Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: January 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Days 25-27

Hi everyone,

So the past few days....they're kind no one wants to hear about.  About the only advantage of being sick is getting to reread books or some other super low energy activity.  So when you start to fall asleep you don't have to worry too much about finding your place again since you've already visited this world before.  In this case I read all of The Shadow at Evening and am almost done with The Power of the Night by Chris Walley.  It's a Sci Fi series with spiritual elements, similar to C.S Lewis' Space Trilogy with a dash of the sequel Ender books by Orson Scott Card.

Otherwise today I've been catching up on things.  I've been looking up some local shows/events for possible entry, organizing some of my art supplies (not having the right size/shaped container for my pastels to be organized by color is bugging me), and hearing all the news about snow tomorrow.  I'm hoping for lots of snow, and getting snowed in would be fine too so long as there aren't any power issues.  We have several different kinds of birdfeeders in our yard and it makes me look forward to getting some snow because the birds will really crowd around any food sources available.  There's a lot of chance to see unusual species as well since more food is covered up.

Anyway, I'm headed to bed with dreams of snowflakes.  Goodnight.

Love, Lydia

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Day 24

Welcome to my blog,

So today I've been thinking about goals.  I happened to read a post by a guy named Mike Hyatt who owns a publishing house and blogs about writing, among other things.  The post he wrote is about mistakes people make when setting goals.  You can read the article here.  It's got me thinking about some of my big goals for this year and I thought I'd share them with you all.

Most of you who read this already know about my Kickstarter and the goals that go with it.  If I meet the low goal I'll be able to create a piece of art every week this year and end up with 52 pieces.  The larger goal is making a piece every day and ending up with a full 365 pieces.  The more I work on these goals, sending out messages via Etsy, Facebook, Twitter and the like the more determined I am to at least get the 52 pieces made, whether or not I have the funding.  If I have to I'll make paintings on whatever scraps of paper I have left if I can't afford to buy more supplies.  I've at least got the watercolor paint to make it through a year of that, though collages and other art forms wouldn't have the same luck.  And so far I'm right on track with that, having finished 3 pieces at just over 3 weeks in.  I've got another 8 pieces in progress and ideas for lots more written down.  I think half my trouble comes from finding what to get started on first!

I have some other goals too though.  Some more personal ones like finding a good church to go to here in Raleigh.  Sometimes I feel like that's hard because Bryan and I grew up in really different styles of churches, though our personal beliefs are really similar.  I'm not going to go into the spiritual parts of it all, because this isn't the place for that.  However, I really look forward to finding a place with good community because I miss having friends here.  I have lots of family that so far has filled in very well, but I know I need to have friends outside of relatives.  I think of all of this as things that will feed my emotional stability and improve my mental health.

I also want to get my art established better here in the Raleigh area, and I would really love to participate in a couple of shows my the end of the year.  I've also thought about showing my work in other areas too, and would like to be able to that.  And I would like to join some artist associations so I can get to know other artists. network, and just get in the loop about things.  All of that is a little more dependent on money, which brings me to the next big goal.

Working on tackling our finances.  I've got student loans, we had our car get totaled a couple months back and had a huge rise in car insurance simply for living somewhere there's a risk of being rear-ended, plus the costs of a "new" car.  However, it's taught me how to be a couponer, and we're now masters of making and sticking to budgets.  We also eat out a lot less than we used to.  Recently I switched to an Obamacare plan, in my case it cut my insurance costs in half compared to my husband's employee insurance!  Next month things will start looking up as we've finally caught up to all the things that were setting us back so much the past few months.  We're buying a fantastic photograph from Matthew Alexander, a fellow CCAD alum as a way of celebrating making this goal!

For mental stimulation I've vowed to read at least one new book each month, which if you know me isn't a huge goal.  I was the 10 year old kid who read over 100 books one summer, because a kind library patron saw that the summer reading program wasn't enough challenge for me.  She asked me to make it to 50 instead, and then gave me a gift card for a local bookstore.  I kept going and hit 100 books before school started that fall.  However, I read a lot less when I was at CCAD, and making art in high gear cuts down on my reading time.  Since it's also some of my best mental fuel I'm making a point of keeping it around!

Lastly I've also been making more effort than ever to be healthy.  Simply getting in more fruit and veggies and less junk, eating more organic and local, and putting more exercise into my daily routine.  I'd been doing dance workouts about twice a week for most of the last year, but now I'm also adding in yoga 1-2 times a week, some weight training, walking, plus other routines too.  And last year I gave up keeping soda in the house, so these days I drink a lot more water.

So, all this is what's going on in the background each day, and what keeps me going.  Sometimes I feel like it's not a big enough deal to talk about on here, but really, all the little details are important to my story.  I'm guessing you all feel the same way about your lives, some of those details are what make us feel ourselves.  Hopefully you all have made it through all this, and I hope even more that it's been interesting, showing you more about who I am.  Until Monday.

Love, Lydia

Friday, January 24, 2014

Days 22 & 23


The past two days have been so cold here, but there was barely any snow.  Just enough that I got a few pictures from my iPhone to share.
 The rivulets of ice flowing from the roof of our porch were still frozen late into the afternoon yesterday, but they were brilliant with the sun gleaming through them.
 The leaves and hollows between grass had their own hidden caches of snow.  All the tiny, sheltered areas protected the deposits of sparkling white snow.  Even the bark set deep in the shadow of one of our pines held a bit.
Today's been even colder and I can feel the chill coming up through the floorboards in our house.  Normally I don't wear socks around the house much, but on nights like tonight I need them!

I've been working on a couple pieces, but some of the details can be so fiddly sometimes.  I'm always hesitant to show unfinished pieces if I'm not quite sure what I want to do with them next.  I have this finished collage to share though.  It's going to be titled "Dino Apocalypse Dream".
I actually started this piece quite a while ago while teaching in Maine.  I did an afternoon collage workshop and since only one boy attended (the kind who was extremely well behaved) I was able to get it started as I demoed some of the transfer techniques.  The base in this case is a nice solid piece of pine with a knot in just the right place.  I ended up using a hair dryer tonight to speed the drying of the smoke from the volcano (an experiment with Winsor & Newton watercolor texture medium) and couldn't believe how lovely the pine smell that came off the wood was.  Otherwise there are sections of ink, watercolor, wax pastels, Liquitex pouring medium, and colored pencil as well as the paper and transfered images.

Now, having had a mug of peppermint and chamomile tea I will head off to bed.  There's so much more to work on tomorrow!

Love, Lydia

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Days 19-21

Hi everyone,

The past couple of days have been more restful between a family birthday Sunday and a board game get together Monday.  I'm always glad for the chance to play some board games and yesterday was no exception.  I ended up teaching "De Vulgari Eloquentia" to a group who'd never played it before.  It's a game based on the late medieval period culture of merchants and the end of the game someone will even become pope!  It's a fun game, through the instructions are horribly written, we didn't expect too much from it since it came from a bargain bin.  You can read more about it and see some pictures -

We also played Dominion which is one of my husband's favorites.  It's a card based game where you're building a deck over the course of the game and trying to collect the right kind of cards so that you gain the most points at the end of the game.  However you can use different cards each time you play the game making it mean or friendly depending on your mood.  And there's more info on that -

Today has been filled with lots of little bits of progress and getting back in to the swing of things.  I've worked on two pieces today plus some other odd jobs I've had.  Also I saw that my hometown newspaper, The Roanoke Times, has published a piece on their website about my Kickstarter.  You can find that - HERE

So, all that's exciting, and I'm up to 3 pledges on Kickstarter now, with emails being sent out every day to people who've shown interest in my work previously via Etsy.  I'm getting in lots of writing practice, though I don't mind it too much these days.  And just in case you haven't seen the link yet here is my Kickstarter!

Hopefully no ones minds my departures from strictly writing about art to talk about board games for a bit.  I expect to be adding some of my interests and experiences along the way, and these are some great examples of that.  Other than all that this evening I've been distracted by the snow we've been getting.  Finally!  Sadly we're not even getting a full inch....I wish it was much more though.  This is the first snow we've had this winter that's actually stuck and it always gets me excited like a kid to see it.  If there's any left on the ground after my breakfast tomorrow I might take some photographs to work on some new pieces from.  For now though I need to get some rest so I can get up early enough to hope to see that snow!  Goodnight everyone.

Love, Lydia

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Days 16-18 Special Weekend Edition

Hi folks,

The past few days have kept me busy as Bryan and I decided to move some furniture in our living room....which turned into moving nearly all the furniture and reorganizing our book collection, plus moving a larger chair out of storage into our living room, and taking down our Christmas decorations.  Once everything is looking nice I'll put up a few pictures.  However, Thursday night I fell into bed after moving more things than I'd intended and Friday continued the trend.

Today we've been running errands and getting things done.  But this morning I photographed my latest completed painting.
While working small is fun I think on Tuesday (tomorrow and the Monday holiday I'll be busy) I'll be focus on some larger scale pieces.  This smaller scale piece in particular was more challenging for texture of the canvas alone.  It's got the Shiva casein paints as the base colors, Neocolor II wax pastels for many of the more detailed areas, plus some touches of white acrylic.  I think once I get through all the mini canvases I'll be switching to some other small format backing.  I just wish there were more small sized art boards and out there with cradled backs.  The smallest I've found is 4"x4" from Dick Blick Art Supplies, but I'd try just about anything I could find at this point.  Also, I decided to go look on Blick's site and saw these lovely panels which I would love to work on.

I've tried unfinished wood, but with the first hint of watercolor there's warping and bleeding if you aren't very very cautious.  There are just so many interesting supplies I'd love to try!

In other news, I've had my first pledge on Kickstarter!  Only 3 weeks left to the campaign.  So if you readers are interested check it out.  I appreciate any traffic I can get even if it's simply word of mouth.  Check it out

Well, I'll be back on Tuesday, but until then I hope you all are having a great weekend!

Love, Lydia

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 15


So today was productive for me in a wide variety of ways.  I worked on two pieces, and did some brainstorming and sketching for a couple more, including one of the 2'x2' tiles for Healing Ceilings.  I've got one of the tiles for them about half done, with some knotwork and background still needed to complete it.  I got one of the casein paintings really close to completion and am trying to decide if I'll be adding any collage elements, though I think because it's so small I might not, it's just on a tiny 2"x2" canvas.

Beyond that I did a lot of boring housework that needed to be done, mostly so I'll be freed up tomorrow to work on art and putting away all of our Christmas decorations.  I worked on some online ways of earning a little extra income, surveys and the like, since so far I've had no pledges on Kickstarter.  And then this evening Bryan and I had my brother-in-law over for a game night which lasted til midnight.

So, now I'll see you all tomorrow, with hopefully a more exciting update including some pictures of newly completed pieces.  I came so close today...but sometimes you just have to pause and come back to a piece to figure out what final touches it needs.

Love, Lydia

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Day 14

Hello everyone!

So today I've been busily working on some new pieces.  Nothing completed yet, but I should have a piece or two to post tomorrow.    I sent out a press release to CCAD since they like to know what their alumni are up to.  And I've been doing some work on my computer since it's been having some sound issues.  I'll try one last fix before heading to bed for the night.

Otherwise I've been reading through Volume 5 of A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori (A Christmas gift from my mom), which has beautiful manga illustrations and a sweet set of stories.  It's set mainly around a young bride in Central Asia in the 1800s, but there's some side story that follows the travels of an English doctor.  He travels the silk road from east to west and there are other stories about brides and their respective families and cultures along the way.  Apparently this post is very fitting since according to Wikipedia volume 6 of the books was published (only in Japan sadly) just today!  Here's a link to a lovely blog post (probably? It's in Portuguese from the looks of it) I found with some great images from the Bride's Story series as well at the artist's earlier Emma: a Victorian Romance -  I really enjoy all the attention to details and exquisite patternwork involved.  She's great about being historically accurate as well, which is wonderful.  Even if you don't like manga her series may surprise you with their charm.

Well, I'm off to continue my computer repair attempts.  More tomorrow!
Love, Lydia

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Days 11-13

Well everyone,

My weekend did not go as planned.  haha  Just show what I get for trying to be an overachiever!  Saturday our power went out around lunchtime...right before we made lunch.  So, we hopped in the car and headed to Bryan's parents home, picking up something to eat on the way.  We played a lot of Magic the Gathering and I got my press releases written and sent out.  Since we'd reported our power outage we got a call around 8pm saying "not to expect a return of power until 6am Monday.  So, we were just a touch panicked and went home to pack up the contents of out refrigerator and pack overnight bags thinking we'd stay with Bryan's parents.  When we got back to our home the power was on and things were fine.  We returned for dinner (and to collect all the things we'd left thinking we'd be staying a while), more Magic, and some episodes of Doctor Who with Bryan's family.  (Yes my geek side will be showing up here sometimes just means if you want some fun fan art or original game/tv/movie themed work I might just be your gal!)

Sunday was spent doing all the little boring things around the house we didn't do Saturday, and I really still have more to get done, though I've been working on it today.  I also completed my first piece of the year today.  It's very unlike my usual pieces, but I had a hankering to work on a self portrait for the first time in years and gave it a go.  I'm pretty pleased with the results.

This piece was created with some found paper, Neocolor II Wax pastels (some of the new ones I got for Christmas!), pencil, ink, and iridescent lavender tone acylic from Golden(on the white stripes and background area as well as the glass portion the the glasses), all on a 5"x7" oval canvas from Fredrix.  It looks like I'm going to have to go back to Askew Taylor (an absolutely fantastic local art supply store!) and pick up several more canvases like this one.

Today was the kind of day where I was having some hints of depression tugging at me, and almost just did nothing except be lazy.  However, when I started thinking about doing the self portrait, I knew it was just the right thing to do to help.  So this piece was done from start to finish in one day.  I have 10 other pieces started, but sometimes I work better if I interrupt my routine with something like this to give my emotional energy levels a jump start.  I've now got much more energy to work on a couple of the other pieces, though they'll have to wait a bit til I'm done here and with a few other projects online.

This piece is going to go up in my Etsy shop ASAP, and hopefully I'll have some more newly completed pieces for tomorrow as well.  Remember, my Kickstarter is up and going HERE and if I'm unable reach at least my minimum goal I may be retiring from art for quite some time, which I really don't want to have happen.  The thought scares me and is half the reason I deal with depression these days to be honest.

So, lots of brutal honesty here today.  Hopefully not too much for you all.  I look forward to seeing what tomorrow brings and am glad I get to share it with you for at least a little while longer.

Love, Lydia

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day 10

Hi everyone,

Today I've been starting to write my press releases for newspapers.  That's a whole new adventure!  I'm not as excited by it as making art, but I'll get it all fixed up and hopefully get a bit of publicity if all goes well.  I'm hoping to send our releases to The Roanoke Times, Raleigh's News & Observer, and the Columbus Dispatch.  If anyone has suggestions to other outlets online or in print I'm all ears.

At the moment I'm looking forward to the weekend.  I've had a busy week between a lot of family events and getting the Kickstarter ready and going.  Saturday I'm going to focus on writing the press releases and working in my studio.  I think Sunday Bryan and I might go on an afternoon hike, maybe one of the lakes nearby or perhaps Umstead State Park.  In any case it'll be really nice to wind down a bit.  Sunday will definitely be our day of rest.

Until Monday,
Love, Lydia

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day 9 - THE BIG DAY!

Hey guys!

Today is the big day.  I know I always post later at night rather than early in the day, but today it's for good reason.  The Kickstarter has launched!  So if you want a piece of art or a variety of other cool rewards now is the time!  Please check it out and spread the word.  It means a ton to me, and will mean the difference between continuing to pursue my career in art or finding a boring part time job to simply pay the bills.

Wooo hoooo!  I can't wait to get started on some of the personalized and big pieces.  I've been working on smaller ones since I have freedom to make what I want with them to a greater extent, but a tiny canvas only allows so much.  Thanks in advance you guys!  I'm so excited to share my journey with you this year!

Love, love love, Lydia

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 8

Hiya everyone,

I've spent today fighting to keep a cold away...sadly I just got rid of one a week ago!  But I've been getting pieces ready to go up on my Etsy store (actually had a couple without photos when I started looking) and writing descriptions for each one.  Though it's late tonight I've added a few pieces - Brauronia, Plain, and Vesuvius.  Anyone who's a big Sufjan Stevens fan will appreciate that last piece!

I also go an email today approving my Kickstarter!  So I will be putting that up during the day on January 9th if all goes well.

I'm poked around with a few pieces in progress today.  One I think may carry the title of This is the Dino-Apocolypse...I'm a bit excited to get it finished.

Well, that's all for now!
Love, Lydia

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Day 7


So today I completed the video, and have officially submitted my Kickstarter campaign.  I should hear back in about 48-72 hours according to their site.  Then I can perform any final tweaks to my page and open things to the public.  In the meantime, I would love to hear what you all think so here's a sneak preview to my page (Link no longer here).

Please let me know what you think about just how reasonable the rewards are, if you think things need adjusting, or if you have any great ideas that would go well.  Because the project itself is simple I could take some very creative avenues of making things work if I'd like.  For now I've kept the options fairly simple, but with a variety that I hope will gain people's interest.

And don't be surprised if you come back Friday and the link here is gone.  I will take it down then since I will have a link to the real page very soon after that if all goes well.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Love, Lydia

Day 6


So, I've been getting the hang of iMovie to make my video for Kickstarter.  For the most part it's easy enough.  I haven't bothered with any tutorials, but have been figuring it out as I go.  Of course I'm using an older version from 2009 or so because that's how old my computer is, but I don't mind.  I'm probably a little too perfectionistic about everything, but I think it will be worth it in the end.  You all will have to tell me!  Here's a behind the scenes screenshot.

I've been putting most of my energy into making the video today, but beyond that I noticed a handful of pieces that will be featured in the video aren't up in my Etsy shop yet.  So tomorrow I will be fixing that and you all will have some new pieces of art to check out, though they won't count towards my big total for the year.

I've also taken time to tweak my Kickstarter a bit, adding a couple more rewards.  I'm getting more excited by the day to share everything with you all!

Until tomorrow.
Love, Lydia

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Day 4 (& 5)


So, I wanted to say that I'm planning to skip writing here on the weekends.  A girl's gotta have a break sometimes and since my weekends tend to be the times I am more busy this is convenient.

Otherwise I've worked a bit on the 4 new pieces with the casein.  I'll be editing the video over the next few days...not much new to say.  Just lots of continuing excitement.

Love, Lydia

Friday, January 3, 2014

Day 3

Hi ya'll,

It's a short update!  Today I've been working on my video for the Kickstarter project.  I've got most of it recorded and just need to do editing now.  And I've got Amazon to approve that I'm me for the payments account required for Kickstarter.  Once I get the video done I'll be submitting the Kickstarter proposal and crossing my fingers that it gets approved.

I've been reigniting my Twitter accounts, my older one and the new @Lydiasdesigns one.  If anyone tweets and hasn't followed me, please feel free.  I'd love to connect with you all!

I'm going to go work on some patternwork on one of the newly painted casein canvases.  Then I'll be adding in other collage elements tomorrow.  I'll also be working on a pair of pieces for the Healing Ceilings program.  They connect artists with health care by creating ceiling tiles for cancer treatment centers.  Many cancer treatments involve lengthy amounts of time staring at the ceiling, and the artist who founded the program want to bring interest and hope to the time spent during treatments.  You can find out more at

Until tomorrow!
Love, Lydia

Day 2

Today I got to work with some of the fantastic art supplies I got for Christmas from my mother-in-law.  I'm so excited to try all the new things out!  Here's a overview of the things:

Mona Lisa brand gold, silver and copper leaf (perfect to give a bit of shine to collages)

All the Neocolor II pastels I needed to round out my collection (I've only been getting the most lightsafe of colors, it's a bit of an obsession I have.  But it made collecting all the shades a bit easier, not that it's too hard when they under $2 each.)  I really like the Neocolor II line of pastels because they're wax based and water soluble.  Which means they basically can be used like watercolors.  They've been one of my favorite tools to work with this past year.

I got a great little "color theory" set of Shiva Casein paints.  They work similarly to watercolor and acrylic paints, but give a bit of the look of gouache with a lovely more velvety matte finish.  They use a milk based emulsifier for the paints, which I had never heard of until I happened to read about it in a book.

Sennelier masking fluid, which I've heard great things about thanks to the Art of the Carolinas show back in November.  Masking fluid is used to cover areas of paper or canvas that you want to keep white while you paint a darker color over and around it.  When the color's dry the masking fluid can be peeled off to reveal all the areas of white you wanted to preserve.  It's perfect for making bright stars in a starry sky.

Additionally I got a couple of great books on art from my own mom as well as my mother-in-law.  But I'll save talked about them for another day.

Today I tried out the casein paints and the masking fluid (which you can find at Dick Blick Art Stores).  I actually tried them together, but am a little mixed on what I think of the results.  Here's what the products look like for reference:

So the casein dries fast and is definitely nice and matte like gouache.  I can see why it's called velvety, and I look forward to using it more.  Today I put down some backgrounds for collages.  They're pretty bright since the color theory set came only with red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and white of black to mellow them down with.  I tried mixing colors while wet and pretty much used them straight from the tube with a brushful of water here and there for blending or to re-wet the colors on my palette.  Here's a picture of the results:

I used a fan brush to apply the masking fluid, thinking the texture would give the piece an interesting feel.  The words ended up being a bit harder to make out, I think partially because I went over them more than I should have.  I'm going to test more in the future though.  The small details from the fan brush came out really nicely though, so I'm pleased with that.

If you couldn't tell my desk is rather messy and due for a cleaning, but I thought I'd share a picture of it too since I feel like spaces give some clues as to personality and so many other things.  I love seeing great artists studios to get a feeling for how they worked.
I don't tend to mind the clutter too much, but I've hit a point where I don't have the space to work!  haha 

So there are my first 4 new pieces of the year!  I can't wait to see how they end up developing.

More tomorrow.
Love, Lydia

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 1

Hello everyone!

Today's the first of January and the first day of my Art For All Year project.  The goal of the project is to create at least one new work of art each week.  I have a Kickstarter set to go once all the financial information is confirmed.  (They have to make sure I'm me!)  And if this Kickstarter reaches its higher goal I would even be able to make a piece of art for every day of the year.

I'm really excited about this because I love creating new pieces, but lately have had trouble doing so because I feel split between ensuring we have the money needed to pay bills and making the art I love.

So, a bit about me for those of you hearing about me for the first time, or just hearing more in general:

I am originally from Roanoke, Virginia
I  discovered my love of art in the photo labs at Virginia Western Community College
I was part of the class of 2010 at Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio earning a BFA in Fine Arts and a minor in Art History
I worked for LEGO during my time in Ohio
I briefly attended Hollins University as a graduate student where I learned Latin and started making collages
I worked two fabulous summers at Camp Winnebago in Maine, teaching photography
In 2012 I got married and moved to Raleigh, NC where I've been creating my art ever since.

While 2013 was a fantastic year for my personal life I seemed to have taken a step back from my art.  2014 is a year where I am aiming to change this.  Beyond simply creating art I want to make connections and break into the local art scene.  I'd love to show my art in other cities and parts of the world too, and hope to fund the entries to 6-24 shows this year.

Tune in tomorrow for an update on my first piece of the year.  Thanks for reading!

Love, Lydia