Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where Do Creative Ideas Come From?

I am never at a loss for ideas. They seem to grow in my brain like weeds that need trimming. I guess some of them are weeds and some of them are flowers. This month I have been focused on the topic of inspiration. I think this year I want to try to tackle a different subject each month on the blog that is related to art and spend a month thinking and writing about it.

So today I am posting my Top 10 list of where I find inspiration ( in no particular order).

#1 Talking with other artists, the exchange of creative energy charges my battery.
#2 Revisiting my old work and old themes or subjects
#3 The Mall, no really, I rarely shop but when I do I can quickly get a feel for what is new and fresh and where the trends are heading. It is easy ... if rich ornate patterns are all the rage for a couple of years then the next big thing will be big bold simple geometrics, and then it will all swing back again. Patterns, colors, and styles change constantly in fashion and interior design.  I do not let the trends dictate what I do, but yes they do influence my work at times.  My clients pay attention to this stuff so I would be a fool not to be aware of what is going on out there.
#4 My husband and his writing.
#5 Packaging design .... I love it!
#6 Art and design magazines. I still love printed magazines, yes I am old.
#7 Old postcards, books, all types of ephemera.
#8 Visiting my artist friend's blogs.
#9 Museums
#10 Really good looking movies.

Ok that is my list. If you are an artist reading this consider posting your own list on your blog then leave a comment so we can discover what inspires you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Max & Sparky The Westies

Max & Sparky ( In progress)

I am sort of loving these 2 Westies. They will be proofed next week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Color Inspiration

© 2010 Rebecca Collins /

Artists often walk a thin line between being inspired by their peers and borrowing way too much inspiration from them.  Often times people will not even be aware of their influences. I think the important thing when creating is to have a style and a voice that is uniquely your own. If other people's work influence you in your journey it is all good as long as you are bringing something new to the table that is your own.

I try to be be aware of my influences and this last week I broke out of my normal color options and played around with an existing background on CD the lab puppy, tweaking the colors to come up with a new combo. After I achieved the fun acid green & pink ground above I paused and smiled thinking about the work I had seen the previous week that must have inspired this combo. I am not a "pink" girl and when I see it used in a fresh non-frilly fashion I get very excited.  When pink is combined with unexpected or non traditional colors it often shows up as a brand new hue in my  brain as though I am seeing it for the first time. Check out Linda O'Neill's portrait of Kahla the kitty and you will find the color seeds that got planted in my brain. Thanks for the inspiration Linda, you have an exquisite sense of color!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spot and his Puppy Porto Potty

Found this whimsical creation this morning while browsing Flickr. The artist is Cappi Phillips and you can see more work from Cappi on her website:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Projects In the Home

Thanks to Linda for sending us these in home shots of her artwork hanging. You guys may recall Hank from last year.  Recently we had the opportunity to do a more playful Hank with football and Turbo kitty. This client has a love for rich colors and pattern. I love how well these two 12 x 12 prints stack  in the space above the couch. Linda is local and she dropped by about a week ago to pick up her artwork in person and she brought the Scotties biscuits. My little boy Ajax was so overwhelmed and amazed that one of these "client-people"  ( that is what he calls my patrons ) brought biscuits!  After Linda left he ran into the office and rubbed his beard on the carpet while singing a happy song.  Ajax loves the "client-people", so do I ... they are the best. I hope we get to meet a lot more local clients in 2010, and Ajax hopes they bring treats.

"Hank" ( notice the drool on ball)
© 2010 Rebecca Collins /

© 2010 Rebecca Collins /

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Repeat Clients Inspire Me!

" Romeo, Bella, and Juliet"
© 2010 Rebecca Collins/

My repeat clients inspire me and make me want to do better art, and give the best customer service I possibly can. Five years ago I did a Warhol style portrait of Romeo & Juliet.  We also created artwork of their cow dog Pepper. My client is Steve and if I recall correctly it was a gift for his wife. This last Christmas he contacted me to do a project of Misu for his brother as a holiday gift. He ordered a little past our deadlines but of course since he was a repeat client I did everything I could to deliver on time for Christmas and we made the target date.  I was happy to hear from him earlier this month about doing a new painterly project of Romeo & Juliet along with a new addition ... Miss Bella  ( see artwork above).

Steve is a lot of fun to work with and one of those clients that I feel I know a little bit. He sent me a link to  a site he built for his Father, Darwin Musselman.  It is that site and connection I made with Steve that made me start thinking about my own early art influences ( see yesterday's post).  Darwin Musselman is an extremely talented artist that had more than 50 one man shows in Museums across the country. There is a terrific page on the site called "Thoughts and Memories" where some of his former students have posted sweet memories they have of studying under Mr. Musselman. The site is a well done labor of love. I especially liked the portraits section and seeing a young Stevie, posing for a rainbo bread illustration. Anyway, do check out Darwin Musselman, you will be intrigued by this talented artist that had a hand in defining what has come to be known as the "California Style".

Tomorrow I will share more repeat client projects with artwork of Hank and Turbo. Their human is a fun local client that brought my Scotties  biscuits last week. Now Ajax is trying to talk me into working for doggy treats. I really do have the best clients on the planet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Creative Inspiration From Our Parents

by my Mom Sandra Lansdowne

A recent repeat client named Steve sent me a wonderful link to a site that he built to celebrate the artwork of his Dad, who was a professional artist all his life.  I'll be sharing that link and also that client's project a little later this week.  When I saw the lovely artwork that Steve's Pop created I fantasized about what it might have been like to have a working artist raising me, and how cool that must have been.  Then I paused to celebrate the talents of my own Mom and think about the creative people in my early life. My Mom liked to paint, however she never had much time for it since she was raising 2 kids and holding down a full time job. The work above is some of the earliest that I recall her painting and I was very young in the 1960's when she did these.  Her sister approached painting more full time and she had to have been the first working artist I ever knew. My Aunt was an oil painter and she did a lot of landscapes and production style work of bluebonnets that would sell like crazy at local art fairs. I remember thinking in my early 20's that my Aunt was so talented and yet her subject matter was just not my cup of tea. I guess in my young art school brain I was viewing something as normal as the Texas landscape as passe'. If you are not already snotty about art going into college they unfortunately do give you excellent training on developing that attitude while you are there. It was not until very recently that I realized the huge impact seeing someone getting paid to make art must have had on me as a young child.  I did realize it before my Aunt's passing and was able to thank her for being such a major influence in my career path. I was very lucky to have two very talented women in my young life and I probably would not be who I am without both of them.

If you are an artist or an art collector reading this please leave us a comment and tell us who influenced you as a young child. Who is the first person you knew that sold artwork for a living?  At the very least pause today to think about them and acknowledge them in your mind and heart. Also consider the important role you may be playing to introduce art to the young people in your life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mosaic Monday / A New Bug

 "Russian Beetle #2"
Rebecca Collins

This is my most recent bug mosaic. He is 9 x 12 and 2 inches deep. I have always found inspiration in old books, and especially well illustrated old books. The base artwork for this was taken from a 1905 book on Russian beetles. The artwork was manipulated in photoshop then printed out and painted on top of with iridescent watercolors. This photo does not do it justice. I will try to shoot again outside. The colors are much prettier than shown here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I taught a workshop on selling art!

Wow, what a fun weekend. Yesterday I taught a workshop in my home on selling art on the web and more specifically on Etsy. Lately I have been thinking a lot about "inspiration". I realized this weekend that I get my batteries charged and get inspired more by talking with other artists than any other thing. I would love to be the sort of artist  that can write poetically about the sound of rain as it hits the tin roof of an urban loft. I would love to be more zen about life and in touch with the passing seasons. Yes, it would be cool to live by the ocean perhaps and allow the warm hues of sunset to dance across my studio floor and show up on my canvases. None of that lovely stuff really does it for me and in reality nothing jazzes me more than talking with other working artists. Yep that is what makes my brain click, the electric energy in a room full of creatives.

Where was I, oh yes the workshop ...
So at the urging of a couple of pals I spent a few hours last week creating a workshop and presented it to a group of 5 local artists. Once they have their Etsy shops on-line I will be sharing those links with you guys so you can support them. I worked with 2 metal artists, a photographer, a painter, and a mosaic artist; all fabulously creative women!

I dressed up for the occasion. I wanted to feel professional even though I was doing this from my home. I am serious about business. It is something to enjoy and respect. I really loved using my hubby's large screen TV to do the presentation. It is not one of my favorite things, but yesterday it was perfect. I hooked it up to my laptop and we got on-line to work through the process of listing an item. Then we looked around Etsy, discussing what some sellers were doing very well and what others ( including myself) needed to work on. I find there is no better way to teach than admitting some of my own foibles, then showing how I  learned from my mistakes. This often gives confidence to people just starting out. I think everyone got a lot out of the exchange, some of the women are already off to a great start. I am really excited that it turned out so well, even the cookies rocked! I hope to do more workshops in the future. I think this could be something I will enjoy doing again and again!

This week  I am going to get back to the discipline of blogging and I will be talking about inspiration for the remainder of the month.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Inspiration

Originally uploaded by Barb Keith

This week I want to talk about inspiration a bit. All of us have favorite artists that inspire us. I have long admired the work of Barbara Benson Keith. She has a design background that shines through in all of her work. Barb has a fondness for animal subjects and I enjoy her mosaics for that and yet it is the way she creates her compositions that really sets her work apart. You can really tell that she has thought about the negative space in a piece, the balance, the contrast, all of the design elements are present in her work and doing what they are supposed to do.

Barb's new work of Elmer the pig has really inspired me this month. When I stumbled on to it in her flickr stream I immediately saw something brand new in it that I could not even put my finger on at first. Then it hit me, this mosaic work is "loose". Then it had me asking myself just what is "loose" in mosaics? Cutting and placing tessera is a slow time consuming process that requires patience, discipline and control. How do you achieve a loose quality with such an exacting and demanding process? Barb has achieved a fresh looseness with Elmer in both cuts and color. In this new work her colors and shapes collide in an organized randomness that is just breathtaking. You have to click through to her original photo and look at the enlarged version to take in all of the little surprises that are hiding in this piece. In the middle of Elmer's head is a small bright green glass shard that is brilliantly out of place. The choice to place that green shard right there seems odd, random, quirky and it totally puts this work over the top for me. There is another lovely piece of lime green jumping out at us in the ear over to our right. It is these unexpected little color-jewels that really make this work special.
In the deeper green background she has outlined Elmer with rigid green squares as if they may somehow contain him, but this stubborn pig seems to have a will of his own. Elmer is footloose and fancy free, he is a pig that is not going to be bogged down by the tediousness of the mosaic process.

Elmer has me asking myself how I will be able to get loose in my own artwork this year. I want to find that odd "out of place" green shard in my life and in my art that will make my work sing.

Follow Barbara's art on her blog:
Or check out her main site:

Thursday, January 07, 2010

We own the earliest Michelangelo Painting!

Ok we own it ... "sort of ". Isn't that just like a Texan to make a wild crazy boast?  I just learned that the Kimbell Art Museum has acquired "The Torment Of Saint Anthony", which is believed to be the first painting by Michelangelo created at the tender age of 12 or 13.  I love how religion gave this young boy an excuse to paint the most wicked cool monsters that one can imagine. Keep in mind these bizarre creatures were painted way before 3-d computer monsters in the movies. The young lad had to pull from his own imagination to create these tormentors and they seem to rival anything Hollywood can dream up. I can not wait to visit this painting next time we are in Fort Worth.

The tempera and oil painting measures 18½ by 13¼ inches, was created in 1487 and is supposed to be in very sweet shape. I am super proud of the Kimbell for scoring such an amazing piece of art history ... and it is cool looking too!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Buddy The Golden Retriever

"Buddy"  (see all proofs)

© 2010 Rebecca Collins /

 Original photo above

Yesterday I proofed Buddy The Golden Retriever.  Today I am going to work on Wrigley. Lola and I are also going to revisit Constant Contact and play around with the idea of starting up an e-mail newsletter again.  I let my CC account lapse last year because I just did not have time to keep up with newsletter writing. Lola is a pretty good writer so maybe between the two of us we can have a go at this newsletter thing again. If you would like to receive news about events and sales that we will be having this coming year please subscribe by using the button below. We will never send more than 1 letter per month.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Above my Mantle

Top Right " Love is Old Love is New" by Katrina Doran
This is a mosaic piece by my teacher. I bought it for Dan as an anniversary gift.

So what's above your mantle? 

Reading from left to right on the wall: Original print by Paul Klee, Antique Japanese woodblock print by Hirosada, Mosaic by Katrina Doran, Turtle God by Jeff Soto.
On the Mantle itself:  Unfinished Beetle mosaic by me, Rebecca Collins, Day of the Dead Scottie by me, Vintage wooden Scottie, Buddah, another vintage metal Scottie and a ceramic bowl by Linda Gossett.

This Christmas I bought a bit of art by other artists and so did my husband.   How will you support other artists in 2010?  Purchasing art seems to be the most direct method and yet there are many other ways to support your favorite artists.  I ask the question because I am still trying to answer it for myself. I know I want to get inside some artist studios and do some video interviews that I will post on the web. Interviewing local people and promoting them with video seems like a fun idea.