Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Dog Breed Swag Bags by Art Paw!

Scottie Swag Bag ... Get your Bag At Etsy!

Boston Terrier Swag Bag over at Etsy!

Get your Doggy Art Swag Bags! These brand new little goody bags are loaded with our art gift items. You can purchase these over at our Etsy shop, or purchase any size custom gift pet portrait certificate from now through July and get a free goody bag of your choice. Order your pet portrait gift certificate on-line and then just shoot us an e-mail and let us know if you want our Pug, Bulldog, Scottie, Boston or mixed Swag bag.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Robot Dog

"Bingo was his name-o" 
Work in progress © rebecca collins

This is the project I have been working on over the weekend.  There are tons of digital collage layers on this. I have 2 sheets of sheet glass under this top mosaic layer that have paint and paper collage elements.  The story is simple, a robot is walking his robot dog, while the dog dreams of being free riding on a rocket ( see collage element at top). The dog is a bit frumpy and I cut his little rubber wheel to give it a used and worn look. I also enjoyed making the walker's posture look as though he is being pulled by the robot dog.  I am hoping that the multiple layers will add depth and not get lost once I grout.  The yellow moon surface at bottom had a lot more detail before I started cutting and gluing the final layer. I chose to frost some of that glass though with acid etch cream. I was hoping that if it was mat the main characters would pop out more and they would be more grounded. The overall design is very busy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Talking About Your Art

In college we were encouraged to learn how to talk well about our artwork in college during critiques. Some students were naturals and enjoyed the task while those of us that were a bit more shy felt pretentious and goofy trying to put words to what we were doing. Often we did not even know what was behind some of the work that sprung out of us. Over the years I have gotten a bit better at communicating in general and much better at talking about my work. It is however hard sometimes to really dig deep and offer up true insight into the conceptual process at times.

Yesterday I posted a link to my youtube playlist of artists talking about their work. If you are an artist reading this I encourage you to check out a few of those videos again and in addition to enjoying their stories try to grade the speakers in your mind. Look at some videos of well known successful artists and look at other people you may never have heard of. I think you will find that when it comes to "talking about art" we are all on a level playing field regardless of talent, fame and recognition. By watching others try to communicate their stories we can better understand that we are all just people, and we all have stories to tell. When you share your art by talking about your process or talking about your inspiration you are not boasting or "selling"... instead you are being generous, you are "sharing yourself". Below I have embedded Tim Burton, and someone I just discovered recently, Jana Demartini.

Tim Burton Video:

Jana Demartini Video:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finding Art Inspiration At You Tube

Use You Tube's Play List Feature:
I have had a youtube account since 07. In the last few years I have uploaded a few promo videos and also favorited a couple dozen videos and subscribed to 43 channels.  Last night I was looking for interesting artist videos and found so many I decided to use the "create playlist" feature to organize my favorites.

By creating a playlist I do not have to weed through my favorites that might contain singing dogs and cute kittens doing silly things in order to find the cool artist videos that I may want to revisit or share with friends. I can also easily post my playlist link right here and share that play list with you.

Who I discovered:
I discovered a huge variety of artists with interesting videos. The people and the art at Youtube is widely diverse, from cute and perky Claudine Hellmuth, to the crusty old street wise Mosaic Man in New York.

I'll post a few video embeds below, but be sure and check out my entire Visual Artist Playlist over at youtube.

Tomorrow I will post a couple more videos and I want to talk about "talking about"  your artwork. Enjoy the clips!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Video for dog photography fans

Late night and I am trapped in youtube land. Just found this stunning slow motion film shot for a pedigree commercial. I am totally not hawking their brand or anything, but ya gotta love this video.

Vote For My Pal Emmitt

I have been meaning to tell you guys about a calendar contest that is happening that will help DFW Pugs Rescue. Check out the voting page and place a vote for my pal Emmitt. Each vote is just one dollar, you can donate $10 and specify that your giving 10 votes to Emmitt Langer. You can read more about the contest on his Mom's blog.  Or just go on over to the DFW contest page and scroll down to find Emmitt & vote... all it takes is one dollar to help some pugs in need.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Boxer Dog Art

"Jamie" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

"As a white candle/ In a holy place, / So is the beauty/ Of an aged face." -  Joseph Cambell

I always enjoy getting in photos of senior animals.  I have had clients ask me to color their aged pets to look a bit younger and then I have had just as many people want to see each and every one of those grey hairs.  As a pet owner that has lost too many pets at too young an age I really adore a grey muzzle. Our Big Tommy is getting more and more grey each day and I celebrate those light hairs and I cross my fingers that he will be snow white before he leaves us.

The Artwork of Walton Ford

Lola came in to work today talking about the artist Walton Ford, and a book she is coveting over at Borders. We looked it up on Amazon, and she can save a bundle ordering on-line. I have an older book by him that is out of publication. Used copies of that book are selling for $150 to $384 (Walton Ford : Tigers of Wrath, Horses of Instruction).  His newest book is called Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra, I'll post a link below.  Before we could even start the day I had to show her a video about him that I have in my youtube favorites.  I always feel cool when I am already in the know about someone that younger artists are into, it happens rarely, but when it does you feel slightly less ancient.  Anyway, check his work out, it is quirky and stunning all at the same time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Chihuahua Dog Art

Over the years I have worked from a few black and white photos. While I prefer high quality color photographs it is always exciting to see the transformation when I do have to color something from scratch.  I really like how bright Shesha turned out.

"Shesha" ( see all proofs )
© rebecca collins /

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mosaic Books and a blog Widget

Ok let me see if this code is going to work. The books below are a small sample of titles from Amazon. All if these books are by Emma Biggs, the instructor that taught the workshop I attended last week. Sherry (one of my art blogging pals) had mentioned wanting to do mosaics and so I wanted to try out this cool widget from Amazon.  I have been a member of the amazon affiliates for years. It is a great way to share book titles with your readers and you can earn a few cents here and there if someone buys through your link . Unless you work it hard across many websites it is pretty tough to earn any real money off of affiliate programs like this, but every now and then I may earn enough to get a $25 check per quarter. More than anything else it is just a great way to provide an interesting reading list with easy to use embedding tools.  The widget below is one layout option among many choices. You can get one that will fit the entire width and height of your menu column.  Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy looking through the book titles, I know there are a few I want to place on my wish list.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ooodles Of Poodles

Ok maybe "ooodles" is a bit of a stretch, but what a great blog title.  I am getting Bentley and Genevieve ready to print today. The client ordered two 12 x 12 square painterly style portraits.  With this project I proofed my client then did some minor color tweaking, proofed again and showed them the works side by side so they could get a sense of how well they will work together.  *The image above the couch is of course not to scale, just shown to give an idea of how the colors will work side by side.

" Bentley" ( The rambunctious boy with a big personality)
© rebecca collins /

"Genevieve" The refined well behaved lady.
© rebecca collins /

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Making Pretty From Pretty

In mosaics there are a gazillion styles and ways of working. I am very new to the craft so I sort of break it down into two camps, the figurative and non figurative artists. I am more of a figurative artist wanting to take glass or other material and paint a picture with it in order to tell my story. Non-figurative artists use design, composition, pattern and repetition to tell their stories. Non figurative mosaic artists will take stunning materials and make stunning mosaic work. They often let the materials guide them and find more abstract methods to communicate their stories, often times the materials themselves can be part of that story.  I have personally never understood the point of making more "pretty" out of "pretty" as it seems rather redundant you know. After this recent workshop I have a brand new respect for abstract or non figurative works.

The first thing I learned in my mosaic workshop with Emma Biggs is that it is not so easy to just take pretty materials and make something pretty. Non figurative work is very very hard, no matter what you are working with. I was chipping the glaze off an ugly tile to create a very scruffy distressed tessera but I saw people working with really yummy yummy stuff that were having just as tough a time on their projects as I was with mine.

I learned that pattern and repetition in mosaic work is not rigid and the most important thing when setting up rules for your own work is to be consistent with those rules.

I learned to avoid or maybe just respect the triangle in mosaic work. I am not going to abandon triangles because I happen to like the energy that they create. I will however be much more aware of them when I use them and aware of that energy and aware of the attention they demand.

We talked a lot about the play of shiny materials against matt materials and how they throw the light around.

More than anything I think I learned the importance of finding meaning for yourself in your artwork and having the ability to communicate that passion not only through the work but verbally as well. Emma seems to be a very humble person in general and yet when she talks about her work and about mosaics there is an electricity in the air. When you have that sort of enthusiasm about what you are doing it comes across in your work, and people can not help but respond to it.

I think it will take weeks for everything I learned to really sink in. When it comes to mosaics I really learned that I have so much yet to learn.

 This is Emma. 
Each day she wore a different scarf wrap around her cast. On day three I was wishing I had been shooting her lovely bandages each day. Of course I probably would not have had the nerve to ask her to let me shoot her arm each day.

Above we are standing around Joyce's work as she and Emma discuss her project. On the last day we had a look at each project and everyone had a chance to share what they were doing. Joyce is playing with broken china, and pieces of hand made ceramic tile, combining them in a very wonderful way.

This is Katrina above with her piece. She is working with muted tones and playing with the surface of the stone, contrasting shiny textures with matt.

Lee Ann above with her piece.
She had a really dynamic design and was working with fun colors. I really enjoyed watching this piece progress.  She got a lot done on a very large project.

Tricia's Work. I love the design concept on this. Tricia was playing with tone and created a triangular center on this piece that she made lighter in hue than the outer circles. See what I mean about yummy materials. Tricia had a candy store of color that she brought with her every day. I can't wait to see this finished, I think it is going to be very cool.

 Deb's work. This is one of my favorite projects above and I don't even know why. Maybe it was the terrific collage design sketch she is working from. I should have shot that too. Deb seemed to have a clear plan and the matt quality of the black tiles next to the blue was just perfect.

My work in progress. This is the basic design on mine above. Below you will see how much tile I actually got laid down. I am liking it ok, but it really is very different for me. I am going to see it through to the end though, I know I will learn a lot from this project. Right now the overall design seems very flat to me which is weird considering how chunky the materials are.

There were a lot more cool projects than I am showing here. Once I get a chance to sort through the pics I will post them to an album over at flickr and facebook. I really enjoyed this workshop. I learned a lot from Emma and from my classmates.

Thanks to my dog art readers for reading through the workshop posts. I'll be posting more animal art later this week.  It is business as usual around here today as I try to get caught up at Art Paw.

Workshop Related Posts:
Rap Music, Mosaics and Birds
So We Begin
Getting Way Outside My Comfort Zone

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rap Music, Mosaics and Birds

Day four of the workshop was very fun. I went in and got right to work determined to lay some tile and achieve some progress. I decided to quit freaking myself out about every little thing and just plow through with the knowledge that I will make some mistakes and that is ok.  Everyone in the room seemed to feel the clock ticking and the morning was rather quiet with a lot of focused energy.

One of my classmates has a lovely home just outside of Dallas with a lot of land and she invited everyone out in the evening for drinks and dinner.  It was quite a treat to kick back and get to know my classmates and teacher better in a casual setting. We sat outside and enjoyed a lovely breeze and watched a wide variety of birds feed at the many bird feeders in the garden.  We talked mosaics, pets, food and birds. I don't know if it is widely known, but Emma Biggs can imitate bird songs very well. She was however outdone by our lovely hostess's rap song that accompanied the gift she gave our teacher.  Yes, one of my classmates gifted Emma with a rubber chicken purse and an improvised rap song that went with the gift. It was a fun evening. Oh, and the rap song was actually a call back to part of one of Emma's lectures. At some point in her lectures she compared pattern & meaning in mosaics with the rap songs of M& M.  I think it is Emma's ability to allow people to see inside her thinking that makes both her artwork and her teaching skills so unique. She is full of passion and complex thinking about everything, from song birds to rap music. Tomorrow I will discuss a little about what I learned, and I will post a few pics.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

So We Begin

So we begin:  On day one Ms. Biggs gives us a first rate inspiring lecture in the a.m. and then goes around the room discussing project ideas with each student. I have long been thinking about creating a pattern using bugs as the main element so we talk about that and she tells me to do a bit of sketching. Then I run home to grab the materials I have been hoarding for the last 2 months to create this "bug pattern"  and I start playing around with materials.  I am unsure about what to use as the background element. I pour  through the supplies on hand at the arts center and I come up with a big fat nothing. All I have are these yummy shiny ceramic beads that look like bug bodies and I have no ideas for a background treatment.  Emma comes around and says well, let me see what I can find. She goes over to this huge stash of supplies that I have already spent 30 minutes digging through and she walks back over to me within about 2 minutes with a very ugly Mexican tile that looks like it belongs in the bathroom of a fast food taco joint.  She takes this ordinary tile with her thin broken hand ( no really she took a tumble recently and is in a cast) and she starts nipping away at it and she chips the glaze off to reveal this stunning rough pumpkin colored organic looking material that is totally perfect in color and texture for what I am doing.
I am in awe, how in the heck did she see the magic hiding inside this boring common tile? She points out that even the tiny bits of distressed glaze that did not get chipped off are very lovely. Of course I love anything messy and imperfect so I jump all over that and on day two I spend a lot of time chipping and preparing my distressed background tiles.

 On day three I had a go at the hammer and hardie ( shown above) in an effort to chip away the glaze faster. It worked pretty well.

Mr. Triangle is not my friend?
On day 3 of the mosaic workshop  Emma stresses again to us that triangles in mosaic work call a lot of attention to themselves and should be used rather sparingly. So on day three I find myself in a cutting funk and every where I place a tile I am setting myself up for the need of a triangle filler. I start to stress out over that and find myself in a real funk, nothing goes together easily on day three.  Then I fret that my apparent frustration is going to make me look like a real wimp, and then I tell myself to heck with it I am a real wimp!  This workshop is indeed just as hard as I had imagined it would be.  I am learning so much though. Emma is a delight and an inspiration. As a teacher she is tough yet encouraging.

 So this morning I find myself enthusiastic even after a somewhat restless night. We are going into day 4 and I am determined to lay down some tile today. I am also determined to relax and remember that it is not about me or this one silly project, we have a very inspiring woman here from across the pond as they say and I need to listen, ask questions and know that some of the stuff may not soak in until weeks later, and that is ok. The important thing is to be present.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Getting Way Outside My Comfort Zone

I am currently attending an exciting workshop by mosaic artist Emma Biggs. When I first contemplated taking this workshop I asked myself why do you want to take this class? The workshop has required that I give up 3 business days, and the cost for the class was significant. Initially I just wanted to take it because, well, this lady is practically a celebrity in mosaic circles and I thought  "wow, a chance to learn from and meet a very important figure in contemporary mosaics". Then I realized that being "star struck"  might be a rather silly reason to take a class. So then I thought about the actual subject matter " Mosaic and Pattern: Meaning, Complexity & Repetition". Yuck, I totally could not relate to repetition and pattern. My own mosaic work is a crazy loose mess of paint, glass and digital collage. What on earth would I want to do with pattern? The more I thought about it the more uncomfortable I got. Then I asked my teacher Katrina Doran what she thought ... should I take the class?  I told her it sounded very hard and I voiced my concerns also letting her know that yea, maybe, just maybe I do need to get outside my comfort zone. Katrina is an artist that is always eager to tread into unfamiliar waters herself and she likes nothing more than to see her students dive fearlessly into new territory so of course she encouraged me to take the workshop. Then she tells me she is taking the class. Then I hear my Mother ...  "well, Rebecca if all of your friends decide to jump off a cliff will you jump off a cliff?" So yes here I am,  jumping off a cliff with a few friends and Ms. Emma Biggs is leading us.  More to come ...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Bulldogs

"Lola and Ducan" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Busy week. I have lots to share with you guys, but it will have to wait.  No time for lengthy posting at the moment. Lola and Duncan are one of several projects I am finalizing this week.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Chickens & Roosters

Public Mosaic Found at Flickr

Last week I was inspired by a mosaic pal that is getting ready to mosaic her chicken coop. I decided to check out mosaic roosters and chickens. I spent one morning pouring through chicken mosaics and decided to go ahead and create a gallery of my favorites.

Check out my  Rooster & Chicken Mosaic Gallery over at Flickr.  There are at least 5 older public works in the grouping, and several of my favorite contemporary mosaic artists.

I love the 3-d guy above ... that is one fancy fellow!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Vanity Tools for Social Media Hounds

Recently discovered more vanity tools to help business people measure or monitor their brand. My favorite is because they have a cute robot mascot.

Here is a list of tools to measure your  brand visibility:  grades you on several social media services (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube) Colorful graphs track your (or friends) usage and conversation on Twitter.  Ranks Twitter users according to their followers.  shows you who all is sharing a keyword Fun tool that compares traffic to specific urls. Could be very handy if you are trying to decide between selling on different platforms such as Etsy, Ebay, or Amazon. One of my faves, measures strength, passion, sentiment and reach.

So why should you even care?
 Well, branding is important, and beyond that who has not googled their name to see if they come up in the engines? These are just tools that measure your web visibility across different platforms using a wide variety of metrics.  It is important however to not to place too much importance on these measurements & tools.You can be way too obsessive about this stuff and before you know it you have wasted an entire morning searching yourself, and on that note I am signing off for the weekend. Going to go cut glass and make mosaics.

Friday, June 04, 2010

My Heart is Aching

photography © Dan Collins

The photo above was shot by husband. A 16 x 20 print of this photo hangs in our living room. It was shot here a few years back at White Rock Lake. We love birds and Dan is very good at capturing them with his camera. Last night I saw the first images of oil covered birds from the gulf and felt so sick to my stomach. Looking on-line today it seems that many volunteers have stepped forward and unfortunately the biggest need at this second in time is a bit of organization and a good plan, both seem to be in short supply. I'll continue to dig for information. I would like to take a week off and go down there to wash birds. I'll see if that turns out to be a good idea.

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is gathering contact information here for people who want to volunteer to reduce the impacts of the oil spill. The organization notes that volunteers are not being deployed at this time, but says it will keep volunteers updated. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Architecture For Team up Thursday

Photography for a flickr group I have been playing around with this year. My image is the barn on the right. My group partner, Kris Hundt chose architecture as our theme this week. It is a fun group and you can use the group theme or create your own. All you need to play is a camera and a shooting partner.