OUT OF STATE, OUT OF MY MIND*

* But no worries, because I'm now on Instagram.


My mind races these days. Even in sleep, pictures fade in and out. They breathe colors, sounds, textures, and memories and I often wake up not knowing where I am, what day it is, what time it is, or who I am. I am not myself these days. I anger easily, cry easily, sleep hard, or don't sleep at all.

I need a solution. I need to escape.

This weekend, thankfully, we're going to Hannibal, Missouri, the hometown of Mark Twain. I'm eager to sleep in a soft, unfamiliar bed, and to explore history, both myth and fact. Furthermore, this will not be the first time we visit an author's former home. A few years ago, Hans and I took a road trip during spring break. We visited the homes of six southern authors. (William Faulkner's Rowan Oak and Flannery O'Connor's Andalusia were my favorites.) Anyway, for Hannibal, my dad booked a room at a bed and breakfast for us. It will be a castle, I'm sure.

You can keep up with the weekend adventure on Twitter or Instagram. Yes, you heard me. Instagram. I've joined the masses with an iPhone purchase. An iPhone 5, nonetheless, which means I am officially a slave to Apple. After one week, I still don't understand the hullabaloo, and I keep asking myself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

... Well, what I have done is download Instagram. Because I'm a sheeple. So, why don't you come follow, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow me? Whither shall you follow? Follow? Follow? Whither shall you follow? Follow me?*







* An inexplicably catchy Sesame Street song. You know, back when things were easier, and all you had to do was, as the first comment says, "sleep, eat, and watch Sesame Street."

FIRST FRIDAY*

Happy Friday, friends!

In addition to being Friday, today also happens to be the first Friday in June, so that means it is time for another First Friday post!  The first First Friday post (that's too many "firsts") was shared last month, in May. That particular post focused on crafters in the state of Indiana. This month, several artists are individuals I was introduced to while at a recent art fair. Below, you'll find watercolor paintings, greeting card shops, intricate sketches, and even some woodworking. A little bit everything, you might say.

If you haven't previously heard of First Friday, then know this: it's about artistry and networking. It's an open-your-eyes-to-culture opportunity, and an opportunity to visit places and studios you don't normally frequent. First Fridays are a monthly event, held--as you guessed it--on the first Friday of each month. Depending on the city, various community events are also held (Phoenix and Richmond, Virginia, have two of the largest Friday Fridays). Here in Indy, Fountain Square is bustling, as is Mass Ave. And, fortunately, there are additional galleries just across the street from me.

So, turn the volume up, dance in your chair, and admire what you will. Because it's Friday.

First Friday: June 7 by Dawn on Grooveshark


CARRIE WILD

Carrie Wild's "About Me" says it all: "A love of the outdoors inspires much of her artwork--paintings in which she depicts nature in both realistic and imaginary ways. Some of her favorite subjects are insects and small animals, creatures whose details are often overlooked but are nevertheless miraculous. She believes that natural surroundings are key to our well-being and hopes to inspire appreciation of them through her subjects." Personally, I enjoy Wild's work because it feels familiar, in a way. The bottom-left piece, for instance, reminds me of my own mother's flower garden. It reminds me of summer, of warm weather and sunshine. And Wild's artwork is so subtly crafted; you catch yourself closing your eyes and imagining the night breeze on your cheeks, or the sweet sound of birds chattering. Curious to know how she gets the soft, speckled details? Wild sketches out her drawings on watercolor paper, which is embellished with ink (the outlines and texture are created by using a stippling technique). Watercolor washes are added next, but some paintings also feature metallic pigments. Check out her shop; everything is so invitingly natural.



CITY OF BLACKBIRDS 

Éadaoin is the lovely lady behind this lens. Éadaoin grew up in the Irish countryside, but has been living in Dublin for the last ten years. She's a dedicated photographer and blogger at City of Blackbirds, and I fell in love with her images nearly a year ago. I was actually introduced to her site through a giveaway (which, surprisingly, I won). The prints Éadaoin sent me are of beautiful lavender--purple, light, pretty. I adore her use of light, and lust over the purple and pink hues that often appear in her images. Éadaoin herself says, "through a combination of photography and words, my desire is to reflect the beauty I see in this world of ours. I love to shoot plants and flowers, good food and inspiring places." Indeed, she manages to capture the smallest details in nature and make them shine. Just take a gander at the photo gallery and just see if you don't fall in love with one particular image. Or two. Or seven.



GRACIE SPARKLES BOOKS 


Grace Dobush, the owner and maker behind Gracie Sparkles Books, has been involved with printmaking and bookbinding for more than a decade. She learned both screen and block printing in high school, and added bookbinding to her list of talents while in college. She's a fan of typography as well, and a craft junkie. (Check out her book here!) It's not surprising, then, that Dobush's shop is full of objects that showcase block printing and the handmade/homemade touch. Furthermore, the cards, books, and posters she sells are often constructed using recycled or upcycled materials. Her work also has a personal feel to it, and can be humorous. Dobush pokes fun at crafts memes and trends, for instance, and even has a cheeky website that "predicts" craft trends. My favorite item in the shop? As a former English major, it is--hands down--the comma kit. (I actually sent one to a friend, as part of a "hipster starter kit.")



RICK LOUDERMILK 

Rick Loudermilk's work is bold, very bold. It immediately caught my eye at a recent art fair, and it must have done the same thing for others, as his booth was one of the busier ones. His paintings and mixed media are composed of intricate, geometric shapes. They are very layered pieces of art as well, with watercolor and pigment pens. Of his own work, Loudermilk says, "My abstract work looks more like what I was doing with finger paint as a four-year old, except now I can hold a brush and stay in the lines better!" Personally, as a fan of geometry and straight lines, I admire the clean look of the bottom-right image. (That particular work is one of Loudermilk's most recently finished products, to my understanding.) Loudermilk's professional career spans almost 30 years (he graduated from University of Southwest Louisiana, where he studied painting and printmaking). Though he doesn't currently sell original prints online, the Austin-based Loudermilk does attend a variety of art shows in Texas and the Midwest.



SAD SHOP



I stumbled upon this greeting card shop several months ago, back when I was searching for sarcastic holiday cards. Etsy had an abundance of fancy cards and elegant calligraphy, but I was searching for something more … me. Something blunt. Something snarky. Something that would make me laugh. And that’s when I found Sad Shop. Shop owner Katie Davis—who lists “paper, Helvetica, and naps” as her favorite materials—prints the cards in small batches and hand folds them. (She also provides wholesale orders, too, if anyone is interested.) The cards themselves are made from recycled paper and biodegradable sleeves. And, of course, the cards are bold and sad and silly and ironic and AMAZEBALLS. So AMAZEBALLS, in fact, that Davis’s cards have been featured on The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, DailyCandy, HelloGiggles, and Design Milk. This card is probably my favorite in the shop, but there are several others that amuse me with their perfectly awkward sentiment.


JUSTIN SCHAFER 

Justin Schafer, a senior graphic designer at Mutual of Omaha, has a knack for hand-drawn type. I was drawn to the invitations for his wedding, as they were personal, informative, and smooth. As it were, Schafer fuels his creativity through screen-printing hand-drawn type. You can view some of his work in the Resolution series (which includes the "Make It Handmade" design above). His website is something remarkable, too. It's smooth as well, and you can easily scroll through his entire portfolio. No need to click or search; just browse through. And while you're browsing, pause to take a look at "Mission: Prague." It's a campaign project centered around Prague ... but created with a spy theme. There are mission maps, lists of objectives, and even information brochures all packaged together in a "confidential" file. But Schafer does more than express himself through graphic design; he also builds mid-century modern furniture.


SCHOOLHOUSE WOODCRAFTS 

Schoolhouse Woodcrafts makes birdhouses, birdfeeders, and, my favorite, fairy houses. While patrolling the Broad Ripple Art Fair last month, I stopped to admire the tiny little homes and their accompanying tiny little mushrooms. They’re whimsical and natural, two characteristics I’ve been drawn to most recently. Furthermore, the houses are miniature; who doesn’t adore a miniature playground full of imagination? As for the bird houses? They are eco-friendly, and are made from sustainably harvested wood (from storm-damaged trees, mostly). Furthermore, to accommodate for birds’ sensitivity to chemicals, the birdhouses are made with nontoxic finishes. The birdhouses, which are “bird ready,” typically attract wrens, finches, and tufted titmice. (No way was I going to turn down an opportunity to list that bird.)



LIAM STEVENS

It's not surprising that Stevens has been featured on numerous blogs and was named, in 2012 by How Design Magazine, as one of the top websites for designers; his work is remarkable. It's mesmerizing, actually. There are so many details in his sketches that, each time I return to them, I find something new. I pinpoint a new detail, a new pattern. It's true that he favors simple materials. However, the scalpel and Pentel 0.7mm mechanical pencil Stevens uses are more than enough. I dare you to gander at "The Witness" series; at first, you see a pond, a cabin, some trees. It's relaxing. It's intimate. It's peaceful and whimsical. But then, as you look closer, you see the strokes. The lines and dots and specks. Your eyes trace everything, and you are lost in the depth of the sketch. That's what it's like; those "simple" materials "[enable Stevens] to craft his work through expressive lines or graphic shapes." Not as interested in pencil sketches? Then check out his other work: there is a small collection of typography and digital designs, as well as a series called "Shapebook."



CARLA WRIGHT

For Carla Wright, it's all about texture. Her art is a topographical map of color and nature. It's so inviting, so friendly-looking, and happy, that you want to touch it. Indeed, there is almost a 3-D feel to her work.You want to explore each painting with your fingertips, feel the points of leaves and the roll of bark. Her work is truly unlike any other I have seen. The paintings--which are oil and acrylic--range in size from a square 24 inches to a larger 3x8-foot canvas. As for her style? Wright has taken traditional landscape art and transformed it to include impressionism, surrealism, and abstraction, among other genres. Interestingly, Wright was born in Madrid, but was raised in Aberdeen, Scotland. At age six, she began art training, and, at age fifteen, she was accepted into Gray's School of Art. However, Wright's father encouraged her to forgo formal education ... because her artwork was already selling.



*ALL IMAGES USED WITH PERMISSION
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