Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Artist Tribe at Gwen Lafleur Studios

I have some very exciting news! I have been selected to be a member of Gwen Lafluer's Creative Team. 

I love Gwen's art. It is full of luscious detail. When I saw the call for creative team members I discovered her shop - full of texture and color from many parts of the world. It spoke to me so I sent in my application. I am humbled and honored to be part of this team of talented women. You can see the whole announcement by clicking on the photo above.

I am very excited to have the opportunity of creating new works featuring these products, being inspired by the team and sharing this joy with you. I will be posting here on the blog, on my new Facebook page (Lynda Shoup Mixed Media Artist), Instagram and on Pinterest. I hope you will join me.

Feedback and Then What?

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

Last week I sent my artist's statement out for feedback. It was a moment of vulnerability for me. I think it is for everyone, at least the first few times they do it. There is so much that goes into our work. I don't know about you, but it certainly worried me whether my statement would reflect that.

I did receive thoughtful and interesting feedback. It was clear that the two people I shared my statement with both took great care in giving the feedback. They both showed that they had given it more than a cursory glance. I am very humbled and grateful.

Once we receive feedback it is hard to know how to process it. My plan is to sit down with my statement, both of the sets of feedback and a red pen. There will be caffeine involved (though I dare say you may think me boring that it will be tea and not coffee.) These two dear people have spent their time thinking about my writing. I will certainly give them the same respect. Why haven't I done it yet? Well, like I said, I plan to give it the level of attention it deserves. Perhaps in the process, I will understand what I am trying to do more fully.

So next Wednesday I plan to post the final post in this series, at least for a while. I will post more about writing about art as there is subject or need, but for my ramblings on this topic seem to be fulfilled. If you read more, please leave me a comment with the topic you would like to read more about. Has this series been interesting or helpful to you? Is there anything else you would like to read about? Want to just say hi? The comments section below is waiting for you. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Test - Sharing Your Writing

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

So you write that artist statement, that biographical material, the descriptions of your pieces, or whatever it may be. At some point, you have to stop writing and put it to the test. This isn't easy. 

We're a little too close to our work. Too close to the process, never mind the product. So sometimes we can't be objective. 

Or, like me, we worry. We overthink every sentence. Wonder if we can really claim what we have written. 

Am I right? 

In writing my own artist statement I fell into danger of being always in the state of becoming and never arriving. 

It is time. 

The advice I have read over and over is have other people read your statement and judge give feedback. As a school library teacher, we called this "peer review". 

There are several things that can happen. Your reviewer can affirm you. Your reviewer can ask for clarification. Your reviewer can see something they didn't before. Your reviewer can also tell you if your statement doesn't match what they experience looking at your work. It's all good. 

So this week, I have put my statement out into the world and await feedback. It's a vulnerable state to be in. It's also exciting because it means forward motion. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. The Path of Enlightenment. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
I'll let you know how it goes. 

Have you written about your art? How do you feel about that finished product? Did you ask for feedback before finalizing your statement? Let me know in the comments. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mono Print Origami Boxes

If you love mono-printing, and what's not to love, you may face a dilemma about what to do with all that luscious paper you made. You can use it in your art journals, on canvas, to make cards and so on. You know this, but perhaps, like me, you see more potential. 

Enter mono-prints as origami paper. Origami can be done will a variety of papers, not simply the ones you buy in packs. The two main things about the paper you use for origami are: 

1. It needs to be able to take a sharp crease. 
2. It needs to be able to hold up to a lot of creasing. 

While it is very popular to print on deli paper or tissue paper, these are not an ideal paper for origami. They just don't hold up to the folding. Something the weight of copy paper is actually best. 

While origami can be done with many different shapes of paper, the most common shape used is the square. To accomplish the square, I used my Fiskar's paper cutter. My paper with 5" wide, so I cut it to be a 5" square. 

I wanted to make the most of the color on the page, so I auditioned the best section I could get and shaved off each side to get the most interesting square. 

Here I have a stack of interesting squares. 

I am not going to give step by step directions for folding the box. I always use the style from Tomoko Fuse's book Origami Boxes. Full disclosure, I worked for Japan Publications Trading Company in the 1990s as a copy editor and translator. I have a fondness for this particular book because of the wonderful projects, but also because they actually paid me to fold all the boxes to see if the directions were understandable! 

If you are interested in the book, it is available through Amazon. A quick search of my state's library catalog shows that this book and many other of her books are available through interlibrary loan. Any book showing how to make origami boxes will work for you. Some of them use just two pieces - one each for top and bottom. Some require six or eight or even ten papers! 

Once I folded each of the six papers required for this style box, I sorted them into top and bottom. Find the best combination of colors. 

Connect the pieces. Here is what the pieces look like from above. 

This view shows how lovely the inside of the boxes is. 

Put the pieces together. This is a view of how the top and bottom coordinate. 

Notice how each side looks different. 

I like to rotate them to find the most pleasing combinations.

View from the bottom.

Finished box. It is lovely simply as decoration. I love to use these boxes as gift wrap. 

If you try this, I would love to see what you make. Leave a comment and a link so I can visit your creations. 

What do you do with your mono-prints? 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Connection Between the Work and the Words

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

One of the concepts that struck me when reading about writing an Artist’s Statement is the discrepancy between what the artist wants to achieve and the actual artwork itself. I have seen the opinion voiced that a statement that promises the world paired with art that doesn’t deliver is one of the most disappointing statement fails. 

So, what to do about that? 

Clearly we all want to achieve great things. Some of us may be able to articulate those lofty ideals. What about that work, though?

On a personal level, after letting my statement ferment for a few weeks, I revisited my writing. I’m not too proud to admit that I didn’t like what I saw. Time to tear it apart and revamp, rework and possibly start over from step one. 

While the writing needs tweaking, it’s not just the writing. The connection between the work and the words needs to be stronger, more compatible. Does my internal dialog translate to a visual state? 

Below is a list of questions I’m asking myself as I explore the connections.

How have you found the work of writing your artist statement? 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bloglovin' Blog Claiming Shenanigans

A little envelope I made for a friend. 

To claim your blog on Bloglovin' you have to paste a little piece of code like this one:

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

That's not much of a post, so if you don't mind. scroll on down and see something more interesting. 

Using Literary Genres in Thematic Writing about Art

This piece was done as part of a biographical study. The image is based on a detail found in a painting of Marie de Rabutin-Chantal the Marquise de Sevigne.

Another way to approach writing about your art is to address the themes you deal with. Frankly, this aspect is more difficult for me. This is where I have trouble setting limits.  

Scanning instagram I see that there are people who make art about social issues, family, humor, lampooning, and meta art making - making art about art. 

I’m going to borrow the genres of literature as a springboard for thinking about themes. Think about the genre and how it may apply to you. It may not apply to your body of work, but feel free to use it when writing descriptions for individual pieces. 


Adventure - this genre features people who, willingly or not, face extreme physical challenges that often are life or death deciding. Does your art inspire daring?

Fable - a tale which ends in a moral often involving talking animals. Does your art tell a story that is meant to impart a message? Is there a way in which you use the fable model in your artwork?

Fairy tale - Fairytales and folklore are close cousins. Fairytales are based in Europe, have royalty, a magical creature or thing, a problem and a magical solution. Many have a happy ending. Does this describe your art? Your take on life? What you want to portray to the world? 

Fantasy - The genre of fantasy covers anything from unicorns to talking bears. Imagine how this might apply to your work. Whimsical is a word that works well along with this genre. 

Folklore - This type of tale is one that is a traditional tale, passed down by word of mouth, and is commonly known among people. 

Historical fiction - deals with events of the past. It is storytelling that uses the framework of a particular historical period to inform the whole. Love vintage? Telling stories with vintage materials? Could this be your genre? 

Horror - Too scary for me, but perhaps you like being terrified and having your hair stand on end.  Does your work deal with the seedy, horrific or pathological? I hope not, but if so this might be your genre. Or you might just be creating political satire. 

Humor - Everything from joke books to hilarious memoir this genre sees the light side to events. Quirky, erudite, clever or restrained this genre brings a smile to your face. Does your artwork do that? Do you do satire? Play on words? See the funny side of things? Does the irony of a situation make you burst into giggles? This might be a genre for you. 

Mystery - this can be crime and grit or Agatha Christie, but it could also encompass the unsolved mysteries of the world or the things that seem out of our control. 

Poetry - uses rhyming, text structure, or other constructs to create an emotional response to the world. Does that sound familiar to you? 

Realistic fiction - This is the genre that could be things that have happened, but they haven’t. They were made up. I’ll bet a lot of us could use this genre to describe at least some of our work. 

Romance - need I say more?

Science fiction - this genre uses applies possible scientific theory to storytelling. This seems like a genre rife for collage artists, among others. 

Sports stories - Does your work revolve around sports? This might be for you. 

Tall Tale - These tales often start with a grain of truth, but the story takes on a life of it’s own. The fisherman who catches a 6 inch fish that turns into a 3 foot long devil of a fish with horns. Does your work stretch the boundaries of reality? This might be a hint for you. 


Biography/Autobiography/ Memoir - a recounting of the events of a person’s life experience. While most art can be said to be biographical to some extent, some falls clearly in the realm of memoir. Make use of the construct when talking about your art. 

Drama - all the world’s a stage. This genre is all about what to do on that stage. Standing front and center. Claim it.

Essay - is meant to put forth an opinion and sway the reader to adopt this point of view. Perhaps your artwork is a visual essay. 

What do you think? Can any of these genres help you frame your artwork? Can they inspire vocabulary to use when describing your work? 

If you feel that this is helpful and would like to see a post with lists of words typically associated with these genres leave a comment to let me know. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fear of Commitment in Writing about Your Art

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

As I look through artists’ statements, look at their websites and Instagram feeds, I notice that professional artists specialize. Strong writers are specific and let you know exactly what you are going to get from them. Those of us who are late to the party, those of us who are heeding our artist’s calling later in life after doing other things, those of us who want it all, well, we have a hard time being that specific.

Let’s face it, we see specificity as limiting. We don’t want to be put into boxes. We want to be free to create whatever we want to with no holds barred. Listen, we’ve put our art on hold for more practical matters, art has been the joy in our lives. We don’t want to put a damper on it or demand things from it. It might stop being fun. 

But limits can be freeing. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
Limits allow us to say no to things. Limits allow us to focus. Self-imposed limits are wonderful because we can use them as our road map, but when it’s time to change direction, we can. Maybe you still want to make many things. Maybe you want to create as the spirit moves you. That’s great, but what do all the things you create have in common? What is your common thread?

The artist’s statement can and actually should, be revisited, reviewed and rehashed from time to time. Yes, we evolve and grow as artists. No, we are not going to remain static unchanging, art machines. Change is inevitable. So allow yourself to commit, for now, to focus. Or at least find some commonality that brings a sense of cohesiveness to your work. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
What is your reaction to these ponderings? Have you found this to be true? 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Writing the Artist Statement - beginning

Writing the Artists Statement: Reealing the True Spirit of Your Work by Ariane Goodwin is the guide I have started using to write my statement. 

Several years ago I stumbled across Ariane Goodwin’s book Writing the Artist Statement. I checked it out of the library, renewed it and, truth be told, I checked it out again. Her approach to the task is fresh, illuminating and reflective. So naturally, when I started thinking about writing about my artwork my thoughts returned to her method, her insight. 

I turned to the internet to see if I could get my hands on a copy. It's time I have a copy of my own. Score! There are copies to be had. In fact, the copy I got was brand-spanking new.

You can get a peek at the book at her website, the SmARTist Career Blog.

Disclaimer - I am not affiliated with her. Just a fan.

So begin my adventures in writing an artist statement. 

Initially, I began with confidence. I am relatively intelligent. I write well. I felt confident that I could write about my work. Sound familiar? 

Then I started. I had no idea where to start. Somehow writing that my favorite color is pink didn't seem to be all that impressive. Worse yet, what are the unifying elements of my work? Well, mastering a technique with paint took time and practice. Why should I expect talking about it to take any less time?

For me, and I suspect for most artists who have followed a meandering path to their art, thinking of our body of work as a cohesive unit is a new concept. A new way of thinking.While I think this book is helpful to anyone writing an artist statement, those of us who came stumbling toward this vocation, those of us without a guide, without a mentor and without a team of established artists guiding us to the fruition of our dreams, this book is more than about getting the statement required for a show, a sale or a publication written. The method helps connect us with our work in a more meaningful way. 

If you are in a hurry and need to get that statement written and on its way by the end of the day, there are plenty of sources out there to outline the minimum requirements for the statement. If you want to shine, and why wouldn’t you, taking the time to make this connection to your work is worthwhile. It’s not just about the statement. It’s also a way to go deeper into your relationship with your artistic self. 

My big take away? So far the most astounding thing I have gotten working through the book is the complete shift I had from focusing on the themes of my pieces to the actual concept behind them. There is a more elemental level concept at play than I had originally identified.

While I highly recommend this book, I am also looking at others that may be easier for people in other locations to get their hands on. Stay tuned. 

4th post in series Writing About Your Art

Monday, July 10, 2017

Documenting Artwork and Inventory Links

Post number four in this series. 

Learning about documenting artwork and applying what I learn to my own art continues. As I move forward with this it seems to me that providing links to the articles I find most helpful and reflecting upon that will be more helpful to others than me reinventing the wheel. It is also apparent that this series is better spaced out further. (The actual documentation takes time. More time than one would think.) So from here on out the Documenting Your Artwork series will post on the first Monday of the month. The Writing About Your Art series will remain the same.

Today's great find is GYST (Get Your Sh*t Together), a wonderful resource for artists about the business of art. While there are plenty of fine articles, the two that stand out as most pertinent for documenting your artwork are:



Artwork Inventory

The Documentation article has plenty of good information about the visual documenting of artwork. This is particularly helpful to those who are planning to apply for publication, exhibitions, etc. I found the additional tips section had plenty to think about.

As a mixed media artist, I took note that labeling my work simply as mixed media is not very helpful for documenting purposes.

My big take away?

Document very soon after creating your piece. My latest piece includes a strip of plastic that came from the soba noodles I cooked for dinner one night, but it looks like washi tape. The likelihood that I will remember that in years to come is... questionable. The piece I finished the day before yesterday is still fresh enough in my memory that I can jot down the full list of materials.

Here's a picture of a fraction of the items I might use in a piece:
A fraction of the items I might use in a mixed media piece. 

What you see here is gelli print on deli paper, caught color on a piece of packing paper from a fragile purchase, stamps on tissue paper, a yellow, paper crown rescued from a cracker imported from England, a fortune cookie fortune, a prismacolor marker, a Stabilo pencil, two Sakura gel pens, a homemade stencil made from a pasta box, acrylic paint, liquid pearls, washi tape, embroidery floss, lace dyed with ink, and a Stays On stamp pad. 

Do you see how it would be hard to remember all of that later? 

As for the Artwork Inventory article, there's a lot of good information for me to chew on. Honestly, they got me in the first paragraph.  

Inventory number. As a librarian I have been used to ISBN (International Standard Book Number) numbers, Library of Congress numbers, barcodes and call numbers. So many numbers. So many ways to keep track of information, index it, retrieve it, sort it, and sometimes simply play with it. I've also been used to keeping data, tracking circulation, numbers of patrons checking in, checking out, renewing, over dues, collection age, collection value, collection circulation, etc. I am used to keeping this kind of information. 

And yet it never occurred to me to give my work an inventory number, much less assign numbers which would provide information. This is another task for me to consider and employ. Watch that google doc I posted, it just might have a few additions. 

Let me know what you think of these articles and the ideas. Were they helpful to you? Was any of the information new to you? 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Always Running

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Always Running. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

New spread exploring the time sensitive nature of modern life. 

Do you feel like you are always running? Do you have strategies to combat this? 

Artist Bios - Getting Started

I need to write an artist bio. Share a little secret with you - I’m finding it challenging. Why? I am finding it hard to categorize what I create. 

So instead of trying to tell you how to write a bio, here are a couple of sources that have good solid information. 

What We Learned from Writing 7,000 Artist Bios

How to Write a Good & Effective Artist Biography

If you have read them you may have some of the same reactions that I had. Seems like a straight forward writing project, doesn’t it? Then you start to actually write the bio and, well, it takes a bit more thinking to accomplish. 

The sticking point? Describing the art. What are the themes I deal with? What big topics does my art address? Not only that, but I was ready to fall into the pit of saying my work “deals with the human condition.” Oh no!

So what to do? 

I’ll share with you my process. 

Hope this is helpful and you are on your way to writing that pesky artist bio. 

Still have questions? Want to share your ideas? I'm listening. Thanks for joining me. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Styles of Documentation

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Half a Mind. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

Documenting your work can be tricky. There are many different formats for citing works of art. When citing a painting in a paper, the citation looks different depending on the format of the paper. 

This is something familiar to me as I spent a fair amount of time teaching students how citations work as a school librarian. Here is an example of three different ways to make citations for the above work in an academic paper. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Half a Mind. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist. 

Shoup, L. D. (2017). Half a Mind [mixed media]. Town, State: Private collection of the artist. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Half a Mind. 2017. Mixed media. Private collection of the artist, Town, State

As you can see there is a great deal of variation between the formats.

Moral of the story: Check to see what format is appropriate for the situation before finalizing any citations.

This post is the third in the series entitled Documenting Your Artwork

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Describing your medium

Now that you have given yourself a general area of focus to your art, think about the materials you use to make that art. What qualities do those materials have? What qualities are the hallmark of those mediums? Not sure what I’m talking about? That’s ok. We’ll break it down so you can see what I mean. 

Let’s choose a material. 


Now I don’t do sculpture. I really don’t know anything about working in stone. I chose this as it is out of my comfort zone and will likely be more instructive to you in your own process than if I chose a more common material. 

Ok. So stone. How do we look at the material? Is it in its raw form? Polished? Do you start with a polished/finished stone and set it, as in the creation of jewelry? Do you start with a slab of rock that looks unremarkable and carve it, polish it, give it life and sheen? Do you remark on the grain in the stone? Is it a large stone? A small stone? Does it shine? Is it matte? Is it a shape? Is it polished, but an untamed shape? Is it a hard stone or a soft stone to carve? Do you use a chisel or a mallet? How has it been polished? By hand? By machine? Where does this stone originate from? Is it from a particular area that is known for this type of stone? Does the stone type have some special meaning? If so is that meaning reflected in the piece of art? 

Do you see where I am going with this? 

Maybe this seems tedious to you. Maybe you want to just get it over with. I sympathize with you.   And yet I can’t tell you that there is a shortcut to writing about your art that will be effective, because, really, writing is an art in itself. While boring text about shaving cream or toaster waffles is marginally excusable, boring text about art? Well, that just doesn’t cut it. You know it. I know it. Your art critics and fans know it. 

So onward! 

Polish your ability to discuss art and you will write about your own art with more skill. 

What materials did you choose? What words did you use to describe them? How hard was this for you to do? Let me know in the comments. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Beginning the Documenting Process

How many of you start a piece with a concept, a title and a clear vision of what you want to express? That’s what I thought. Not a grand percentage. 

To document your work you will need to name each piece. It may seem difficult to work back and name each one, but if you are planning to track and catalog it must be done. 

Below are the categories I am starting with in my own effort to document my work. Are there other details to add? Yes. Yes, there are. Will I add them to my document later? Maybe. I have created a very simple Google document that you can copy and use for your own documenting. 

byline (including collaborators, if any)
artist’s statement

I have created a very simple Google document that you can copy and use for your own documenting. 

The process seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Working through it takes time and perhaps more than one cup of tea. Personally, I am finding it empowering as I see my work together in one place, documented and looking official. 

I’m not berating myself for having not done this sooner and I hope that you will feel just as relaxed. Who knew when I started that this would be something I would feel was necessary? I certainly didn’t know where this art would take me. So the documenting begins in this season. It began when the time was right. I hope you enjoy seeing your work anew as you document it and that you will check in next week as we continue to explore. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Writing About Your Art - Beginning

Disclaimer - When thinking about writing this series I knew that people would be coming at various levels of need. I choose to start at the beginning and work our way more deeply. If you are further along this road I hope you will check in as we progress. 

I think one of the hardest things for some of us is having the courage to write the word artist next to our names. If you lack self-confidence (most of us do) proclaiming yourself an artist when you are in process, unnoticed, and un-exhibited may seem presumptuous at best. Pompous is one of the nicer words I have thought about declaring myself to be an artist. 

So if the above describes you, I give you permission. Get a piece of paper and something to write with or an electronic device of your choice. Write your name. Now, go ahead. You can do it. Write the word artist. How did that feel? 

What kind of art do you do? Whether you specialize in watercolors or sculpture, you probably focus on several mediums. Sometimes you can use a category to encompass several types of art. 

For example: 
pottery and woodworking can be categorized as 3D art
knitting and weaving can be categorized as textile art

Personally, I focus on art journaling, collage, and other paper arts. I could choose mixed media artist, paper arts or fiber arts to describe my pieces. They all work. Each of them acts as umbrella terms to encompass a variety of works. Each of them gives me some shared vocabulary, some basis for conversation. 

I’ve created a (non-exhaustive) infographic to help you in identifying which disciplines you can count as part of your repertoire. Do you see any commonalities? Do you see diversity? What conclusions do you come to when you write down all the skills that are in your arsenal? 

As always, let me know in the comments if this is useful or if there is something you would rather discuss about writing about your art. Happy beginnings to you. Hope to have you swing by next week. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Documenting Your Artwork Posts

Do you have careful records of each piece of art you have ever created documenting all its aspects from creation to present? I don’t either. Don’t worry. I’m not going to judge. 

What has occurred to me lately is that I have not the slightest record about even my largest pieces. As a librarian entrusted with organizing information I realize what a problem this could cause me down the road. 

Maybe, like me, you create art and move on. Maybe you have not shown your work yet, maybe you are not even aware that you need to provide certain information about your work if you want to submit for publication, have a show or create a catalog of your work. Perhaps you half-heartedly say “I’m just a hobbyist. I am not a ‘real’ artist.’” Perhaps you are secretly hoping someone will protest and tell you that you are a real artist. Perhaps you dream of showing. Guess what? You will need to document your work. So you might as well start now. 

Full disclosure - I am no expert. I do not have a wonderful document full of the information I need to detail my art. I am starting now. That is great for both of us. As I start on my journey to find the way to do this that works best for me, I will be sharing that information with you. You can take the information you want and leave anything that doesn’t speak to you. 

I do, however, have a background in library cataloging, the importance of these records and a healthy interest in learning more. 

On Mondays, I plan to post about the process of documenting your artwork. Let me know if you are interested and if you have any particular areas of interest. If I don’t know the answer I will look for it. 

Meanwhile, make a list of your art. See how many pieces you can remember. Next week we will begin the process of document them.