Friday, March 29, 2019

Fifth Friday - Kickstarters - March 29th - The Most beautiful Tarot Deck I've Ever Seen!

Hi All!

Still so much going on I cannot seem to find the time to write here but I wanted to share this one link (or two) to the Kickstarter for the most amazing Tarot deck I have ever seen!

It only has six days remaining but we jumped on board a few weeks back and have been thrilled to watch the support for the artist's work grow! She is amazing so I am including a link to her gallery page as well since all of her artwork is stunning. But the TAROT! 78 OLI paintings???

Each highly detailed and very original in style and depiction of the tarot symbolisms.

DO check it out as you can order after the KS expires through the gallery!


The Slow Tarot by Lacey Bryant


And this is the link to her paid at the ME art gallery:

ME Gallery Page for Lacey Bryant


And because I know 50+$ is steep for anything, let alone a tarot deck, I thought I'd include a KS that ANYONE can afford. This gent named Will has decided to write handwritten letters to anyone who wants one and post it to you for only $1!!

13 days left to support it and receive a handwritten letter too! :)

A Handwritten Letter Kickstarter

Anyway, I thought these were both equally deserving of sharing and of supporting.

May you find them both inspiring and, in the case of the letters, even reassuring that as the world around us changes, some people still hold the value of something such as a handwritten letter close to their heart.

XO
nicolas

Friday, March 1, 2019

First Friday - New Work - March 1st, 2019

Alright! Two Fridays in a row! I think I may just be getting back to my usual posting again. :)

A quick hello to you all, still so busy and behind schedule here so thank you, thank you for all the looks and comments and I will be back next week with some inspirations and oddities.

For now, as always First Friday, new work from the last few months! These are all pieces that will offer you a peek into my truly "new" work, new details, new sculptures, more difficult constructions etc. It's taken so long to get there but. think they elevate the work and the magic just that little bit extra!


Wishing you all a magical weekend ahead!

Nicolas
xo




This French Fairy Farmhouse and Tower is a good example of the larger scenes I am working towards.
The base is 4.5" (11.25cm) wide by 3.5" (8.75cm) deep and allows for far more inspiration to take hold!


this Victorian Unicorn Scene is one of my favorites, The white Unicorn and the Victorian era couple strolling
 the grounds with the lovely stone folly behind them really was so much fun to dream up! 



Alway a fan of Medieval European villages, this is a "tween" scale of a curving Medieval street scene. Less detail in regards to windows but the texture on the buildings is very fine and all hand-painted.

And a closer view to see the stone detail on the buildings. 

A large winged Khepera statue with a 30mm orange mother of pearl disc for the solar disc.
One of my favorite Shadow of theSphinx creations of late. 

Not sure what inspired this little Sekhmet other than the desire to get away from the standard poses
 and try something both fierce and cute at the same time!

A seated Ma'at statue with the feather of Truth above her head. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Ten Pieces of Creative Advice



Hey all!

Just finished a list of what I think are Ten essentials for creative growth and for working towards making your living in a creative way! I though I would share them all here with you first. :)

I've been around a lot of younger people lately who are hungry for learning creative skills and finding their own mode of self-expression and more than a few adults who are thinking of turning some craft or creative idea into a product for on line sales. The world is becoming more open to anyone being able to make a creative living but often I find the hardest thing to teach is not the techniques but the mindset that enables one to follow through with their plan over time.

This is my default list, as of now, of the thingsI would like to impart to every young creator or one who is new to creating at any age.

Hoping you are all well!

XO
nicolas

1. Create EVERY Day.

I am likely, for the rest of my days, to begin any advice list with this one!  I think it's the best advice. The best plan of action. AND I think most people could do it. The usual argument against is that the person has a job/homework/a family/hobbies/a life, and it’s hard to find time for creativity in the middle of all that.

Well, maybe I'm the oddball,  but it’s mind-boggling how many “busy” people I know these days- including people with full-time jobs, families or studies- who still manage to find time to go out, play computer games, go on road trips, play sports and watch hours and hours of movies and tv shows.

 We find time in their days for all of these things. If we dream of creating, shouldn’t we be able to find time for it as well?


2. Don't Put Too Much Into the Idea of Inspiration.

The old idea that there must be an air of “inspiration” or a visit by the "muse"to make anything worthwhile is just silly.  Some ethereal or, more to the heart of procrastination, elusive entity that everyone is waiting to come along and drop the great idea into their heads.

t's not true.

People can be “uninspired” and still create and make beautiful work when they're doing it for an art class or for a deadline like a birthday or a wedding gift. And in the case of that art class, no art instructor would ever accept “But I didn’t feel inspired!” as an excuse for a late project.

So create with or without the visits from the muse or the guiding hand of inspiration. If you really want to create on a given day and you know you’ll only have an hour to do so because of other commitments, then get ready to make something in that one hour.

3. Realize it takes time to build skills or flesh out an idea.

I’ve known a whole mess of people who sculpted, painted, wrote, cooked, drew, danced or took up an instrument for a few weeks or months and then gave up. They wanted to be good right away.

I don’t know why so many people resent the notion of needing to invest “time” to become good with creative endeavors. They look at the artists they admire the most and then imagine they will be right up there in skill and ability in a fraction of the time those folks put in.

Time invested most certainly = ability.

I like to think I’m a good maker-of-things and that some of the skills that go into my work I have been doing them since childhood. But if we look at sculpting, well, I took that up with the medium of polymer clay just ten years ago in my thirties. In between then and now it's been a lot of time and hard work.

It applies to every medium of creativity and then to the art of making a living from your art as well. Time has to be invested and not rushed into showing results.

4. Collect and Jot Down Ideas.

I have forgotten more ideas than I will ever see through to completion and, though I may not remember all of them, I have no doubt I forgot many of my best ones by not taking a moment and  recording them somewhere.

I get ideas from the art of others, songs, dreams, random things heard on the street, books, nature or just something I am imagining in a daydream. This is a kind of free play for the mind, but it’s where most of my creative ideas spring from for me. And by all means, THINK about that when you go out into the world! Don’t be a passive vessel. Actively go in search of them and when the come WRITE THEM DOWN!

5. Realize You Will NOT Like Everything That You Create

There are many things I made, even sold, but was not happy with the results when they were done. I am, of course, seeing every little flaw, every aspect of the piece that I did not pull off quite the way I wanted to.

 That doesn’t mean that when I make something like it again (and I will) that I should shelve them or toss them out. Often these are the ideas that I build on and work towards making better the next time around, which builds my skills. I often hear that people who hire illustrators or comic artists look at the hands (or lack of them)  in the drawings immediately because they are often the hardest thing to get right and, therefor, someone who does them well has obviously put the time in to do so.

Learn to love the imperfections now but strive to overcome them tomorrow. Taking either the view that everything you create has to be perfect and you should destroy everything that’s not, or that you can’t possibly create something if you’re not passionately interested in every aspect of it, is self-destructive and not worth your time.

6. Realize That a Good Portion of Creativity is Purely Mechanical.

Even if you are someone who manages to drill into an endless well of  “inspiration,” there’s going to come a point in the path to seeing it to completion, where that dries up a bit, and you’re left with what may seem like a mess. Yes, that happens. I don't know a single artist who didn't struggle with that "dry spell" at some point along the way.

Don't give up and don't stop working through it. Remember advice #1? Keep at it! Just the act and the exercise of working on your craft is as important as those days of fevered inspiration.

7. Learn to Only Be Concerned With What YOU Can Accomplish

Yeah, simple, but when you know someone who can turn out painting a day or a drawing in an hour, and it takes you on average ten times as long, don't let that bring you down. You are only accountable to you. How someone else goes about their creativity is not your concern.

 I sculpt across the work table from someone who can complete one of their sculpted pieces in an hour or two. I'll take that long to make the assorted pieces of a fairy landscape or to sculpt a statue and then have to put them all together, paint them, add all the tiny details etc etc etc and I cannot charge as much for them as she can for her work because of the niches our work falls into. (that's a story for another rant!)  That is FINE. It's not a competition and if I held myself to someone else's standards in that way I would have given up long ago and most certainly have failed at trying to make  my living from my work!


8. Be Honest About What Distracts You.

Do you really have to go clean up the mess you’ve left sitting in the kitchen after throwing together dinner so you could keep working? Do you really only have an hour left before you have to leave for your walk or to meet a friend? Inventing excuses to keep from creating, waiting for that perfect time, is perfectly normal, but unless you learn to recognize that these are distractions and excuses and put creating above things you value that are mostly distractions from it, then your creative skills and your goals will most likely not grow as fast as they might otherwise when you make them a priority.

9. Develop Goals.

I have an old-school work ethic that pushes me to create for a certain number of hours each day. It gets upset with me if I don’t do as much work as I can and the one thing that gets in the way of me doing just that is not having goals set each day. Yes, sometimes that's not very much fun, going down the list and getting the things done, photo taking, making listings, shipping etc. These are the things that  I know should be done before I get into my remaining time where I can make whatever my heart desires. But there’s no one standing over me with a whip and telling me to create, which means I have to internalize the whip. I never, or at least very rarely, match what that work ethic expects me to achieve, but I do far more than I would if I only dreamed about goals and didn’t set them in writing.

And finally…

10. Love Creating For Itself.

Another obvious one, but one that many people don’t seem to get.

They dream about the day they will be making a living creatively, or at least selling their work as a side hustle or for extra income. Perhaps they dream about being featured in a magazine or on a web site they love, or about how much people will love a certain painting, Zine, handmade jacket, bracelet or ceramic sculpture.

But they don’t love the actual work of it.

That strikes me as the absolute most pitiful lack that someone who wants to be a creator can have. Yes, a lot of it is mechanics and skill development and discipline, but that doesn’t mean that something doesn’t surprise you in the middle of the sculpture or the illustration and make you laugh out loud or even start crying when you finally get it right!

And all of those dreams, as lovely as they are, are nothing to that moment you see the physical item you have been working on or developing finally emerge from YOUR fingers.


Friday, January 25, 2019

The Most Basic of Human Needs

Hey all!

Just a peak at the direction I want to take with my new Tumblr page when it's up.

I'm working on so much right now so my appearances here will remain spotty until the spring. The novel's first draft progresses as does the increase in business over last year which is very nice as well.

This post was inspired by a statement which I heard made on a podcast the other day by the author Matt Gemmell.

Hoping you find that creative spark in everything that you see!

nicolas


"It's almost a sad thing that a big chunk of society doesn't understand the sheer critical necessity for fantasy; one, for escapism in its own right, but also as a way of reframing what we're seeing in our own lives. I think it's fundamentally critical and a mental health requirement to have fantasy and fiction and stories and escapism. I think it's one of the most basic of human needs."  -  Matt Gemmell

There may not be any one thought about creativity that I agree with more than that.

It's been the constant in my world. From the earliest of days.

My escape.

My true north.

My polestar.

When I was working the minimum wage jobs, bussing tables, pumping gas, prep cook etc it was those creative outlets I returned to at the end of each work day that filled me with belief and made everything around me seem right.

When I was bullied in school, or more likely, ignored, it was the fantasy worlds and the activities dreamed up in my imagination and that I kept in sight that got me through each day.

When, as can happen, my whole world felt as if it were falling apart as an adult, it was the words, the images, the music I made in the space I created to pour my heart into that allowed me the solitude to heal and grow.

The only times in my life I've been mired in darkness were the times, few though they were, that I turned my back on creativity and began to focus on some other ideal, some other dream of a life that belonged to someone else and certainly not me.

 If I were to put all of the requirements of a happy life on the table and try to whittle them down to only the most necessary, creativity would be there after most others were removed. It might very well be the sole survivor.

It's that vital.

I don't regret a single thing I've done with my life. I dreamed big every step of the way, fell short, picked myself up and started again. I've tried more paths than most, failed more than most too, but kept going until I found the one that suited me best.

When you chose a path of creativity, people will question every decision you make. They'll sum up your dream through the lens of their own experiences and life. That's ok, they wrote that script themselves and cannot imagine the experiences of others being more true than their own. The person who gains most from a story is always the person who wrote it. Just allow them that and hope, for their sake, they've gotten as much out of that sporty they tell.

So you? You write you.

In the end, as I think back to all of those well-meaning folks who wondered how long I could go on making my way stumbling through the dark in the creative world, dreaming of something other than a normal job or existence, I am reminded that I've come to know hundreds of people, working in dozens of other professions, who all wished they could be making a living doing something creative but I've never known a single painter, sculptor, illustrator, actor, artist, mime, poet, storyteller, dancer or writer, at any level or stage of their own story, who wished, even for one day, to be anything else.

XO
nicolas






Friday, January 4, 2019

First Friday - New Work, New Year - January 4th





Hello everyone!

Well, it's a new month and a new year to boot. I'm not one for resolutions but verrrrry big on plans.

Last year I shared my list of projects I wanted make progress on and I managed to do just that over the last twelve months. Not much progress on some but, in other areas, my novel, short stories, etc, I came a LONG way.

This year only have one goal thus far but I give myself the entire first week or so to come up with the list. I am planning to start an account on a social media sight and I think I've set my sights on Tumblr. Of course, I'm not doing it to promote or push my work out there any further. It's done quite well growing organically on it's own and I see no reason to think 2019 would be any different.

What I want to do is start a series of posts where I can, while removed from the work I create, talk about creativity and the way I got "here". And, I feel that by keeping it disconnected from my shops I can say some things I would not normally put out there, here on my blog for example. That includes tales from childhood, the decisions I made that led to positive or negative experiences and the way I came through it all to reach this point where I make a living from that creative work and world.

Its as if to give MORE of myself I have to offer less of myself other ways.

I am not sure when It will launch but since I am terrible at planning such things, I expect one day I will just get it in my head to make it happen and, it will come to be! :)

I'll be sure to keep you al posted when that happens. I won't be leaving the blogosphere at all, just adding another outlet for my desire to inspire that is purely the written word.

So there's that.

In other news, the novel, as I said, is coming along. I will get back to dedicating one Friday a month to that novel and showing more of the work that comprises it and how I've gone from having no idea how to write a full length novel to having a tiny bit of an idea. But I understand now that that first "tiny bit" is the hardest part. :) I have now been writing almost every single morning for 2 hrs minimum for over a year and a half and it's been wonderful. I don't feel write if I start the day any other way and those hours, from 5 to 7 am are so serene and perfect for the creative mind before any of the rest of the worlds energies can enter.

So, I am happy to be back and I look forward to visiting all of your blogs soon!

For now, just a few pieces from the last few months that I really loved creating!

May you find the magic and wonder of the world around you in everything that you see!

XO
nicolas

Wood Witch/Strega
First, a progress pic of one of the many projects I moved forward last year. I have wanted to create deck of "Fortune Cards" for ages. I once thought I t might be tarot but I love the older, Eastern European fortune cards. The wood witch is the first card image I finished using all photoshop and digital coloring/filters. 
A large statue of a winged Wadjet, the Egyptian Cobra Goddess. One of the most involved pieces I have ever attempted and it turned out better than I had imagined at the start! Best of all. . . it made it to its destination in one piece! :) 
This was one of the many custom orders I created during the holiday rush.
This hanging ornament is an N scale rendering of a Faroe Island Church.
Made with polymer clay and scale clapboard. 
The Fairy House of Brinny Longfellow was one of the first I created with these new larger bases to
allow for the inclusion of a bit more lush landscaping. 
In Shadow of the Sphinx, I've been expanding my original designs. This rendering of Seshat's headdress has been popular. Allowing for a nice sized altar icon without the cost of a full statue. 
And what December review would be complete without at least one Household elf figurine?
Schnee is on a snow covered landscaped base and has snow on his elbows, hat and shoulders! 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday Baking 2018

Hey All!!

Long time no post, I know! It's been a month and I have been so caught up in holiday fun and, of course, holiday shipping. :)

OK, if anyone would like the recipe for any of these, just leave me that request in the comments below and I will post them for you. ;)

But I HAVE been baking like CRAZY and wanted to share some of the results with you...

It began in November with St Martin's Day croissants.

St. Martin's day falls on November 11th and is still well-celebrated worldwide. There are many wonderful traditions across the globe that vary from one country to the next and I won't even attempt to cover anything here except for the croissants.

I found these in a book about the old traditions of the season and that led to finding out about Poznan, the Polish village known best for the croissants that they produce for this day. The town has a museum dedicated to the history of the croissants. . . and there is a legal protection on the recipe. Only croissants that fit the size, wight and ingredients can call themselves the official St Martin's croissant. Maybe most amazing of all is that the people of Poznan (with a city population of just over 500,000)  manage to eat a lot of them – as in 700,000 of them on St Martin’s Day alone!

Mine were a little less extravagant (the dough for the "official" ones requires 81 layers of dough!) and smaller to allow for us to keep them fresher.  Apricot jam and a ground almond filling are wonderful together in these.

St Martin's Day croissants

Next were Catern cakes, made for St Catherine's day, November 25th.

Again, celebrations take place the world over but this excerpt from the French description of the day there, made me smile.

On St Catherine's Day, it is customary for unmarried women to pray for husbands, and to honour women who have reached 25 years of age but have not married—called "Catherinettes". Catherinettes send postcards to each other, and friends of the Catherinettes make hats for them—traditionally using the colours yellow (faith) and green (wisdom), often outrageous—and crown them for the day. Pilgrimage is made to St Catherine's statue, and she is asked to intercede in finding husbands for the unmarried lest they "don St. Catherine's bonnet" and become spinsters. The Catherinettes are supposed to wear the hat all day long, and they are usually feted with a meal among friends. Because of this hat-wearing custom, French milliners have big parades to show off their wares on this day.

And these are Cattern cakes:






There is nothing like this cookie/cake.

First, the dough incorporates caraway seed and currants and, second, the dough, when rolled out, is so soft and crumbly that it takes patience to actually get a good roll from them, let alone slice them and get them on the tray. But they come out so well and they'll hold for a week, only getting better and stronger in flavor as they sit!

Then December came. . .


When I was a child, one of my favorite holiday events was the annual bake-good fest that my great Aunts (five of them!) and my grandmother embarked upon. Basically, for the first three weeks of December, our house was inundated in many classic Slovak, Hungarian, Russian and Polish baked goods.

Two of my great aunts, Help and Agnes, who lived together, would call my mother and say "Come pick them up Doll!" Sh'ed corral me and off we'd go, just a few blocks, but the anticipation was off the hook! Walking into their house and seeing the dining room table (which sat 8) completely covered with trays and plates filled with all the traditional goodies!

We'd pack up the few tins we brought and hand them the box of nut roll and poppyseed roll that my grandmother made.

It has been years since I tasted those treats and though, after they passed, some of their daughters and grandkids tried to keep up the traditions, many of the recipes have been lost.

Strangely enough, though I bake very regularly, I never tried finding any of them myself.

This year I decided to give it a try. Thus far I've focused on three in particular, trying to perfect them as I've gone along.

These are Kolaches (spelling varies on ALL of these over different cookbooks) Kiffle and Potitca.


First, both the Kiffle and Kolaches use the same basic dough which is equal parts cream cheese and unsalted butter, flour and salt.

These are the Kolaches



There is NO sugar in the dough but, once the dough has sat in the fridge for at least a few hours, you roll it out on the counter into a dusting of sugar. This caramelizes on the bottom when they cook and is just the right amount of sweetness. The dough which seems like puff pastry when you remove the cookies, puffed and flaky, cools to. a cookie consistency and there is nothing like it in my own recipe box.

The filling is just dried apricots, rehydrated and then cooked down with sugar and water until the reduced liquid is thick like a syrup and then it is all pureed.

And The Kiffle is just rolled instead of pinched and uses a sweetened ground walnut filling with scalded milk, butter and sugar.




These are amazing. The walnut filling almost crystalizes. Both the Kolaches and Kiffle can be made with poppyseed, apricot, nut, cherry or prune filling. These are the two I remember the best though.

And finally, today, I made the Potica. It's essentially a nut roll but with thinner flakier layers and, in many homes, instead of long rolls it was made into bundt shaped cakes, the rolls stacked on top of each other before baking! I was not brave enough to try that but maybe for the new year?

This is Potica: Mine was more like traditional nut roll than I was hoping for  and came up a little short in the layer department and I'll try again but, hey, it was DELICIOUS! :)




So, that is where I am in my holiday bake-fest. When we made the Kolaches and Kiffle, we decided there was no need to look any further this year. We are making a few dozen every other day and giving them away and eating wayyyyy too many ourselves!

I hope you are enjoying the season wherever you are. I'll be around to drop in soon again!

Thank you and happy solstice/holidays until the next time!

XO
nicolas

Saturday, November 10, 2018

New Work - "First" Friday - November 9th

Soooooo. . .  Yes, I did it. I forgot that the 2nd was the first Friday and when I sat down yesterday to post some new work. . . I felt so silly! :) 

So with FIVE Fridays this month I decided to go ahead and start the month today and count it as first Friday! 

Here is a selection of work from the last month! I hope this finds you all well and preparing for the holiday season ahead. 

I am going to try and post pics of my holiday baking as we go too. First up is Sunday the 11th, that's St Martin's Day and in the Polish town of PoznaƄ, the village bakes and sells  hundreds of thousands of the crescent shaped sweet rolls on Novemebr 11th. I'll post more about it with the images later next week. 

For now, hoping your weekend is wonderful!

XO
nicolas

I had not made Burano houses or a Gondola for years and never at this tiny N scale size! I love them!! 




A Fairy House with the door on the second floor

A All Hallow's Eve scene with Dracula on the crypt's balcony

A Carnelian Shen amulet

A tiny, blue Anubis Statue

A custom request for a miniature scene of Hagrid's Hut! I loved making this but it will be OOAK for sure. :)