Friday, February 6, 2015

Inside the Studio with Erin Prais-Hintz

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations to Colleen Foley!
You have won a pair of ceramic heart charms from Mary Harding.
Please send Mary an email with your information.

Now grab your favorite beverage and settle in because today we are visiting the studio of Erin Prais-Hintz... and there has been a lot going on! ;-)



1 :  usu. cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season

2the tilling of land without sowing it for a season

January is fallow season for me. 

Fallow season is a traditional farming technique where crops are rotated on a regular basis. A field is left empty or sown with legumes (that add nitrogen from their growing). At the end of the year, the weeds are plowed under so that their nutrients can restore the richness of the soil. If a fallow period is not followed, the land is undernourished and overworked and it eventually gets exhausted, no longer able to produce healthy growth. 

Rest periods are essential to all living things if you want future growth. If you think about it, we also go through life-cycles of planting, growth, tending, harvest, sharing and storage in our lives as well as our gardens.

What feels like a void or a nothingness after the busy-ness of the holidays at the end of the year is actually a time of replenishment to resurrect the fertility of our souls and spirits. I have found that this is the time that I might quietly plan (even planning without a plan) to shape or frame my whole year. It is when I pick a word to focus on (mine is GRATITUDE... what is yours?). A time to refresh and reboot the system. January is that blank piece of paper in an ongoing art journal that is my life and allows me to develop new styles, think new thoughts, experience new feelings and find new inspiration.

In September 2014, I left a random comment on the blog of an artist that I admire named Alisa Burke. She is a dynamite illustrator and artist and is one of the guest artists in the yearlong mixed media/art journal/soul searching class called LifeBook 2015. As such she was giving away a spot in the class for the price of a comment. My name was selected (woohoo!). What an incredible gift to start out the new year! (By the way... there is an amazing and encouraging online FB community with this class... think support from 3300+ souls around the world doing this together... not too late to sign up... join us! I know that I will be a LifeBook-er for life!)

I have always has a hard time swallowing the words "I am an artist" preferring to state that I just see the world through artistic lenses. But this class has opened my eyes to so many possibilities (not to mention art supplies that I apparently can't live without!) and opened my heart to receive the gift of recognition: I am an artist. I am embracing that. And I have learned that if I don't do art every day - polymer clay, jewelry, painting, artful wordsmithing (another class I am working on!), writing, teaching - then my life just doesn't have meaning. So this year I have made a conscious effort to incorporate art into my life regularly and with wild abandon. To create art just for me. To discover my artistic voice. To see where this new artful experience takes me. Right now I am working on several pieces for a local art gallery exhibit as well as a fundraiser exhibit... and they are not even jewelry! 

Here are a few of the pieces that I have created so far in the LifeBook 2015 class.

My Beacon of Light
Mixed media: vintage maps, gesso, acrylic, ink, Neocolor crayons, glitter, beads
She is holding a sign stamped with my word of the year, a nest with two eggs (symbolizing my two children and my most requested Simple Truth 'hope within') and an acorn for amazing potential, and is wearing a necklace with a key, of course!
Would you believe that this was the first time I have ever drawn a face?! Tam LaPorte is an amazing teacher!
Affirmation Feather
A bonus lesson this past week from Tam LaPorte making this mixed media feather with words and symbols that are important to us. I added a little PicMonkeying to this with a border and a quote, something I am asking myself a lot lately,"I always wonder why birds choose to stay in one place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." ~ Harun Yahya

Affirmation Dreamcatcher
Creative - Inspiring - Meaning
Words that will follow me on a blog reboot this year.

Courage, Dear Heart
Mixed media ballerina. Not excited about her form (looks like she has a hairy man chest), but a good lesson in letting go and this lead me to.......

The tight-rope ballerina that I plan to gift to my Tiny Dancer daughter for her 14th birthday this month.
Need to fix the word mess I made but a good quote to remember...
"If you risk nothing, then you risk everything." ~ Geena Davis

Art Feeds Your Soul
I love words, collect quotes, adore typography and have a deep love of color. How could I not love The Art of the Whimsical Lettering with Joanne Sharpe? Plus I discovered the power of the Tombow marker. What is not to love about high pigment markers that morph into watercolors?! My first attempt at making art from words rekindled a fire that I had as a teen with quotes and calligraphy. And now I am making these all the time! Squee!

Artfully Worded art is something I am thinking about offering on my website in 5x7 and 8x10 sizes. Original art created from your quotes and mantras - What do you think about that? They give me great satisfaction and I would like to share my love of this word art with others!
So you might be wondering what all this art experimenting have to do with art beads?

Honestly, I was wondering that myself. ;-)

Of course, you know that I love to incorporate words into my art beads. And color. But the mixed media part is what I am most excited about morphing into what I do. And letting these seeds that have fallen into my soul soil take root has been quite exciting. I don't know where it will all lead, but I am giving it time and conditions to grow.

So, this fallow season I also pulled out three polymer clay tutorials: 
Orly Fuchs Galchen hollow beads
Maggie Maggio torn watercolor paper polymer clay 
Debbie Crothers Surface Embellished Bangles

First, I played with making hollow beads, a la Orly. My first attempt was a fail (not the tutorial, which is great, just my sorry attempt). Just like the first stabs at making these mixed media experiments, I find that if I try to make a piece too much like the example that it doesn't quite work. It feels, well, hollow (ha!). It lacks authenticity. I need to let the seeds of inspiration take hold and nurture my own growth on a technique, water it with my own magic potion. So I made the beads smaller than what she suggested. But what else? I wanted them to have layers of color, so I had to find a different way.

Next, I found the tutorial about the torn watercolor paper look in clay. Aha! I have been tearing paper as the underlayment for my mixed media for the past month so this really resonated with me. (You know what is the coolest paper for mixed media? The inside of security envelopes! Totally awesome textures and colors! Also old dress patterns for sheer vintage-y goodness. See if you can spot them in my work above.) My first attempts at this technique resulted in flat swaths of fractured color (and these are not on the hollow beads, so when I tried to make holes I ruined a whole bowl of them with cracks near one hole. Doh!). While I liked the look, they didn't really captivate me. They lacked depth.

Finally, I opened up the Surface Embellished Bangles tutorial that I had purchased late last year from CraftArtEdu. I don't often make bangles, so this was more an exercise in the creative process (and the bangle I made feels quite clunky to me... maybe if there were a tin foil core to keep the weight down? Hmmmm....might have to try again.) But the way in which the textures, colors, patterns and inclusions were created was revelatory to me and totally felt like a mixed media piece of art. Now THIS is something that resonated with me!

So taking all three of those tutorials, I let these three seeds take root in me and grow into something that felt more authentically me... and in letting them grow I came up with two new designs that I will have for sale in my shop... 

First hollow round focal beads that I call Fissure Beads that are on their way to the Simple Truth Sampler Club members for January (albeit a tad bit late with all my experimenting...Hope it will be worth it!) 

...and why not some hearts just in time for Valentine's Day? Everyone's heart has broken pieces and jagged edges. But one day there will be someone who will come along and hug you so tight that all of your broken pieces will stick back together and be stronger. I call these Mended Hearts. They can be made in any variety of colors. And each one is completely unique. I have just as much fun making the fractured pieces as I do the finished product!

So. There you have it. I am sowing all sorts of colorful seeds in my studio ready to grow into big beautiful art and I hope you are doing the same!

So, here is my question....
I need some ideas to practice on for my Artfully Worded offerings... coming soon...

What quote, phrase, power mantra or word would you like to see me illustrate into an Artfully Worded piece of art? 

Winner will receive a choice of the following:
One skinny Mended Heart pendant in your choice of colors and metal

One Artfully Worded quote of your choice.
You provide the quote, I will illustrate and send to you, suitable for framing.
Love As Long As You Live 
Painting I gifted to my mom on the occasion of their 47th wedding anniversary this week. She might not be able to comprehend the words, but they have significant meaning as we struggle with the Alzheimer's that controls her and I know the colors make me happy.


Rebecca said...

A really great post Erin, I love hearing about you art/life stories when you share them with us.

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baymoondesign said...

"Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most."
- Gautama Buddha

Erin-Your mixed media is wonderful. You are really growing your talent! I enjoyed reading and seeing part of your journey.

Alice said...

I really enjoyed this post. Your creations are so colorful.
my quote would be 'Live Brightly'

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

Wow, what amazing illustrations! I new you were uber talented but didnt realize you have so many artistic strengths! The life book class sounds wonderful, congrats on winning a spot in it.

I love the torn watercolor paper beads and heart pendants that you created. They are very unique and have a wonderful artistic flair. Thank you for sharing the link to the tutorial.

I know this word is very overused, but my favorite word is Inspire. It speaks to me on so many levels. I purchased wooden letters to spell it, painted them and have the word on dispaly in my booth and in my studio during off season!

Amy said...

I love the bright colors and your lettering! Beautiful!

EB Bead and Metal Works, LLC said...

Erin I love this post on your creation process for the beads. If one doesn't succeed try it a different way! Way to keep experimenting and creating!
As always the quote for myself is: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.

NEDbeads said...

I just keep staring and staring... I cannot BELIEVE (well, yes I can - here's the proof on your blog!!) how incredibly talented and creative you are. What a huge amount of innovation and beauty you're bringing forth and growing inside!! Totally speechless at your new beads and the gorgeous Mended Hearts - perfection! And so full of layers of yum.

My quote thus far this year; "Don't compare your beginning with someone else's middle.' ~ Tamara Laporte, on silencing your inner critic.

vikki said...

Wow I'm so happy I found your site my favorite quote is comparison is the thief of joy by Theodore Roosevelt

Elizabeth said...

What an amazing process. Your post is great inspiration.

I always turn to Van Morrison for inspiration. One of my favorites would be:

"He picks you up, turns you around and puts your feet back on higher ground." Van Morrison

His view on a higher power and faith is always renewing to me.


Marianne Baxter said...

Love this post Erin. Can't think of a quote right now but will be back later

Anonymous said...

I'm new to your work but I love the colors!

My quote would be:
Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

MSW said...

Your art is like sunshine on a cloudy day! A quote for your consideration: Done is better than perfect.

Karin G said...

What a great post! I enjoyed reading about your experiments, they are wonderful.

Eileen The Artful Crafter said...

To think that an artist of your stature is still reaching out to learn and try more techniques and media really resonated with me, Erin.

In my case, I've thought of my seeking as that of a dabbler, a "Jack of all trades, master of none."

Thank you for the beautiful words and works of art. I love your word art!

Unknown said...

Great post Erin. You are a true artist, your work is unique and beautiful.
My one word is "Believe", or "Believe in yourself".
Once achieved, the possibilities are endless.
"You gotta believe"

Divya N said...

Great post Erin. Gratitude is my mantra of the year too. One quote that has always affected me is this " At every end, there is a beginning" I dont think anything else that summarise the essence of life so well

pelArgoNNiA said...

Wow! I loved reading your interesting post and seeing all your beautiful art! You ARE an artist!
Loved how you explained the word fallow (I'm Swedish)! Loved to see what you've made in Life Book so far (I'm a lifebooker as well)! I also loved all your quotes, you actually gave me some ideas!
I have saved some quotes for Life Book and this might not be the best but I think it could be fun for you to work with...
"Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud"
Maya Angelou

Kristen said...

I love the quote "Be Present Every Day" and you made me a simple truths necklace with that saying a few years ago which I love! I am also doing LifeBook and I am just so inspired. I like how you used the torn paper look on your beads. Tiny works of art! I am also doing Artfully Inspired but I just got my journal so I haven't started yet but today is the day!

Bijoux Gems Joy said...

One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art - Oscar Wilde

You make works of art for anyone to wear, whereas you are a beautiful work of art yourself, continual expressing and stretching yourself. You inspire so many of us.

Thank You

Linda Katz said...

Erin, it was a pleasure reading this post and your drawings are delightful and colorful (which I like personally). I like to express myself with beads (words, not so much as I have a tendency to blurt out too much,which gets me in trouble sometimes).
I have 2 quotes for you : "Live and let live" (I don't think anyone should dictate what we can or cannot do or think,or how we choose to live, unless it's detrimental to others of course).
The second quote: "When one door closes, another one opens" (sometimes the end of one thing can be a good thing, since it might lead you to something new and exciting). My mom liked that one. :-)

Anonymous said...

Love your art. Great read, too.

My quote is, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?".

I have that quote hanging in my craft room as a daily reminder to just try and see what comes out. Nothing to lose.

Unknown said...

Your life book pages are beautiful! As are your beads and heart pendants. I like the phrase Let Your Actions Follow Your Dreams. I don't know if it's a quote from someone.

Carolyn said...

A good quote would be: Believe in yourself.

Loved your post.


Unknown said...

Erin, what a wonderful art journey you are on! The lifebook class looks awesome. I am in love with your word of the year art - I still need to make time for that! I really love the new hollow beads you created - you are ever so inspiring. xoxo Love ya! Kristen