Year of Creative Development Part 1 – ArtFest


Photos © 2010Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

If you are just joining us, I have been (slowly) detailing my adventures of this past year, which I have deemed “My Year of Creative Development”. It has been a growth experience and experiment in intentions, and the creation of space in my life for, well, creation.

I love being a student and so often, in our adult lives we don't get that chance or remember to let ourselves learn. As a small creative business owner, I was often finding myself so caught up in the net of 'running a business' that I was neglecting the creative part almost entirely, leaving myself feeling depleted and stressed to meet art deadlines. Where creating used to be the beginning, it was quickly becoming the end (or even beyond that!).

So I put it down in ink. It began with my deciding to sign up for ArtFest 2010 in Port Townsend, WA in March. I arrived with dutiful adventurous friend in tow, signed in, bunked up, and got ready for my first class.

My class was called “House Totems” and was taught by Karen Michel. Karen is pretty much the queen of altered imagery art and mixed media. She has a few wonderful books on the subject (which I need to add to my library soon!) and once you see her work you will be an insta-fan. If you ever get the chance to take a class with Karen, do it! Not only is she crazy creative and talented, but she is a wonderful, relaxed and giving teacher. I admit to being a little nervous to get started in these classes. I work with mainly paper and the general population of attendees at ArtFest is very well versed in different mediums, supplies, techniques and just pretty incredibly talented as a whole. I felt a little unprepared, but Karen was so nice, and easy to learn from that I just jumped right in and rolled around in creative bliss.

It should be noted that everyone that I encountered in my classes, and pretty much in general at ArtFest, was totally nice, and willing to share. The general generosity and disposition that this 'camp' inspires is pretty moving. I barely had time to be nervous or feel like I didn't know what I was doing.

So! In Karen's class we talked a lot about the idea of 'home' and what it means to us. How we represent that and manifest what it is we need 'home to be. To illustrate this we were there to make 'house totems'. We brought with us supplies like acrylic paints, sand paper, ephemera, tiny nails (and a tiny hammer) and screws, tin foil, gel matte medium, brushes and any embellishments we might want to use. Karen provided our wood bases and other supplies. The wood bases can actually probably be obtained at your local Home Depot lumber department scrap bin (recycling!) the ends of 2x4s between 6-12″ long, then just have someone cut one end to a point.

We sanded our wood, painted it and then applied any paper that we wanted to use. I scallop-tiled my roof using hand cut paper from old books and modge podge, it took forever, but I love the result! We then gave the whole thing a coat of gel matte medium and let it dry. After it was dry, we took a sponge brush and coated it with India Ink (super scary!! ) then buffed it off to give the whole piece a 'vintage' look. After that was dry, we went back in and added details like nail heads and doorknobs and any additional treatments. The end results were so adorable our class wanted to make a little village! I ended up making two and this one now hangs on the wall in my entry way so it is the first thing you see when you enter:

This would be such a fun project to do while 'arting' with friends or to make for a friend who moves, or buys a new home. I learned so much from Karen and the ladies in my class! I didn't want to stop!

Next Stop: Michelle Allen's “Getcha Paint On!” class

Related Articles