Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year, New... Table!

A big dream of mine has just come true! Here it is, THE table.

My amazingly talented husband made this for me as a Christmas gift, with specific size requirements from me, and it turned out perfect. Soon it will have wheels on the bottom of the legs, so I can wheel it around the room. Here are a couple pics of me and my sis working on it this week. We had so much fun!

Have a wonderful New Year's celebration! See you in 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Eve, and as promised, here are more details about the Christmas cards I made this year.

It all started with two huge pieces of construction paper, one about 3x4 feet and one about 1x2 feet in size. I learned about this paper from Lynne Perrella, who I took that fateful workshop with in August 08. You can buy this in large rolls for about $8 at places like Home Depot. I guess it's meant to cover floors on construction sites. Ha! That's why we call it construction paper!

I treated each of my two pieces a little differently, but the end result was the same: cover each one completely! The big piece was covered in sheet music (Christmas songs) first, then painted over in red and dotted all over with different colors of paint. The second was covered in various small green polygons. Good thing there was some good music on, as this was a somewhat not-so-exciting job which took 2 hours!

After brushing over them both with gloss medium (that's the "varnish"), I cut each piece into several little pieces. The red was cut into 45+ rectangles and the green was cut into the same number of triangles. Glue the green onto the red, sew the rectangles onto 45 blank notecards I bought at a garage sale last summer, write in them, stamp and seal, and voila! You're looking at the final product there in your own hands!

(Remember, you can click on the image to get a closer view. There in the background, you can see some of my other works in progress too...)

I was talking to my friend Diana, who graciously shared that she's kept all the Christmas cards I've ever given her (they're the only ones that get packed in the Christmas box and unpacked every year to sit on the shelf!). We got to talking about the technique and the high number of cards it makes, and then I thought, I could teach a class about this! So I am going to look into that for late summer or fall. It wouldn't have to be for Christmas cards, but for any type of card. Those of you who received our card last year can see how anything goes with this idea!

Today, I'll be working a little on another art piece, cleaning the house, cooking part of tomorrow's dinner, baking walnut rum cookies, and preparing our guest room for our first ever guest! My sister will join us just in time for Christmas dinner tomorrow evening. Tomorrow, a few presents, a hike (or snowshoe, as we just yesterday got a foot of snow), and some good eats!

I'll be back one more time before the New Year, so please come again sometime in the next week. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to you!

With love,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No Spoiling the Surprise!

I've been doing some pretty fun art stuff lately, including making our Christmas cards, always a big creative undertaking! Well, I've finished them and started sending them out, and I'd rather you receive yours in the mail (if you're one of the lucky ones) before I show them here. Please do come back December 24th and I'll post everything about them.

Meanwhile, my friend Amb received the birthday card I sent her, so here's a (somewhat sorry) photo of that. I was trying to get to the PO before it closed so I wasn't spending a ton of time on making a good picture of it for my archives. It was a lot of fun to use this bright pink paint and beaded fringe!!!! I got the fringe on sale at Joann's a long time ago, and it served well as inspiration for this card. The base is corrugated cardboard, to make it sturdy (and able to hold the heavy fringe), and in the end I punched a hold in it for hanging, if so desired. The card without the fringe measures about 7x5".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two small paintings

Before Thanksgiving week, I had the pleasure of making these two pieces, both gifts for people, so there was a deadline motivator! I love this first one, made for a German friend who took me on a delightful hike to an old haunt when I was in Hameln this summer. The words, in order are: bees, truth, food, trees, apfelschorle (drink with apple juice and sparkling water), movement, beauty, and friendship. It measures about 10x6 inches.

This second one totally copies the idea of some of Kelly Rae Roberts' work (see what I mean here). It is a fantastic way to use up small paper scraps, and this technique has given me inspiration for my Christmas cards this year! So cool. I made this for my cousin in Cali, who turned 16 last week. The background is from an old copy of The Book of Lists, from the 1970s. It measures about 7x5 inches.

This week I've been pretty sick (laryngitis, bad cough), but I hope to feel better enough tomorrow that I can make (or at least work on) something. Happy December!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Works in Progress

At last! A glimpse of my new art space! This is walking into it from the dining room.

Turn to the left and you'll see the great northern light I have.

The full-on view. Imagine what's to come: shelves above the desk and also a big ol' standing table (on wheels) in the middle of the room. That little window on the left looks into the kitchen. That was the house's original exterior wall.

180 degree turnaround. The green room is a half bath, and the wooden door leads to the master bedroom. You can see I still have some unpacking to do.

If I go out those French doors and onto the deck, this is part of my view, to the NW.

And finally, what I made Wednesday, the beginnings of what I hope will become excellent pieces. I don't know what they'll become, but I have words going around in my head about manifesting what I want and using doubt and insecurity to grow rather than being afraid of moving forward.

Wanna come over for Art Night next week?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back to Show You More

Today I finally write from our new home with recently installed internet! Hooray! Hopefully from now on I can keep up with my twice-monthly routine of showing you what I've made and updating you on my artistic journey. The photos below are all things I made in September and October.

This card is one of my very favorite things I've made in awhile. I was inspired by a rubber stamp I own, Amb's use of turqoise and circles in her recent work, and an old Anthropologie catalog I found in my collage drawer. The card measures about 7" square. Be sure to click on it for a closer view.

The card below I made for my dear friend Jennifer, who recently lost her dog, Licorice. I painted this first-ever pet portrait from a photo she had. Licorice, aka Louie, was a good dog. Small and quiet, yet she had a very strong personality and presence. She was with Jennifer for a long time and died pretty unexpectedly, so I thought the portrait might be a good homage to her in hopes of consoling Jennifer. The background was decided when I closed my eyes and imagined "the colors of Louie." My favorite part of the final piece is the ear that hangs over the edge. The card measures about 4x6".

The wall hangings below are the result of my mom and me visiting the one quilt shop we have here in the Fort when she came for a visit in early October. I eyed the pattern and she bought it, and we devoted a Sunday to working on one for each of us. Hers is the one on the right, for the most part complete. I love this pattern and think it is so cute, but I did feel a little disappointed creating someone else's design. In truth, I wished I had designed it! Once I finish mine, I plan to hang it in the new house. (We have so much more wall space here, it's unbelievable!)

Finally, here is an apron I made for my mother-in-law for her birthday. You may recall the card I sent her too The fabric is actually home decorating fabric, verging on upholstery. I found the print very classy.

I look forward to showing you photos of my new art space next time!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Just a short update so that you don't just keep coming back, wondering when I'll post again! I am in the process of moving, so have no pictures to post today. :( However, next Wednesday I will be setting up not only our computer (currently packed away in storage) and posting with some recent photos of projects, but I will also be setting up my NEW ART ROOM!!!!!!!!!!

Features of the new art room:
- I don't have to share the space with anyone or (more importantly) anything
- It's a fantastic size, with some excellent light: 3 narrow (foot wide?) floor-to-ceiling windows and some beautiful glass french doors.
- I get to design the storage-to-be
- I'll never have to give it up to guests
- There is a half bath (with a sink) adjacent to the new art room
- The view overlooks our large back yard and the mountains to the NW.
- It shares a wall with the kitchen so I can bake/cook dinner at the same time I create.

I can't wait to share photos!
Take care (heart).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recent creations

Here are a couple of my recent creations! The first is a card I made for my mother-in-law, whose birthday is this week. I wanted to try the technique Kelly Rae Roberts uses a lot in her art, and it was a lot of fun: collaging decorative papers, painting a layer of medium over the top to protect the papers, and then painting acrylics over that and rubbing off where I wanted the under layer to show. I was inspired by Amb, too, who's been making some neat pieces that have circles in them.

Below is a piece I made last month, for my stepmom. She has a little corner in her room that has this wonderful orange chair, for which she spent hours perusing fabric samples for the exact right upholstery. The chair hides behind a screen she and my dad made of wood and fabric. And with the chair, there is a sense of peace and calmness in the corner. It is clearly a place of respite. I've wanted to contribute something to that space since it was created, and so I made this. The first image is the final piece, mounted, and the second image is the scanned piece, so you can see the detail more clearly. Remember to click on the image if you want to see close up.

I would make a few changes if I were to do this over again, but instead of pointing out what I see as amateur errors, I'll tell you what I love. I love the purple/green/tan background, the texture of the carpet, the little words, the places where "you" has been rubbed free of paint so that you can see the original collage piece that forms part of the base, and the postage stamp edges that add texture (under the chair).
Nancy loved it! She wrote this in reply: "I always loved your 'old style' of line drawings, they were the best. To combine a more mature version of that with your 'evolved style' of collage and painting turned out a great piece. Thanks so much. It evokes in me the same coziness that the physical place does. I call that little corner of my space my sanctuary."
Goals for today: an apron, another birthday card, further work on a piece-in-progress, and a letter to my grandma. Plus our new house inspection at 3:00 and a visit to the chiropractor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cards For Every Occasion

A bit of show and tell here, of six cards I made last weekend, all with birds, and all from scraps. This view omits the wonderful texture they all have, of course, and the gloss finish each of them have makes them look very professional. The biggest one (the one with the tree) measures about 5x5 inches. To get a better view, remember that you can click on the image. Which one is your fave?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blog Button

My friend Tara (of Tinkerfrog) has organized an online quilting bee, for which I volunteered to make a blog badge that people could put on their blogs which would be hyperlinked to the project's blog. I thought it would be a neat project for me to try out. I don't know anything about graphic art, and our computer has yet to have Photoshop installed on it (oh what a dream that will be when it happens!). I thought I'd create something I could make in my art room, scan in, and resize to be the right size for a blog. One night recently as I was falling to sleep, an idea for it entered my mind: gessoed base with visible brush strokes, light green, then rectangular "patches" made of paper and fabric, and stitching. A couple days later, I gave a couple hours to it, and here's how it turned out:

I love it! I wish you could see it in real life--its colors are so vibrant, and the texture is wonderful. It measures the same as the little painting in the post below, about 7x10 inches. I added the blue border once I scanned it in... the actual piece stops with the green background.

So I sent it to Tara, and she wrote back right away to say she loved it!! I was so pleased. We talked about using the image not only as a button that people could have on their blogs, but also as a header on her quilting bee blog! How cool is that? I provided instructions for her to give to her quilting participants, and we called it a night.

Well, the next day, I was clicking around her blog and to blogs of the participants, and I TOTALLY FLIPPED OUT!! Four or five of them had added MY ART(!!!!) to their blogs! Heck yes, my art is out there in the world! Isn't that just fabulous?

Be sure to visit the quilting bee blog by clicking here. And if you want to see the badge on other people's blogs, you can click on their names. Angie, Elizabeth, and Melina for sure have it.

Bonus: last Wednesday, while arting away in my room and listening to the radio, I dialed the radio sation's number when the DJ announced a chance to win, and I was the requisite fourth caller!!! I won two tickets to see To Kill a Mockingbird at the local theater on September 29th!

A great week, plus more arting today...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Developing My Own Style

Having a day off a week is affording me the time to practice a lot, which is so good, as it means I can finally begin developing my own style. I mean, I think I have a style, but a lot of it feels borrowed from other people. So I'm working on it.

Last Wednesday, I was inspired by this photograph my sister took of one of her friend's daughters, as well as one of Kelly Rae Roberts' newest paintings.

©2009 by Ashley J Hamrick (visit her blog here to see more)

Brave In All Things by Kelly Rae Roberts ©2009

What I liked about Ashley's photo of the girl is that she has such a unique expression. Is it curiosity? Contentment? I-love-being-the-model satisfaction? I'm-starting-to-get-impatient? Whatever she was thinking at the time, she sure is darn cute, and carrying an expression that is intent and interesting. Brave in All Things inspired me because of the background. Be sure to visit Kelly Rae's blog (post from 8/31/09) to find out more about the painting and meaning behind it, but be sure to notice the depth of texture and color in the background. On the sticky note I had in front of me when I was first looking at this painting, I wrote a list: stamps, cut-outs, cursive, circle blots. I also noticed the colors, the bold black line separating the top and bottom, and the woman presented in the foreground.

While I worked on this for most of the day, I listened to NPR and, in the evening, Obama's address to the joint session of congress regarding a vote for his health care plan. While I understand the expense and the many complex details still to be ironed out, I am generally for the plan. It is somewhere to begin, and I so strongly believe Americans should be looking out for one another. That a plan should be passed, so that all of us (not just the privileged) can be cared for in our various times of need.

And thus, For All of Us by HLM ©2009

Painting measures 7x10". Click on the image for a closer view.

Last night I dreamt I met Kelly Rae, and that I had a chance to ask her about her techniques and painting style. I promise, I am not obsessing over her! But she is really present in my thoughts these days. So this morning I bought her book, Taking Flight, online (probably the closest I'll get to actually meeting her and having that discussion). I can't wait for it to arrive!

Please be sure to vote in my poll to the right regarding the name Follow Studio, if you haven't already!

Back to the studio...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Just over one year ago, I started this blog, shortly after I took a class with Lynne Perella at the Artist's Nook. After the class, I resolved that it was time to truly start taking myself seriously as an artist. I gave myself a deadline to work with: 5 years to see if I can get where I want to be. Make art a priority in my life, envision and work toward what it is I want out of this journey, eventually have a studio where I can exhibit and teach, have a website, sell stuff. Over the last year, I've talked more about art and created more art than I ever have. And since returning from Europe, I have to say that I've felt a real shift in myself and attitude. I feel that I've come a long way in my first year. I've committed to this blog and felt a responsibility to work that I've never felt before. Not obligation, just responsibility. I've held myself accountable, and I've trusted that every bit is an important part of the journey. And I've learned so much, just by pushing myself to try new things, and practice, and be patient, and not be lazy!

Today was my first "art day." That is, September marks my first month working at my day job 80%, so that I can have a day a week devoted to creating. Just getting to the point of having such a day seems like such a triumph in this last year! Being in an work environment where I could even ask for such a thing, let alone being in a financial position to cut my wages in exchange for time makes me so grateful. This week, I came up with a great way to frame the whole thing: in exchange for getting paid less, I'm receiving approximately 52 days more off a year!

And today, I relished every single minute. I woke up early but without the alarm, and after a bowl of cereal, plopped myself down in my room, switched on public radio (great music during the day!), and got to work. I painted and cut and glued and colored with my Prismacolors. I can't post what I worked on for most of the day quite yet, because of technical hiccups with our scanner and new computer set-up, but I hope to soon. And after I completed that piece, I decided I had a couple more hours in me and figured I'd finish a project I started in concept over three years ago. Here it is!

This is a wall hanging that measures about 3x2 feet. I was inspired by a couple of quilt shows I attended, and motivated to make something for some friends who'd recently been married. I found the purple-blends-to-orange fabric at the fabric store one day and was so inspired I got right to work on the quilt design. I knew it had to be properly quilted to have the effect I was after, so instead of laboring through that myself and probably not getting it right (it's never been my favorite part of the process), I bartered with a friend's mom who owns a quilting machine. I exchanged 10 handmade cards for her excellent quilting. She and I worked collaboratively on the quilting design and thread colors, and she also suggested that I use the orangey-pinky-purple batik as a background. I hadn't thought at all about that. Her quilting made the piece, and by the time I got it back, I knew I would have to keep this one. I had to think of something else for my married friends! This piece has been hanging unfinished on my wall for a year, and so today I trimmed up the edges and sewed on the binding, and now it is beautiful and finally complete.

At the risk of babbling on and losing your interest in reading this overly-long post, I wanted to let you know that I've been working on brainstorming a name for myself other than Art by HLM. I think that if I want to have customers, I need a brand of sorts, something that is a little catchier and not as abstract (which is then hopefully easier to remember). I've thought and thought and recently I came up with Follow Studio. I'm sitting on it for a little while, but so far I like it. Follow your heart, follow your bliss, follow me on this exciting journey of art! What do you think about it? I'd love your opinion, for better or for worse. Please vote in my poll to the right, and if you don't like it, leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Lastly, I just want to thank you for being such loyal friends and family to me through this. That you read this blog at all and support me in your various different ways means a lot to me. I don't think I'd have made it this far without your love and encouragement.

Here's to another fun year of art and moving forward toward the dream!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Art & Europe

I'm back from my European adventure and I am excited to blog once again! My entire trip was filled with moments of art and inspiration, so I thought I'd share some of that with you. It cultivated in a final day of actually making art with Amb in Italy, so be sure to check out the next post about that as well.

First of all, you know already that before I left, I aspired to make quilts for five of the new babies I was to see. Lucky for me, my meeting with Tara from Tinkerfrog was particularly helpful in finishing that bear of a project. She suggested omitting the batting and just sewing them front-to-front with cute flannels, and voila! they'd be done in a snap. And so, here they are, all wrapped up like bon bons and ready to pack. If you'd like to see photos of them with their recipients, just email me: artbyhlm (at) gmail (dot) com.

After delivering the second of the quilts, I had the chance to learn about napkin art. This is something I'd read about previously in Craft, Paper, Scissors, but never really realized its potential and simplicity. My friend Andrea made these two pieces for the guest room in her home, and sadly, the photos don't do them justice. But you get the idea. And they were made from canvases, a napkin each, decoupage glue, and a little paint around the edges. I was so inspired I promptly bought a bunch of napkins in the art store in Hameln, Hobby Haus (one of my old haunts).

Later in the week, I had breakfast with my dear friend Barbara, who is a quilter. She made that purple and brown piece on her living room wall a number of years ago. It is entirely hand-quilted. In the foreground, you can see a multi-media quilt she recently purchased. Now that is my kind of quilt! Small, and incorporating various items to give it texture.

On a day trip down the Weser valley with an old colleague, I stopped for a bathroom break in a cafe where the staircase was something else! First, it was wallpapered in this black and white striped paper, and then there were these fine silverware prints and a wall full of pepper mills.

Next stop, Lucerne, Switzerland, where one of its most famous attractions, the Lion Memorial, is an incredible work of art. It commemorates the fallen Swiss soldiers of the French Revolution in the 1700s, and was designed and carved by Bertel Thorvaldsen and Lukas Ahorn in 1820-1821. I had been here before, exactly 20 years ago, and it was wonderful to see it again as an adult. I could better appreciate its meaning this time, and its artistry. To carve something like this from a slab of rock takes a special talent. I admire the way a sculptor's mind must work to conceive of such a project.

That same day, I visited the Bourbaki Panorama, a true marvel! You view the 360-degree painting from the center of a large round room. It wraps around you and you feel like you're in the scene, which depicts the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the French soldiers finding refuge in Neu Chatel, Switzerland. There is even a soundtrack to go along with it, which, mixed with the air conditioning, makes it easy to imagine being there in it. It was created in the 1880s by Edouard Castres, and it took a large team of painters to complete it. The other cool thing about it is that other artists made a faux-terrain in the year 2000 to give the painting depth and make it more realistic. I highly recommend a visit to this museum if anyone ever goes to Lucerne. It was a definite highlight of my trip. Visit their website here if you'd like to learn more about it. I'm afraid it wasn't the easiest thing to photograph, so sorry for that.

On a walk about Lucerne one evening, I came across a window in which there were many expensive items. However, the window design included these lovely sewn-paper butterflies, hanging by threads. So lovely.

The next week, I found myself in Nice, France! Amb and I walked by this church, which was nice (haha) in its own right, but I was particularly enamored by the young woman outside who was drawing/painting the church. You could tell that she was taking the time to be painstakingly detailed, and in my opinion, her half-finished piece was far more beautiful than the church itself. She was lovely, too, in the afternoon sun.

We also visited the Henri Matisse museum. Everything about it was wonderful. It was a small museum in a beautiful building, near a park full of olive trees, and the admission was free! I was only familiar with a couple of Matisse's things, and it was great to get to know his work better, and understand that art doesn't have to be complicated to be good. This piece, called Nu Bleu IV is actually not painted but collaged! The blue paper is cut-up pieces arranged in the shape of the woman. Much of his work involved simple contrasting colors and shapes. We were incredibly inspired.

Finally, while shopping in town, Amb discovered a card shop that sold 6x6" cards with the art work of Gaelle Boissonard, a French woman who seems to be "one of us." We tried looking her up online, and her work has been commissioned for a French card company called Correspondences. But she has nothing more than a blog, which you can view here. It's all in French, but her work is fantastic, and Amb and I have become instant fans. This is one of the many cards I purchased that day.

That's it for my European art experience. As I begin my four-day work week in September, which means I can devote an entire day every week--guaranteed--to making art, I am inspired and refreshed. I can't wait to show you what will come!
So glad to be back. Check in with me every couple of weeks to see what happens!


As often as Amb and I have spent time together while working on our own art, we couldn't remember a time when we'd worked collaboratively on one project. Inspired by our individual artistic development over the last year, our conversations during our week together, our trip to Nice, France, and Kelly Rae Roberts, we organized ourselves in Amb's small studio on my last day in Europe and created a piece together. What an excellent experience!

Amb has recently considered the importance of process documentation, and the idea of pictures of the artist at work, so we dutifully photographed our process. Here I am gluing the tickets/brochures/receipts from our trip to Nice to a piece of cardboard, to use as our base. We used gloss medium to glue everything down and varnish it before applying paint. The varnish helps to protect the paper underneath.

The finished base. You can see we used the map of the city, two validated tram tickets, our train tickets to and from Nice, a brochure for the Matisse museum, and the business cards for the place we stayed and the restaurants where we ate.

Using a photo we took of ourselves in a park as inspiration, we sketched out images over the base, then mixed acrylic paint till we got satisfactory hues, and started filling the sketches in. We ended up painting each other rather than ourselves, which was good practice for both of us.

Amb in her studio.

After getting the faces down, we added words that represented what the trip was for us. We liked how the image of us is a form of reflection, considering how much we reflected in our conversations, and really the experience was all about time for each other and ourselves. Using a style learned from Kelly Rae, we wiped the edges of the piece with yellow and turquoise paint, two colors I now highly associate with Nice. We are both extremely satisfied with the final outcome.

Reflection by HLM and ambrella:

And just so you can see the photo that inspired us, here ya go.

Be sure to visit Amb's blog in the next couple of days to see her posting about our trip and this art experience! 

(Edited 12/11/13: Likely due to inactivity, Ambra's blog was unfortunately taken over in November 2011 and turned into something completely different, so this post is lost to us.)