them! For work I mostly wear things that can get covered in glue, paint, oil pastels, playdough- I'm a teaching artist and I work with toddlers. So today, just because, I put on my fancy earrings and a new shirt. I only left the house for a short time to do a few errands but it doesn't matter. I feel good. I feel pretty.


Tyler and I had a good morning. We've been getting up early, even on weekends to write and read. I journaled then read the days entry in Simple Abundance. Then I started reading through my newest issues of Artful Blogging and Where Women Create Business. I'm really trying to get some good info on blogging, the blogging world, and creative businesses and how they succeed. I'm also reading Kelly Rae Roberts' e-book Flying Lessons which is proving to have a lot of useful information on growing your creative business. It breaks things down into manageable chunks which, for me, makes it easier to take action.

When I left the house this afternoon, wearing my fancy earrings, I headed over to Paper Source. I've been wanting to get a heat gun so I can stop using my hairdryer for drying paint and glue. (Everytime I dry my hair, which is rarely, I have to go into the studio where the dryer is plugged in so I can use it). I also got some alphabet stamps, ink pads, and embossing powder. Since I've been adding so much text to my work lately I thought it might be fun to stamp words as well as use words cut from books. Experimenting. Hopefully tomorrow I can share some pictures of my stamping/embossing experiments.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Her Story

I've decided I'm going to get some prints made of a few of my pieces. I've always been curious as to how prints of my work would look so I'm finally going to find out. I'm hoping to stop at a local print shop tomorrow after work. I think having prints will be a nice and economical item to add to my Etsy shop. I also want to print some note cards for the shop. I'll check to see if the print shop will do that as well. I've also heard that MOO does a nice job with notecards, business cards (which I also need!!!), etc. I ordered some stickers with my artwork on them from MOO. I'm excited to see how those turn out! I'll be sure to share pictures when I get them.

I finished another piece last night. This one is called "her story". I love this one. I'm going to share it on Paint Party Friday. I finished the background a week or so ago but couldn't quite tie it all together until last night.

.




The Chinese New Year was last week and, for some reason, this year I'm more interested in knowing what this year means in the Chinese Zodiac. A friend sent Tyler this article which he then passed along to me: Emerging From the Depths: Dynamic Movement Forward in the Year of the Horse. This is supposed to be a year of, "budding, new growth, dynamism, movement, and great leaps forward". It certainly feels that way to me already! Another great line, "The propulsion of the horse energy is supported by clarity of vision. It urges us to map what we want for our lives, know the steps towards getting there, and begin to ride the wind towards an expanded sense of freedom and awareness previously only dreamed of."  I also hear that it is supposed to be a good year for those born in the year of the dog, which Tyler and I both are (1982). Good things ahead this year!!
The propulsion of the horse energy is supported by clarity of vision. It urges us to map what we want for our lives, know the steps towards getting there, and begin to ride the wind towards an expanded sense of freedom and awareness previously only dreamed of. - See more at: http://www.pachamama.org/blog/emerging-from-the-depths-dynamic-movement-forward-into-the-year-of-the-horse#sthash.N8zZ1X3x.dpuf
for a year of budding, new growth, dynamism, movement, and great leaps forward. - See more at: http://www.pachamama.org/blog/emerging-from-the-depths-dynamic-movement-forward-into-the-year-of-the-horse#sthash.N8zZ1X3x.dpuf
for a year of budding, new growth, dynamism, movement, and great leaps forward. - See more at: http://www.pachamama.org/blog/emerging-from-the-depths-dynamic-movement-forward-into-the-year-of-the-horse#sthash.N8zZ1X3x.dpuf

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Some days

Some days are just kinda crappy for no particular reason. Like today. Nothing bad happened. I was just in a crabby mood. The weather was miserable (snow, ice, rain) so that didn't help. I just couldn't shake the bad mood. Until this evening, when I received a very kind and encouraging comment right here in this blog. It shifted my perspective and my mood lifted. Thanks, Amy!

During some down time at work I was able to get a few valentines made. I want to send handmade valentines in handmade envelopes to my family this year, I've got a few more to make. Here are the ones I made today:

This morning I was thinking about these two geometric collages I made this summer:

They were probably floating in my mind because my good friend Annie, who is a fabulous illustrator, writer, and performer, had a birthday party at a paint your own pottery place over the weekend. I attempted to paint the design of the top collage onto a sushi plate. I have a feeling it didn't work out so well. Still, I'm excited to see how it came out. I'll be sure to post a picture, even if it's embarrassingly bad.

I'm going to spend some time this evening organizing some things in my Etsy shop. There's a learning curve with Etsy, you really gotta work to figure out how to make your shop successful. I'm trying! And I'll end the evening by writing in my gratitude journal- that will really challenge me to examine my day to find 5 good things about it!!!