Category Archives: Art

Tools I Can’t Live Without {Redux}

As part of restructuring my blog – and deciding what subjects to focus on in future posts – I came across my “Tools I Can’t Live Without” posts. I enjoy writing these and often get feedback about them, even years later.

These posts are also taking on a special meaning as Greg and I talk about possibilities for retirement. We’re probably 15 years out but we’re planners by nature so we’re already having those discussions. One of our ideas is selling everything and traveling by RV Van for a few years. Just the thought of a very small space both thrills and terrifies me. I love the idea of not much to clean and no room for clutter. I do not love the idea of cleaning out my studio and of trying to figure out which art tools are so important I must take them and which are not necessary.

I told Greg, “Maybe I’ll retire when you do.” He laughed and pointed out that making art is for me like breathing. He’s right. I’ll make art until I not physically able.

So I am looking at my art tools a bit differently. I often find myself thinking about the tools I’ve used that day and which I could do without. Fortunately I have a lot of time to think about this. In the meantime, here are the past “Tools I Can’t Live Without” posts.

Tools I Can’t Live Without: Teflon Bone Folder

Tools I Can’t Live Without: Kutrimmer

Tools I Can’t Live Without: The One I’m Embarrassed to Admit (to)

What tool(s) do you use in your art that you can’t live without?

Look for more “Tools” posts soon.

~Ginger

 

Finding a Balance

Image result for scale

Hello again. It’s been a long time. I have been blogging in fits and starts and, for almost a year, not at all. I think about it all the time. I’ve got dozens of blog posts written in my head. But none of them made it to the computer or your inbox.

One of my biggest challenges, and I suspect yours as well, is being able to say, “No.” I enjoy helping people and making people happy and I am quite good at over committing myself out of the best intentions. Unfortunately I often fall short and feel sad/frustrated/guilty for not living up to my own expectations or promises.

After more than a year of falling short in too many places, I’m in the process of re-balancing my time as an artist and teacher (and wife, daughter, sister…). One of my priorities is to get back to regular blog writing.  I’ll share more about that soon. And more about my work. And tools I can’t live without. And events of note. Looking forward to chatting with you soon.

~Ginger

 

Living With An Artist at Crunch Time

mick-stevens-i-think-i-see-your-deadline-approaching-new-yorker-cartoon

by Mick Stevens in The New Yorker

Hi everybody.  Its me, Greg, your guest blogger here again.  The 2017 Codex book fair is just around the corner and Ginger’s work is coming together nicely but she’s swamped right now.  Which is why you get me.  I shall continue my previous theme and discuss Codex prep from my perspective.  Specifically, I see Ginger is super busy and stressed so what can I do to help alleviate that (without making more work for her)?  We’ve been through this a number of times preparing for various art shows and here’s a few things I’ve learned that will help.

  • Volunteer to be a studio assistant.   Your first reaction may be, “I’m not an artist, how can I possibly help in the studio?”  True, I don’t know much about art but I do know how to measure paper and use a bone folder.  I can even work a Kutrimmer.  In fact, I quite enjoy putting on the headphones and cranking through a stack of paper or davey board.   I don’t know anything about book bindings but I can run to the store for more art supplies.  I often tell Ginger, “Pretend I’m a small child (not a stretch) and give me specific and clear instructions, I won’t be offended.”  Even taking on small menial tasks can be a help to her.
  • Encourage your artist to take breaks.  There are natural stopping points in Ginger’s work such as waiting for paint or glue to dry.  Or when transitioning from one book to the next.  That’s a good time to suggest a break.  Sometimes we go for ice cream and other times we just lie in bed and pet the cats.  A walk is always a good option.  Sometimes Ginger wants to talk about her work and other times she doesn’t even want to think about it.  We might take a dinner break and watch half hour of mindless TV.  Laughing together is always a good stress reliever.
  • Don’t take it personally if your artist is always busy or distracted.  This is not the time to stamp my foot and say “but what about me?!  Pay attention to me!”  During crunch time the artist is always thinking about his or her art.  We might be doing something completely non-art (including sleeping) but part of her brain is still working on art problems.  So I don’t take it personally if I’m talking to Ginger and she gets that faraway look in her eyes before jumping up and rushing off to the studio.
  • Make sure your artist doesn’t neglect his or her health.  One of the best ways to do this is to encourage your artist to get more sleep.  It sounds contradictory but more sleep can actually be more productive.  I’ve seen Ginger get into the bad pattern of working eighteen hours one day but then dragging for the next two days before giving in to a long sleep to catch up.  The net result is less productivity.  And more stress because then she feels like, “Oh no, I’ve been dragging and sleeping too much, I need to work even harder!”  I realize that Ginger will laugh at this because normally I’m one of those “Five hours is enough for anybody!” kind of guys but I realize that everybody is different and during crunch time you have to do what works best for you.
  • Be ready to give tough feedback.  This is a difficult one because I see Ginger working so hard and I see she’s stressed and fragile and my instinct is to tell her that everything she does is great.  After all, I want to be encouraging and I want to help her soldier on.  But I would be doing her a disservice.  We both agree that just because there’s a deadline looming it’s no reason to lower standards.   There are plenty of times in life where I’ll say, “It’s good enough, just get it done” but not when it comes to Ginger’s art.   So continue to give the tough feedback but be prepared to deliver it with an extra dose of kindness.  See my previous post on “The Art of Art Feedback”.
  • Don’t add extra pressure to your artist.   Yeah, this isn’t the time to remind her about her looming deadline.  It’s also not a good time to say, “Wow, you must be so stressed!”   Believe me, she’s acutely aware of it.  It’s also not the time to burden her with issues that aren’t urgent.  Do we really need to plan our 2018 vacation right now or can it wait a few weeks?  I find it’s helpful to jointly map out our week in advance so that Ginger knows which tasks or events I have covered and doesn’t have to worry about how non-art tasks are going to get done.
  • Remove distractions from your artist’s daily life.  This goes hand-in-hand with the above point.  Make or bring dinner.  Do extra household chores.  Offer to take the pet to the vet.  Attend the family function by yourself so she can keep working.  In fact, guess what?  You yourself might be a distraction.  The question to ask myself is, “Does Ginger really need to be interrupted or is this just a needy attempt to get attention?”
  • Give meaningful and specific encouragement.   Right now Ginger is very focused on a huge to-do list and what’s not going well.  Those unsolved problems are weighing heavily on her mind.  This is when she needs encouragement but not that general encouragement which, while true (“hey, at least you get to make art, isn’t that great?”), isn’t very helpful.  One of the best ways to encourage is to point out what I like about each new work.  What really pops out and how does it make me feel.  Sometimes Ginger gets to a point where she only sees what’s wrong with a piece.  It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes tell her what’s right and how well the piece works.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  They’ve definitely worked for me.  If you’re an artist then show this list to the people living with you.  And identify those people whom you can really depend on and allow yourself to lean on them a little.

-Greg

keep-calm-and-meet-deadlines-9-1ja6dd8

Free Cut and Fold Book – My Wish For You 2016

ginger-burrell-my-wish-for-you-2016

This will be the last free Cut and Fold Book for 2016. Please feel free to make as many copies as you’d like for your personal or educational use.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is choosing and decorating a Christmas tree. I have many beloved ornaments and this book has photos I took of some of them. The snoopy was from my husband Greg. The nativity lovingly hand-sewn by my mother-in-law, Rebecca, last year. The ball is one of many that we’ve collected over the years. The Grinch an ornament I gave Greg one year to highlight his big heart despite any reputation he may have as a Grinch. The squirrel is a running joke between Greg and I. The kitty angel is my very favorite that my mom, Honey, gave me. The elf is my oldest ornament, given to my when I was a child by my Grandpa Morey, and the Tigger is one of many that I have since he is my favorite Disney character.

The sentiment is one that I was brought up with and believe in wholeheartedly. We are better, stronger, more blessed when we celebrate everyone.

My Wish For You 2016

This will be my last art blog post for 2016. I wish you a wonderful holiday, whatever your holiday may be. I look forward to sharing creativity and joy with you in 2017.

Looking for more Christmas freebies?

Pop-Up Trees Tutorial

Do You Hear What I Hear Cut and Fold Book

Christmas Giggles Cut and Fold Book

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to fold and cut the book.

 

Enjoy!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

Holiday Gift List #2 – Support An Artist!

2017 In Forests Calendar

Continuing with the holiday theme of gift giving and receiving, here are more wonderful gift ideas for your friends and yourself this holiday season. All of these artists are on Etsy, so get a cup of your favorite beverage and take a few moments to go through each of their offerings. You’ll probably end up ordering yourself a gift. You’re welcome.

1. If you haven’t already seen artwork by Andie Thrams, you’re in for a treat. The photo above is her 2017 Calendar, In Forests. It is a digital print of original artwork and a bargain way to add Andie’s artwork to your collection at only $26.00. Looking for something you can display on a wall? She has several 8 x 8 prints of her work ready to frame. I’m in love with her Poppy piece for $60.00

POPPY: Framable Art

And as much as I’m sure you’d like an original artists’ book by Andie, they’re hard to get. So she has graciously reproduced them digitally and you can add them to your collection or give them as a gift for only $40.00. I have the 2012 book and it’s beautiful!

2012 In Forests Artist Book

2012 In Forests Artist Book

2013 In Forests Artist Book

2013 In Forests Artist Book

2. For some of the most fun miniature artists’ books, zines and cards you’ll find anywhere, check out Raesofsun with art by Rae Trujillo.

As you know, I’m partial to cats, so I’ve already collected many of Rae’s cat cards. Here is one of my favorite. You can get one, too, for only $4.50

Blank, Card, Cat, Just Because, Cat Card, Blank Card, Greeting Card, Smiling Cat, Birthday Cat, Silly Cat, Cat Art, Cat Painting, Happy Cat

Also in our collection, I gave it to Greg last year for Christmas,  and one of my favorites, is I Love Doughnuts, a miniature artists’ book. $50.00

Artists' Book, Handmade Book, Miniature Artists' Book, Miniature Book, Handmade Book, Doughnut, Donut, Photographs, Pink Box

For a bit of humor and hand drawings, check out Admit One: Flea Circus, for $20.00

Artist's Book, Miniature Artist's Book, Miniature Book, Handmade Book, Flea Circus, Circus, Flea, Pink, Funny, Humor, ticket, Admit One

3. For the sublime in a tiny package, you’ll want to check out the work of Bryan Kring

One of my favorites, and a book we have in our personal collection, is done by Bryan through the SFCB Small Plates series: The Hunter and The Bear $44.00

You might also like Learning to Fly, $150.00

Learning To Fly, Moveable Diorama Book

And Insecta Coleoptera, $200.00

Insecta Coleoptera, Limited Edition Artist's Book

Looking for some more options on Etsy? Use the search term “artist books” – in the quotes, to find a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Free Cut and Fold Book – Do You Hear What I Hear?

do-you-hear-book-2016-ginger-burrell

One of my favorite memories of Christmas is singing carols with my mother. She has an amazing singing voice and me, not so much. But somehow singing carols with my mother always elevated my voice and made us feel even closer. This cut and fold book is a version for you to color and make into a book. It is made with coloring images from the internet combined with the words of the carol. You should only use this for personal or educational use. No selling it.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to fold and cut the book.

Looking for more? Christmas Giggles Cut and Fold Book

Later in the week I’ll post two more blog posts, one with a free pop-up tutorial and another with more artists you might want to support this holiday season.

Enjoy!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift List – Support an Artist!

This time of year it’s pretty likely that you’ll be purchasing a gift or a few for people that are important to you and/or they’ll be asking you, “What would you like?” I found some artist created goodies I thought you might want to add to your list(s). Note, I have no association with any of these products, but I think they’re cool, and they’re made by artists, so I fully support that!

  1. Excellent for anyone from your casual crafter to your serious artist, let’s start with Helen Hiebert’s Twelve Months of Paper Calendar. This calendar is filled with fun paper projects to enjoy each month. You can buy the calendar separately for $30.00 or you can add the paper pack for another $35.00.

2. For the more serious book artist or book binder on your list, any of Karen Hanmer’s books on Lulu would be a fabulous treat. I’m adding the Biblio Tech ($15.00) and Contemporary Paper Bindings ($55.00) books to my wish list. (Yes, Greg, I know you read my blog.)

Contemporary Paper Bindings

3. For an artist or anyone who works with paper, fabric or leather,  I highly recommend the Teflon Folding Rib from Talas. As I was telling my students on Sunday, it is truly the one tool I can’t live without. I use it in place of a bone folder in almost every application now. I use it for everything. It is especially fabulous for box making, book covers, anything with an inside corner, anything sticky… It’s probably the single most useful tool I’ve ever had in the studio. Seriously. Really. Buy one for your artist friend. They’ll love you. Get two and save one for yourself. $20.00

Image result for teflon folding rib

4. For a fun look at the history of Blooks (objects that look like books), check out Mindell Dubanksy’s book: “Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t.” A great gift for the book collector on your list, anyone who makes books, anyone who likes the history of objects, etc. $45.00

5. If you’re looking for artist book eye candy, you’ll want the new catalog of Julie Chen’s work, “Reading the Art Object: Three Decades of Books by Julie Chen,” available from Vamp and Tramp. A steal at $30.

5. For the children on your list, check out the children’s books and artwork of Melanie Hope Greenberg. Melanie is a children’s book illustrator. Her illustrations are colorful, fun and lively.

And for the adults on your list who are children at heart, check out her original artwork. I’m partial to the one below! (Or you could hang one of her original pieces in a nursery or children’s room. What a great birthday or shower gift!)

There are so many wonderful gift options out there! From now until Christmas I’ll fit in some extra posts like this one. If you have suggestions, please let me know. Shameless self-promotion encouraged.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com