Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LED Swing

When I have a house with land, I'm going to make myself two LED swings, his and hers.

Andrew's Cactus Lights

Andrew's Cactus Lights, 2009
3 hanging lights, approx. 12' tall
Knit elastic, plastic cups, LEDs
Commission by Andrew McAleavey
Photos by Luke Goodman


This was a commission for the person snoozing in the hammock. The 12-foot hanging sculptural lights are constructed of recycled plastic items and a knit outer matrix made of reused elastic cord.

In making this Cactus Light, I had to find a long-life lighting system that would not melt the plastic, learn how to wire the piece electrically, design a hanger that would support the weight, and find a way to install the lights sixteen feet above floor level.

What are Cactus Lights? 

Check out ElizabethSymington.com for more of my colorful art.

LEDs inside of balloons

I've been working with LEDs for some time now. I've created Cactus Lights, which are constructed from a knit black matrix that holds plastic lampshades (aka plastic cups) in place and lit with LEDs.

Right now I am experimenting with paper Chinese lanterns, plastic components and LEDs. I love this idea of lighting a colorful balloon. I can see a link from this balloon project to my lanterns. Hmmm..

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How do I focus?

From the self help books I've read and business classes and seminars I've attended, the mantra is "focus!" I haven't created a full blown self employed art business, because I don't know what to focus on. How do I decide which area of art to pursue?

I enjoy working in a variety of art mediums, both on and off the computer. I adore the variety of tasks and the challenge and joy of learning new skills. But having a business that is open to anyone who wants to hire me in any artistic sense, means I will be spread thin. It will be hard to market to so many areas within the visual arts. And it will be very difficult to distinguish myself as an art expert without a focus.

Out of the need to make rent money I've worked many odd jobs like logo design, photographing events, teaching knitting, creating the visual identity for online stores, custom picture framing, writing about art, designing and constructing art installations, and working as an artist's assistant.

Working with other artist's has shown me that there are many ways to make a living in the creative field: with and without kids, single, married, male, female, working for a large company, freelancing... I've gained valuable skills from these jobs and I've very grateful for these experiences.

In job hunting it has become obvious to me yet again for the need to focus. I've taken the shotgun approach and it's tiring applying in so many areas: stop motion positions, administrative assistant in galleries and museums, ceramic studio technician, visual merchandiser, custom picture framer, art studio manager...

Since I keep jumping around from one artistic job to the next, I feel like I'm stuck at entry level positions. I know I am talented and a great worker, but how do I advance professionally and choose a focus and still have the freedom of learning more skills and art mediums? How do I know which job is going to support me now? How do I know which concentration of art will keep my focus for the longest amount of time? Which field is diverse enough for me to branch out to learn new skills?

For now, I'm going to finish the lantern commission, keep applying for jobs and follow up on my prospects, get ready for my online classes to start in a few weeks, and get ready to move to my new apartment. I'm ready for major transitions to be spaced further apart, so I can delve more deeply into relationships, my career and my life. I want life to be simpler and to care about fewer things with more intensity. I want to plan less and laugh more.

(To check out more crazy bookshelves look at StyleHive. For paper lanterns, stay tuned- I'm making more as we speak.)

Paper lantern progress

The paper lantern commission is coming right along. Here are some photos of the prototypes. They look finished, but after making them, I realized that the paper is prone to sage too much, and I want to make art that lasts as long as possible.

The next phase (starting today) is to experiment with other materials instead of paper strips. A few ideas are fabric, ribbon and canvas.

After picking up a few books on paper lanterns from the San Francisco public library, I have several ideas I want to try involving a sounder armature. I wish I followed my typical way of working, which is researching what other artisans have done with that subject/material and study how they were constructed, then start my own variations. Ah well. It's all a learning process.

How could I resist not using a mini slinky to connect the two lanterns together?

The goal is to finish the lanterns (about 11 total) and install them by the end of the month. Then in the future I'll wire them with LEDs and hook them up to a timer to simulate a sunrise to make getting out of bed easier.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Food Blog!

I divided up the content on this blog with my new food blog, Surprisingly Thankful.

Weird and Surprisingly Good will focus on my art struggles and triumphs.

And Surprisingly Thankful will be about eating and cooking gluten and dairy free. There are recipes, food reviews and menu ideas. A lot of the links don't work yet, however everything it is supposed to link to is on that site. This will be fixed within the next few days.

Thank you for being loyal readers.

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

July 2010 HITS

Click on the envelope to read your letter.