Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August HITS

Welcome to another HITS, Happenings in the Studio, where I share what I accomplished as a visual artist over the last 31 days. For the month of August, the majority of my efforts went towards creating a commission of wack-a-doodle lanterns lit with LEDs. Right now there are five completed lanterns, three in progress, with maybe a couple more smaller lanterns needing to be constructed. Thank you so everyone who helped me: my uncle Mark and his three girls, Celeste Flores and Ian Southwell. I really appreciate all of your help and support.

The results for Augusts’ goals:

1. Challenge: Find full-time work in the San Francisco East Bay.

Result: I applied to many jobs in the creative field, several of which were an ideal fit. The interesting thing is that they were in a particular niche I hadn’t thought of working in. The fun part of job shopping is thinking of the possibilities of where I can use my creative skills, particularly in a challenging jobs that have the potential for travel. So far I haven’t secured a job yet, but something is going to work out.

One such job that is in an interesting niche was for a Green company who sells LEDs online and over the phone. They have a beautiful website that has a very helpful section on learning how to wire your own lights. As you know I adore incorporating LEDs in my sculptures and being self taught, I love this company’s DIY attitude.

Another intriguing job that I applied for was to be an administrative assistant for a company that designs traveling exhibits and museums all around the world. Most of their projects are for children’s museums, which is preciously my cup of tea in that I approach art in a whimsical manner, often incorporating vivid colors and kid’s toys and encouraging my art to be played with.

This summer I’ve followed the arduous process of applying for work with the state. After taking the two hour test on reading comprehension and long hand math, I received the results only a short 4 weeks later. Here they are: out of 7,914 test takers, only 2,789 scored higher than me. I got 90 % correct, which did momentarily wound my ego, but then again, I can do all of the required math if I was aloud to use the calculator that’s on the computer. The next step is to wait for the state to send me applications for jobs. Given that there are 1,000s of people who scored better than me, I am not very hopeful in getting a job.

2. Challenge: Secure an apartment in the San Francisco East Bay.

Result: My charming, sunny apartment is almost done being built. It’s all about the power of networking; my landlady is a friend of a friend. I’m moving here in a week or two, just as soon as the final inspection takes place. I don’t want to jinx anything, but it is the most adorable apartment and I still can’t believe I get to live there.

I have all sorts of plans for the apartment. I want to have dinner parties. One in particular event I want to host will be at Halloween time, involving Coraline. The book is pretty short, so it can be read in an evening. I thought it would be fun to have friends over to read the book together; each with our own part. Of course there would be festive cupcakes in the shape of rats.

3. Challenge: Register for online Fall classes at Laney community college

Result: The hardest part about signing up for classes is picking only two classes amongst so many exciting options, like a Green carpentry class, salsa dancing, making art from objects from nature, and learning to manage an art gallery. I decided to take another class that shows how to design an online class, since I really liked the teacher from the summer session and how she organized the class. For my other three credits, I am taking a class on how to be a better manager, which will help me not only manage other people, but myself.

4. Challenge: Complete and install the lanterns

Result: Having no idea how involved this project was at the onset, it has taken me on an exciting journey evolving from ‘some type of art that hangs over the bed that has lights set to a timer to simulate the sunrise,’ to ‘suspending 100s of bouncy balls and slinkies in the shape of a mandala,’ to its last form of ‘Chinese lanterns made from ribbon and plastic components that are lit with LEDs.’

The majority of the lanterns are installed in my art patron’s bedroom, with a couple of them lit. Despite constant revisions to make the process faster, it takes a huge amount of time to create the lanterns, which is why, even with the help of three of my cousins and my artist friend Celeste Flores, the lanterns are not finished. To finish this installation is one of my top priorities for the month of September.

Random bits of News

Another thing to note this past month is that I had an unexpected review of my art by the Examiner. (Click to read the article.)

I am completely hooked on Acoustic Long Island, which is a free podcast of indie singer song writers. These musicians have accompanied me in the lantern making process, to which I owe them thanks. My new favorite song is by Rosi Golan about meeting a guy in Paris. It get stuck in my brain and makes me smile. Thank you Cactus for getting me hooked on ALI!

I got to be the personal shopper for a friend in choosing the fabric for her new curtains and table cloth. It was so much fun exploring the fabric store with her seat cushion and a metal butterfly to match to the fabric. I loved the creative freedom and her trust in my judgment. Another lady is going to sew everything- I can't wait!

Food Blog
I divided up this blog and moved all of the food posts to it's own site called Surprisingly Thankful. If you are looking for a good recipe, advice on living gluten and dairy free, go check it out.

Typically I read up a storm, but as you can see a lot of major transitions are going on, so I'm trying to focus on them and not on books. However, I did manage to sneak in a quick read, Rascal by Sterling North. This book is one of my all time favorite kids books.

For the lantern project I referenced four San Francisco library books on lanterns, braiding and making art with plastic. I wish I started with them, they would of made life a bit easier. Ideas for lanterns keep swirling around my mind and sketch book. I think I am going to explore this theme for a little longer.
1. 200 braids to twist, knot, loop, or weave by Jacqui Carey
Paper illuminated by Helen Hiebert
Magic Lanterns by Mary Maguire
Fantastic recycled plastic by David and Robin Edgar

Creativity Jolt

One night I was feeling unbalanced from the lack of creative work, so I made a list of every material, subject matter and started project I want to work in. From the four pages of ideas here are some that I am most excited about:

1. Revisiting my Braille boards and make a series of action figures stripped of their sticker and facial features and attach their torsos to boards with Braille.

2. Experiment with shrinky dinks and see what I can do with them.

3. I want to quill in unusual materials in unexpected ways, like this artist.

4. My mom got me hooked on mod podge, which is a clear paint that is a 3 in 1 undercoat, glue and top coat. It's non toxic and inexpensive. It's used for attaching paper to things like covers of books, but I want to push it and cover buttons with paper and see what else it sticks too.

In closing for this super long post...

September is going to be a big month of moving, school starting, hopefully starting off at a new job, and finishing the lanterns. Thank you so much for reading. As always, I love to hear from you. You can leave a comment or email me at elizabeth at elizabethsymington dot com.

I’ll see you October 1st for the next HITS, Happenings in the Studio.

To get caught up on my life as an artist, you can read and watch videos of my art. Here's the HITS table of contents.


  1. Always excited for the latest hits. I am working on a big horn sheep made out of recycled bottles right now. We'll have to see how it turns out...

  2. Thanks Cactus for your feedback. Are you making a life sized big horn sheep? I'd love to hear more about it and if I'm lucky see some photos (pretty please).