Artist in Residency

 

Feeling super duper lucky right now.

For the month of January, 2017, I’m staying on as Artist in Residence with well known NZ painter/screenprinter Tony Ogle, way out on the magestic East Coast of NZ’s North Island. I have my portable studio set up and have begun some personal painted work. I have a couple of project plans buzzing around in my head, growing by the day (but yet to put in to words) and am looking forward to using this time to develop some exciting creative ideas for 2017. The only possible challenges are the allure of that big turquoise waterworld out front, and the adorable snuggle-loving Ewok shown here…

 
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Wainui really has been proving itself to be king of the skies. I miss this in Wellington— the space that the sky is allowed to fill.
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Make it Happen

I took a mini-trip out of town to Palmerston North to paint up this mural  – providing some surprise Monday motivation for a local business incubator. Created with my trusty 1shot enamel, and some new brushes I just picked up.

I was one very exhausted (and sore!) artist after driving there and back in one day. Fortunately Ladi6 was playing her 2nd gig of the weekend at a bar in town, so I beelined straight there upon return to shake it all out.

Quilling

Keeping inspired is essential in a freelance creative career, and it can be a really rewarding experience to explore new techniques and styles outside of what current contracts call for. These ‘Passion Projects’ show what you’re capable of, and may well be the items in your portfolio which lead to further related work. Party on! My latest exploration is a introductory attempt at Quilling.

I try to exercise my creative muscles every day, even if it means staying at the studio after dark to throw some glitter around after spending all day hustling anchor points and bézier curves. The crew at Warehouse Stationery asked me to collaborate with them, as the company is celebrating their first ever July Create Month. I’m keen to inspire and encourage other peeps out there to get their creative juices cranking whenever possible, so am creating a mini series of juice-inducing artworks and will be posting them on my Instagram account. Big ups to Warehouse Stationery for letting me fill my shopping basket with fun new materials to play with!

Below are a few tips I picked up along the way whilst creating this piece.

Tip #1
When I was a kid my mum would let me help wrap presents (I was born super-precious about straight folded edges) and I loved doing that trick where you run a piece of ribbon along a scissor blade… (I guess I was also well trusted with scissors…)

Same idea applies here. Hold your thumb over the edge of a large needle edge/compass tip/crochet hook, and drag the strip of paper along in a fluid motion – bingo bango: neatly curved paper.

Tip #2
To make the super tight curls, take that same needle tip and wrap the pre-curled paper around the tip into a tight spiral. I found it helped to pre-curl the paper as it somewhat softened it/coerced it into being curved without getting hard edges or split paper.

Tip #3
Try to mould the shapes of the letters as close to the desired shape as possible before doing any glueing. Use your tools to create curves in the right places, getting tighter or inverse as required, then pick the strip up with tweezers and glue the edge before placing the strip back down and into place.

There are plenty of full tutorials inside the internet about quilling, For this post I just wanted to share a few pointers I picked up along the way.

Now go forth and create!

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You Got This

I recently had a conversation with a friend who I’ve been observing in social situations down-playing his success as an artist. It often baffles me when I hear him speak like this – this person is incredibly talented, and a pretty darn successful artist, and here he is leading people to believe he’s less awesome than he really is?! It is an extreme minority who manage to make a sustainable living from my friend’s chosen creative industry, and evidently it begins to take it’s toll.

The conversation drove me to enquire into my own tactics when it comes to chatting socially about my work. I’ve long employed a method of only talking about the positives. Early in my career I found myself publicly lamenting the hardships of life as an artist- always struggling to pay rent, settling for low rates, not being able to afford to join my friends for dinner on the town.

At some point I got tired of hearing myself complaining, so I switched to only promoting the positive aspects of my job. Dropping details into conversation of an awesome upcoming project even if it’s my only current contract; rearranging the description of a relatively dull commission to make it sound a bit more interesting; revelling in the fact that I got to spend all day painting (even though I ate toast for every meal that day).

It may seem like dishonesty to an extent, but I see it as merely a protective veneer. It’s important to keep close friends and fellow artists around who you are able to have a whinge at when it’s called for, and if someone wishes to enquire further into the highs and lows of a creative career, i’m not going to lie to them; I’d love to shop exclusively at the organic shop!

But the more you talk about your worth as an artist, the more you believe it, and the more other people will believe it. The people you meet socially may well have a connection to a potential client, and if those people come away with the impression that you’re enjoying success as an artist, they’re more likely to go forth and tell others how great you are.

You are great!

kellyspencer

I feel like my tactics pay off. Of course it’s often a hard road to ‘make it’ in the creative industry, and no doubt it takes heaps of hard work — but spreading positivity around you will bring positivity back in. Be that in the form of cool collaborations with fellow artists, contracts with clients who are happy to pay the money you deserve, or simply a mega-boost to your own creative energy.

kellyspencer