Monday, April 27, 2009

Upcoming Art Show

For about a year and a half I've been a studio assistant to a wonderful San Francisco Bay Area conceptual artist, Caroline Seckinger. Her dedication and determination to execute involved installations is paying off, for she has a show that is open for the month of May 2009.

You don't want to miss this show!

Caroline Seckinger
Opening on May 1st, 7-9pm at Slate Art
4770 telegraph ave, Oakland, CA

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Week 16 HITS

Week 16 Happenings in the Studio

Following the normal pattern for me, this week was unlike any other week in terms of daily schedule or events. The focus has been on getting focused. Simplify and intensify.

It takes a ton to get through to me since I'm stubborn, but after an amazingly huge amount of references to Portland, Oregon, I know I need to move there. My ears aren't just being perked up by any mention of Portland, but unusual connections to that city through friends and else where have been constantly bombarding me. What a wonderful thing to be bombarded by!

I love Portland!!! Every morning I wake up at 7am to my alarm clock on my cell phone. When I turn it off the screen reads, "I heart PDX!" (that's the symbol when traveling by train to that amazing city).

Early in the week I was in San Francisco working for artists doing all sorts of things like sort bottle caps, sew fur and paint trim. They say you turn into the people that you hang out with. If that's the case, I want to turn into the friends that I spent time with on that trip. I am really blessed with passionate, caring, and creative friends. Thank you.

Then the end of the week I was at a three day workshop on creating alternate streams of income, such as buying tax liens and investing in the market. What I'm doing now is not working. It's not the way to pay back my student loans and relieve my anxiety.

Today at lunch I finally had enough eating left overs for lunch. I'm thankful for having nutritious food to eat, but I'm also done being broke.

On a date this week, he asked why don't I just focus on one thing and then move onto the rest? For whatever reason that plan clicked and now I am focusing on becoming educated on trading on the stock market with a focus on managing risk and knowing when to buy and sell. I'm a nut about spread sheets, charts and numbers. I'm getting giddy just thinking about it. I'm still playing the "offense" by making money through assisting artists, house/dog sitting and teaching art classes.

Honestly I'm a bit hesitant to even share my interest in the market. I'm done asking or wanting others permission and approval for what I do with my life.

So what does this mean for the weekly happenings in the studio? I'm taking a break from spending most of my energy into my art. I'll still check in on Mondays, but the theme is altering from tracking art making to following the thoughts and actions of an artist.

Photos of Braille that made me bleed are here.

lots of love,

Week 17A HITS
Week 15 HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)

Friday, April 24, 2009

pics of SF

I was out in San Francisco for a business trip assisting artists with lots of random tasks, from sorting bottle caps to sewing. The weather was super odd for the Bay at 90 degrees. I loved it! I biked around all over and only got into one altercation with a car. It was a memorable and encouraging time there.

Unfortunately I didnt have time to catch up with everyone, since my number one reason there was to work as much as possible. I like visitors! I can put you up in a handmade tipi, here in Sacramento! If sleeping on the ground sounds like a drag, I'll be back in May for my commencement.

FYI- I'm cutting back on posting, due to super pressing areas that need massive action.

Pics of San Fran from earlier this week are here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Week 15 Happenings in the Art Studio

Typically I post what I did in the studio on Mondays, but I'm going out of town. This is an atypically HITS (Happenings in the Studio) post since it's so short. I'll be sure to divulge more for Week 16.

Highlights for the week:
  • To date I've submitted 6 job applications. Looking for a creative or active job basically anywhere in the world. Fingers crossed for the rock climbing gym.
  • Furthered my knowledge of stop-motion animation by holding books at the library on sculpting with polymer clay, mold making, armature construction and animation. One of them all ready arrived and I'm done reading it. I also watched James and the Giant Peach. Also looked for more stop-motion companies to apply to.
  • Occurred to me to also post my artwork on Craigslist, so now there are several ads of my art with photos.
  • Deadline for the Miniature Sheep Contest. Originally there was going to be one winner, but not very many submitted. As a thank you to the participants each one is going to receive a blue sheep. Thank you so much for playing! It was really a hoot to look at your creations.

Sheepzilla by Ian, CG artist for a San Francisco video game company. I can't say I pictured the miniture sheep being super big. Thanks for showing me another way to look at them.

Scuba diving sheep by Lynette. This was her first time doing anything like this. Way to go Lynette!

Freeriding sheep, mindlessly following each other to the edge by Cactus.
This is too funny! They must have really strong necks to hold up the helmets.

Thank you again to Ian, Lynette and Cactus for submitting. Your sheep will be arriving very soon!

Week 16 HITS
Week 14 HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Miniature Sheep Contest

DEADLINE was Midnight on Wed. April 15th, 2009.

1. Choose a sheep image.

Like this sheep with magnets in its feet.

2. Put the sheep in a different location, using photoshop or a camera.

Midnight on Wednesday, April 15th

Prize: 1 tac sheep!!

  • Winner will be announced on Friday, April 17th
  • Sheep will be mailed to the winner on Monday, April 20th.
  • wire legs are posable
  • The sheep are not toys. They are made to live on the ceilings, walls or cork boards.
To enter your image, revisit this blog on either April 14th or 15th. When you submit, I will have Mr. Linky set up. You'll type in your name and the url that has your image (such as the specific page on your blog). It's super easy.

Grading Criteria:

  1. Mastery of image manipulation is not required.
  2. If you don't know how to use Photoshop, you can photograph the quadruped in a new setting.
  3. I'm looking for the most creative, quirky... Something that makes me laugh. It needs to look thoughtful and not slap dash.
  4. You are welcome to change the color of the sheep, alter...
  5. Offensive, sexual or violent images are not accepted.
  6. You may include more than one sheep in your compilation, but it more won't win you extra points.
  7. Bonus points for looking at others submissions and leaving positive, constructive feedback or encouragement. Butt kissers need not try.
  8. Please include a few sentences describing why you chose the location that you did.

Images to Pick From:

More images of sheep to pick from at They're with the installations under the portfolio section.

Related Links:

If you have questions, leave a comment here and I'll get back to you in a timely manner. Have fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Submission by Ian Southwell

"I felt like Godzilla. Now it's Sheepzilla."

Week 14 Happenings in the Art Studio

Complete Gear Shift

Talk about an unusual week. For starters, I house and dog sat for friends who have a record player. On Thursday, which was my first entire day off for 2009, I danced around to records of Bing Crosby. He is such a heart throb. The rest of the day I watched movies and took several naps.

That day off did me in. I liked it. I want more of them! Working for me means long hours, with little payoff (for now since it’s a start up). I want to expel my creative force into a kick ass full time job and not worry about making rent. I’m making the transition from freelance artist, to finding an employer. That’s what I focused on all week.

I have been determined and motivated, but what I need to have is focus and passion. I adore art, but as you know from the photos I post most weeks, that most of my time is spent on marketing. I have a lot of inventory and want to get it moved out before investing in making new art. I am so ready for a new normal.

Original Weekly Goals

1. Spend 2 hrs. a day on Investing Education
I actually didn’t work on this, because the plan for the week changed.

2. Finish Warren Buffett book
I dabbled in this when I needed a break, but again, this was the goal at the beginning of the week, which ended up being less important by mid week.

3. Knit a prototype Cactus Light with green cord

I knit 4 feet of the cord and tested it to see how it clings to the cups. Before the Cactus Lights were made from elastic, but for a change in color I decided to try this fabric cord. It passed the test. It looks great!

4. Participate in the Problogger event for the blog makeover
I did the assignment for one day, but I decided right now is not the best time to start this. I'll do some now but I can do the rest later.

School kept me in San Francisco and now that I have my degree it’s time to rekindle my dreams of having a super creative job and living in a outdoorsy place, like Portland, Toronto, or Wellington, NZ.

Working from home is lonely and not that exciting. I’ve gone strong for 14 weeks and I’m done proving to myself that I can keep myself motivated and accountable. It’s time to do something new, exciting and active.

I put all of my original goals for the week to the side and focused on job shopping.
Week 14 really looked like this:

  • Researching what to include on a resume for a sculptor applying for a position at a stop motion animation company.
  • Rewriting my resume since I only had a version for art galleries.
  • Applied to 3 local non-creative places, that would be fun because they are fitness based.
  • Looked into applying for jobs at Yellowstone and Yosemite. I decided that being in nature would be incredible but I didnt find any positions that I qualified for that were interesting and paid well.
  • Picked up 3 more applications for more fitness oriented jobs. I have to keep an eye on me at the gym, otherwise I spend hours there and other things get neglected. I love the adrenaline rush, the challenge, the results and the feeling of accomplishment.
  • Dyed my hair brown and got it cut, so I’m all ready for interviews.
  • Researched international companies that I want to work for and gathered the submission criteria.

Click here for Photos of MacGyvered fencing weapon and Easter egg sorting in tipi.

Miniature Blue Sheep Contest

Deadline is this week!

Wednesday, April 15th

Click here for the details.
The prize is a sheep, like in the photo above.

Related Articles:
Week 15 HITS
Week 13 HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

3 Random Interests Reflected in my Art

1. Galapagos Islands. One of my dreams is to sail to the Galapagos Islands and see the Blue-Footed Boobies.When I was little by brother, an avid bird watcher, taught me about these unusual looking birds.

Using clay I made a visual of my traveling dream, in the form of 5 pin Canadian bowling set. The bowling ball (not pictured) is of a blue egg.

Elizabeth Symington, Blue Footed Boobie Pins, 2005

approx. 12 inches tall

2. Juggling clubs. The Summer of 2008 I learned how addicting it is to juggle balls. Since then, I've moved up to clubs! My favorite things to juggle are three random objects that aren't meant for tossing around, like a penny, deodorant and a measuring tape.

Making clubs is an ongoing pursuit of mine. This bottle cap club is the first prototype. After extensive testing I learned that the caps crack after repeatedly being dropped. From there I used a handle from an antique fishing pole. There's no spindle on the newer clubs, but instead a comfy cork like handle, topped with a bowling pin sandwiched between two laundry detergent caps. I've been juggling with this fish pole club and it has held up for months now.

Elizabeth Symington, Bottle Cap Juggling Club, 2008
wooden dowel, found bottle caps, bowling pin

standard club size

3. Knitting with Atypical Materials. This hanging light derived from a previous art installation where I knit slipcovers out of various super fuzzy yarns and clothes line.

Using circular knitting needles made out of polymer clay and duct tape, I've knit elastic into many Cactus Lights. The lampshades vary for each light, since they are plastic or rubber cups scavenged from thrift stores. The tedious part is stringing the Christmas lights through the knit elastic. The reward is seeing the patterns dance on the walls, while swinging the Cactus Light back and forth.

Elizabeth Symington, Cactus Light, 2009
4 feet
black elastic, rubber and plastic cups, Christmas lights

Having random interests gives variety to my art dense life. A lot of time they come from wishes and dreams, like wanting to be able to read books in Braille. It is rarely intentional to incorporate the hobbies as subject matter into my art. Instead, they are fresh in my subconscious and sneak their way into my sketchbooks.

Yoga, sushi or fencing hasn't made it into any of my art yet. We'll see when they pop up!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week 13 Happenings in the Art Studio

Quarterly Report minus the Numbers

From reading the Essential Buffett, I’ve picked up that managers should be honest to the stockholders by disclosing the year’s successes and failures. It’s the failures that speak the most about the character of the owner and managers. Following suit this is my informal quarterly report for HITS.

Over this time a major goal was to increase the content on this blog. I feel that has been attained, since I’ve posted 102 times during 2009 compared to 140 for the entire year of 2008. The layout and features have been improved, by adding a home button and revising my profile and mission statement (that’s in the header). To make the site more interactive a slide show has been added, along with a weekly photo album, several polls, shot a documentary, added digg it button and a contest that is currently going on involving blue sheep.

A better metrics system is being used now; Google Analytics. It is also tracking the traffic on the etsy site, which is my online store as of this year. My portfolio site has also been streamlined, along with updated content on the homepage. My Twitter and Facebook profiles have also been improved upon, with the goal of getting my art out there. I’m now a paid columnist for, which helps with the bills and name recognition. Technically speaking, I figured out via the infinitely resourceful Internet, setting up Mr. Linky, my personal signature, and customized blog template using HTML.

I’ve participated twice a week in carnivals since January. Traffic did spike on those days, but none of my art was sold because of them. Future carnivals need to be art centered, since that is the blog’s main focus.

Despite avid dedication to bringing awareness to the blog, only one piece of art has sold. I am confident things will pick up as I continue to learn more about social media marketing. I’m currently reading a book on this topic along with participating in a month long blog makeover taught by Darren on ProBlogger (that starts on 4/6/9). Over the next four weeks, things will get even more exciting! Don’t be surprised if there’s a new overall design!!!

My ultimate goal for blogging is to pick up advertisers, so I can spend more time creating art and less time marketing. When I have enough advertisers, I will be mobile to be anywhere in the world, as long as there is Internet. I get all giddy thinking about that. It is going to be a blast being free to travel.

Weekly Goals

1. Make an original piece of art

April Fool’s Eve my cousins and I played a prank that I'd been saving just for this reason.

2. Make substantial progress in reading The Essential Buffet because there are several I want to start reading when this one is done.

I went from chapter two to the half way mark. Learning strategies from the big name investors on focus investing

3. Spend 2 hours a day continuing my education on investing.

Mom and I spent Monday and Tuesday at an all day investing workshop, which stressed with education and a plan, risk can be managed.

I’ve also been reviewing notes, taking online tutorials, reading the Essential Buffett, testing myself with flashcards and installed Papermoney (which is a software program that gives me $200K in monopoly money for the stock market, to practice the rules that I’m learning).

4. Finish one project that has been going on for a while

Completed the dark blue elastic Cactus light plus 2 others.
And I cut out templates for all of the styles of record cover plates.

5. Use Zenbe

I registered for a free account with this list making program, but hadn’t used it till this week. So far, I like it because I use up less paper and I can easily move the tasks around. It is also freeing up space on the whiteboard, since I can type on Zenbe and not forget about it.

Biggest Challenge of the Week

Left brain burn out

Do you recall me talking a few weeks back about the importance of balancing right and left brain activities, otherwise you get an overload? That’s where I am at right now. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been putting off making art in exchange for “more productive” tasks like researching how to attract advertisers, writing a SWOT analysis for this blog, posting more art in online store… Ahh! No more screen time!

Hot weather is my biggest deterrent for being productive on the computer. All I’ve wanted to do all week was to tan. Several times I made excuses to bathe in the dry heat, by taking a book outside, flashcards or knitting. I can’t seem to get enough of it! As we speak I keep looking out the sliding glass door and telling myself to hurry up so I can get back out there.

Looking down at my feet, for the first time since last July, the tan lines on my feet are fading. This is so sad. That’s the “souvenir” from my train trip around Oregon and Washington. Today I keep taking breaks to sit in the sun, wearing the sandals that match the almost faded tan lines. I want them back. :-)

When I get in these burnout moods, I have to force myself to not obsessively mark on the calendar what was accomplished and long it took. I get stuck in a rut and default to computer tasks and then I have to kick myself off the laptop and do something else. Two productive things that I took care of was organizing the paperwork for my student loans and getting the details for my commencement in May. These have been dragging me down for too long. Now I feel more in control.

For me, the ideal career would be outside in the dry heat. Until then, I’m rotating from the laptop in the office to the rocker out back to knit Cactus Lights.

Thanks for reading. Have a good week.

Related Links:
Photos of April Fool's Prank and newest Cactus Lights

Miniature Sheep Contest
(deadline is April 15th, 2009)

Week 14 HITS
Week 12 HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Freelancers Union

Just watched a segment on the News about the relatively new Freelancers Union. I haven't looked into it yet other than seeing it on TV. The Union doesn't cost any thing to join. They offer health, dental and disability insurance at reduced rates. They also have classes on how to do your taxes and online articles on how to find work in this market.

I'd love to hear if anyone is already apart of the Freelancers Union and what they think. Or thoughts from others who are looking into this union.

New Year's Resolution Going Strong
Since January, when I made the resolution to move 30 minutes a day, I've only missed that mark . I refrained from saying "exercise 30 minutes a day," because that sounds more exhausting to do.

I can just imagine the visual some of you have that all of the computer work and reading has rounded me out in every direction. Not so much. My health food diet keeps me healthy looking. Prior to January, other than commuting via razor scooter or walking, I didn't move much. I'm going to live a long and healthy, energetic life, so as a New Year's Resolution I decided to drastically change my behaviors.

The first step was joining a gym. The harder challenge has been consistently going there. I use the whiteboard to keep track of my movement, be it juggling, biking, intense sculpting, tping, yoga, stair master...

What I needed was a motivator to get started and a ridiculously easy goal to get the feel good, feeling that I'm succeeding. In the past 3 months, only a couple of times I moved for just 30 minutes. I just needed to get started, and I have a hard time stopping. I'd be thrilled to have a sponsor and train full time, whether it's for the Olympic fencing team, fast pitch softball, ice skating, yoga.

I mix it up, some days I take group classes. This introduces me to new yoga postures, ensures that I finish the entire routine and it's social. Other days I swim or do resistance training. Variety keeps me interested.

On the occasional day off, I give myself a "spa day" at the gym, by going swimming, sit in the steam room then take a yoga class. I'm at the gym at least every other day. I was going in the morning and at night, but it cut too much into my schedule. I was happier, felt healthier, sexier, more hungry and rewarding tired feeling.

Movement Calendar
On the whiteboard I mark "nada" for the days I didn't move. Either because I was too sore and exhausted or too much that had to get done on that day.

This month has had the most "nadas" at 5 days. January and February sat pretty at most 3 days. That's fine since it is a drastic improvement versus my lifestyle in the Bay Area.

Ideal job would be working very little and rest spend out side or working mostly outside.

Virtual Studio Visit is on YouTube!

Just to give you an idea of how much I learned to get the video up, I found out that it's YouTube and not UTube. Either one brings up the same site. :-)

I'd love to hear your reactions (good or less favorable) on the miniature sheep and the video. Any special requests on which of my art to make a video of next?

Here's the link:
Virtual Studio Visit, Episode 1 - Blue Sheep

Happy April Fool's Day!

Do you remember way back in February me talking about making mini tipis for a practical joke?
It was week 5 for Happenings in the Studio.

Now the secret is out!

My cousins and I improved the aesthetic of 4 different lawns on April Fool's Eve using toilet paper and miniature tipis made from toilet paper.

The foot tall bamboo tipis have skewers for poles with a cover sewn together of 100% recycled paper towels. The other tp tipis have real sticks for poles and three strips of 100% recycled toilet paper machine sewn together. The bamboo tp tipis are $1 each. You can buy them online here.

Happy April Fools Day!!!