Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010 Happenings in the Studio Video

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Book "Cactus Lights"

Last week in San Francisco while playing tourist with my camera and Ian, we walked around Anthropologie. It's a clothing store that has art installations using raw or unusual materials, often using 100s of one object. Designing window displays and wall art for them would be amazing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Inspiring Kiwi Jugglers

I had the most wonderful time going with Ian to Cirque du Soliel's show Ovo in San Francisco!

Look closely, you might recognize my necklace. It's a monkey from the game a barrel of monkeys. There were even monkeys hanging from my bun. I was getting into the mood of going to the circus. Don't we look good? I think so. :-)

We had amazing seats! The only bummer was going home. Seeing the performance makes me want to be more then I am, maybe even work for Cirque du Soliel on the design team up in Canada.

I couldn't believe my luck, there were two juggling acts which is twice as many as normal. AND there was a giant human slinky act much like this one that I found on youtube.

I am still in awe from the seeing Ovo. I'm ready to run away and join the circus!

Click here to see a video of Ovo on youtube.

Look'n Good Brother!

My brother matches his birthday present (or is it the other way around?)

Revamped Portfolio Site!

My portfolio site, is done with its makeover!

Check it out and watch the sideshow with all of my latest, funky art.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

my bike

I actually look forward to commuting and get bummed when I get to work so quickly. It needs to stop raining so I can take Aura out for a longer ride.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Abridged 2010 New Years Resolutions

Writing by Cactus Light I'm trying to simplify my plan for 2010. Planning and making goals gets me to where I want to be faster, but how do I know what will still be important to me at the end of the year? Or in five years?

I am already sick of to-do lists. How else can I shape this year?

I no longer think in terms of semesters! It doesn’t even occur to me when mid terms are going on at my old school. I now think in 12 month chunks, which makes life less hectic since I’m not restarting my life every 15 weeks.

According to the case study done at Harvard in 1979, only 3% of the graduates had written down clear goals and how to accomplish them. Ten years later a follow up was done on the class of ’79 and found that the 3% that had written their goals were making over 10 times the amount of money than the rest of their class combined.

While having lots of money at my disposal would help immensely in accomplishing my goals, it’s not the money that motivates me. What does motivate me? Pride in accomplishing what I set out to do. Keeping life interesting by doing varied activities. Capturing my dream of supporting myself as an artist.

I’ve written out New Year’s Resolutions since I was little and each year got to see how I’d grown. In 2008 I learned to write clear measurable goals, so I can access at Christmas time if I reached my goals.

2008 goals

2009 goals

The word for 2009 was focus. I'm not sure what the word for 2010 should be - possibly simplify?


  • Make some juggling friends and learn to pass clubs
  • Go camping in my 9' tipi
  • Weekly spend time with my family
  • Every month initiate an art making get-together with local friends and family
  • Monthly art date with Celeste and Rohan
  • Volunteer one hour a week to listen to kids read


Generally I let myself go wild with reading books and consume mass amounts in the process. In an effort to make myself more relaxed, (is that an oxymoron?) I’m giving myself permission to slow down and read just a book or two a month. That way I can enjoy what I am learning and not spend all of my time reading in place of experiencing the world.

Last year I started keeping a book list on this blog and it helped remind me of the fun and varied things I read. I have already started the ongoing post of the 2010 Book List.

Books to read this year (in addition to anything else that looks interesting!)

Fun books:
Anything by Louisa May Alcott, Terry Pratchett, or Agatha Christie

Educational books:
Photoshop book from Ian
Photography books from Jenny
The Power of Now by Ekhart Tole
Recommended books from the Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA)


  • Have my own apartment/tree house/tipi with studio space
  • Buy my yellow bike Aura from my bike dealer, Ian
  • monthly make payments on my student loans thanks to my picture framing job
  • either have one full time job or enough other side jobs to support myself


In 2009 I kept a movement calendar on a white board of every time I moved (i.e. yoga, juggling, swimming…) The goal was to move everyday of the year for at least 3o minutes a day. Over six months I only missed a couple of days, so I decided I didn't need the movement calendar and stopped. That’s when I fell off the horse and struggled with doing anything other then sitting in front of the computer or reading.

For 2010, the dorky movement calendar is back on my bedroom wall with the renewed goal of moving 30 minutes a day, every day. Instead of calling it an exercise calendar, it's the movement calendar, because that sounds way less work than exercising.

  • Drink 2 metal canteens of water per day, which comes to 2.2 liters.
  • Practice yoga 1 day a week to improve posture (and slowly add in more days per week)
  • Lift weights twice a week to get rid of my bat wings (aka flabby upper arms)
  • respark my interest in cooking by trying one new recipe per week (i.e. vegan, sushi, Indian, coconut tamales)
  • Keep taking ginkgo biloba twice a day, so I remember what’s going on
  • Find a hair style that I like
  • Continue a 2008 New Year's Resolution of buying strange produce whenever I fee like it
  • Learn how to juggle more then 3 objects
  • Earn extra money to pay for a yoga studio membership


There's no point in sharing what my goals are for art, because there are so many. I need to decide how to spend my time; if it's going to be on becoming an excellent picture framer, a really good Photoshop whiz and 3D modeler, break into the fine art world as a sculptor or develop a stop motion demo reel.

I find it incredibly difficult to pick one area and focus on it, because I enjoy the variety of creating in different mediums. I also have a hard time committing, what can I say. I don't like leaving things unresolved, but for now, this is going to have to do until I figure my career out.

I've love to hear about your plans for the year. Leave me a comment and I'll reply back as soon as I can. Have a happy new year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Book List

As a kid I kept a binder of the books I read, along with way too much information like the number of pages per book. I'd have a goal for the year (which I always surpassed) and I'd get a reward from my parents for reaching my goal.

Keeping in the tradition of making lists, this post is the regularly updated 2010 book list.

To check out last year's list, click here.


21. Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce

(finished rereading for the um-teenth time)

The story is about Alanna of Trebond who disguises herself as a boy so she can train to be a knight. Because of those books I've pretended to be a knight with red hair and violet eyes. I LOVE these books!

20. PPFA Guidelines to framing works of art on paper

(Currently reading for preparation on taking the exam to be a certified picture framer.)


19. Founding Mothers: The Women who raised our nation by Cokie Roberts

(read 1/4 of the book and called it good)

When I started reading the book I had just moved and started a new job, and just needed a book to unwind too, which this wasn't it. I kept confusing the characters and falling asleep, so I finally put it down. It's an interesting book but it's not for me.


18. Supervisory Management: The Art of Inspiring, Empowering, and Developing People, by Donald C. Mosley, Ph.D., Paul H. Pietri, D.B.A., and Donald C. Mosley, Jr., Ph.D.

(Still reading.)

So far I havent gotten much out of this textbook for the supervisory class that I am taking, but I have hopes it will get better.


17. Blended Learning for Higher Education by Vaughan Garrison

(1/2 way done)

Written by a PhD, who uses much drier language then I am use to, but still interesting stuff to learn about classes being designed to both meet face to face and on the Internet. It focuses on teaching theory (theory has always alluded me, unless it is quickly followed by concrete examples and how it applies to my life), which the book does thankfully include examples of excellent hybrid classes.

16. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson

(almost finished)

Written in an excited and simple terms, I am loving this book and everything that it's teaching me. It's making my life easier and open to more possibilities.

15. Crush it! by Gary Vaynerchuk

(finished reading)

Practical and simple advice (and tons of hard work) on how to make a living off what you love to do. This was a very thoughtful birthday present from my aunt and uncle. Merci!

14. The Caldecott medal is given to the best picture for the year of it's publication. One gold is chosen per year (since 1938 to present) and any number of honor mentions are chosen.

(currently reading)

Since April I have read all of the gold winners (72 books), plus a few of the silver winners. I love seeing the variety of mediums and story lines. It is fascinating how the stories were longer, more complex and had longer sentences than the modern books.


13. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett


A bizarre and a tad creepy story about knocking off the Hogfather and the tooth fairy. The book made me laugh and wish I could meet the Hogfather and the like.


12.On Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham

(finished reading for a book club with some college friends. Not sure if anyone else has completed it too. It's a whoping 570 pages!)

11. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

(Kid's book- finished reading)

The art is beautiful and the story is endearing about a kid who changes the city by growning gardens on the abandoned railway tracks.

10. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

(finished reading)

In the Harry Potter series, this book of children's stories is referenced. It was much too quick of a read (about 2 hours), but it was still fun to read.


9. Career opportunities in Art by Susan Haubebstock and David Joselit

(finished reading)

An immensely helpful book that broke down the careers into duties and qualifications.

8. Careers in Art by Blythe Camenson

(completed reading)

This book had helpful interviews of artists in various focuses, which helped add insight to the careers.

7. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

(finished reading)

For being a malcontent person, this book has lots of poniente and helpful chunks for me, even though there are parts that I don't agree with.

Dwelling on the past brings up depression, and constantly planning for the future causes anxiety, but being present in the Now is the most rewarding.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

(finished reading)

I dont know how I managed to pull it off, but I just now read book 7 in the series without hearing any of the spoilers. I keep wishing my life was as exciting as Harry's (I'd be happy with being a Hogwarts student), so I'm trying to make my days more interesting and stop resisting life.

5. The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

(finished reading)

Another homework book for the financial class I'm taking, which was as much as a gem as Taming the Money Monster.


5. Thud! by Terry Pratchett

(finished listening too)
Another zany story by Pratchett, this time involving the Watch, trolls and dwarfs.

4. Taming the Money Monster by Ron Blue

(finished reading)

This is required reading for a class I'm going to take starting in mid February on debt. I am in need of some hope that my student loans won't always be apart of my life.

3. Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

(Started listening to this at Christmas time and just now finished it, while painting a plaster bird.)

One of my favorite stories by Pratchett, because it involves the eccentric witches of the Ramtops.

2. The Ultimate Juggling Book by Richard Dingman

(loved reading it!)
This year I am determined to juggle more then 3 objects at once. So far I'm really good at throwing and fetching 5 balls at once. This is going to take a lot of work.

1. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

(currently reading)

One goal for the year is to improve my photography. Particularly, to be more observant of the light when I photograph and to shoot flattering photos of moving objects. My aunt who is a photographer lent me this book (thank you!) I'll share a bit of what I learned when I'm done with the book.

December HITS

Hello Everyone and Happy New Year!

This month felt hectic and I'm scrambling to recap December as to the artistic things that I partook, along with reviewing 2009 and making plans for 2010. As always, I want things to be perfect, but this isn't going to happen for this Happenings in the Studio.

Before I get started on my artistic endeavors, my brother had some art done to his body. He got a tattoo of his favorite hockey team - the Colorado Avalanche. He loves it!!! I wish I had a photo, it looks pretty cool.

Homemade Christmas Presents

For the first time in my adult life, I actually made all of my Christmas presents and finished them before Christmas Eve. You will see photos of some of the presents in the link at the end of this post, like the Shadow box for my brother of the the original Nintendo games that we played with as kids.

Two of the Christmas presents I made are yet to be photographed, and they are particularly unusual; one is a hat/scarf (which in need of a better name). It is a knit hat that is sewn onto a matching teal scarf, that way you can't misplace the hat. The other present was a store bought photo album with an old map of the world on the cover. I altered it into a treasure book. It was for my cousin to put her photos, stories, flattened flowers, and anything else that could fit in the plastic sleeves.

Monthly Artists' Date
It all started in November when a couple of us sculptors got together and played with wax and dye. We're trying to meet up every month, but it's a bit of a trick given work schedules and that they live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I live in Sacramento. Never the less, I was able to meet up with one of the artists and scrounged around SCRAP and Urban Ore, which are great places to find used art supplies. I found fishing poles with beautiful handles, that I am going to chop off and make into handles for juggling clubs. I've literally been looking for these for 15 months. I got them for $2 a pole!

In December we were going to head up to Sonoma to check out the Di Rosa Preserve, which is the equivalent to a wildlife preserve for outdoor art. It was WAY TOO COLD to consider going, so we'll save that field trip for a future date.

I'm hoping in January the three of us can meet up: Rohan, Celeste and me and talk about art, make something or go some place inspiring. Spending time with Celeste and Rohan makes me motivated to art, since they are such ambitious and talented artists. Next time I need to take some photos. :-)

Portfolio Website Under Construction
The website is almost ready from being transformed from a wordpress template to a custom design. It will be a ton less wordy, easier to navigate and be up-to-date with my latest art. I try not to think about how excited I am to have it finished. I've felt lost without having it up. Dork, I know.

Andrew's Mandala Mobile

I'm still in the design phase for the hanging art installation that will go over my friend Andrew's bed. As far as I know, it's going to be made out of suspended bouncy balls in the shape of a mandala. To follow the progress read the following posts:
Part 1: Inspiration for my Current Commission
Part 2: Inspiration for my Current Commission
Part 3: Inspiration for my Current Commission
Human Slinky

I also entered my design into a contest hosted by the fun theory, where the challenge is to alter human behavior by making the action fun.

Created an Early New Years Resolution
At the beginning of the month I decided to make myself get my art out there by monthly entering a contest, call for entries, find a place to show my art... I was going to submit to a local gallery called Tangent, which has a call for entries every month for a particular theme. What happened was that the theme was changed last minute, from "coloring books" to a private show. I thought it would be too much fun to make a coloring book for the visually impaired, but that idea will have to wait.

Instead I entered the mandala mobile and started on a Polaroid project that is explained more in the photo album at the end of this post.

Sculpture Principals apply to decorating the Christmas Tree

Here's a great example of how an artist thinks. While decorating a Christmas tree with some friends and my mom, I kept seeing the connections between sculpting and hanging ornaments. The steps and the questions you ask yourself are basically the same: when sculpting you work big then focus on details, and when which ornament to hang first, you put up the largest and fill it the rest with little decorations. It's important to step back often for the work to be able to see the whole picture. Then is something is not working, fix it before moving on, otherwise it could negatively effect your next decision.

It's realizations like this that make me confident in calling myself an artist and not a sculptor. I do sculpt, but I'm not limited to it. That is the problem with labels. They can confine. I can use art principals in many outlets: stop motion animation, picture framing, 3D modeling...

Odds and Ends
  • working on a commissioned cat magnet
  • taking Maya lessons via web cam to learn how to sculpt in 3D
  • for 2 days, I got to help animate plastic bottle caps for a friend's stop motion film
  • passed the TB test, so I get to listen to 2nd graders practice their reading. I did t
  • won the star of the week at work. Not sure if it's for the bookkeeping that I do or the custom framing, but either way, the star is going on my apron.

December 2009 Photos - click Here

When I get everything together I'll be sharing my New Years resolutions since I'm an avid believer in having a plan, so I can get to where I want to be. Thanks for reading and your comments this year. Have a happy new year!

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