Category Archives: recycling

How Does an Artist Support a Cause?

There are many ways to do this, but they all involve ART! I donate to several causes throughout the year. Either by donating a piece for a silent auction or by giving a percentage of sales to the cause. This Summer I’m helping a couple GREAT causes!

Strat guitar painting

My latest recycled guitar painting. This will also be my first PLAYABLE guitar painting once it’s done! Showing at the Sierra Club in August.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know I currently have 22 pieces showing at the New Mexico Cancer Center Gallery With a Cause until August 25th. 40% of the sales will benefit the NMCC Foundation. This wonderful foundation helps cancer patients cover non-medical expenses while they are in treatment. Great cause, right?! I’m honored to be included in such an amazing show with over 20 other awesome artists. You can see the pieces I have in the show on the NMCC Gallery With a Cause website. If you see something you like, just give them a call and they will handle the sale. You can also buy direct from my website and the 40% will still be donated to the cause.

Another cause near and dear to me is the environment, our wilderness areas and public lands. I regularly donate to the Sierra Club because I feel we need to protect our Mother Earth. From the Sierra Club, Rio Grande Chapter website:

The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club is a volunteer-led organization representing more than 7,000 members in New Mexico and West Texas. Our mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet, and we prioritize action on protecting our climate, clean air, clean water, and conservation of wildlife and public lands in New Mexico and West Texas.”

Recycled Vinyl Record Painting

Recycled Vinyl Record painting, finished today, this one will also be shown at the Sierra Club in August.

I am showing my art at the local Albuquerque offices of the Sierra Club in August. I’m excited about this exhibit, as I will be showcasing my recycled art. A recently painted guitar and my recycled vinyl paintings will be featured. The opening reception will be the First Friday in August. I’m not sure just yet how much of sales will go to the Sierra Club, but I will let you know as soon as I do. I will share more information about this show in the coming month.

 

Memorial Day, Murals and Guitars

I hope everyone had a good Holiday weekend. I’m working through it so we can go camping this week. We always go camping the week AFTER Memorial day. We are the kind of campers that want to get away from everyone! Even in New Mexico, that is impossible to do Memorial Day weekend, so we wait until Tuesday when everyone else is back at work.

I’m writing this blog ON Memorial Day and remembering all the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I was in the military during Desert Storm and personally knew a few of those people. I will never forget them, their sacrifice or the families they left behind.

Painted guitar in progress, Strat body.

Painted guitar in progress, Strat body.

Over the weekend, I started my guitar painting for the Sierra Club show in August. I’ve had this Strat body sitting in my studio for literally YEARS! It has been patiently waiting for me to make it beautiful. It is still in progress and I’m hoping to make this one my first playable guitar painting. I’m counting on my husband to help me with building the guitar from the empty solid body it is now. I’m showing only recycled art at the Sierra Club, because what better place to promote recycling, right?

Mural design, 12 x 12" oil on canvas, this will be painted at 10 times the size of this painting!

Mural design, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas, this will be painted at 10 times the size of this painting!

On Friday, I will be getting started on the mural project I’ve been writing about for the last couple months. I have created the design and have approval to get started! I’m really excited about painting LARGE! 10 x 10 feet large! I plan on making a time lapse video of the whole process so stay tuned. I may share bits and pieces of it during the process.

 

Pile O’ Paintings

Canvas ready to paint!

Canvas ready to paint!

I’m ready to get some painting done! I have one painting started and 3 more black gesso canvases ready to start. It’s always a bit exciting and a bit intimidating to have a bunch of fresh canvas to paint on. I know these will be a continuation of my painting video series. Each painting is made to go along with a song from our Sunlight CD, “Life is Good”. They will be more of the time lapse painting videos. Stay tuned for updates, I’m hoping to get started either today or Thursday.

Today, I’ve been busy getting my new paintings posted on Etsy and here on the website. Check out ‘Canvas Paintings’ in the Portfolio menu above. (Or click the link) The page has now been completely updated. This is my 2017 portfolio! I’m excited because it’s been a while since I’ve had my paintings page up to date! There are 4 that were worked on and added to a bit more. I’m really happy with how much more ‘finished’ they are now. I still have one other painting to finish up. Hoping to get to that sometime soon too.

Shambala, the painting above, was one that I painted last year? I think it was 2016! The original painting on this canvas was painted in 2003. It never sold so I decided to paint over it. Rather than painting over the entire thing, I left traces of the old painting there, peeking through. The four yellow strips coming out from the mandala are the windows to the older painting. All I added was the yellow wash over the old marks. This was symbolic to me because the new painting has risen from the ashes of the old. Bringing two time periods of my art together in one painting. The older painting was not centered but the new painting is more like a true mandala. Centered and symmetrical. It relates to my personal life because I do feel more centered in my life now than I did in 2003. My style has emerged now, while in 2003 I was still searching for a style all my own. I like painting over older works because I feel more environmentally responsible. Recycling is very important to me. Why not paint over something that is no longer relevant?

 

Memorial Pillows

memorial pillow

Memorial pillow, made from an embroidered jean jacket and a bathrobe.

I recently got a commission for a couple of “Memorial” pillows. In case you’ve never heard of this before, a memorial pillow is made using clothing items that have some sort of sentimental value to you. Usually, the items belonged to a loved one who has passed away.

raw materials for memorial pillows

Two jean jackets and a bathrobe I turned into two Memorial pillows

In this case, I used two denim jackets that were embroidered by my client’s mom. The backing was cut from her bathrobe.

cutting out the jacket back

First I cut the back panels out of each item

This is a great way to remember someone and upcycle items at the same time. You can use old concert tshirts or a favorite blanket.

Cut and ready to sew

The first pillow all cut out and ready to sew into a pillow

If you are interested in having your own Memorial pillow made, check out this custom listing in my Etsy shop.

memorial pillows before stuffing

Two Memorial pillows before being stuffed.

Recycling

shreddingwool2

shredding wool

I have been living with guilt. For the past few years I’ve thought an awful lot about recycling and reusing. As an artist who paints on canvas, I had a real problem with what to do about putting more STUFF out in the world. In my personal life, I’ve always been good about recycling and not wasting ANYTHING. I recycle everything I can. I’ve purged so much stuff out of my life. I consider myself a minimalist. I only buy my clothes used at thrift stores, except for underwear, socks and sometimes shoes. I take my own bags to the grocery store. We compost our organic trash. I even save water as much as possible since I live in the desert.

In my art life however, I’ve been faced with a dilemma. Not only do I use brand new canvas and wood stretcher bars for my original paintings, I use toxic paints. This is not an eco-friendly way to be. I switched to water soluble oil paints over ten years ago. So, I no longer use the solvents needed for cleaning up after using regular oil paints. Still, I use wood from trees and the canvas is manufactured somewhere.

I have racked my brain for ways to reuse more and not use toxic substances in my art. I  paint on recycled items, old vinyl records, beat up guitars, old furniture.

My recent change to sewing has helped so much with my new mind set. I reuse old clothing, upcycle sweaters into new items. Now that I’m making pillows and dolls I have to use something to stuff with that is soft and fluffy. I’ve done a lot of searching online and found so many different eco-friendly ways to stuff my creations! I never would have thought about stuffing my dolls with animal hair, or plastic bags?! Honestly, I didn’t think those were very good ideas. The animal hair? I’m allergic to it, and I know I’m not the only one! Plastic bags? Too much crinkly crunchy noise from the plastic! No thanks.

shredding wool

Using my rotary cutter and straight edge, I cut thin strips from the sweater and then cut crosswise to make soft little wool pieces.

The one idea I really like is shredding old wool sweaters. I had one here in my studio from another sweater recycling project, so I decided to test the idea. I used my rotary cutter and straight edge to cut the sweater into strips and then cut crosswise to make little pieces. There was a lot of fuzz from those little pieces! What a mess! I made two small pillow forms and filled one with fiber-fill and the other with shredded sweater pieces. I washed the pillow with the sweater pieces to see how it held up.

wool filled pillow form

Wool filled pillow form, you can see it’s a little lumpy, but still very soft!

I’m pretty impressed with how it came out. The wool pieces are a bit more lumpy than the fiber fill, not quite as fluffy and soft, but still a nice cushy pillow. My thinking is I’m making decorator pillows and not really sleeping pillows, so I don’t think they need to be super soft. What do you think?

The shredded sweater stuffing takes a bit more time and I think I can figure out a way to make it more fluffy. I saw a blog post about someone putting chunky fibers in a blender to make it more fluff, but I haven’t tried that yet.

What I like most is reusing something old (don’t worry I wash everything in hot soapy water first!) and making something new, pretty and functional. 🙂 Granted, I’m still putting more stuff out in the world, but at least it’s eco-friendly stuff that isn’t going into a landfill! 🙂

My Grammy’s Sewing Machine

Several months ago I eluded to changes coming soon to Paula Manning-Lewis’ studio. You’ve seen the “fab bags” I started making a couple months ago. Today, I will show you what brought about this change.

IMG_0542

My grammy’s sewing machine!

I inherited this sewing machine from my grandmother many years ago. Honestly, I cannot remember how long I’ve had it. For many years, it sat, collecting dust. When I finally pulled it out to start using it, it wasn’t working properly. I did what anyone in my position might do. I took the sewing machine to my mom to see if she could figure out what was wrong. At the time, several years ago, I didn’t really have any pressing use for the machine. Besides, I was always welcome in my mom’s sewing room and she has better machines, plus she has every possible tool I might need!

photo of my first jeans patch

The first patch I made, using fabric and notions I had on hand.

I recently decided that I wanted to get back to making things with fabric, basically as soon as I found Spoonflower! Once I knew I could custom design fabric with my art on it, the creative juices started to flow and I started to think of all the things I could make!

photo of my peace patch in pattern form

The beginning of the Peace patch. I drew the peace sign pattern.

I made my first “fab bags” in my mom’s sewing room, but it quickly became clear that this was something that wasn’t just a passing phase for me. I talked with my mom about what she thought might be wrong with my sewing machine and she said she would take it into the repair shop and let me know once she found out how much it would cost to fix. I told her to go ahead and have it fixed, because I wanted to use it and would pay whatever it cost. Sure, I could have bought a new machine, but I had an attachment to THIS machine.

photo of my peace sign patch in progress

Peace sign, cut out and ready to attach to the backing material.

A couple weeks later my machine was done, it just needed a simple part. My mom ended up paying for the repairs and said it was “for your birthday”. Needless to say, I was excited about finally having my “own” sewing machine again!

Peace sign in progress

Peace sign patch, work in progress. The peace sign was sewn on by machine, the flowers are hand stitched.

All the ideas in my head were now possible! So, I started researching other ideas and in the meantime I remembered my new favorite pair of jeans. These jeans have some really cool embroidered patches on them and my thought was, I can do something similar with my art fabric! I’m still waiting for my first order of fabric to come for making jeans patches, but while I wait, I’m using samples and scraps that I have on hand. So far, I’ve finished one patch and started a second one. Stay tuned for more to come! 🙂

Fab Bags!

Coloring Fab Bag with a bunch of goodies make a GREAT gift!

Coloring Fab Bag with a bunch of goodies make a GREAT gift!

I love to make things! I don’t like to confine myself to painting alone. Recently, I was feeling a little uninspired with my paintings, so I took a little break. As I posted about earlier, I decided to reinvent my website, my art and what the heck I’m doing with my creative expression!

During this time, I found a great website, Spoonflower, where artists can design and create their own fabric! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me “your art would look great on fabric”.

 

Coloring tote bag

My first coloring fab bag with front pocket

I guess because I had just completed my second coloring book, I decided my first fabric project would be a coloring design. That of course, led to me thinking about what on earth I would make with this fabric. Tote bags were the first thing that came to mind. Why not a cool little tote that colorists could carry their coloring books, crayons, markers, pencils, etc. in!?

Coloring tote with cute recycled pocket

Coloring fab bag with cute recycled pocket

So far, I’ve made 3 coloring tote bags, the first used the coloring fabric for a front pocket and the next 2 I decided to change up the design and used the coloring fabric for the side panel of the bag itself. Other pockets were made with recycled fabric samples I got from an interior designer in my building.

These fab bags don’t need to be used only by coloring enthusiasts! Anyone with an creative flare would love to get one as a gift! Or buy it for yourself! Why not? Each Coloring Fab Bag comes with goodies as pictured above. (fabric markers, colored pencils and one of my new coloring books!) Bookmark my Fab Bags page to come back and see what I make next!