RobinLK.com

all about the process: exploring life + learning + creative curiosity

One of the things I learned from our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party was that sharing tips I’ve learned about the process in the past three years is a “how-to” I can gladly contribute. Here are a few things learned along the way….

Ten tips for keeping brushes, sponges, and stamps usable… (because it gets expensive replacing them!):

  1. Do not leave brushes/sponge brushes in water for long periods of time.
  2. Do not let paint, ink, or adhesives dry on brushes, sponges, or stamps. Let them rest in a brush tub, to keep them moist. Use the scrubber in the bottom to gently loosen paint.
  3. Change water often when painting, especially with watercolors.
  4. Use paper towels, a fabric cloth, and/or baby wipes while working on a project – rinse and wipe tools when switching between tools during a project.
  5. Use the correct brush for acrylic vs. watercolor paint. Acrylics are too harsh for natural hair brushes and will damage them.
  6. Avoid pushing, jamming, or squishing brushes, sponges, or stamps into paint, ink, adhesives, or other mediums.
  7. When finished, clean brushes and sponges in warm soapy water and pat dry.
  8. Lay brushes horizontally to dry to avoid water running from bristles to ferrule (thing that looks like a collar).
  9. Store brushes upright once they are completely dry. *Never store brushes with bristles facing down.
  10. When finished with a stamp, use a product like StazOn to clean the excess ink, especially when using permanent ink. Gently pat the stamp with the cleaning product. Follow with a dry cloth or paper towel. Gently pat the stamp and let it air-dry.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for playing with colors?  Follow RobinLK Studios on Facebook for the latest information.

arti supplies and custom postcard featuring artist RobinLK's orginal art

Sunday, February 25, 2018, RobinLK Studios hosted our first-ever Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party.

Our project:   Mail Art

Our party experience:   Wow, it was a LOT of fun!

 

My party experience: Wow, it was a LOT of fun and a LOT of work before and after, but very much worth it(!).

Like any good party, details matter. This event was no different. Three weeks of intense planning and preparation led to wonderful feedback from guests. Here’s what they shared with me in text messages, Facebook comments, and before leaving that day:

  • “It was sooooooo much fun!”
  • “…a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends”
  • “…such an enjoyable time… making stuff and meeting new people”
  • “…a wonderful day of creating!… cannot wait ’til the next time!” 

I was thrilled to see guests playing with art supplies and making messes like a Kindergarten class. It was absolutely as I envisioned it:  loosely structured, creatively encouraging and inspiring, an opportunity for folks to leave their inhibitions (and To Do lists) at the door, and focus on Just.Having.Fun.

With more than 10 different types of art supplies to work with, everyone had plenty of options. When invited to ‘pick what spoke to them,’ they quickly surrounded the tables of supplies and began looking, touching, and selecting things they liked. I stood back and smiled.

Armed with their colorful selections, guests headed back to their seats.

They placed drink and food orders and began thinking about how each piece might fit together. They moved pieces of scrap paper, images, fabric, text, and organic materials (twigs, sand, seashells) around, tested color combinations, and shared ideas with friends – old and new.

Before long, any chance I had of sharing tips and samples with them was long gone! As one guest (a teacher friend) said, “Your students are so engaged, they’re ignoring you!”  🙂  She was absolutely right!

I remember the ‘teacher’ part of me feeling a little concern…. knowing after 24 years in my chosen profession, that giving no instruction can lead to all sorts of outcomes – desired or not. At this point, I had to just go with it… and make mental notes about what to do differently next time. The fun, creative atmosphere outweighed my concerns for the rest of the afternoon… mostly.

I walked around and answered questions. I watched how guests used the art supplies, how they pondered their choices, and how they interacted (or not) with those around them.

For a gal who enjoys the process more than the product, this was an amazing afternoon of watching, listening, and learning!

I made mental notes as I moved around the room – things I’ll share at the start of every party from now on:

  • use tools lightly: no jamming, squishing, or smashing
  • use supplies sparingly: paints, adhesives, and other media dry fast. Ink glumps.
  • basic purpose of tools/supplies: adhesives, paints, gesso, and ink + various tools for applying all those good things
  • use clean-up supplies while making art (not just after):  water jars, brush buckets, trash cans, ink removers, paper towels and baby wipes
  • the location of our water source + time to fill water jars and brush buckets
  • samples of the project and time for everyone to look at samples and ask questions before jumping in

I also noticed that while most guests were quite happy being left to figure things out (the nature of our art parties: why-to vs. how-to), a few might have preferred more How-To, which left them feeling a bit dissatisfied (I think).

I believe I can address that in two ways:

  1. Be even more clear in my art party description that our events are more why-to than how-to.  Hopefully, this will help everyone make an informed decision about joining us. I felt it was clear in the first party invite but I’ll review the wording.
  2. Ensure we go over the topics listed above before everyone gets started.

When we neared our final 30 minutes together, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the afternoon and hoped everyone did, too. Guests began collecting up their new projects… in most cases, several pieces. They told me how much fun they had, and a few even offered to help clean up. As any good host would do, I assured them that was not necessary, and wished them a safe journey home.

source: pxhere.com

Then came the clean-up. It was then, really then, that I realized what no directions or expectations could lead to… guests took my  invitation to “come make a mess!” literally (which was great), but I was faced with huge clean-up and many damaged or thrown-away art supplies and tools. Oh, nooo!

Two hours later, after cleaning matted brushes and sponges – several rescued from the trash, and seeing how many broken tools there were, the remaining 7+ boxes and crates of art supplies were finally packed in my car and I was heading home.

So, what will I do differently for future art parties, now that I’ve had time to self-assess?

  • Organize more thoroughly – less fluff and more function in containers and packing – save the vintage containers (no lids, really heavy/really fragile, or awkward shapes) for other art events
  • Streamline set-up so everything is ready on time
  • Use the first 20 + last 20 to get everyone set up and cleaned up, collectively
  • Talk about how-to and why-to keep our work area clean as we make a mess – just as I do in my own studio
  • Include more How-To and Why-To (tips and techniques) at key points along the creative way – a “creative pause” maybe… ??

Our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party is in the books, and I’m over-the-moon thrilled!! A HUGE thank you to everyone who joined us for the first party. Many are friends and brought friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting {and more importantly} being a part of my (now: our) creative adventure. I appreciate each of you so very much and look forward to more Sunday afternoons together.  🙂

The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge

I also want to extend a special Thank You to Mike and his team at The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge, who have opened their restaurant to us for our Sunday afternoon creative messes. Fair pricing, terrific food and beverage, and lovely accommodations all make this a wonderful B2B relationship.

Supporting local businesses is an important part of who I am as a consumer. Being able to support (and benefit from) local businesses as a fellow small business owner is also exciting! My sincerest thanks.

*If you haven’t yet stopped in to this neighborhood gem, I encourage you to. The food and atmosphere are terrific now, with the new ownership!!

Finally, thank you Bob, for asking me back in 2015 what I was going to do with this interest in art.  I know you’re watching over me and I know you’re proud. I wish you were still here so we could talk about it, but I know you’re guiding me. Please – keep leaving me signs. I’m listening with a heavy heart.

Sharing the joy of creating and inspiring others to discover their own creativity is what it’s been about for me since the beginning. Finally, I’m figuring out how to share that message and get others involved. I have finally discovered how to make magic…..

Want to know when our next art party is happening? Follow us on Facebook for the latest details.

A few months ago, a fellow IG creative reached out to me and said she’d like to share some of the many vintage postage stamps she has. I was elated! Of course, thank you. But why me? On most accounts, one would say we’re strangers.

Over the next week, as we were dealing with Hurricane Irma here in Florida, Dee and I corresponded back and forth. A short time later, when the weather was clear, I found a package waiting for me at the post office.

Opening the package and spilling out those beautiful stamps was like opening a time capsule filled with incredible art work and history.

 

Dear Robin,

“I’m so excited to contribute to your collection of personal ephemera. A few year years ago, I inherited my great-grandmother’s stamp collection ….”

Oh my goodness! I was, at once – speechless, excited, and touched beyond words. What an amazing gift to receive from someone – especially a stranger!! Following Dee on Instagram, I knew that inspiring others is an important part of who she is. Her commitment to ‘Doing Good’ was obvious in that moment. And my own Gran’s words ran through my head and my heart, “People aren’t strangers, sweetie …. just people we don’t know yet.” She lived this belief and showed it to me every time we were together (which was often). No matter where we went, Gran would strike up a conversation with someone, and before you’d know it, they seemed like old friends, catching up, sharing stories and laughing. I loved those days.

As I listened to my Gran’s voice in my head (and heart), I could also hear Dee’s great-grandmother, who must have loved stories and people, too. Her collection reflects the stories of so many who traveled, lived life, and perhaps – never met a stranger.  🙂

My gratitude runs deep. Thank you, Dee, for seeing me not as a stranger online, but instead, as a fellow creative whose journey is teaching her many things and inspiring her to inspire others – through kindness, generosity, and the understanding that we are all connected by our stories. I’ve begun to fulfill your request to pay it forward and help a child discover art and creativity…

Fast-forward nearly six months to a Tuesday morning and 7:25 AM text message:

Hey, will you be on campus today?

Yep. I’ll be there by 8:00. How can I help?

I have a birthday present for you.

Oh, goodness! I’ll stop by your classroom later today.

Awesome!

Later that day, I stop by my friend Alex’s classroom. “Come outside with me,” she says. We step outside. She hands me a striped yellow and green gift bag filled with dark green tissue paper. I think of the 1970’s.

She begins to tell me how she thought about what to get me for my birthday. I interrupt: You didn’t have to get me anything! I know, she says. But I wanted you to have this. Here, open it. Her tone has changed.

As I peek inside the bag, she explains that as she continues to work through her grief, she’s working hard to let go of some of the things that were her Dad’s. He passed away last summer, after a hard fight with cancer. I know my dear friend is still raw with emotion. She wants me to have what’s in the bag.

Tears fill my eyes. Goosebumps. I am overcome with excitement, sadness, and honor.

 

“I know you will use these in your art in some amazing way,” she says.

I am speechless. A box of vintage maps. My friend knows how much stories mean to me. We’ve been friends only a few years, yet she gets me. We connected from the start. I am filled with gratitude beyond words.

I want to take them out and look at them. I carefully open the box and pull a few maps up, to see them – where they are from. Alex tells me about her family traveling and how they used these maps. She says the maps remind her of her grandfather, too. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and trust of my friend. We talk a few minutes more. Her adult students need her back in class.

“I don’t know if I can actually use these in my art,” I tell her as we walk away. That’s always my challenge with ephemera – keep and love or love and send out into the world – for someone else to love, too…..  it’s a constant dilemma. Honestly. She tells me, “I know you will love them and know what to do with them when the right time comes.”  Again, I am speechless. And honored.

The box now has a prominent spot on my studio bookshelves, alongside other special items that remind me of people I love, and their stories.

 

I recently opened the box and laid out the maps. I found myself recalling my geography and imagining Alex and her family traveling….

I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, as she laughed and talked with others. I imagined Alex and her family – in their car, laughing and talking (maybe even bickering…lol), as they traveled across the United States. I thought about the kindness of friends – and how we are all connected – they’re only people we don’t know yet.

Every time I look at these beautiful collections: letters and postcards bejeweled with beautiful stamps from around the world and utilitarian maps whose simplicity belied the adventures a family enjoyed – I am reminded we know no strangersonly those we don’t know yet. And I smile.  Thank you, Dee and Alex.

A life filled with stories and the kindness of friends {never strangers}… is all this girl could ask for.  

 

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

Join us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios  

 

 

 

 


Snippet of a Grocery Receipt

Things That Begin With C

 

  • chicken
  • Crystal Light
  • cat food
  • coffee creamer

Creating my list for a quick stop at the grocery store is a mental game for me:

  1. Make a mental list.
  2. Repeat it a few times out loud.
  3. Count the items.
  4. Keep the numbered items in my head.
  5. Enter the store.
  6. Go to it!

I’m sure people wonder why I have a quizzical look on my face as I stand between aisles. Actually, who am I fooling? They aren’t paying any attention to me. They’ve got their own lists and looks.  I wonder:  Are they playing the counting game, too?

Yesterday I added Chobani yogurt, celery, and cheddar popcorn to the cart {bonus!}.

Seemed to be a C sort of day….  😉  How do you keep your brain sharp?

 

Facebook logo with link to RobinLK StudiosArt + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Grammar Gremlins, Shoddy Spelling, and Cantankerous Typos


We’re often told first impressions matter. What does a first impression say about you and your business?

Business owners and fellow bloggers/artists/writers/creative types, could grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and unnoticed typos be sending a message you didn’t intend?

I enjoy wordplay – crafting narrative text – creative messages and stories from found words and ideas that roll around in my head {or smack me when I least expect it}.  I also get plenty of inspiration from reading others’ wordplay, too.

But there’s another kind of writing – informational, daily text – signs, menus, advertisements, messages, invitations, flyers, projects for the workplace, etc… the content of everyday life, including business. I like to read and create this text, often describing myself as an ‘information junkie.’

What surprises me about daily text is how often it’s riddled with sloppy writing in our increasingly informal culture (in the U.S, anyway).  For a few years, I used the local newspaper in our community to teach writing. There were so many errors that students were surprised the publisher went to press each week.

Are business owners lazy? uneducated?  Definitely not. Their mistakes are, however, plentiful.

To be clear – we’re not talking about literary novels or academic papers, here.  Instead, we’re talking about ephemera – items designed to be useful or important for only a short time. Does that make the poorly written text acceptable? Goodness, no!

We’re talking about your business presence…. your livelihood. Your street cred.

 

We’re talking about writing basics that impact a business’s image:

Lack of editing that leaves mistyped words or too many words: Using “and” when you mean “an” or typing “the” twice and not not noticing.  {See what I did there?}

Incorrect word choice:  Its vs. it’s, farther vs. further, the triplets: two, to, and too; or quiet and quite. How about whose and who’s? Is it every day or everyday?  (Hint: Each applies at a specific time.)  How about apostrophes? All of these are frequent mistakes. Sloppy. Unnecessary.

Spelling errors:  With so many resources at our fingertips, spelling errors are just plain careless.

Because I read and write (a lot) for my ‘day gig,’ I see them every day – grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and typos that negatively impact a business’s (or person’s) image. We could chalk it up to busy-ness. We all have too much to do and not enough time to edit our message. Right? Wrong.

Prospective customers/clients want someone who is polished, with attention to detail, because if you’re careless in your message, where else will you be careless?

These are the place I see the most offenders (sometimes, even creeping into my own writing…..eek!):

  • Marquee signs
  • Restaurant menus
  • Articles
  • Blog posts
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • E-mail
  • Newsletters/Flyers
  • Advertising
  • Work-related papers

Just recently, I saw two glaring typos:  the misuse of it’s and its on a state’s Visitors page (used three times/two were incorrect) and the use of and when an was intended on the page banner of a fellow artist’s website. Uneducated? Absolutely not! Completely missed? Absolutely.

Think of it this way:

It’s like that time you miss a button or forget to zip your slacks. The person who notices might understand and probably feels badly for you, but won’t say a word. He figures you’re busy.  Or careless?  Ouch. He’s embarrassed for you. The person walks away, making a mental note of your lack of attention to detail or carelessness.

Your prospective customer/client may think the same way:  You’re (too) busy, you’re careless, or you don’t have a good grip on language basics. No matter what the customer/client is thinking, I’m betting it’s not the message you intended to send.

Potential buyers look for someone who is polished and attends to details.

 

So what’s a blogger/creative type or small business owner to do?

1.   Find an extra set of eyes. For a few dollars a month, ask someone to take a peek at your content: blog posts, website, flyers, menus, marquee signs (drive-by editing.. nice!)…. and give you feedback.

2.   Hire someone to write content/develop materials for you.

No budget? How about bartering?

In my 30+ years writing and 20+ years teaching writing, I’ve developed many projects and have been asked to help others refine their message, either by creating a written piece for them or editing/revising/proofing a work in progress.

  • Recommendation letters
  • Résumés
  • Annual Performance reviews
  • E-mail messages
  • Advertising
  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Teachers’ How-To
  • Curriculum resources
  • Community resources
  • Grants
  • College Application Essays/Letters
  • Book drafts (two manuscripts in progress)

Give your prospective customers/clients one more reason to select you.  Show them your attention to detail, often missing in today’s hectic world. It may be the very thing that sets you apart from your competitor.

facebook logo with link to RobinLK Studios

I welcome your message and invite you to LIKE the page to keep up with current happenings, sales, and services.

Feel like you could use an extra set of eyes to proof, fingers to develop, or time to  brainstorm?  Click on the Writing tab or send me a Message on the RobinLK Studios Facebook page.  Would be happy to talk about your business needs.

 six-word story about sunday mornings

Sunday mornings quietly await our ideas….

6

What’s your six-word story today?

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios


 

What I saw when I looked at these words….

Ghost dog, sail sand and sky.

 

Do you see a six-word story in these words? 

6

Share with us in Comments or over on FB…  🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

cover of Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge

credit: amazon.com

After reading poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, I couldn’t wait to read Foolsgold, another visit into Ms. Wooldridge’s wordpool and its impact on others (and herself). Ordered while still in the earliest chapters of poemcrazy, I anticipated more delicious conversation by an approachable author whose love of collecting, love of words, and love of collecting words all fit neatly into my own life perspective.

Disclosure:  I chose to ignore reviews in which readers mentioned a different tone in Foolsgold and references to the author’s personal struggles as they related to the book.

Turns out, her struggles are the heart of the book. The ‘nothing’ she refers to in the subtitle felt like the overarching feeling coming through in her words, her voice wavering between sadness, depression, melancholy, and wistfulness. I suppose it could be argued these words are all synonyms of one another, and therefore, redundant. Perhaps a reflection of what I felt as I read her chapters?

I struggled to stick with the book, often putting it down after only a page or two, not engrossed with every word, as I was in poemcrazy, which I wrote about {here}.  I often felt like I was listening to a sad friend as we talked … and talked…. and talked….. and talked…… while she said goodbye to someone. Then, as often happens when we’re going through something extraordinarily painful, there were glimpses of happiness in her writing…. brief moments of clarity, understanding, acceptance, and a look toward a future worth exploring.

Unfortunately, these fleeting glimpses could not balance out the palpable sadness in Ms. Wooldridge’s chapters. Late in the book, she talks about the comfort she found in writing as she dealt with great loss in her personal life – that the process was cathartic for her.  As someone who’s experienced both the death of a parent and a painful divorce, I understand the need for catharses, but as a reader eager to experience an author’s love of wordplay, I was disappointed in this book. It read more like a deeply sad and personal memoir, and less like a book about wordplay and exploring creativity. Perhaps more research on my part would have prepared me for this?

But I stuck with it, determined to read all that she shared. Looking ahead to figure out how much more I had to go (not a good sign!), I could see the short chapters tumbling toward 50. I decided this would be the connection to my own life – 50 chapters to share her discoveries as I turned 50 and made my own discoveries.  Instead the book promptly ended at chapter 48. What??? How could that be?? Who ends a book at chapter 48?? But with further thought, it made sense. Ms. Wooldridge wrote the book as a journal during her daily struggles. As she approached the final chapters, you could hear a more positive look toward the future. The End. No need for the completeness of a nice round number like 50. Like life, the book had stops and starts. And stops. At the end of chapter 48.

To close on a positive note, I shared in my review of poemcrazy, that the frequency with which I fold corners in a book speaks to the content – that there was something that caught my eye.  Foolsgold was no exception… plenty of turned pages, circled words and phrases, underlined quotes, and my own notes about things I read, connections I made to her words. Two chapters in particular resonated with me, 20 and 21, each for different reasons, but in both, rich language and connections that moved me, from working with kids in a juvenile facility to the language of colors. Ah, words and colors – two of my favorite topics, especially when blended! 🙂

In a book that underwhelmed me, I made note of the words with the ‘familiar Susan tone’ that pushed their way through – like tiny flowers blooming through a broken sidewalk – and caught my eye.  Thank you, Ms. Wooldridge, for those moments of wordpool you. Much appreciated by this fellow collector of words!  🙂

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credit: Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge

credit: Bird by Bird, by Ann Lamott

Find what ‘it’ is that makes ‘creating’ your Happy Place…..
Is it the process? The product? Small pieces that help you manage the project?
Figure it out and get after it!
Happy Monday

🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery!  Find us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios

Build it. Write it. Paint it. They will Come.


Remember that movie, Field of Dreams, and the oft-quoted line: If you build it, he (they) will come? How many times have you used that sentiment in your own life? Yep. Me, too. So here goes….

To make the Tax Lady happy last year about this time (or, at the very least, to keep her from scowling at me), I promised to increase my small business income by 20% – working toward a respectable number, thank-you-very-much… one that would be moving north while my expenses move south. You get the picture.

Fast-forward a year. I’m ready to see the Tax Lady. I suppose when you start with nothing, the only way to go is up, right? I seem to be heading {slowly} in that direction, and I’m pleased. For a little lady, she can be tough. And this gal crumbles under that kind of pressure!

baby crying

photo credit: theanxietylife.com

So what happened that I’m ready to face the number-crunching-question-asking little lady?? I painted. I wrote. I attended. I lost sleep. I gained gray hair. I lost my eyeglasses (more than once), but found them just in time to finish those tiny details….

I worked hard to build it. And now, they are coming. Customers. Slowly, but surely, the word is getting out. The dollars are coming in. Still just a few, but hey, 20% more than the year before. I can face the Tax Lady with pride and satisfaction of work well done and a goal reached.

Now, I work my buttola off even harder this year to make {more} things happen.

Because

that’s

how

I

roll.

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Build it. Write it. Paint it. They will come.

 

six word story:  they surround you broken but ferrocious

 

 

Another random gathering of words that presented themselves to me.

From the first time I read these words and every time after, I think of the teenagers I’ve taught over 20+ years –

many broken, but angry and trying to hide it ….

 

What’s your story in six today? 

6

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery 

What’s happening in the studios these days?

Latest pictures and projects on Facebook and Instagram  @RobinLK Studios 

 

bookshelf with art and writing books

Spring is here…. Time to bloom!

What’s on your bookshelf {or should be}, just waiting to be read {or reread??}?

Hope it’s been a wonderful Monday!

🙂

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery 

What’s happening in the studios these days?

Latest pictures and projects on Facebook and Instagram  @RobinLK Studios 

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