Sunday, July 2, 2017

New Work - July 2nd

Welcome everyone!

Summer is on it's downward swing already, days getting shorter as we're headed to my most favorite season of all, Autumn.

This month, instead of just a string of new work, I wanted to share a few images and thoughts with you about something I think is often misrepresented in the art/craft/maker world.

The creative workspace.

In this internet age of "lifestyle blogs" where people do their best to present their life, their travels, their world, their day to day activities as an unending stream of peaceful moments and perfectly placed home bliss. I'd like to offer the artist/maker-in-waiting, a slightly different viewpoint. . .

THIS is what my work table looked like one day last week, as it does most days.

An average workday of projects old and new, many in process and this is a LIGHT day! Includes paints, files, craft wood, brushes, and two drawers filled with miscellaneous magic. 

Every surface I work upon is speckled with paint, or patina or clay!

A separate work area for sculpting-in-progress and tools. That is the potted Medieval Walled Village in it's beginning stages front and center. You can see the final piece below. 

There is never a day where the tables are clean or neatly arranged. Not totally. An organized chaos is as close as I get.

The point I want to make is this. If you want to be maker of things, a painter, a sculptor, a writer, a woodworker. Whatever it is. It's going to be a life and pursuit filled with messes. Some literal and some figurative. Too many people, I believe, let the fact that they don't have the "right space" or enough space, keep them from moving forward.

There is such a desire in life to present the picture perfect side of ourselves but ART, my dears, in any form, is found mostly in and thru the messes. Not in the perfection.

So set your life up to allow for and accommodate the messes. That "studio" you see in the above pictures takes up what would be the living room/dining room of our place. What would be our "spare" bedroom is the packing and shipping room and is wall to wall packing materials, wash tape, glue dots, paper cutters, metal shelves, boxes, tissue papers, bubble wrap and another shipping work table too.

I know people who have tucked their art away for years because the thought of taking a room in their house to dedicate to it is unthinkable. "Where would guests stay?" "Where would we eat or watch tv?" Well, our guests have to sleep on a fold-out couch (which is crammed between the work space AND a FULL SIZED, 4 heddle, weaving loom!)  and we crammed a tiny pub table in between all the work spaces for ourselves to eat our meals at. We don't have dinner parties and we don't have a bedroom for long term guests. Those are the sacrifices we made. And might I remind you, we do this full time.

In a world where people are more and more given to trying to present their lives, their homes, their  every waking hour as an instagram moment. . .  we offer you the unending reality of creative MESS.

A creative Etsy friend of mine calls herself a "maker-of-messes".  And I like that very much.

Here's to the mess-makers!! The "perfect" ones in my book!


And here are a few new work photos including the potted Medieval Walled Village! Enjoy!

The timbering is all done by hand, tiny strip by tiny strip!

I don't make these often but oh I DO love them when done!

A traditional Slavic amulet but a little stylized my own way!

A new addition to Shadow of the Sphinx. My own design, not taken from an ancient example. 

Ram headed ancient Egyptian deity Khnum. Another favorite to create.

This was FUN! A custom request for an Edgar Allan Poe mini tombstone with a raven!


  1. Amazing uncanny timing Nicolas - I was just discussing this very thing on my Instagram account, after posting an image of my tidy workbench (after a clean up). I talked about the mess and how important it is to have one. I rarely have a tidy workbench. If I did, nothing much would be getting made. As much as we artists all would love to have an organized uncluttered space all of the time with everything in their designated visible reachable spots, it just does not happen. Being an artist and maker is a messy, chaotic thing most of the time. I've even worked with my top inside out without realising. And it just makes me smile now. Your space looks amazing and it truly is wonderful to see it, where the magic happens. I'm always fascinated by other's spaces. The scale of your work and intricate detail is admirable. Always lovely to read your posts. xx

    1. Louise! This: "I rarely have a tidy workbench. If I did, nothing much would be getting made." . . . . yes, EXACTLY! :)

      Another friend of mine was reminding me how even graphic design/layout used to be so messy once too! You had to use rub off letters and all sorts of physical cutting and pasting to lay out an advertisement or a newsletter. And how the desktop computer revolution is what caused the "clean room" ideal of art studios. I think I am going to make this into a series showing the very messiest of my working, in-progress days.

      And yes, we WOULD love to have that ideal too! Instead, we buy 4 rulers and 5 pairs of scissors and 3 Exactos and on and on so we don't have to worry under which pile we last left one!

      Thank you for dropping by Louise. . . I'm wearing an inside out and backwards top today in honor of you! :)

    2. Haha, Nicolas love the inside out top ;) You are getting smarter by the day! :D Your comment reminded me of 'The Lettering Book' - do you remember it? I remember tracing all the different fonts and colouring them in. The tangible stuff takes longer but oh so much more rewarding! We are of the same tribe. x

    3. Yes I DO remember the Lettering Book! I also remember how new fonts, in the Letraset rub off letters, were SO expensive! Free fonts did not exist unless you hand lettered or traced! :) The tangible. . . yes, I suppose it's why I refuse to cast my pieces/statues. I know they would still be lovely and all but I really feel so very strongly about making every piece by hand and thus, unique! :) Once when I was 10, I started my own weekly, neighborhood newspaper. It was short lived. . . mostly because, even for me, copying four pages of text by hand became a tedious and less-than-fulfilling idea. lol But I loved doing it and making them as perfect as I could!

    4. You're amazing. An incarnation of various notables, I imagine ^_^

  2. Nicolas!!! Love your post!!!! You know, after all these years painting, I have never displayed my paintings on the walls around me, where I create. They have always been "put away", until they are sold. A few months ago, I thought, what is this crap about. I want my art around me! I started putting nails in the walls and hanging them up! I love seeing them everyday! Of course I can't hang them all up, but 5 is a good start! LOL! This isn't my home, so, I have to keep my space a little clean! LOL! I try my best. But, that's why I bought a screen, so no one has too look at it! LOL!
    Your work space is amazing! Thank you for sharing it! Your new pieces are truly breath taking!
    Big Crow Hugs!
    P.S. Yeh Autumn!!! I can't wait!!

    1. I am so glad you showed these. So fun to see behind the curtain! I am always surprised to see your pieces before the paint, and the scale is usually not what I expect either, sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. I had to make the photo bigger so I could see the details... I think I see fox tales from Sofie too!

      I am excited I may actually have an art space soon, wade just moved out Ohio, and Jess is planning to move to AZ with Bran later this summer. So of course I am sad they are going so far but thrilled to have some space for myself!!!!! But of course I am picturing it all neat and tidy as I plan it, but the fun will be in messing it up right?

    2. Thank you BOTH for commenting! Stacy: I am so glad you have some of your work around you. The crow world you create is very special and needs to be reflected back to you (in addition to, of course, the crows in the world outside!) A small space, a few images, it is enough. Just a reminder of the beauty you create and the language YOU speak thru your art.

      And Andrea: Yes, those are fox tails from Sofie's work! That's our shared "clean table" meaning no paints, no patinas, no model landscaping materials. Just clay! And ohhhh that is hard for me!) lol We even each have our own clay roller so we don't; "contaminate" each other's work. :)

      I am so excited to hear that you are going to have a space for yourself as well. You DO seem to find a way to bring your paints/sketches along with you wherever you go but it is nice to have a space, between photos of it in it's "perfect state", to mess up as you see fit! Hey, you can always keep a "tidy corner" to show off online and then the rest of the room can be as messy as your creative spirit would like!

      Your kids make me wish for youth in just one way again. The fearlessness of going off to start again. We've been looking at places in NH, IA, ID, VT, ME, MN and, of course, here in Oregon. The thought of uprooting and moving to a completely new state is somewhat daunting. Wouldn't have thought twice about making that move 20 years ago though. Even though our work goes with us and can literally be done from any town in the entire nation, even most of the world! Some of that is the climate here which we love. . . but a lot of it is just the comfort of the place you call home.

    3. Yes, I am a bit jealous of the adventures they will have! My oldest, bran (who lives in AZ now as a teacher) has become an adventure addict it seems. She just got back from a trip to capetown South Africa to cage dive with great white sharks!!!! And she constantly hikes the national parks around AZ, and goes cliff diving etc She never used to be this brave, she says moving to Arizona 2 years ago did it. I have always wanted to up and move but having kids held me back (or gave me an excuse not to). But we still talk about it when we retire.... we shall see. It probably depends where all of my kids end up. I'd like to live on the same coast as them. Bran wants us to move to Oregon as she thinks she'll end up in California in a few years, and that would be closer. Jace is 14, when he turns 21 he will be done with school and it will be our chance to change things up.

      We just got back from a trip to a cabin in a state park here in NY with Jace and bran for a week. Rainy and hot and muggy but still fun.
      (Geez.... I pretty much gave out my life story here)
      glad to be back though! Take care, hope you are not too hot there!

    4. Andrea, we all find our way in our own time. Not everything is right for everyone. Your daughter is indeed an adventurous soul and quite brave in her way but so are those who sit down and open themselves up the stillness to write a novel or raise kids or investing themselves into the training for music/dance etc. We are all, I suppose, finding our way "in" and I believe that is an entrance to our deeper selves more than anything. I have a relative about your daughter's age who travels and goes on adventures like that. . . I am happy for her and love her enthusiasm for it all . . . but I often wonder if she would be ok having to stay put. Not travel. Just be with herself. And I wonder if I will be around to see how she settles into her middle ages and where life takes her. I did thing much the same and am glad I did but also am so grateful I found the peace inside to just be still wherever I am. THAT is what may make it hard for me to move now. There is very little that I feel I am lacking and nothing of immediate importance. And to me, in that stillness, I feel life to hold as much of a rush as I did in the thrill of those old, youthful adventures. :) Thank you for sharing!!!! (btw, it's been between 60 and 68 every day for about three weeks here while just an hour away in the valley, it hits 90-100!) LOVE the coast! :)

  3. Oh how I love to see your creative space, it is so filled with magic and beauty. My art space spills out... How fantastic your walled village is! Your works are so delicate and lovely and beautiful. You are amazing!

    1. Lisa! Thank you so very much for your comment and for your kind words in regards to my work. I am always thrilled to see you drop by! :)

  4. You are making powerful point here.
    I think world bears two kind of people one who live more physically and let the outer world overcome them .they put all their energies to present themselves before others as a "perfect appearance " they live by mind which care more about what way other look at you.
    Other are who live by souls more than physical. Theu experience spritual restlessness which carve and brings out their absolute sublimation and organization in the farm of marvelous art which display true meaning of their existence .
    Mass around them while passing through of creativity is just stary dust .

    1. baili, I truly appreciate you taking the time to offer your wonderful thoughts here, thank you! Yes, it took me some time and a strange, awkward journey through difficult teenage years to figure that out for myself. But I am so glad that I did. And that time spent on what is inside, on the soul and the spirit, is what I try to put into every single piece that I make. It's what I have to offer and to share with the world. Being a fairly reclusive soul, it's also become my own window to the world and I am so pleased it attracts like souls to me. :)

  5. Beautiful thoughts indeed, as long as you enjoy what you are doing, then your mess is everything -it shapes and defines you. In this world no one would understand your mess except you -which is the whole point! Great post and reminder indeed. Lovely work and creative.

    Warm greetings!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting and dropping in. I agree, loving what you do is the key. And messes? Well, I think they're where we all discover who we truly are. :)

  6. Nicholas! I'm sorry it's taken me so long to venture off and visit your lovely home here. So many things going on in my life and I'm at a turning point where I know it's time for some change. Anyway...I really enjoyed this post. Especially where you stated.... "It's going to be a life and pursuit filled with messes." true. I was just thinking earlier of the need to clean up my studio but more in the sense of knowing there are "things" and "old work" that need to find a new home, wherever it is. I fear I've lost my focus as of late and am standing here in my own life, feeling confused as to what direction I should be going. Ha! Hope you have a blessed weekend! :)

    1. Alexandra, there's never a need to apologize. I am so glad whenever anyone has a moment and can drop by.

      I love what you said about old work laying around. I tend to keep it around e all the time. Half finished projects that grew into something else before I could finish them. Thats a good reminder that I need to do the same thing here. . .

      Stand strong in that place you are right now! It probably feels like a storm that will swirl and spin, disorienting you and tossing you here and there. But then the eye of the storm will arrive and the calm will show you exactly where you should step next.

      And change. . . I think I am such a seeker of it and believer in it because my mother is someone who always clings to the old, to the comfort of what's known and certain. In her case it's to an extreme. Debilitatingly so. Some of that, the constants, the known, is very good for us. But change is always an opportunity to grow, to stretch and to reach for new heights. You ARE going the right direction simply by being aware of the ground shifting a bit beneath you. Trust it!

      Thank you for dropping in Alexandra! :)

  7. Hi Nicolas, firstly..I absolutely love all of these gorgeous pieces, they are exquisite, your work always speaks to my soul..beautiful..I am drawn to your ram's head..stunning! And the tudor house is so sweet, i live in a little quaint tudor house, so that melts my heart!

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful space..beautiful, full of creation and magic! Makes me want to jump in and play!
    My whole life, my space to create was anywhere..the kitchen table, garage, basement, wherever i could..only until my partner and I bought our first home have I been able to have a room on the top floor for all my art and creative pursuits, it is crammed full and i feel so lucky! But creating isn;t about the place or is about doing it! One time someone came to visit and saw my loft of art/music/photography and said what a waste, this would be the perfect guest room. I feel life is about creating and living your passion, your is not a waste to me! I think all of kindreds here get that and get eachother! I think life and creativity can indeed =be a beautiful mess...and I wouldn't have it an other way..chaos makes new universes!

    Thanks for sharing your heartfelt and insightful post! Shine on my friend!

    1. Victoria! Welcome! So nice to read your comments and kind words this morning. Inspiring and appreciated as always. :)

      First let me comment on the person who told you that space of yours would make a good guest room. UGH! You know, even in an empty house, I can often tell you which room was/is the "guest room". It usually feels emptier in spirit than the others. The lack of energy that you find in a room used once or twice a year is palpable. Like the difference in an attic or basement used for storage versus the same space used as an art studio.

      I am saddened by the number of people who can only see the possibilities and diversity of life from such a narrow view. I can only imagine the "programming" that person endured as a child/teen/young adult to only be able to see a house as a place that must have (fill in check list of required rooms here) and can't imagine it by any other design or find a greater purpose within it. Sometimes I think (in cases with people I've known) it is actually a fear of facing anything that challenges the "norms" for them. Not so much of a judgement on us but a sense of inner questioning. . . "What if I am missing out?" . . . Especially when they see how happy, content and light we are within our creative spaces.

      The first place that Sofie and I had together, we decided on day one that what would be the "living room" for most would have to be our bedroom (meaning it was right there as you walked in the front door, lol) and the two "bedrooms" in the place would be our art studios! (they simply had the best light, shelving etc) and to this day, we continue to prioritize making art and creative space the most important thing in our world. To me, the idea of a guest room, a family room, a dining room are all fine, IF you have the rooms left after your creative, inspired needs are met, otherwise, the shame is in suppressing those tendencies and wishes and doing without to live a picture perfect dream of home/domesticity. That notion of waiting for "someday" to fulfill and enable the creative part of ourselves to grow seems sad.

      Like YOU, however, that starts for most of us by doing just as you said. Creating wherever and whenever you can as we find our way to learning and understanding the importance of it in our lives. I am SO happy to know you have that sacred, reserved space there for your creativity and that it is just perfect for you!

      I also LOVE that you and your partner live in a little Tudor house! MAGICK!!! :)

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts Victoria! Keep shining as well!!!