desert trip

We took 2 1 week trips in the last month (one reason not much sculpting is getting done…..)
My husband is an incredible photographer, and the first trip was to go to Bosque del Apache to photograph the birds – we also went to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest…. the second trip was down to Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree… I’m not a very good photographer – but there were so many beautiful things to see that i got some pictures I was happy with…

anyway – these pics are from the 2nd trip, to let folk see how beautiful the California desert is in the spring…
anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

this next picture is a great example of sheer luck —- i’m pretty blind, and one reason i don’t take very good photos is i can’t focus thru the view finder on the camera… we saw this hummingbird flying around a tree – and then she sat down and kept a close eye on us… hubbie took a lot of pics, and since she hadn’t left yet, i took a picture too. couldn’t even see her in the tree – but the little canon i have has an auto focus feature that is both wonderful/horrible – sometimes it focuses on what i want it too, sometimes it focuses on things around the subject instead. So anyway – i had no idea if i’d gotten a pic of her or the branches…. so wonderful to pull the image into lightroom and see her sitting on her nest keeping a gimlet eye on us…

anza borrego spring 09

the next 2 pics were at Joshua Tree

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

anza borrego spring 09

fantasy art style bjd

awhile back I posted about what it was like to mix up some kato clay to use —- there were some really great and helpful posts about ways to make it easier (I really like the idea of whacking it with the hammer!!)

I had mixed it intending to work some more on the contortionist, but as usual – got a little sidetracked…. Here is the little feline anthropomorphic bjd that popped out of the clay instead…. she was supposed to be a fox but maybe the house cats hanging over my arms while i sculpted influenced her — as you can see, she is pretty small, about 7 1/2″ from digigrade toe (I’m so pleased that i got sort of digigrade feet to work for her!!!) to tip of oversized ears and sits nicely in my hand.

I think she is a sphynx.

she needs some sanding, finishing work, and oh yeah – maybe hands, another arm and an articulated tail too….

I’m really happy with the clay though – it is strong enough to string passibly tight – and maybe if i bake all the pieces again, longer, they will be even stronger. now i need to see how it takes sanding (need to really work on those legs…..)

cat girl in brown kato clay

cat girl in brown kato clay

cat girl in brown kato clay

cat girl in brown kato clay

cat girl in brown kato clay

cat girl in brown kato clay

cat girl in brown kato clay

working on a male figure study

feeling rather non-productive, so am trying to get myself back in the habit of working on a piece for a bit every evening.
and decided it was time to go back to some paperclay pieces… so going to try to finish off this male figure, and then start a maybe lifesized face….

paperclay male study

NIADA conference in September :

to everyone — I consider it an honor to be an artist-member of NIADA – and this year’s conference is going to be at Arrowmont, which is just awesome…

the president of NIADA sent out the following info to share with everyone :

We are happy to extend to you a personal invitation to attend the Annual Conference of the National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA), September 10-13, and our exciting 2009 NIADA Dollmaking School, September 8-12, with 18 Master Classes to choose from. Everyone is welcome; membership is not required. Come just for conference, classes only, or both. This will be a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from esteemed doll artists from around the world, and to see first-hand some of the most spectacular art dolls in existence. Please be sure to register early before classes and conference are full.

This will be a very unique and enjoyable year for NIADA, as we meet at the renowned Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. With its on-campus housing and meals, wonderful studios, meeting spaces, and gallery, Arrowmont will be a perfect setting for our activities. Come and enjoy the beauty of the Smoky Mountains, create new friendships, and deepen old ones in a more intimate conference setting.

Detailed information about the conference, classes, and registration can be found at, and any questions can be sent to

ALSO: The NIADA Annual Show and Sale at Arrowmont will be open to the public on Sunday, September 13, from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

We’d love to see you at Arrowmont!

Warm regards,

Shelley Thornton
NIADA President

Bev Young
2009 Conference Chairperson

my work room…

I decided to take pity on the fellow occupants of my home — and moved almost everything related to sculpting to a room that recently got vacated. There were still a whole bunch of boxes on a bedframe in there — and the closet was off limits, but i commandeered the overstuffed chair and the long work table. and moved my desk (ok, the desk my daughter left behind when she moved away) and lots, and lots of resin, silicon, clays of all kinds, tools of all kinds, partial sculpts, books, pictures i’ve torn out of magazines, wires, tubes, elastic …. all into the remaining space.

So the rest of the house is actually looking fairly decent. my workspace on the other hand, feels a little like a cross between a hobbit’s hole and a feral creature’s burrow – I hope i’m not in there for the next earth quake, i’m not totally sure what is keeping the futon frame suspended behind the very comfortable chair….

worst of all — a few artists i know have recently been sharing pictures of their work spaces. you could see their desks . so strange.

i wonder if there is a 5 step program for artists/hoarders.

North wall
north wall

sort of south wall
southish wall

I do REALLY like this pic though — was trying to get a picture of the approximately 5 foot space between the window and the back of the overstuffed chair (behind the futon frame – I know i have some books i need back there – have no idea at all how i’m going to get to them though….)

so nice to have a protector totoro watching my back….


standing somewhere in between…. or outside…..

a rather long, random rant about something that may only bother/confuse me….

recently the Interstitial Arts Foundation put out a call for cover art for a book of fiction they are publishing… they wrote :

“Interstitial art is all about breaking rules, ignoring boundaries, and
cross-pollination. Do you have trouble describing your work, or feel
that what you do doesn’t quite fit in anywhere else? Have you been
told you’re too commercial for fine art, too fine art for craft shows,
or too crafty for a fancy gallery? If your art falls between the
cracks of other movements and definitions, it could be just right for
us. Art that transcends boundaries is what the Interstitial Arts
Foundation is all about. Read more about the IAF, sign up for our e-
list, or even become a Friend of the IAF at”

so of course I submitted pics – boy did that sound familiar…. and it started me thinking (again) about the frustrations of never seeming to quite fit in anywhere.

when i sculpt, I usually start with a feeling. When I started working on Transitions
blind angel
I was thinking about the feeling of loss left behind when someone dies, the sadness, and some of the fear of moving blindly into that next phase, which evolved into thinking about what it must feel like at the moment you close your eyes on one existence and open your eyes on the next….

Bone Dragon’s Daughter
woman taking on the cloak of dragon
is all about wondering about how it must feel to truly truly believe in something outside yourself, to be transcendent in the moment and take on the cloak of that belief….
As i worked on the piece it evolved into thinking about how when you have a need to do something – like create art – sometimes that need rides you with no compassion for the other parts of your life….

The end sculpture has more to do with the feelings and thoughts i have while working on it, than any attempt to fit into any particular area of art. And it is something I feel the need to do- not something I do to sell. I wish I could aim my sculpting at a particular market like successful commercial artists do – but the pieces i do when i try that, I think are less successful than the ones that flow out of an idea/feeling…. So i rarely get validation thru sales — but i still want to connect to people, to try to see if other people catch some of the thoughts, the feelings that i’m working with in a sculpt…

So I started taking the pieces to different types of groups. I tried to take some drawing classes in college and was told very firmly that i didn’t have any skill in that area, so i didn’t think of these as fine art …. I was working in polymer at that time, so i took them to polymer clay groups and doll makers groups. In each place I found a small group of friends who connected – but the vast majority thought i should go somewhere else. Eventually I found a wonderful bronze sculptor to learn from, and he was very encouraging – but felt i should be casting them in bronze, while to me the paperclay or polymer was just as important as the shape to the overall feel of the piece. I still don’t feel like i’ve found the place where i fit in — maybe i’m looking for the validation of a label….

Sometimes I wonder if there is a huge quietly seething mass of artists, frustratedly creating their work, wondering where they might fit in… seems like there should be a museum for the outsiders somewhere. Wouldn’t it be glorious to have a place to go and connect with other people making art and not fitting in — (is that self-contradictory – a place for people who don’t fit in, to fit in?) And realistically, probably most of us don’t fit in because its not in our nature – if we had valued fitting in, we could have molded our art to fit the values of the group we wanted to join. (ahem, urm, ok – but i really, really love bjds, really i do —- i don’t just sculpt them because i wanted to fit in —- really i didn’t….. but have to admit, since DOA shut their artists forum, the bjds i’m envisioning are far less mainstream. it probably did me good for them to close)

oh well. its time to head to work. and to try to fit in there for awhile. do other people with day jobs find themselves in the middle of their other job randomly thinking about the piece they are working on, or the piece they wish they were starting?