"What we see depends mainly on what we look for." ~Sir John Lubbock

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.michellehedgecock.com. Feel free to explore past posts here, then please come by for continued creative fun! If you like what you read, don't forget to "follow" my blog at its new site, to continue to receive creative fun and inspiration in your mailbox! Thank you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Creativity Walk: Partner Mandala Making

Participants writing poem notes
from exchanged word lists.
This past weekend I led creativity walk in the beautiful La Quinta cove. On this particular walk we were blessed by a little desert rain, a rare event perfect for quenching our creative thirst. We began with a word gathering walk, followed by poem notes writing. As the rain started to fall a little heavier, we worked our way back to a shelter where we finished off our partner mandalas.
Inspired by a cooperative time-filler found in Family Fun magazine, I have found partner mandalas to be a great exercise for building creative confidence no matter what your artistic ability.
Two pairs of partner mandalas.

Each artist gets one color marker and a square sheet of paper. 
Partners begin by drawing a circle in the center of their paper, then they swap sheets and add an element to the design (a ring of dots, dashes, zigzag lines, or a more detailed element). Continue swapping and adding elements until your mandala is finished.
During our "hike" I encouraged participants to include natural elements in their mandala designs, drawn directly from our surroundings. Images of tracks, clouds, rain/water, palms, trees, flowers, rocks, lightning, snakes, bones, footprints, etc. emerged. The photos (to theleft and at the bottom of post) are of the partner mandalas created during the hike.
Try these alternatives!
  • Find a area with plenty of natural materials (rocks, leaves, twigs, petals, sand, etc.) and have each partner alternate turns adding a ring using these materials only.
  • Create a color page mandala. Use brown, grey, and/or black markers to create mandala designs you can transform yet again by coloring.
  • Create a family mandala during the holidays or a vacation. Leave a jar of colored pens or pencils along with the ongoing design out where family members can add their own ring related to their experience(s). You can assign each family member a color or let them choose as they go. *Try to keep colors alternating
  • Make a journal madala. During your next vacation, retreat, or as a personal journaling exercise, add a daily ring to your madala design to represent the emotion or experience(s) from each day.
  • Try this partner technique with your children, you might be amazed at what you both come up with, I enjoyed this process with my 5 year old son! We loved the designs we created together.
Partner mandala examples, nature inspired.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Let Fear Get You

The other night I began a video project, using my scanner. I was inspired to do so through an HGTV show where a design client was a scanner artist, scanning various items and tweaking images in some way. It looked fun and I had to try it...and I suggest you give it a try too!

I started scanning my hands and fingertips, getting some cool effects. Then I moved to my face. The images revealed slightly distorted versions of me that came off with a cool, kind of creepy feel. This in turn inspired me to make the video below, using a succession of my scanned self-portraits.

It is a way to encourage fellow creatives like you to recognize your fear demons--let them motivate you, but DO NOT let your fears take you down. We should not put so much energy into our fears that they manifest into big, terrorizing, creativity-bashing monsters keeping us from our creative growth.

This is something we should remember, no matter where our "fear demons" emerge as negative blocks in our lives, creatively or otherwise. Please watch the clip below (1 min:11 sec) and let me know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chalking Off In The Canyons

Entrance to Andreas Canyon.
A few weeks ago I spent the morning in Andreas Canyon, one of three incredibly beautiful, incredibly inspiring native oases carved from deep canyons at the base of San Jacinto Peak and the Santa Rosa mountains. The Indian Canyons, as they are collectively called (and managed) by the local Cahuilla tribe, are one of my favorite places to retreat to for a nature/wildlife fix to charge my spiritual, creative, and physical energy.

I was there for a MeetUp with my Let Nature Be YourMuse group. We were there to honor our creative time, simply gathering to make art in the canyons for the morning. I decided to try something new for me—a new medium, something I had never tried before yet have been wanting to for some time: soft pastels.

After exploring around for about 40 minutes, I found my spot. I dropped the chair, the backpack, the blanket, the camera, and water I’d been lugging around and settled in. I pulled out my sketch pad, my clipboard, tape, and my brand new box of pastels, and I set up.

I sat facing a year-round stream, with those yummy layered mountain outcroppings and dense palms framing a nice little scene. It was so lovely. And all of a sudden so complicated. Where do I start? Maybe I should I start out with something simpler? Then I remembered a couple of tips I came across, 1) start with your background first, and then another important tip, 2) make sure you start with dark colors first. Okay...?

I shared smiles with a couple hiking up the rocky steps to my right and they commented on the "beautiful setting I was going to paint." My inner-artist-ego fluttered. I just LOVE it when I happen upon an artist “in the wild” deep in the creative process, reinventing the landscape before them—their work always looks wonderful to me, and I always believe they must have been painting/drawing for years. I wonder if this duo thought that of me? Eh, probably not as my paper was blank. Glaringly blank. Hmm.

I pretty much sat there staring at the palms for a good solid 15 minutes. How do I do this, actually? More hikers. Hmm. Busy trail today. I noticed a nice round bobcat track next to my chair in the mud. Hmm, a freshy. I took a picture of it scaled with a AA battery. Then it happened. I made a deliberate mark on my paper. More hikers came by and now I had to look like I was doing something with it—my cue to just keep drawing! I thought to myself, don’t think Michelle, just experiment, be free loca. And I did. I kept drawing, rubbing, drawing and rubbing. Blowing clouds of chalk off my paper now and then.

My first attempt at soft pastels. Not only did I dis-
cover a new medium I think I'm going to love, at
this point I have a personal, artsy escape to a place
I love on those days I can’t get there.

It turns out I got into to the whole experience and really loved working with those pastels! By the time I had to leave, I was proudly sporting grimey, oily chalk hands and fingertips (maybe bring a towel next time).

I can't wait to continue working on this piece. I’d like to practice some techniques for defining elements on the trail off to the right, and balance out the palms with more palms, foreground too. Oh darn, I forgot to actually use the tape. I haven’t caught that dense oasis feeling yet—arghh! This critical yammering *gasp,* wonder if I overdo it?

Needless to say I am a little intimidated to make that first mark again. Fear creeping back. But I can do this—honestly overall it was just too fun. And next time my “FEAR” flag-waving inner critic can be my towel boy ;)

Onward toward second attempt! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dia de los Muertos

Last weekend I gathered with fellow creatives to spend the afternoon making mini-altars for Day of the Dead. Those of you who know me--even just a little--know that Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is one of my favorite "holidays" full of creative art and personal expression, passion, and celebration of life and loved ones.

In between taking plenty of pictures and eating yummy pan dulce, chips, guacamole I managed to make two nichos. I was inspired by everyone's personal altars honoring loved ones who have passed, even a beautiful pet altar was on display for a sweet reminder of all the beings in our lives that bring us love and happiness.

Day of the Dead occurs every Nov. 1 and 2. Traditionally, the first day celebrates children, now our "los angelitos" or little angels. The second honors adults who have passed. This is also when families will go to the cemetary and spend the night and day mourning, playing music, eating, celebrating with loved ones at their graves. Day of the Dead is not meant to scare people, it is simply and honestly a day of remembering our dead, it is their day to be honored and we honor them by celebrating their lives and life through altars, offerings of their favorite foods and items, smiling with their memories, and engaging their happiness through fiestas and love.

Nichos, retablos, altars....can be simple or extravagant. Traditionally, these expressions were made from old boxes, cigar boxes, cans or small tin boxes--anything put together or that could be used to create a niche for placing objects that honor someone you love, who has passed. It's a great way to incorporate recycled materals into your art! 

Below are photos showing the found materials for my nichos, specifically a found car ashtray and a found metal scrap round, also I used a toy plastic scorpion which I "transformed" just by using fine black glitter. I attached a bone skull bead to a feather butterfly and added more black glitter to the body. Glitter, sequin, bright paints and color are simple and very effective Day of the Dead elements to make your nicho or altar sparkle with celebration :)

Grab a photo, jewelry, notes, a small box, paint or other artsy accents and create your own memory box (altar!) in honor of someone you miss and love. Bring it out once a year for Dia de los Muertos or keep it close to you in a special place. Express yourself in this way and you are are sure to feel the magic of those you love.

Would you like to see more of my Day of the Dead? Click my set on Flickr! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

F.A.T. Release: "El burro sabe mas..." Palm Springs, CA

As many of you already know I happily participate in an online community of artists who leave their works in public places for people to find. This particular group is known as Found Art Tuesday and was originally started by artist Rosa Murillo. I am inviting fellow creatives like YOU and friends in my art meetup group (Let Nature Be Your Muse) to start doing this locally--join the Flickr group if you wish to post your experiences and of course your work. 

Meanwhile, it had been awhile since I've left something somewhere and I decided to get back to it by leaving this little piece called "a,e,i,o,u -- el burro sabe mas que tu" hanging from a light fixture by the restrooms and back entrance/exit in my favorite local Mexican restaurant. The little rush of excitement returned as I tried to hang it up there before I was spotted!

I wonder who will be the one to check it out and (hopefully) take it home with them?!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Land Art

Whitewater Preserve

A couple of weekends ago, my art MeetUp group gathered at the Whitewater Preserve for a morning of land art creations. It was the first time since I was a child, building stick houses around exposed tree roots, that I planned on creating something using only natural material and tools strictly from the surrounding environment. In the spirit of true land artists, we used no rope, glue, paper clips, etc. to bring our vision to life. I did bring gloves for moving around river rocks, but never used them.

Before arriving my intention was to create something using the plentiful rocks by the river. But once I got to the site, I saw lots of driftwood that inspired something completely different.

Excited to have a new idea, I began gathering. And gathering. Gathering armloads upon armloads of  "just right" pieces of driftwood. I knew I would need alot, but quickly realized I would need much more than I expected!

During the 2 and 1/2 hours I tried my hand at land art, I'd gained a whole new appreciation and respect for land artists  and what they see in the wilds around them, and especially for their patience, flexibility and the physical work involved with bringing about their masterpieces.

At the end of three hours, our small group reconvened for a short break and a light discussion sharing our experience in trying this, followed by an inspiring walking tour of each participant's work throughout the Preserve. It was a fantastic way to spend the morning out in nature and in such a creative way. I can't wait to try this again!

Check out my first land art creation in the photos below. Click the link at the end of this post for more images from the day, including the five other installations!

If I had more time, I would have kept going by adding 
more rays to try and make more of a stylized
octopus-like design.

I was very proud of this ray!

After about three hours of working solo, we
gathered for our own land art "gallery" tour,
visiting each participant's works throughout
the different environments at the preserve.

For more images of the day, please visit this photo album full of fellow creative's land art creations!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Paint Chip Poetry

Oh how I love playing and creating with paint chips. Lately, I’ve been making plenty of paint chip poems. I decided to go through my “pile” of paint chips that I’ve been collecting from my frequent stops at our home improvement stores. While going through and organizing them into certain themes and topics, nearly 20 poems emerged.

So I began cutting, arranging and placing a variety of paint names on canvas, quirky and intriguing names meant to inspire homeowners to transform a tired kitchen or new home office. So far, “Desert Native” is now in the Drawn From the Desert Art Benefit show (Tamma's Magic Mercantile, Yucca Valley, CA) for a local artist--check out the show if you can, it is ongoing until the end of October 2011. Two more poems are completed and heading for Etsy, they are “Summer Camp” and “Mermaid Water Dance.”

The poems (each line a paint chip color/name):

Desert Native
Spring bloom

Nimbus cloud
gossamer wings
something in the air
Canyon echo.

"Desert Native" paint chip poetry


Summer Camp
Mountain trail
mirror lake
skipping stones

wishful thinking
first kiss
How sweet it is.

"Summer Camp" paint chip poetry

Mermaid Water Dance
bottle blue

Blue ocean
dolphin grey
glistening moonlight
mermaid water dance.

"Mermaid Water Dance" paint chip poetry


Friday, August 26, 2011

Think Pink

Image credit: unknown source

I couldn't help myself. I love this image. Not long ago, I would have passed this right up--I mean, pink?! Ugh. Sparkly? Eh. I love hearts, bokeh, flowers, those colors. Coincidentally, so does my 5 year-old son (well he's not hip to bokeh effects, but he did notice those hearts)! Perhaps my draw to this wonderful image is because I knew my little one would love it too. My sources of inspiration and style continue to change and surprise even me. I only hope it shows in my creations as an evolving, growing process.

I initially interpret pink as a soft color, warm and fuzzy, romantic, content, cheerful, youthful. As for deep, dark, rich pinks--those power pinks like fuchsia or hot pink--I find myself with a completely different set of so-so descriptions. The desire to kick it up a notch is what inspired this exercise.

TRY THIS! When you first looked at the pink flower image above, you probably had an initial reaction to it. Did you like it, love it, hate it? Maybe you were unimpressed (I mean my gosh, how many heart-shaped bokeh/hearts in nature things can we see?). Maybe it was magical to you. Or too fairy tale. Perhaps it evoked a memory.

Now, what would be the OPPOSITE of your initial response? Imagine the image, the feeling, the words, the taste, the sound--mentally explore the opposite with each of your senses.

Use the image as a prompt to explore this territory that is opposite to your initial response, and devise a way to get that into a quick creative expression. Either jot it down as an idea to pursue later, or attack it right now. An example would be to create or write something that say, uses "pink" as the unexpected component in your piece. If you see pink as "soft" bring it back in as something edgy and unexpected, contrary.

What happens?

Soft, silky peach fuzz
New life, a tiny pink tail
Hangs by a forked tongue

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dia de los Muertos Inspiration

Lately I've been on a Dia de los Muertos streak creating beads, altars, jewelry, and assemblage pieces. It's one of my favorite ways to express myself creatively while remembering those I've lost too soon.

Pet altar.
Whenever I am creating something in this style, I feel connected to this beautiful and festive celebration, and connected to my loved ones who I miss so very much. As I'm working on a Dia de los Muertos inspired piece, I can almost feel the chuckle or delight a particular family member I've lost might feel about that piece. Perhaps it was their idea I felt in the first place, inspiration whispered in my ear during the night only to wake with me the next morning and make itself known throughout the day :)

Here are a couple of finished projects that have emerged over the past two weeks:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nature's Palette: Penguin

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm beginning to merge my two creativity blogs into one (this one). You will notice a growing blend of creativity exercises, prompts, and resources--that will (hopefully) inspire you--intermixed with my own creative efforts and pieces.

A favorite feature is isolating the colors found directly in an image from nature for inspiration. Feel free to use these palettes as a jumping off point for your next painting, designing office space, as a meal inspiration, for color descriptions for writing, etc. Would love to hear/see how you used these palettes!

Photo by Laura Huff

These nature palettes are from photographs run through the Big Huge Labs color palette generator, so feel free to create your own for unique inspiration!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Creativity Evolving...changes coming!

Tree spiral by Sylvain Meyer
You will notice a small, yet wonderful change coming soon to this blog. As some of you may or may not know already, I maintain and write three blogs and a website along with keeping myself busy utilizing other sources of social media and networking like Facebook, Twitter, and my MeetUp group (Let Nature Be Your Muse)--just a few of the sites I touch base with on a daily basis in order to maintain an online presence for the work I love to do.

But trying to juggle fresh posts, articles, my art, my precious almost-5-year-old-on-summer-break, workshops and the like,I found myself muddled down in a slow-spiraling whirlpool of transition. I have been wanting to streamline my efforts for a more focused presence. I want to create more time for keeping up with and pursuing important creative goals I've set for myself. In order to do this more productively, it's time I've combined my efforts and said good-bye to certain "hats."

Taking this step has been difficult for me. It was energy and time tempered with fear and insecurity-based procrastination. I kept feeling like I wasn't handling things or failing at my work. I took a long nap in limbo and overwhelm. But after about ohhhhh, say nearly a YEAR of letting this paralyze me from taking the leap, I'm ready. Let's face it, I get annoyed with inaction and now opportunities are presenting themselves.

Turns out it's not such a huge leap so much as a little hop now.

That's where the exciting news comes in to play! I will be breathing life into the Mouse House ART blog by integrating all of those wonderful creativity exercises and insights inspired by nature that I share on my sister blog. I will eventually be phasing out that blog altogether. I find it quite appropriate to sprinkle in those resources here because these are ideas and expressions that inspire me and turn up in my own work that I share here already--and will continue to do so.

I will continue to keep things personal, definitely continue to share my art, along with creativity exercises to get each of our creative juices flowing. You'll also get a variety of prompts to add to your creative stash plus updates on my upcoming workshops along with the goodies that participants create--which is always fun! My goal is to make Mouse House ART more valuable to you as a creativity resource, with more interaction through these changes.

So...I hope you will embrace this change with me and enjoy what I share with you, and hopefully we will get to know each other a little better too :)

Now print out this long *ss post and create a black out poem!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paranormal Inspiration

I found these great velum tags in the $1 bin at JoAnn's Fabric & Craft store and liked them, so I bought them. At first I thought I'd use them as price tags, but soon did not like that idea. I thought they would make a neat addition to something else. But what it was, I wasn't sure. I liked the idea of painting an image on the backside to create a velum film, or placing it over images for a neat affect. 

Fast forward to an evening catching up with my favorite ghost hunting and paranormal shows. Inspired by the shows I decided to experiment with using the tags as a window. I didn't want to pull out all the paints, so I grabbed my Micron ink pens to see if I could get something ghostly and distorted, something creepy to emerge in the spirit of the paranormal. This is what I ended up with:

I kinda like it, I wish I could do creepier but I like how it came out. I drew directly onto one velum tag, turned it over, then placed a second velum tag over that, bending the first tag (the one with the drawing underneath) just slightly to give a little space in between the two tags to blurr out the image to the degree I wanted. I wanted her fingertips to be against the window, so I enhanced them a little on the top tag, to match up with the hand underneath. I added the wire to hold them together and in place, but also to add a chaotic trapped feeling, I like how the wire shows through a tiny bit from the other side too. 

Here's the backside:


Front, with a little backlight.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Junk Drawer Art

This past weekend I was treated to a fantastic 2-day workshop called Junk Drawer Metalsmithing, taught by artist Stephanie Lee. It was a great experience to indulge in such creative play in the pines at the beautiful Idyllwild Arts Academy campus. I learned plenty of new techniques I've never tried before and instantly became hooked on more than a couple! I only wish the class was more than two days...

One of my favorite little pieces I made beginning with a brass
plate I cut & prepped then flooded with solder, followed by a
simple stamp while still molten. Eyelets added for a more finished

The class was actually for creating jewelry, but I (along with a few other participants) had other applications in mind as well--like found art assemblage ;) The etching and solder-stamping techniques I learned will definitely show up in future art pieces of mine. I REALLY need to practice some of the other techniques she taught (like flooding solder for bevels, to hold resin pieces), but either way I will be exploring and tweaking metal, junk and resin in a whole new way for a while as I came home completely inspired to try several ideas, and to continue creating with the tricks Stephanie shared with us!

Below are a couple of pictures showing our starting materials (along with rubber stampls, etchant, patina solution, a mini-torch, soldering, hammering/filing and resin) and the little pieces I created. The junk-drawer items I ended up using were a small toy dinosaur (skeleton), a piece of ball chain, a glass pebble, an art coin, and a Sharpie:

Our starting metals and scrubbies for burnishing. The second
image shows my cut and shaped pieces along with my first
attempt at creating a piece for casting resin (I also patina'd).
The little dino-skull was made from creating a mold in Sculpey
clay & dripping solder into it, then removing.

My first piece with patina & now a resin pour,
the clay is there to protect my seam.

My haul! This is what I was able to complete during the two days. Half will end
up as jewelry pieces--particularly that etched rabbit! The rest will find homes
in assemblages. (Click photo to enlarge for better details)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Little Creative Flight

Recently I experimented with adding feathers to my pieces. I have added little found feathers every now and then, as an added detail to a piece or in a journal, but I had yet to use feathers as a focal point for a piece. That all changed one late night while I was cruising around on Etsy. I ended up buying some beautiful creamy white goose feathers I had come across that would be perfect for a mandala/found art piece (I am still working on that one). To me, they were the perfect addition that really gave this part of the piece a nice, dramatic statement. 

My first three pairs.
Since then, more feathers have been dropping into my life. I take these things as a sign. Feathers are full of symbolic meaning and I have a few interpretations of my own :) Then one day recently, a fellow creative asked if I'd be interested in making some feather jewelry. I've never done that before, I thought. Sure, I'll give it a try (with all of these feathers coming into my life, it seemed the appropriate thing to take creative flight with). My friend was looking for a dramatic look. These were for an upcoming website that will sell unique, edgy items and art. Sounded right up my alley...although I've never thought of myself as "edgy." But that's exactly what intrigued me. I like edgy. I'm not edgy. I want my art to be edgy. It just seems like my work doesn't come out "edgy." I thought, this could be my chance to dip my toes in an ocean of edgy. An opportunity to experiment with something outside the box for me. I started with three pairs of earrings, using some of the feathers she provided for me to play with--I kept her request of something dramatic in mind and ended up with the three pairs above, ranging from about 4" to 8" long.

After some encouraging feedback, my friend asked if I would be willing to go "edgier" with designs for just one super-dramatic-feather-earring. Sure! Then I thought how about making them an asymetrical set with a matching "studdish" earring that would still make it a pair? An edgy uni-set. She liked that and so I got to play around with more feathers and tap into my inner edgy-drama queen and came up with these three "uni-sets" and a couple of matching pairs (click for larger image):




This was an artistic challenge that really tapped into something inside me. I feel like I opened a door somewhere, for something new and different in my creative direction. Maybe not necessarily in jewelry, but definitely through some new expanded expression. I feel like I'm about to embark on a new twist in my creative journey, deeper wells :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Signs of Spring ATCs

I just participated in another online ATC swap (via CoachCreativeSpace), this swap's theme being Spring Celebration. The recipients have received my three ATC's (artist trading cards) so I can now share this latest batch :)

I was inspired by all the spring activity here in the desert, more specifically all the critter activity that signals spring has emerged here on the desert floor. At around the same time I came across a paint chip color named "Cottontail" which inspired the first card I made (second image) as cottontail and jackrabbit abound during this time of year with plenty of succulent plants to feed upon. Also, our desert tortoises come out of hibernation, a sure sign of spring in our household :) I wanted to celebrate these animals, they are three of my favorites. Hope you enjoy:
Brother Jackrabbit
Cottontail Maiden

Grandfather Tortoise

Monday, April 25, 2011

Squash Blossom Maiden

A couple of weekends ago I participated in my first art show as an artist. It was such a great experience for my first time out, and I was very happy to share it with two other artists from my meetup group. The event was wonderful, the site was incredibly inspiring--a treasure of a nature preserve as part of the Wildlands Conservancy. This first annual Art Celebration Benefit was a fundraiser for this fantastic organization. It offered a great chance to get public, face-to-face feedback on my art and to meet fellow creatives. As part of the fundraising efforts, each artist was requested to provide a piece for the event's auction. I donated Squash Blossom Maiden to the preserve in hopes to help them raise money toward their goal.

If you're in the Whitewater/Palm Springs area, you can go see this large piece and bid on it while donating to a great cause--the Whitewater Preserve and the Wildlands Conservancy. A place that has forever made its way into my heart. Below are the dimensions and description of the found items I used to create one of my favorite pieces, now up for auction :)

72” x 27"

Made with found materials: locker door, metal panel, wooden hanger, can lids, seatbelt buckle, light bar, wall lamp plate, metal gages, other scrap metal pieces

Other materials: green acrylic wash, glass beads, stone beads, bone beads, copper wire, baling wire, duck feathers (Etsy), wooden spool (swapped material)