Saturday, October 31, 2009


October was a pivotal month for me, seeing how I found a job as a framer!!! and moved to an apartment which is still here in Sacramento. It's ironic that now that I have just a desk to make art, (compared to two bedrooms at my old house,) I have been making art just about every day! This post is about recapping what I've done artistically over the past 31 days. Please feel free to leave comments or questions.

Art Commission

Taking a break in a hammock checking out the illuminated Cactus Lights.

I am designing another installation for my wonderful friend who already has some of my Cactus Lights. This next project is going to be a tent like floating object that will hang over his bed, with lights set to a timer to slowly turn on to simulate the sunrise. (Can you tell I'm still in the sketching and prototype phase and not sure that this installation is going to look like other then colorful and very tactile?) I'll post more about the project when I figure out what direction this is going to take.

Field Trip with Fellow Artist

On an impromptu field trip with my cousin (who I gave art lessons to during September,) we explored Utrecht. She'd never been there before, so it was really special introducing her to the plethora of art supplies. We walked down every aisle of the store and talked about every item in there, how and when to use it, materials that would be fun to try...

I think I enjoyed it as much as she did. Just being around supplies makes me want to create. I tried to focus on talking about playing and using the supplies (instead of saving them for a special project, since they are so precious). I've been hording supplies since I was a kid and in reality they take over my studio, leaving little room to create. It's been really hard, but now I only let myself buy new supplies if I'm going to use them that week.

My New Studio

My favorite part of new projects is the planning, list making supplies, thinking of how to most efficiently get tasks done, prototyping then jumping to the completion of the project, with that feeling of satisfaction and dive right into how to make it even better the next time around. So it's no surprise that I am loving having a new studio, organizing where the supplies go, and making prototypes of my newest art projects.

Right now I am working on making Halloween Cactus Lights for my studio windows, learning how to crotchet, experimenting with blown duck eggs in Cactus Lights and designing a tent with lights to hang over a bed.

(My first crotchet project with dyed duck egg using wax resist technique.)

Thanks to the new studio I've been reassessing my goals as an artist and this is what I came up with:

1. Revamp my portfolio site, from a blog template to a professional, less wordy site, with more images of my art. I've been putting this off, because I don't want to do it. Ideally I would hire someone to take care of it, since I don't enjoy hours on the computer. Anyone know an excellent and affordable web designer?

2. Be more social and make memories with friends and family over art, like getting together with my cousins to draw with oil pastels or go to art openings with friends.

3. Focus on experimenting on one idea (such as the Cactus Lights), see how far I can push it and when I have enough work, find a place to show it.

4. Customize my life. Don't just make art for other people or for future shows, but to beautiful my own home to make it a peaceful and relaxing haven.

For more photos of for this months Happenings In The Studio (HITS) click here.

September HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to Blow an Egg

How to Blow an Egg

After rekindling my interest in Ukrainian egg painting by showing my cousin how to dye the eggs, I am now playing around with ideas on how to make the eggs more sculptural and luminous. First off I am combining my hanging cactus lights and the colorful Ukrainian egg technique.

Prepping for Ukrainian Egg Painting

After 20 minutes of figuring out how to blow an egg I was able to clean 1 out in about 30 seconds. I was starting to worry that this project was going to take weeks. Making a hole in either end of the egg and blowing is exhausting and really slow, but you are welcome to try that. The following steps is the easiest way I found to empty the contents of an egg by making the smallest hole.

1/16 bit to drill holes
7/64 bit to hand pierce yolks
foot pump (My plastic needle was too large for the egg hole, so I opened a ball point pen and cut off a bit of the plastic tube that holds the ink and duct taped that to the pump. This pump came with an exercise ball, but a bike pump could work too.)
bowl (to catch egg innards)

1. From the Korean market I bought a dozen duck eggs, since the duck eggs are harder to break than chicken eggs.

2. Using warm water and some white vinegar I gently washed the eggs. According to the egg painting kit that I have, they say never to use soap or detergent and never to rub the eggs.

3. With a pencil mark the center of the top and the bottom of the egg. (If it's important, find the perfect center by marking one end by eye and then measure to the other end from several sides to get the middle. A piece of paper could be used as a measuring tool.)

4. At the pencil mark shove a pin through the shell.

5. Quickly drill the pin holes to make them larger. The pin hole prevents the bit from sliding all over the shell, scratching the surface, and cracking the opening of the egg. Wiggle the bit around to make the hole a little bigger.

6. Using a foot pump, insert the plastic tip into one of the holes on the egg. 1 pump or 2 later your egg should be empty! Pump over a bowl to catch the whites and eggs and cook with later. If it seems clogged, stab the yolk with a drill bit.

7. Run the egg under warm water to rinse off any slime and store back in carton.

As you will see with my eggs the first few holes where large and jagged. That is because I tried drilling at super high speed with a larger bit, like you would drilling plastic. By time I used the above procedure several times the holes where uniform and smaller.

These eggs were painted by me and my cousin using wax and dye. These eggs are solid, which is another way to go; the yolk will eventually dry out. I didn't like the heaviness of the egg and the waste of food, hence the figuring out how to empty out the eggs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Reminiscent Blue Footed Boobie

Reminiscent Boobie

Giving a spunky spin on displaying family portraits, the Blue Footed Boobie has a thought bubble made up of family pictures. Some of the frames are even attached to the ceiling, which are easily enjoyed from the lazy boy chair.

Interior design and the Old World Boobie sculpture are creations by Elizabeth Symington, 2007.

Monday, October 5, 2009

11 Guidelines to Getting Art Grants

11 Guidelines to Getting Art Grants
-Elizabeth Symington

There are lots of places to find grants for your art projects. In fact there are so many it might be overwhelming. This is an investment of time and staying organized is very important. Grant deadlines are often in the spring, so start looking now for where you can apply and put the pertinent information into a database, like Excel. You don’t want to wait until the last minute and possibly run out of time.

One thing to keep in mind is that most grants are from non-profit organizations since the donator gets a tax benefit for giving to them. One way to work this to your advantage is by teaming up with a local non-profit group. For a list of grants for individuals check out the Foundation Center. (Hi Deb, would you please hyperlink to the foundation center? You can go to their brick and mortar location and search their database for free or pay a minimal fee to use it via the Internet.

Look for grants from the government on the Federal, State and City levels, along with private granters. The government offers grants because they need help fixing a problem. In the application write about how you can help them with their problem. Local grants attract less competition which works to your benefit.

The place to start is by writing out what you specifically need the funding for and how much of a budget is required for the project. Then look for granters who have similar goals. You can find this information on their web site under “Vision.”

How to Put the Odds in Your Favor:
1. Confirm Eligibility. Before going through the work of applying for a particular grant, make sure you are eligible. If you are unclear pick up the phone and ask. This will save everyone time. By talking on the phone you starts the relationship with the funder, which is key to getting selected.

2. Plan Your Time. Put the deadline for the application on your calendar and see if you have enough time to get all of the paperwork together, such as a proposal, budget, and letters of recommendation. Be sure to note when the deadline is and when the application needs to be either received or post marked. If you are late, most likely it won’t even be considered and your hard work will have been for nothing.

3. Follow Their Rules Exactly. Each application process is specific to the granter, so make sure you follow their rules to a T. If there are a lot of great applications, they might narrow down the list by eliminating those who have missing paperwork or who didn’t follow the guidelines exactly.

4. Create an Accurate Budget. Some applications will ask how much money you are requesting, so take the time to plan out a detailed and accurate budget. Be as thorough as possible to show that you are thoughtful and that their money will be safe in your hands. Some granters will let you include in the budget the cost of your labor. If you are unsure about including anything in the budget, give them a call.

5. Research Past Winners. It is a good idea to see who has received the grant in the past to get a feeling for what the grant readers are looking for. Often past winning applications are online for you to read.

6. Proof Read Your Application. Allow time for someone to proof read your proposal. Some granters that you apply to will even proof it for you.

7. Make Their Life Easier. Help the grant reader by making your application clean and professional. Be sure to type up your proposal, use a legible font size, and spell and grammar check everything. Often the grant readers are over worked and may even be a volunteer so make their job easier. They will appreciate it!

8. Create an Assessment Plan. In your proposal include how you will asses if the project was a success. The granters want to know how they can concretely determine if their money made a positive impact.

9. Apply for Multiple Grants. Apply to lots of places. It’s best to get so many offers that you have to turn them down, then to not get enough. If you get a grant, it will show the grant reading community someone considers you trustworthy, so be sure to note on your application (if asked) if you have received any grants. You might end up getting the funding you need from several sources.

10. Send a Thank You Note. Just like after a job interview, send a handwritten thank you note. It will put you in a favorable light as a considerate person and remind them of who you are.

11. Reapply Next Year. If you received a grant a previous grant from them and used the money responsibly, they will know that they can trust you and consider giving you another grant. If you have applied before, it shows you really want the grant and they will recognize your name.

There are lots of places to help you with finding funding. There are free classes on how to write a budget like at the Foundation Center (both in-person classes and online). Or, if you’d rather have someone else write the proposal, hire a grant writer and use the proposal as a template for future applications or purchase DIY grant hunting programs.

If you have any suggestions or when you get a grant, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear about your success!

September HITS

Welcome back to the monthly recap of my life as an artist.

Looking back over the last 30 days always is a rewarding moment to see that I make time for art, despite my tendency to focus on what wasn't accomplished in September. Overall I thrilled with another wonderful month!

Life has been hectic getting ready to move. In a week we're moving across town to an apartment. There is no lawn to water!!! And just enough space for the things we use, so there wont be much clutter. :-)

Before diving off into the art, I wanted to share how my job hunt has been going and what I've been learning.

Job Hunting Tactics
Track your progress
I have changed up my approach to finding a job, thanks to my love of analyzing. With an Excel spreadsheet I track where I've applied to and when I followed up with them. I realized that I wasn't following up very much. That was because of being discouraged with the employers who posted on their ads not to call or email. After discovering my tendency of confrontation, I sent off emails to the employers who didn't specify to not contact them and that resulted in getting two interviews!

Don't put eggs in one basket, instead send out lots of applications
Another thing I noticed on the Excel spreadsheet is the volume of applications I have sent off. Since May I've applied to/researched a little over a 100 positions. No wonder I am tired of hunting out positions that would be a good match, then writing a custom cover letter and resume for each job. In the past five months I've had five interviews, three of which were last week. If you're job hunting don't lose hope. Get past job hunting asap by making the hunt a full time job. There is a job out there for you.

Renewed Certification
Another tactic I developed over September was broaden my hunt from Sacramento to the West Coast. Funds are low, so relocating would not be possible, but living at work would be doable. I remembered working at a conference center in Colorado and loved it. So I applied to science camps in Oregon, Colorado and California. To show the potential employers that I really wanted to work with kids, I became certified in CPR and first aid.

The CPR and first aid class was so much fun! I reminded me of how much I adore being a student and learning new skills. In college my favorite classes were the anatomy classes. The most interesting and exciting field trip was going to dental school to study the cadavers!!! Broadening my scope of where else to use my new certification, my cousin K gave me the idea to search Craigs List jobs by typing in "CPR." From that search daycare workers, care takers, tutors and gymnastics instructors popped up, so off I sent my cover letter and resume.

Over and over again I hear that networking is the key to getting a job. If you don't know anyone where you want to work, volunteering can be a great way to get an in. Using that tactic, I am now a volunteer at the public library. At the orientation I learned that my local branch is going to be renovated so the library will be more automated and require less librarians. It was hard to be excited to hear that. People add so much more to an experience. I love librarians. If I didn't want an experience I'd lock myself in a room and use the Internet to get everything I needed mailed to me. AHHH. With the letting go of some of the current librarians I doubt they will be hiring an admin or bookshelver like me. Oh well, I am happy to help out and I love being around the books. Chalk that up for another skilled learned: filling using the Dewy decimal system. (I've always wanted that to be on my resume.)

Improving Skills
Looking for clerical jobs I've been shocked to find they pay so little, despite the amount of responsibility and multi tasking that is required. I think it would be an absolute blast to work as a 911 dispatcher. Then I'd get to be involved in the health care field, use my CPR skills, do something important like help save lives and provide comfort to the callers. My slow typing doesn't make me qualified to be a dispatcher yet, but thanks to the public library I now have a typing program on my computer. I am improving faster then I thought, but it is still going to take many months to get to my goal of 60 WPM. 40 WPM is the minimum for that position, but when/if I apply, I don't want to be average, I want to be cream of the crop.

Back to the Art. Here we go!

I'm going to keep this short, since there are captions under the photos for this months goings on. The link for the photos is at the end of the post.

Etsy store is no more
First up, I decided to stop showing my art in my etsy store. (That's an online mall of all things handmade.) Nothing was moving and it costs money to keep reposting the images, so for now the store is empty. I have plans for future ideas but for now it is one less thing to manage and one less expense.

Looking else where for freelance writing
I wrote my last article for Capitalist Chicks. The site is going to be shutting down in a few months, due to a lack of income.

Eleven Guidelines to Getting Art Grants on and also reposted on my blog.

Sacramento Children's Museum
For the experience, enjoyment and for networking I am volunteering at the Sacramento Children's Museum. There is going to be a new location opening up in Rancho Cordova in either the spring or summer of 2010. I am helping out with planning the permanent art installation of children's art. I hadn't realized all the the projects I did as an intern at UC Berkeley had prepared me so well for this kind of work. Thank you Robby! Plus my experience with art installations and love for planning have also been an added benefit.

Still Researching Stop Motion Animation Careers
This field is still a huge mystery as how to get a sculptor position at a stop motion production house, but I'm determined to figure that out. Thanks to's message boards and youtube searches for "San Francisco + stop motion" I've made some connections. I've also subscribed for stop motion magazine and cant wait for the first issue.

I also have a spread sheet of stop motion companies world wide, with a column for when I sent off my application. I figure it will take several years of experience before these production companies will be interested in me, so until then I am going to send them my demo reel and resume to familiarize them with my name. I am also looking for local shoots to volunteer on, to give me experience and make some new friends.

Photos for September are right here!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next month.

October HITS
August HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)