Thursday, January 22, 2009

One World-One Heart Participant!


I've decided to join in the fun this year and do the One World-One Heart 2009 Challenge. Lisa Swifka began this give-away challenge three years ago in an effort to join artistically inclined bloggers from all around the globe together in the spirit of friendship.

I've received so many positive comments here in blogland and elsewhere about my "Where Does My Strength Come From?" Pendant Brooches that I've decided to offer one from my current batch as my OWOH Give-away. All you have to do to enter this drawing is leave me a comment on this post. The giveaway runs through February 12th so there is plenty of time to enter and send all your friends!

The current batch is finally complete and this is the brooch that will be given away.

The brooch features an encapsulated section of a spine from an antique book and is titled "Where Does My Strength Come From?" signifying hidden strength.

Read the original post for more of the details about the creation and meaning. And remember - the photos will be updated and so will this post to reflect the actual pendant to be given away when it is ready (sometime around January 27th) so be sure to check back if you want to see it!

Now, be sure to click on the OWOH logo above and check out all the other blogs that are participating - the list is over 400 strong and growing!

Monday, January 19, 2009

She Said It In A Letter

You may remember my earlier post about this series of sixteen collages created from a stash of 1920s love letters found hidden away in an attic alcove. Each of the letters allow the reader to follow the love story of sweethearts Mary and Gerald, as Gerald moves about the state in search of work and leaves Mary yearning for him back at home.

As the series begins you feel the excitement, the passion and even the lust, as Mary writes excitedly of the next time she will see Gerald, but the passion and naivety give way to a longing and yearning for his return, begging him to let her come and be with him.

Originally I titled the series "He Stopped Loving Me Today" because I believed that the lovers had parted ways as Jerry lost interest in Mary traveling about the country in search of work, but I recently discovered a letter in which Mary writes to Jerry and tells him that she feels she can never be the kind of girl he wants her to be. She tells him she can't be good enough no matter how much she tries and she insists that her love isn't the right kind of love for him no matter how much she wants it to be. It seems that it was Jerry who wanted the relationship to be more, but Mary tells him that she feels he deserves better then what she has to offer and encourages him to carry happy memories of her but to let her go.

"I've cussed and prayed and did everything and I can't seem to see the right way yet. Oh hell honey what's gonna become of me. I couldn't let you go on thinking all those nice things and planning on something I know can't ever be. Cause sometimes my lover - I want a home most terribly bad and other times I don't. Honey mine, what was I put here for anyway? I guess to cause everyone a lot of hell and pain and worrying. For that's all I've ever done so far and I can't make up my mind to do different yet. You're better off to forget me honey. I'm just no good at all....I don't know how I'm writing this Dearest for I feel so queer inside of me. You must of thot some thing was going to happen Dear at some time cause you've saved so many things of mine and so many memories. Honey make all your thots of me happy ones, cause I've loved you truly the only way I know how to love. But it can't be like you want it."

In many of the earlier letters Mary is obviously very much in love with Gerald. Many times she writes longingly for his return and at others she writes suggestively of things they have done together or will do when they see each other again, often playfully referring to herself as bad and asking what he must think of her.

As I read Mary's farewell to Jerry and think back over some of these earlier letters it makes me think of my relationship with God. I know this may be a stretch to understand, but before I was able to return to my relationship with Him as an adult, having left it when I was a teenager, I struggled with feelings that I was too dirty, had done too many things to possibly be forgiven and could never be good enough for Him to love me. I got a chip on my shoulder about it and convinced myself that I didn't want it anyway. Just as Mary tells Jerry that "sometimes my lover - I want a home most terribly bad and other times I don't" I flipped back and forth between desiring to accept the love and forgiveness that others kept telling me he had for me and convincing myself that I didn't want it anyway. A broken sort of self defense that kept me from feeling too much.

But unlike the lover we see here in this series, God did not give up on me when I said no to him. He listened to my questions, my rants, my anger and my silence as I turned my back on him. Like a gentle persistent lover he sent word to me over and over that he loved me and that nothing I did or could ever do would make him stop or be too horrible for His forgiveness.

I'm so grateful for this love he has for me. When I was finally ready to come before him and asked him to forgive me and take me back, I knew he already had.

I've been enjoying this series of collages in my own living room, but I am ready to let them go. I will be listing each one in my Etsy Studio over the next week so be sure to keep checking. They look great all together, in groups of two or more, or have an equally strong impact all alone.

And don't forget today is the last day to get in on a drawing for my "Where Does My Strength Come From" Pendant. Read this post for details.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Letting Go

Letting Go by Crystal Neubauer
Another canvas that began on New Years Day with a resolution in mind. This one is a nice size to hang at 12" x 9" x 1.25", no need for framing with the gallery wrapped and finished sides.

Once again my thoughts were expressed as two sides of the canvas. Here the right side signifies the past and the place that I am emerging from. A place where I carried unwarranted guilt and shame. Feelings that I wore like a second skin without hardly noticing but affecting everything I said, thought and did. I've expressed these feelings through layers of copper, rich teal blue, and deep cocoa bean brown along with textures created from old text, fibers and other found items.

The blue line down the middle signifies recognition, moving into a future that allows my mind to be at peace and find hope for a future free of these feelings of guilt and shame. The left side of the canvas represents this more peaceful serene place I am moving toward. It is hard to see in the pictures but this side of the canvas is not paint, it is a nearly perfect match to the brown on the right, but it is the canvas salvaged from an old Victrola record album cover. It is a covering, if you will, for the pain in my past. The copper wire has stitched these two sides of my life together in a healing that has not completely covered over or forgotten but has allowed me to let go of the bad and keep the good.

The entire canvas has been covered in natural beeswax and polished with a protective coat of finishing wax.

To purchase, visit my Etsy Studio.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This Year I Resolve To

This year I've been making my New Year's Resolutions in art instead of writing them out. I've done a few large canvases about my overall feelings of resolve to find peace and I've gone back to my first love, Artist Trading Cards, or ACEO's, to express individual thoughts in a series titled "Resolutions".
The last photo is a 4" x 4" - all are created on Artist's Illustration Board and can easily be mounted and framed.

I've just begun to list these at OPF Studio on Etsy, keep checking in for more!

Resolve to Trust My Voice
This year I resolve to trust my own voice. It may not sound like yours does, but I can trust it. It is mine. I resolve to listen to the music I have within. The canvas is my song and my heart is waiting to play its symphony.

Resolve to recognize my magical thinking
This year I resolve to recognize my magical thinking when I am wishing a problem away instead of dealing with it responsibly the way God created me to.

Resolve to Find Serenity
This year I resolve to find serenity in knowing what I can and can't control, what I am and am not responsible for, and when to take action and when to let go.

Resolve to trust my Creator God
This year I resolve to trust my creator God. I will look to Him instead of my circumstances. I will carve out time each day to spend in His presence and carry His peace and assurance with me throughout the day.

Resolve to grow
This year I resolve to let myself grow into the woman God designed me to be. I will allow myself to explore my purpose and passions and not feel guilty for being me.

Resolve to See Beauty
This year I resolve to see the beauty that is all around me, to count my blessings, to look for the silver lining.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where Does My Strength Come From?

This series of pendant/brooches began as a found object challenge in my Metalsmithing class last semester. If you know anything about me or my work, you know that for me the challenge was not coming up with a found object to use, it was narrowing it down to which found object to use. In Ruth Rae's book "A Charming Exchange" I was dubbed the "Found Object Queen", a title I'll wear proudly.

I settled on the spine of an antique book, found hidden beneath the canvas of the books cover. I love the tactile qualities it lends to the brooch. I love that the viewer will see the textures and materials bound together 100+ years ago and be drawn in to ask, "what is it?".

I've encapsulated each section into an organic shape to signify movement and growth, as if it were a cell getting ready to divide and begin the cycle of growth. To me this signifies the cycle of growth I am in.

The use of the books spine is especially relevant. It is symbolic of an inner strength. Without the spine, a book would have no structure. It would have no ability to stand on a shelf or be held open to read easily. It really wouldn't be a book. It might be a scroll or a stack of papers, but not a book. Yet as important as this spine is, it is hidden beneath the exterior cover. What gives the book it's strength is really not seen. And what gives me the strength to stand really isn't seen either. It is the strength that I draw from my relationship with God. He is my structure, my support, He gives me the ability to be me.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;" 2 corinthians 4:7-8

My focus this year will be telling my story through my art and helping others to learn to tell their own story through art as well. You'll see a lot of books and elements from books being used in my work as I focus on this storytelling journey. A kind of signature for this season, if you will. A way of letting the viewer know "this is my story". I'm excited to share it with you.

I've started this series with a set of three brooches:

One to keep....

One to sell....

And one to give away!

From today through Monday the 19th of January you can enter for your chance to win each time you make a purchase from either my Etsy Store or Studio. But you have to enter the words "Where Does My Strength Come From?" in the notes to seller section to be eligible.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I used to make New Years resolutions, long ago, and then I stopped. But I read somewhere recently that making New Years resolutions was a way of committing to living your life. To caring about yourself, so to speak. So I woke up on New Years Day with a desire to do just that. Instead of writing down my resolutions I grabbed a couple of canvases and expressed them visually.

I've been quite the caretaker in my life. Always putting the other guy first. Taking care of those who were in my life to be taken care of. Originally it was born from necessity, this caretaking trait of mine. Becoming a mom at 16 years old was a lot of responsibility. I wanted to be a good mom. I naively swore that my children wouldn't suffer for having a mom so young. It was tough. But I thought I was tough too. I would find myself in a tough situation and say "well if I don't pull us through this who will?"

I really didn't have the skills to know the difference between what I was responsible for and what I wasn't. I easily slid into the mentality of having to earn respect and prove myself to others by not only covering what I was responsible for, but what I wasn't responsible for as well. I tried to earn my way to happiness and love. When you live this way for too long, you find that life really isn't working the way it should.

The left side of the canvas represents this life that I had pieced together, with pockets of beauty here and there, but held together very precariously. My past life as a teen mom, a wife, a divoreced woman, remarriage, step-parent, a child of an alcoholic, a scared little girl full of turmoil inside and confident looking caretaker on the outside

There is an expression I have learned since becoming a Christian. One of those "christianese" kind of things that goes something like "God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to leave you that way."

Today I am thanking him that this is true. He has allowed me to come to the very end of myself. I can't take care of it all by myself. I can't be everything for everybody. I can only be what he designed me to be.

The right side of the canvas represents my life now. I don't know exactly what I am doing. I don't know exactly where I am going. On the outside it might look like turmoil but inside there is a growing peace as I keep my eyes on the Lord and continue to learn who I am and who I was made to be. It is a new year. I resolve to follow His lead, to learn, to grow and embrace the change that He has planted in me.

Both sides of the canvas work together. Together it is a picture of life. Growth. Change. Peace.

"A New Year" Collage Painting by Crystal Neubauer
Visit my studio at Etsy to purchase.