The Day that Wouldn't End

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The Day that Wouldn't End

I spent the month of August in the jungle of Peru doing an artist residency at Sachaqa Centro de Arte in San Roque de Cumbaza, Perú. During my time in the jungle, I created a site specific sculpture on the top of the mountain. I have been home for two weeks, but I have been struggling to piece together my thoughts and reflect on the trip. While I was there, I kept a consistent visual journal in the form of a Moleskine ArtPlus Sketchbook aka my most favorite sketchbook I've ever had (affiliate link) and I set aside time to draw, paint or sketch in it every single day. My goal was to fill the entire sketchbook during my trip. I accomplished this when I filled the final page on the plane ride home to North Carolina!

Currently, I am still working on writing down my thoughts from my trip and I have uploaded some preliminary pictures here. I have brief statements in English and Spanish available. Soon enough, I’ll be publishing video content as well. For now, here are some of the pages from my sketchbook. I am still sorting through all of the images and video and processing my own thoughts, but as soon as those are sorted I’ll share them here!

<3 A

"The day that wouldn't end" July 27-28, 2016
Acrylic, watercolor, micron and Jelly Roll pens

Left: "Breakfast thoughts"  Micron pens and watercolor Right: "Rotting jungle berries" Watercolor You can see I'm already enraptured by the plant life of Peru - a theme that will continue through the rest of the pages of the sketchbook July 29, 2016

Left: "Breakfast thoughts" 
Micron pens and watercolor


Right: "Rotting jungle berries"
Watercolor
You can see I'm already enraptured by the plant life of Peru - a theme that will continue through the rest of the pages of the sketchbook
July 29, 2016

Left: "Fallen leaf" Watercolor Right: "Near the outdoor shower" Watercolor Continuing the plant theme July 29, 2016

Left: "Fallen leaf"
Watercolor


Right: "Near the outdoor shower"
Watercolor
Continuing the plant theme
July 29, 2016

"Por la noche"  Acrylic, micron and Jelly Roll pens The night sky was so clear and full of starts because there was no light pollution from the small town. The last time I saw so many starts was when I was studying abroad in Argentina and we went to an observatory in the mountains. No photo or painting can truly capture the night sky, but it is certainly imprinted on my mind. July 29, 2016

"Por la noche" 
Acrylic, micron and Jelly Roll pens
The night sky was so clear and full of starts because there was no light pollution from the small town. The last time I saw so many starts was when I was studying abroad in Argentina and we went to an observatory in the mountains. No photo or painting can truly capture the night sky, but it is certainly imprinted on my mind.
July 29, 2016

Left: "La Cocina" The walls of the kitchen were made of mud and had glass bottles packed in as windows. Broken pieces of tile were stuck into the mud making mosaic patterns. Right: "Rapido ~ lente" Fast and slow - how my days felt at the beginning and how my entire trip felt by the end of it - crazy fast and yet very very slow. July 30, 2016

Left: "La Cocina"
The walls of the kitchen were made of mud and had glass bottles packed in as windows. Broken pieces of tile were stuck into the mud making mosaic patterns.

Right: "Rapido ~ lente"
Fast and slow - how my days felt at the beginning and how my entire trip felt by the end of it - crazy fast and yet very very slow.
July 30, 2016

Left: "La cocina por la noche" There were geometric patterns painted on the back wall in the kitchen that I particularly enjoyed. Right: "Te extraño" Turtles. Kind of an inside joke. A little hard to explain, so lets just go with turtles.  July 31, 2016

Left: "La cocina por la noche"
There were geometric patterns painted on the back wall in the kitchen that I particularly enjoyed.

Right: "Te extraño"
Turtles. Kind of an inside joke. A little hard to explain, so lets just go with turtles. 
July 31, 2016

"Mariposa 1 & 2" There was this dead butterfly on the ground near the river with striking colors and patterns and I took a few pictures and had to paint it when I got back to the arts center. August 1, 2016

"Mariposa 1 & 2"
There was this dead butterfly on the ground near the river with striking colors and patterns and I took a few pictures and had to paint it when I got back to the arts center.
August 1, 2016

¿De dónde eres? This is the question I thought I would be answering during my month in the jungle - but I was definitely wrong about that. More on that later. August 2, 2016

¿De dónde eres?
This is the question I thought I would be answering during my month in the jungle - but I was definitely wrong about that. More on that later.
August 2, 2016

"Perfecto" The left is meant to reflect a Fibonacci sequence and both are the result of a conversation with a girl I met about perceptions of perfection.  August 3, 2016

"Perfecto"
The left is meant to reflect a Fibonacci sequence and both are the result of a conversation with a girl I met about perceptions of perfection. 
August 3, 2016

"Through the [worm] hole" One of the other pieces on the sculpture trail (El Mirador) was meant to represent a vortex and I had to cross through it every day to get to the site where I was working. I thought of it was going through a wormhole into my own space. August 4, 2016

"Through the [worm] hole"
One of the other pieces on the sculpture trail (El Mirador) was meant to represent a vortex and I had to cross through it every day to get to the site where I was working. I thought of it was going through a wormhole into my own space.
August 4, 2016

"Nesting" The first of several iterations of the way I envisioned building texture and volume in my final sculpture but before I knew what the form would look like. "Nesting" alludes to the concept of home that I grappled with during my trip. August 5, 2016

"Nesting"
The first of several iterations of the way I envisioned building texture and volume in my final sculpture but before I knew what the form would look like. "Nesting" alludes to the concept of home that I grappled with during my trip.
August 5, 2016

"Move Along" There was a very brief period in time where I thought I might want to line a trail with voluminous forms and interlocking ellipses and it was HUGE and ultimately not what I wanted. This and another sketch in my secondary sketchbook are the only remnants of that brief train of thought. If I had gone this route, I'd still be in Peru trying to build it.  August 5, 2016

"Move Along"
There was a very brief period in time where I thought I might want to line a trail with voluminous forms and interlocking ellipses and it was HUGE and ultimately not what I wanted. This and another sketch in my secondary sketchbook are the only remnants of that brief train of thought. If I had gone this route, I'd still be in Peru trying to build it. 
August 5, 2016

So there you have it! That is the first section of my sketchbook. I'll be sharing the rest of it over the next couple of weeks so stay tuned! 

P.S. the tools I use and LOVE are linked for you here, here, here, here and here(affiliate links, but I promise to never recommend things that are lame/low quality)

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Playing Catch Up

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Playing Catch Up

It has been awhile for me on the blog - sorry everyone!

While I was getting more and more behind on my blog updates, I've been working away out in the real world. I had a booth at my first ever market this past weekend! The NoDa All Arts Street Market was last weekend and it was exciting! I loved being able to get outside and set up shop and talk to people!

The market was great and I will definitely be doing more in the future! I've also updated the shop and it is FULL of original paintings and fiber pieces!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I mentioned that I had a big announcement for you all about my summer! So..................... I'm going to Peru!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Plane tickets have been booked! And for about a month at the end of the summer I will be one of the artists in residence at Sachaqa Centro Del Arte in San Roque, Peru! I'll be spending my time there building a site specific installation on their sculpture trail! During my time, I'll update this site about once a week with progress photos and of course the final install! Stay tuned here and over on Instagram for updates on that exciting chapter! 

Life has been a little crazy over here lately, but in the next couple of weeks things will hopefully settle down a bit and I'll get back into a nice routine! 

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The Struggle Behind the Hustle

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The Struggle Behind the Hustle

Last week marked one year since I launched the #100womenproject. I mentioned a little bit on my Instagram post from the actual anniversary how scary that project was, but in the world of highly curated social media posts, I haven’t really shared with you all how truly terrifying that process was or how my life has been since that project.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett

Before I graduated, I won the Capitol One Merit Award for Artistic Achievement. After that, I was accepted into a competitive juried show in Washington and won the Mayor’s Choice award in a local show. I don’t tell you these accomplishments to tell you how successful I was; I tell you these things because they gave me a false sense of security. I was riding out a high. Coming down from that high was brutal. Three big things came together so quickly after the #100womenproject and skewed my perspective. I thought I could just keep creating work, applying for shows and it would be smooth sailing right into grad school next year. No problem.

Well guys, that was a lie.

I’ve been rejected ten times more than I’ve been accepted to things. I apply for shows, artist features and all sorts of other opportunities and most of the time the answer is no. It is an incredibly humbling and draining experience. Currently, I can count my successes on one hand but I have lost count of the times that I have failed. I keep working because one day I hope to need two hands to count my successes, and eventually some toes!

“I reject your reality, and substitute my own!”
Adam Savage

My Instagram is filled with colorful images that make it look like I spend all my time doodling, sewing and painting. It leaves out the parts where I stayed up too late drafting an email or application, or the part where my dog ran away with an art supply and I spent 30 minutes chasing him to reclaim it. I don’t show you the part where I spent an hour working on a piece only to realize it doesn’t look anything like what I wanted - so I started over. Those are the things I omit because they aren’t pretty. They’re real, and real isn’t always pretty or “Instagram-worthy”.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going”
Winston Churchill

During the #100womenproject, I spent the first week in panic mode because I feared people wouldn’t like my project. It started to gain momentum and I was elated! People were responding and participating. Then, I was cursed at online by two angry men. One who thought feminism was offensive to males everywhere. The second told me my silly yarn project was a sad display of the misguided notion of “girl power” that was ruining our society. I cried. Multiple times. But I kept writing about the project, I kept posting about it on different forums, and I reported the rude people to site moderators and just kept going. Because Miranda Sings is on to something - the haters just need to back off. You can either let them get to you and stop, or you can keep going.

“Sometimes your circle decreases in size but increases in value”

After college, I moved and am no longer near, or as close with, many of my peers. However, I am  fortunate to have a small group of people in my life who remain close and supportive. Despite being scattered across the country, they have helped me with all of the ups and mostly downs of the post grad struggle. This eclectic bunch is comprised of childhood, college and post grad friends, former professors, mentors, and my mom. They will answer my calls and emails, meet me for coffee, listen to the latest crazy idea and give me an honest opinion. They’ve talked me off a ledge when I’m convinced I’m going nowhere with my life and feel the need to explain why via lengthy text message (sorry Dr. B). 

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Being a creative is hard because you are constantly putting a piece of yourself on display and having it judged, criticized and often rejected. It’s tough. I’m 23 and have paint in my hair about 50% of the time. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’m working on it.

 

 
More accurate depiction of my day to day activities: failed cat selfies

More accurate depiction of my day to day activities: failed cat selfies

 

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Hacking the Hashtag

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Hacking the Hashtag

I’ve told you guys before how much I love Instagram. It is by far my favorite social media, and as with all social media, hashtags are crucial. There are plenty of posts about which hashtags are the best for engagement and cultivating an engaged following. Instagram only lets you use 30 hashtags per post, which is plenty! But if you’re like me, you don’t want to sit there and type out 30 hashtags for every single post. If you’re on top of your Instagram marketing game, like my girl Alex Tooby, you know what hashtags work best for your niche (and if you haven’t there are free courses and resources all over the place). So I’ve done all of those things and I would just type them out and guess that I had used around 30 hashtags and prayed I didn’t forget any. But! I had a revelation! I figured out how to ensure I used exactly 30 hashtags per post and all of them were relevant to the image I posted.

  1. Make a list of ALL possible hashtags you would use for any possible photo

  2. Group them with similar tags

    1. I made a “base ten” of ten hashtags that apply to every single photo I post

    2. Then I grouped the rest of them by fives - so I have a “fiber five” of five relevant hashtags if I’m posting a picture of fiber art and a “paint five” of five painting related hashtags, you get the picture

  3. Create shortcuts on your phone for each GROUP

    1. To find shortcuts on an iPhone:
      Settings > General > Keyboard >Text Replacement and then click on the “+” and type your hashtags in “phrase” and the shortcut in the “shortcut” box

    2. I have a “fiber five” shortcut so when I type “fiber five” my iPhone automatically replaces it with “#fiberart #touchmyart #fiberartist #dstexture #textileart”

 

Step one - go to Settings

Step one - go to Settings

Step two - go to "General"

Step two - go to "General"

Step three - go to "Text Replacement"

Step three - go to "Text Replacement"

Step four - add a shortcut by clicking on the "+"

Step four - add a shortcut by clicking on the "+"

Step five - Add your hashtags in the "Phrase" and your shortcut in the "Shortcut"

Step five - Add your hashtags in the "Phrase" and your shortcut in the "Shortcut"

For example: I always put my hashtags in a comment after I’ve posted the image, so in a comment under a fiber piece I’m working on with a reference to a blog post, I would type “Base ten” “fiber five” “blog five” “color five” “embroidery five” and that would automatically replace those shortcuts with 30 hashtags that pertain to the image. I like to include the number of hashtags in the shortcut I am creating so I can do the math quickly and know that I have added exactly 30 tags to my image.

That’s it! Super easy! Go forth and hashtag efficiently, my friends!




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5 Ways to Find Inspiration When You *Literally* Have None

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5 Ways to Find Inspiration When You *Literally* Have None

This is something I struggle with more often than I’d really like to think about. It’s tough to constantly be inspired 24/7. People sometimes have this view of artists in their head that we are these people with our heads in the clouds and more ideas floating around than we could ever complete and we are just endless fountains of creativity. Well, sometimes that it true, but sometimes the fountain runs dry. And what makes creatives special is that we don’t let that stop us from working. So here are my five tips for finding inspiration when you *literally* have none (please read that in a Chris Traeger voice).

 

1. If you’re a visual person: write. If you’re a writer: draw.

Switch it up, but keep it old fashioned with a pen or pencil hitting the paper. Keep the creativity flowing, but do it in a different way than usual. One of my professors told me, the more you write about your art, the more you learn about the work and yourself. Write about the last piece you finished or the last piece you liked. Write why you liked it and what made it “successful” by whatever definition of success suits you. Also, write in cursive. Cursive has so many benefits for your brain, from helping you have a more connected way of thinking and making connections between different ideas to also helping you see words as abstract concepts instead of individual letters. I won’t continue to belabor the benefits of cursive here, but if you want to know more, I would be happy to direct you to many studies lauding the old way of writing.


2. Look for shows to apply to

I use CallforEntry.org and it is full of listings of places looking for work. You can sort it out by state or region or type of work. Each of the calls lists the specifics for the work they are looking to admit and often themed shows have suggestions or guidelines. It’s what saved me from the post-grad slump. This summer, after I finished my honors thesis, I was completely drained. This was when I was coming of the exhaustion and simultaneous high that was the #100womenproject and I didn’t know how I could ever top that. Well, I saw a listing for a show of works that were all 10x10x10 inches and after creating something that was so massive, scaling back and making something that could fit in my lap seemed so refreshing. I had no idea how it was going to go, but I figured it was worth a shot and I applied and was accepted! A few days later I was mailing my smallest fiber piece all the way to Tieton, Washington! If I had not seen that call, I don’t know how long I would have been lost figuring out what to do next in my artistic life.


Saturday night exploring with my four legged adventure buddy.

A photo posted by Amy Reader | Artist | CLT (@readamy) on

Missing these mountains. #Argentina

A photo posted by Amy Reader | Artist | CLT (@readamy) on

 

3. Get outside

Take a walk, go for a hike, check out your local botanical garden. If this is your first day on my blog, you might not be aware of how much I love flowers; if you’ve been around for awhile now, this is old news to you. But if you’re stuck, grab your sketchbook and head outdoors (weather permitting). In Charlotte, we have mountains a short drive away and when I lived in Richmond the river was walking distance. If you have a local park with a great view, check it out. Urban landscapes can be equally inspiring! The cool tones and interesting architecture might be just what you need to get those creative juices flowing again! Also, the fresh air never hurts. Sometimes I think I get stuck inhaling paint fumes for a few hours and clearing my head outside helps to get my brain moving.

 

4. Go for a drive

Spending the past four years driving back and forth from Richmond to Charlotte every few months gave me plenty of time to think (and sing) in the car. While on these 5-6 hour drives, I planned some of my favorite pieces from undergrad. I also listened to quite a few podcasts about random things (seriously, I know a lot about vestigial organs thanks to Stuff You Should Know). An even better idea would be to combine 3 & 4 and go on a nice drive to go for a hike at your local park or the nearest mountain. When I’m driving, it’s nice because I can focus on one task and let my imagination wander. It reminds me of that episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon gets stuck so he starts working at the Cheesecake Factory and he eventually does have a breakthrough!

 

5. Look at art

My favorite place to find new art is Instagram. I am actually all around pretty obsessed with Instagram. It’s beautiful, clean and I follow some pretty cool people so my feed is always filled with striking images. My favorite people to look at when I’m in need of some inspiration have to be @heatherdayart, @amyventures, @_wildhumm, @meandering_mari, @myfriendcourt and @wildplumco just to name a few, but I could go on for hours. It’s refreshing to open the app and scroll through and see what other people are up to and creating. Whenever I see something beautiful and colorful that someone has posted, it encourages me to get up and get creating as well!

 

So those are my tips! What have you done that gets your creative juices flowing? Share in the comments below!

 

 

 

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Top Three Studio Tools

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Top Three Studio Tools

Hey all! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you guys here on the blog - but I’ve got a gameplan together and you should be hearing from me more regularly. If you’ve been following me on Instagram (which you totally should be) I’m sure you saw that I have big plans for 2016. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Amy, it’s already February, you’ve totally missed the whole New Year’s Resolution thing.” You’re right. But I’ve spent January getting my plan together for the year. So while I did not have this magical plan right on January 1st, I decided to take the month of January to plan for the rest of the year and establish some good routines. A few of those things have been getting more organized in my studio life, planning out blog posts, creating a guest post/collaboration submission form and lining up some free things to give away during February! The first of which you can check out here, and if you want to be notified first about the rest, opt in for emails on that spiffy purple bar at the top of my page!

 

So without further ado, here is my list of the three most important tools in the studio:

Desk

 

1. Drafting desk: This is the desk that I have and I love it. I am a coupon aficionado so I got a really good deal on it! If you’re looking for something that’s a reasonable size and pretty good quality, I would definitely recommend it.

Why I love it: It’s the perfect size for me and the top piece is adjustable. The surface adjusts two ways: I can adjust the angle of the surface and the height. Personally, I prefer a higher desk, so I just leave it at the highest setting. It has decent storage in several different places and little pen holders that I use to store pipettes for the Pebeo paint I’ve recently been obsessed with. Also, I can break the whole thing down and fit it in my tiny little hatchback whenever I move (which is soon!). From an aesthetics perspective, I’m a big fan of the light brown tabletop because it looks oh so lovely in pictures!

My advice: Find the desk that works for you! If you need a giant table to cut fabric on, I’d recommend checking out something like this trestle/table top combo from our Swedish friends, but if you need something that can bridge the gap between desk work and art work, I’d recommend a hybrid like mine that will serve both purposes. Goodwill or the Salvation Army are both great places to go digging for a well-loved desk that just needs a new home and has a more affordable price tag!

Easel + Lamp

easel-light-paint - 1.jpg
*Disclaimer - I was given an Ott Lite Easel Lamp for free as compensation for writing an honest review about it on my blog. All opinions expressed are my own. I promise I will never recommend a product I don’t love.

2. Easel and lamp: I am SUPER proud of my easel because I built it myself (sassy hair flip girl emoji) and it is so sturdy! As an artist who lives in the 2D and 3D world, having a solid easel is essential. I can create a fiber piece almost anywhere - seriously, when they’re in the beginning stages I work on them on the train on my way to work. But if I want to paint, I have to commit to working in a specific space. I feel like as a “real” adult, I’ve graduated from my high school days of monopolizing the dining room table and an easel was a necessity. After doing thorough research, both in person and online, I realized I could make a much cheaper one that would be far more durable than any of the ones I had seen in stores. I followed the tutorial I linked above and it took me in total about two and a half days. I chose to seal each piece with shellac before I assembled them so that way it was a little protected from all of the inevitable spills and paint splatters in its future.

I took this photo with my iPhone 6 underneath the Ott Lite

I took this photo with my iPhone 6 underneath the Ott Lite

The lamp that I have is AMAZING. Remember how I said you guys should be following me on Instagram? Fun fact - most of the photos I post were taken on my iPhone underneath that lamp. This fancy lamp is designed to emulate natural light so that it is less harsh on your eyes and shows the colors more brightly. Until I got this lamp, I’d been piecing together studio lighting with an assortment of clamp lights, work lights and Christmas lights that I’d accumulated over the years. It’s a pretty odd assortment, and the room I work in gets GREAT light in the morning. I mean killer. Sadly, I am not even close to being a morning person. I need at least one cup of coffee before I want to talk to anybody. So I don’t really get up before work in the morning to paint in the beautiful natural light. Most of my work occurs between 8-10pm but with this lamp it looks like I’m working in that lovely 7am light.

My advice: figure out what your easel and lamp are. What equipment makes you feel like a real grown up capable of making art beautiful enough to share with the world? It could be a real table for your sewing machine or a sturdy pedestal that suits your sculpture carving needs. Either way, find that thing that makes your studio a real one and give it a home in your work space.

Organizational System

IMG_2454.JPG
IMG_2455.JPG
IMG_2456.JPG

3. Organization: This one is a struggle for me. I’m great at organizing my schedule thanks to my favorite planner, but organizing my space is always a challenge. I started small. The first thing I did was organize my wall of paint. I sorted them all by color and laid out a grid using T pins and I got colored binder clips and even if the floor is a disaster, I have a perfectly organized wall of paint next to my super sturdy easel. On the wall opposite what I consider the “instagrammable” side of my studio, is a large shelf that has an assortment of storage bins ranging from small to the large-ish and about half of them are labeled. The other half are just filled with yarn, so labels aren’t really necessary. My favorite box on that wall is the “Danger Box” and it’s filled with all of my scissors and other sharp tools. Honestly, my system could use some improvement and doesn’t make much sense to anyone besides me, but it works.

My advice: Your system doesn’t have to be pretty, but it has to work. The hard part is figuring out what works for you. I recommend starting small. Pick one corner or one shelf or one material that you’re going to organize and just focus on that. Or put in fifteen minutes a day for one week, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done if you start small.

What do you do in your studio that works for you? What are your tools you can’t live without? Tell me below!

 

 

 

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Let's go on an Adventure!

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Let's go on an Adventure!

You guys already know just how much I love the public art in Charlotte, so on Saturday December 5, from 2-5 I'm hosting an #instaartcrawl! So let me break it down for you:

Who?

YOU! And me and the New Gallery of Modern Art. And any and all Charlotte people are invited! Instagram account not required, but encouraged because pretty pictures are more fun when you can share them with people! This is family friendly - all ages are invited! 

When and Where?

Saturday December 5 from 2-5 pm in The Green off Tryon starting at the New Gallery of Modern Art. 

What are we going to do?

Take awesome pictures. Meet cool people. Explore the public art in the Green and surrounding area. We will start at the New Gallery and check out art like Fish Fountain, the Firebird and more!

Awesome! How do I sign up?

RSVP here and follow me on Instagram for all the latest updates! The hashtag for the event is #instaartcrawl! Be sure to invite your friends! You can also share this picture on your social media channels saying you're attending!

 

See you there!

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Maybe I do like Charlotte

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Maybe I do like Charlotte

If you know me outside of my blog/Instagram/Facebook/the Internet, you know that I adamantly claim Chicago as my homeland. I talk way too fast, some might say I pronounce things funny, and I refuse to use the contraction "y'all" no matter how "convenient" it is. I think sweet tea is gross and it still bewilders me that there are cows so close to my house. I cling to my Midwestern roots and try my hardest to reject the South. When I moved here, I thought it was just plain weird. The people talked too slowly and couldn't understand me; people thought I was rude because I just said "yes" instead of "yes ma'am/sir". And it was hot. Really really hot. A little over a decade later, I'm finally starting to come around and there are a handful of things I do genuinely like about Charlotte. 

Buddy the Bear outside of the Uptown Library

Buddy the Bear outside of the Uptown Library

There is art everywhere

Recently I was walking around uptown on a break from work and I am constantly impressed with the amount of public art in just a few blocks. I've been reading up on all the public art in and around Charlotte and it is amazing. The ASC even has a map and podcast of a 45 minute walking tour that takes you to key works of public art around the city. I haven't gotten through the entire tour yet, but I've hit some of the key spots and it's quite lovely. Two points for Charlotte. 

Seriously, there is even art on the billboards

image.jpg

ArtPop is a movement that puts the work of local artists on Charlotte billboards all around the city at no cost to the artist. It's so refreshing to walk down the street to get lunch and see art instead of advertisements. While some more urban cities have murals all over the place, that wouldn't really work in the banking city of Charlotte so the billboards of art are a great alternative.  

There are not too many cities that are currently supported through ArtPop and I am so thankful that the Queen City is on that short list.  Another point for Charlotte! 

Amelie's

image.jpg

It's not really a list about Charlotte being cool if you don't talk about Amelie's. If you're currently residing in Charlotte, this one is pretty self explanatory. If you are not, Amelie's is this weird, fantastical place of French food that is always open and has the most magical salted caramel brownies in the world and the quirkiest decorations and there is always a line but everything is delicious. You cannot go wrong at Amelie's.  Just watch out for the flying Marie Antionette. Charlotte gets two points for this one because dessert 24/7 is pretty spectacular. 

But mostly I'm obsessed with all the art

Detail of The Firebird by Niki de St Phalle outside of the Bechtler.  

Detail of The Firebird by Niki de St Phalle outside of the Bechtler.  

I work at one of the three museums on the Levine Cultural Campus uptown. Three. Each with a different focus and collection. I don't consider Charlotte to be a large city, so I couldn't believe that there was even one museum much less three. There is the Harvey B. Gant Center for African American Arts + Culture, The Mint Museum Uptown and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Charlotte gets three points for this - one for each museum. 

Local Instagram feeds are awesome

There are tons of amazing Instagram accounts dedicated just to Charlotte. WeLoveCLT is a notably awesome one because it's a 100% takeover account and anyone can show you all sorts of cool things going on around Charlotte. You might remember it because I took over it a little bit ago with my partner in legal graffiti while we yarn bombed uptown. This account is just one of many who do an excellent job of showcasing all sorts of awesome things in Charlotte including @exploreCLT, @eatworkplayCLT, @charlottesgotalot, @charlotte_lately, @happeningsCLT and so many more. Two points for Charlotte!  

Charlotte is still kind of weird

I still don't understand why there is an intersection of Providence - Providence and Queens - Queens. If this sounds confusing, it's because it is. Providence Road turns into Queens Road at the same intersection that Queens Road turns into Providence Road. So if you want to stay on the same road you have to turn. It's the weirdest thing. Two points against Charlotte for the bizarre-o intersection. Also one against Charlotte for sweet tea. The sugar makes my teeth hurt. 

 

So the final tally is as follows: 

Charlotte is cool: 10

Charlotte is weird: 3

Glen Coco: 4

and none for Gretchen Weiners!  

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It's Got a Woolly Jumper!

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It's Got a Woolly Jumper!

As you might have heard, Sydney and I took over WeLoveCLT this Saturday while we were installing our yarn creations alongside the Rail Trail! We started with five naked trees, and ended with two fully clothed trees, and three at various stages in between.

We had several people stop by and talk to us, a few yelled out our Instagram handles at us while biking by - which was hilarious. Another nice fellow told us that it appeared we were getting the trees ready for winter by dressing them in a "woolly jumper"! 

The tree closest to Sycamore Brewing is dressed up in a complete tree sweater, and over the next few weeks the transition from full tree sweater to coral reef will be complete! The tree farthest from Sycamore is the complete coral reef. We were a little short on barnacles (yarnacles?) so we will be whipping up a few more of those and adding them in the coming weeks! 

Sydney had these wire birds that had been looking for a new home, so she installed them in the trees to add a little more interest! We (when I say we, I really mean my awesome speed-crocheting mom) made a bunch of crochet crowns in honor of the Queen City and have begun hiding them along the rail trail! If you find one, be sure to post a picture and tag it with #yarnbombingCLT!

We still have a little more to wrap up at the fence, but not too much! Stay tuned for more updates!

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We're Taking Over!

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We're Taking Over!

This Saturday Sydney Sogol and I are taking over the WeLoveCLT Instagram! We will be installing at the fence in the morning and outside of Sycamore Brewery in the afternoon!  We also have crocheted a handful of little crowns for the occasion and will be working those into our install as well as a few other places along the Rail Trail! 

The zig zag pattern is coming together nicely and we will be wrapping up shortly! (pun very much intended)

After the zig zag pattern is complete on the fence, we are installing crocheted coral reef forms on trees lining the Rail Trail outside of Sycamore Brewery! There is also a little tree sweater in the future, so stay tuned! 

Follow along with all of the adventures of #yarnbombingCLT by following Sydney,  me and be sure to follow @WeLoveCLT this Saturday!

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What I Learned after Creating 23 Paintings in 23 days

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What I Learned after Creating 23 Paintings in 23 days

When I embarked on this painting challenge, I thought it would be a quick and easy daily painting squeezed in somewhere in between working at the museum, teaching painting classes, filming a new vlog, or any of the other 2389487983729 things I try to cram into my daily schedule. I was definitely wrong. Challenge describes this painting adventure perfectly. As with any challenge, I learned a few things along the way! 

Ms. Frizzle Knows What She is Talking About

Anyone remember her? From The Magic School Bus aka my childhood in a nutshell. She famously said "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" I took quite a few chances throughout this process. Every day was a new adventure and a new opportunity to take chances. I did a lot of experimenting over the course of the challenge, and the small scale allowed me to fearlessly take chances. Some of them worked out better than others, but knowing that each day was a brand new, clean canvas was comforting. If I didn't like something I did one day, I could learn from it and do something differently the next day! 

I experimented with Pebeo paints and they ended up being one of my new favorite materials to work with. I also explored how rubbing alcohol interacts with acrylic on the canvas. Previously, I'd only ever used rubbing alcohol to remove acrylic paint from my clothes. Knowing that it very effectively breaks down paint, I was nervous about the effect it would have on the canvas, but it ended up being a great way to pull highlights in a painting without using white! 

It was a floral kind of day for #23daysofpainting 5 days down! #madewithmichaels #amyreaderartist

A photo posted by Amy Reader (@readamy) on

Having a Plan is Usually a Good Idea

Day 4 was the most difficult day for my by far. I had no plan for the painting, no color palette in mind, nothing. I figured I would just paint and something would work out. The end result? I was grumpy, unhappy with the painting and nearly had my butt kicked by a 3x3" painting. I stepped back, texted my bff, and got a game plan together for the next day. Flowers are always my go to whenever I am stuck. They make sense to me and keep me grounded. I've always loved them and probably always will! Day 5 came around and I did my research, found a flower I liked as my inspiration, and day 5 ended up being one of my favorite paintings! 

Moving forward, I kept something in mind each day - whether it was a specific form, or just a color palette. I never went into another painting completely blind. This provided me with a little bit of security because I had some sort of idea what the goal was. Sometimes, the painting changed completely from what I was initially thinking, other days it looked exactly as I envisioned it. Either way, I had somewhere to start. This prevented me from feeling completely lost and frustrated with another painting. 

But Always be Prepared to Improvise

Day 10 - my mom left me home alone, and being the wonderfully capable and semi-functional college graduate that I am, I burned my hand while cooking. Specifically, all of my knuckles on my right hand. As a right-handed individual, that significantly hampered my painting abilities. It cut my painting short for that day, and I had to accept that not all 23 paintings would be done exactly one per day as I had intended. The next day, I let myself slowly work on another painting in phases, even though that meant adjusting my timeline and eventually I had to paint two in one day once my knuckles weren't so angry. 

Find Your Rhythm

In the beginning, I tried to squeeze painting in anywhere in my day that I could. This didn't last very long as my days are often long and unpredictable. A few days in, I decided to end my day with painting. It was the perfect way to wind down after a long day and it quickly became my favorite part of my day. I knew when I was going to make the next painting, and I didn't have to try to schedule it around my jobs or other commitments. I also had something to look forward to at the end of my day! I initially thought about starting my day with painting, but honestly the only thing I want to start my day with is coffee. A lot of coffee. However, ending my day with herbal tea and a paintbrush was perfect for me. 

Now all 23 days are completed, I am a year older, and I just want to keep painting teeny tiny little canvases! I ended up with great ideas for some larger paintings and a good direction for a different painting that I had been having trouble completing. It has been quite a fun challenge and I am thankful for everyone who has followed along either on my blog, Instagram or Facebook! I am running a giveaway for two of the paintings! One is on my Facebook and the other on Instagram! Additionally, all of the remaining paintings (except for the one of my goldfish, I'm putting that one next to his tank) will be for sale Wednesday evening! 

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When Creativity Collides

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When Creativity Collides

Meet Ashlee McClung - a wonderfully talented artist from Dallas, TX with whom I have the pleasure of collaborating this month! I found Ashlee through her Instagram and immediately fell in love with her beautiful color palette and bold brush strokes. 

I think I can finally say that this one is done. 👍🏻 #commission

A photo posted by Ashlee McClung (@ashlee_mcclung) on

I reached out to her seeing if she wanted to merge creative minds for a series of paintings, and she agreed! We have been working on two paintings to be half-painted, then in just a few days, the half-finished paintings will be mailed to the other person for completion! A total of four paintings resulting from a snail mail based collaboration! 

We agreed on a timeline - the month of October - and a theme for each of the paintings! The first painting will be inspired by the merging of the minds. Our inspiration words were merge, coalesce and fuse. The second painting is inspired by the changing of hand. Our inspiration words for this painting were transition, liminal, and conversion.

Today's progress. #wip

A photo posted by Ashlee McClung (@ashlee_mcclung) on

I'm almost done with my two halves to mail away to Texas! This project has been such a great way to stretch my creativity and shift my perspective on art making. One of the challenges of this collaboration has been deciding at what point a piece is "halfway done." It's already difficult enough to declare a piece finished, but stopping halfway has been an entirely different and exciting challenge! 

Want to stay up to date on this creative collaboration and all of my other creative endeavors? Follow me on all the social things! Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can follow Ashlee on Instagram here.

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Yarn Bombing CLT

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Yarn Bombing CLT

During October, I am working in collaboration with Sydney Sogol to create a yarn based installation in Uptown Charlotte! This project is commissioned by Charlotte Center City Partners as part of a their mission to install public art along the Rail Trail

“We are grateful to be a recipient of this prestigious 2014 ArtPlace America grant, which allows us to animate the Rail Trail with unique placements of public art that will bring the trail to life,” said Michael Smith, President & CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. “This grant provides us the needed funding to hire a master public artist and commission numerous pieces of public art along the Rail Trail.”

We are working on the fence behind Atherton Lofts first. Our design starts with colorful zig zags and transitions into a pixelation pattern. To create this pattern, we are wrapping sections of the fence with yarn. First we outlined the sections with their respective colors, then filled them in with yarn. 

The fence needed a little TLC before we could add the yarn!

The fence needed a little TLC before we could add the yarn!

The fence was a little overgrown when we got there, thankfully the kind residents of Atherton Lofts had a pair of hedge clippers we could borrow! Sydney cut down two small trees in the time it took me to remove that one little stump from the fence... 

Clearing out the weeds to make way for the yarn!

Clearing out the weeds to make way for the yarn!

We got a bit of a late start thanks to our good friend Joaquin, but we have made considerable progress since the rain stopped! The fence and yarn bombing part two (more on that later) will be completed by the end of October! 

You can follow Sydney (@sydsthreads) and me (@readamy) on Instagram for behind the scenes pictures while we cover Uptown in yarn!

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Updates on the Painting Challenge, Vlogging, and more!

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Updates on the Painting Challenge, Vlogging, and more!

Day 10 aka "Burned Hand Day" 

Day 10 aka "Burned Hand Day" 

Quite a few updates on the life of Amy the Artist to share with you all, so here we go!

1. Over halfway through #23daysofpainting!

After a little bump in the road thanks to my clumsy nature and a cooking mishap, I was playing catch up for a little bit but I am finally all caught up and 13 days in to the challenge! There are only 10 days left! You can see all of the tiny paintings over on my Instagram (@readamy) and under the hashtag! 

Day 11!  

 

2. The Tiny Painting Army will be For Sale!

I've had quite a few people ask me if I will be selling my tiny paintings, and the answer is YES!!! I will be listing the little paintings on Etsy after the challenge is complete. So keep an eye out and pick out your favorite so you can have your own tiny work of art! I will warn everyone before they go up so you guys can snag one before they're all gone! The challenge ends on October 16 and I will list them at the beginning of the following week - the 19th. 

 

Day 12!  

Day 12!  

3. Behind the Scenes Videos on YouTube!

Did you know I have a YouTube channel? I post new videos every Tuesday and Thursday at 8pm EST! Yesterday I gave my friend Matthew a tour of the tiny paintings and elaborated on my creative process for them and about what materials and techniques I've been using! And oh look! That video is conveniently right here! Check it out! 

Last week, for my first official vlog, I answered the three burning questions everyone seems to have whenever I tell them I'm an artist! I also introduced my favorite little fur balls to the Internet.  

Subscribe to the channel for regular updates, studio tours and other behind the scenes things about the life of an artist! 

4. Regular Blog Post Schedule! Wahoo! 

Since I will be posting videos to YouTube every Tuesday and Thursday, I am implementing a regular blog schedule too! I really like schedules. I think they're great. Look for new blog posts twice a week on Mondays and Wednesday's starting next Monday October 12! 

5. Coming soon... 

I have a few other exciting things coming up that I can't wait to elaborate on! Stay tuned for information on a painting collaboration I'm working on with a wonderfully talented artist in Texas and a yarn bombing commission about to explode in South End Charlotte! More information on that in a little bit!! 

 

Until next time! 

<3 Amy

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#23daysofpainting - Day 1

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#23daysofpainting - Day 1

readamy_23daysofpainting_day1

So if you haven't heard, I've challenged myself to create one, small painting per day for 23 days in honor of my 23rd birthday! Today was the first day of this challenge and I started with a 3" x 3" canvas and set my phone timer for 23 minutes. It seemed really promising, this tiny little canvas just waiting to be turned into the most adorable little work of art! But let me tell you, it was hard. I mean really hard. 

I'm used to painting rather large. Small for me is 20"x 20" so to downsize to 3"x 3" was quite the challenge! When I'm painting large canvases, I can move around and let certain areas dry and then come back to them and layer and edit, but when the canvas is smaller than your hand, there isn't much room to move around and let different parts dry. Solution? Hair dryer. That helped a lot. I ended up stopping and starting my clock so I only painted for 23 minutes, but I did not include intermediary drying time in my time limit. 

I've also been experimenting with Pébéo paints recently! If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my post about how obsessed I am with this new paint! I am a huge fan of the effect it creates because it looks like plant cells. In my work I frequently draw inspiration from flowers, trees and other plant forms. Recently I've been looking at microscopic slides of plants for inspiration and have decided to explore those forms more over the next 23 days. 

I tried to record the whole thing so I could create a time of the process, but my usually infallible camera let me down and only recorded about half. That's okay though - at least it recorded something, right? 

Overall, it was fun and challenging and there are still 22 days left! By the end of it I should be a master of the tiny canvas, right?

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23 Paintings in 23 Days

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23 Paintings in 23 Days

In celebration of my 23rd birthday in mid-October, I have decided to challenge myself to one painting a day for the 23 days leading up to my birthday! So every day I am going to set aside 23 minutes and paint. I have 23 little canvases - some are 3"x 3" and some are 4" x 4" - and I am going to paint one per day! 

I've seen several challenges for one month of painting or creating, but I'm never ready for them on the first of the month! So I figured, why not create my own and what better way to celebrate my birthday than making art?! 

You can follow along with my painting adventures on Instagram @readamy and under the hashtag #23daysofpainting!

Want to join in on the fun?! I would love that! I will be painting one small painting per day from September 24 - October 16! You can join in for some or all of the days! Just post pictures of your paintings using the same hashtag! 

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Meet: Pippa

Pippa, 20" x 20", Acrylic on Canvas

So I scaled back a little bit for this one. I had been painting fairly large (Celeste is a giant) and Pippa is just 20" x 20"! 

When painting Pippa, I experimented a little bit! Usually I have a specific reference in mind when I'm painting something, but this was a bit of an amalgamation of a few sources. I drew the color palette and forms from flowers - my favorite. If you look closely, you can see that I drew on top of the painting as well. These drawings were inspired by microscope slides of plant cells. 

I've been recording myself while I've been painting lately, and compiling it all into a time lapse video! You can check this one out below, and definitely pop over to YouTube and subscribe for updates on all the latest paintings!

Behind the scenes in the life of an artist - time lapse painting

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Behind the Paintings!

I painted two giant paintings in a little less than three weeks and created a time lapse of the process! Check it out!

Time lapse of painting entitled "There's a Hole Where Your Heart Lies" by Amy Reader - www.amyreaderartist.com and www.facebook.com/amyreaderartist

Time lapse video of the creation of the painting "Celeste" by Amy Reader www.facebook.com/amyreaderartist www.instagram.com/readamy www.amyreaderartist.com

Celeste won Mayor's Choice at the Matthew's Artist Guild Annual Show!

Thats all for now!

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