The Artist Persona

moody1.jpgMy husband says Picasso always stared bug-eyed into the camera, so I did a little looking and found that he did look bug-eyed when he was young and old. I guess this is how he perceived himself, or maybe how he wanted others to perceive him, judging from these painted self-portraits from 1907 and 1972. Some people craft their personality as carefully as they craft their art.

Many thanks for the comments on my last post. It’s always fun to see what people like and the reasoning behind your selections gave me lots of food for thought. Alyson asked a good question — the answer is Quilting Arts Magazine is working on an artist’s profile. I’m excited because the feature is usually several pages long with excellent photography. I sent them six quilts last week for photography and had an interview with Cate Prato (what a great name, wouldn’t you love a name that sounds like you’re a secret agent?)

Many comments were strong for the top moody photo, but the zebra-sunglasses were popular too. I read somewhere that Princess Diana often tilted her head down and looked up at the camera so her eyes looked huge — so for fun I tried this. Some of you commented that this combined with looking over the top of my reading glasses made the viewer feel like they were being let in on a secret, something I thought would compliment the humor of my picture-story quilts.


Based on early morning comments, I had already gone back to my folder of upteen-zillion photos, found this one and sent it. Maybe I should send a p.s. alternative and attach the first photo. I do like the zebra-glasses, but not sure they’re right for the article.

I know from editing video which is 30 frames a second, a person can look happy one second, sad the next, innocent or evil, intelligent or stupid. It’s all a question of which frame you grab. It can make a world of difference, and if someone else is doing the selection — you’re at their mercy.

update: I tried to send the second photo to the magazine, but it was too late, they had already placed the first photo into the layout (or they just liked the first photo better, but didn’t want to tell me)  🙂 Anyway, they just sent the proof for the article, and it looks great, so I’m happy!

The Moody Photographer


Last week I was supposed to send my head in a photo to a magazine for an article that will hopefully appear in December. But I dreaded going to a studio and getting a portrait done, and actually never got around to making an appointment.

So this weekend I set up some lights and a camera on a tripod, and used a shutter release cable to take my own photo. Luckily we just got the new digital Canon EOS-40D, and the camera is a lot smarter than me, because it takes pretty fabulous photos without asking me for advice. (click on a thumbnail for a larger image.)


Since it’s digital, I figured I could just shoot rapid fire like in those moviesque photo shoots, except that I didn’t have big fans blowing my hair and white floaty scarves around. I also didn’t have a great set, in fact my set looks just like my quilting studio. It took me about 200 photos just to get the lighting right. It’s also hard to get your head in the right place when you don’t know what the camera is seeing, and since I was using my Traffic Jam quilt as a backdrop, the butter dish kept ending up in the wrong place, like sticking out of my ear.

Now the problem is, which one do I send? I never know who I really am — I wanted to make a face like PaMdora and just couldn’t master it.


Food Pyramid Redux


Finally a pot I’ve had on the back burner all summer has started to boil. If you remember, I started another food-inspired project and then stalled out. I thought the problem was color and some of you tried to help me out with lots of comments, thank you very much, especially Del who sent me to photos like this for inspiration.


So I struggled with color for a long while (that’s one reason I draw on the computer — it gives me a lot of freedom to play with the design) and stewed on rhetorical questions like… “what color is sand? What color is sky?”

Someone asked if I use a tablet. I’ve had several different Wacom tablets, but the Graphire 3 is my favorite. I like the small one because it’s portable, I don’t have to move my wrist much to draw, and anyway, size is relative on the computer.

wacom.jpgWhen I wanted another for the home, they had gone onto the Graphire 4. But it doesn’t have the pen holder on top and the styling wasn’t as sleek. So I bought another Graphire 3 on Ebay. Although there are a lot for sale, they go for almost retail price, so I guess other people think the same as me.

But back to topic, sometimes when you think there’s a problem, it’s not just one. It’s several. Which in art, like in medicine or mechanics, makes it much more difficult to diagnose. When I found this strange photo called The Secrets of the Singing Sand Dunes, I finally realized my worst problem was the sand dunes were too flat. Then Russ said the vertical orientation was too skinny. And there needed to be more stuff happening, so I’ve added some new surprises for you to see later on.


Then I laid out the new colors. When the abstract foundation of color looks exciting, I know I’m on the right track. So that’s when the pot finally started to boil…

Art or Toast?


Doesn’t it get you down sometimes — bills, phone calls, business, legal mumbo-jumbo, everyday get-under-your-skin, little pesky stuff? I’m about ready to punt the business of art, and just make some ART!

or toast, whatever comes first.


Can’t help myself, but everytime I finally get a drawing ready and it starts to come out of the printer, I get a thrill seeing it big for the first time! I cooked up this idea on the way home from work one day, stuck in a 106 degree traffic jam.

This is the first big thing I’ve tried to print since the ice storm, so it was an unpleasant day of trying to find paper that wasn’t water-damaged, cleaning up the machine, and trying to get a new computer to talk to it. I’m not good at that kind of stuff, so fortunately Russ helped me out. In the end it was worth it.

New Subscription Buttons

2009 update: These buttons are gone until I get the new blog format finished. sorry!

I’ve just added two ways for you to subscribe to my blog. Enter your email address in the FeedBlitz box on the right to receive updates by email. Or use the BlogLines button to set up and add PaMdora’s Box to your reading list. Either way it’s free, your email address will remain private, and you can un-subscribe at any time.

Thanks for the votes!

Well, at least my fabric didn’t get wet…. It would have be heck to wash, dry, and iron all this again.


Thanks for all the votes in the FiberArts magazine studio contest! FiberArts emailed me that I won in the Best Stash category. Actually they’re the ones who made up the categories based on the submissions I guess.

They’ve asked me to write a small tidbit for an announcement in the summer issue. Although I wrote poetry in a former life, my stash is not something that I wax poetic on. But I finally thought of something and sent it in. We’ll have to see if they use it…

Seems like I’ve been doing lots of writing these days. Here’s a post I wrote last night for my local group blog.

Beside writing, these days I’m also trying to learn lots of new software, and it’s making my brain sore. I got a new RSS reader called NetNewsWire for the Mac that I really love. Now I’m better at staying caught up on blogs. Also, I love this MacJournal — it’s great for organizing all different sorts of information, and I understand they’re going to come out with a WinJournal.


Photo organization systems are what’s really giving me a headache though. I still love Picasa, and it’s running great in Parallels. But because we have approximately 2000 slides and 4000 photos that will have to scanned and organized, I’ve been test driving Aperture and the new Lightroom. Each has something good, but I wish they’d get married and have a baby, because I’d really like a hybrid of the two!

Getting Back on the Horse

PaMdora’s back!
Maybe not in full strength, but she’s getting there…

In cleaning up my hard drive, I happily found this old template for the blog. It’s a couple of years old so it doesn’t have my blog links, but it will do for now. However I wasn’t too worried about recovering it because I’ve been working for a couple of weeks to learn WordPress.

So far I’ve created this new site for my group Uncommon Threads using WordPress. I hope the members will be able to use it to publish their own art. And I converted another blog RuBert Studios to it. I’ve been trying to get the courage to tackle PaMdora’s Box. It has over 300 posts, and seems like a lot tougher nut to crack.

The reason I was cleaning my hard drive was a package that I’ve been anxiously awaiting has arrived.

I’ve never really been a Mac person, but disaster struck our studio and several computers needed to be replaced. After shopping around for a month, I decided it was time to make the leap. Don’t worry Windows-lovers, I’m still a fan too, and if Russ works the same magic on this laptop as his did on another, I’ll be running Windows in Parallels. Because I just love Picassa and can’t give up a few other favorites.

We’ve always seen technology as something to help us in the wild weird art world, and there’s nothing like a little trama to make you re-think, re-group, and recharge. Besides, how can you not love something that is packaged so beautifully. Can you believe that’s the styrafoam under the computer?

Spy Phone

I kept telling Russ that I wanted a spy camera. I’m not sure when my fixation with being a spy started, probably back when I read Harriet The Spy for the first time.

Being a loving husband who also loves gadgets, he got a Trio phone for my birthday last November. But as usual it took me so long to figure out how to use it that it’s probably no longer cutting edge technology.

Oh sure, I used the spy camera to document things during the holidays, like this cute snowman on a cup while shopping. Didn’t have to BUY the cup, because I had my spy camera.

And this funky retro menu at the High Life Bar in Des Moines, didn’t have to think about how to STEAL the menu because I had my handy spy camera!

But here’s the real beauty of it. The Trio is a phone with a Palm Pilot built in. Yesterday I put photos of my quilts on it. Should be handy when I’m traveling, and someone asks me what kind of art I do? A picture is worth a thousand words, and now I have a mini-portfolio in my pocket!

Oh, did I mention traveling?? Check back Thursday to see where we are…