The Balance of Structural and Decorative Design

It’s time for a throwback to my time in high school with a vase I created Freshman year. A book I was reading on my recent flight to New York;  Art in Everyday Life, by Harriet and Vetta Goldstein, got me thinking about the vase again.

The book starts out explaining the importance of good taste in design, then goes into a chapter about the balance of structural and decorative design. This was the part that piqued my interest because in one section it compared two vases: one with both good structural and decorative design (fig. 7 – left) and the other with good structural design, but poor decorative design (fig. 8-right).

The vase they described as being “bad” has a similar decorative design to one I created in high school. It was amusing, insulting, and thought provoking. It really made me rethink how I feel about my piece.

Ceramic vase crafted by Sara Kerr, age 15.Looking at my vase now, I feel the primary shape of it is well designed, but the handle is way under sized and poorly crafted for strength. It really serves little purpose for containing anything, especially not liquids, and it can’t be picked up by it’s handle. So, it’s easy to conclude that it has poor structural design. Regarding it’s decorative design, I’m conflicted; I’ve always thought it was very beautiful and I put a lot of thought into the placement of the leaves, and vines. Besides, I meant for it to be a decorative piece. So, what do you think? Does it’s imbalance between decor and structure work for it or does it fail because of it?

And The Winner IS. . .!!!

Drumroll Please, Mr. Scott!

The winner of the raffle is. . .

Congrats Denise! Thanks so much for *liking* my facebook page! 😀 😀 😀

So, as I said before, you won a custom 10″ x 14″ drawing of a subject of your choice. It can be a portrait of you, your kids, your whole family, an illustration of your house, your favorite place, your dream car; anything or anyone you desire (unless of course I deem it way out of my league lol). I’ll be in touch to discuss the details of what you’d like!

To all other participants, thank you for helping expand my reach and making this an exciting raffle! To all those who wanted to participate, but saw the posts too late please *like* my Art and Design page on facebook so you stay connected in case one of these raffles happens again in a few months. *Wink-wink!* I’ll publish the drawing I complete for Denise so you can see what you can get in on next time. Of course if you just can’t wait, you can always order a commissioned piece from me anytime 😉

Thanks everyone! Again, Congrats to Denise!!

Enter into Raffle for FREE Custom drawing!

***UPDATE*** Winner of Art Raffle announced HERE!!


Hey all!

I’m going to make this a speedy post and fill in all the details later because time is running out!

I’m starting up a little raffle for all my followers! So here’s the deal. . . Do one of the following:

*Like* my facebook page


*Share* my facebook post about the contest


*Re-Blog* this article

Do all three and you get three entries (same for 2)!

The winner of the raffle will receive a custom 10″ X 14″ drawing with a mat. So, share, SHAre, SHARE!!! You have until tonight at 11:59pm PST!!! Winner will be announced over this Memorial Day Weekend!

***UPDATE*** Winner of Art Raffle announced HERE!!!

Art Projects Potpourri #2!

I really need to do this more often! Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I’ve been involved in a bunch of different projects and I’m dumping all these into one big post.

To start, I’ve decided to become a PartyLite Independent Consultant! Wahoo! I’m not sure yet if it suits my personality, but I need me some sales experience and people skills! I’m hosting an online-only party this weekend and I’m finding I have a REALLY small circle! If you’re interested in ordering I’d appreciate it and I’m even giving out FREE tea light candles in a scent of your choice if you order this weekend at my party!

My consultant website is, click on the purple bar that says “Click here to look up your Host if you’re placing an order for a Party” and type in my name, Sara Kerr, in order to connect to the party. After you do that, any orders you place will be applied to the party and I’ll be able to contact you to give you your FREE tea lights! FYI, these tea-lights last 4-6 hours!

Now that I’m done with my PartyLite spiel, some other things I’ve been up to. . . I’m working on a new item to add to my Etsy page which, I don’t want to give too much away about it, but I will tell you it involves coconut shells, air plants, jute, and poplar. 😉

This last week I finally got the lead out of my ass, stretched a canvas, and did what I’ve been longing to do. . . drop water balloons filled with paint onto it! YEAH! I originally came across this technique while in a high school art class. I had the best teacher ever! She let me put a 3’x3′ canvas on the lawn of the school directly below her 2nd floor window and drop paint-filled water balloons onto it.

We first used bottles of tempera paint and tried to create an image that way, but I wasn’t too thrilled with how it was turning out. So, after letting that dry for a day (or three) one of us, or maybe it was another student suggested the water balloons. . . I don’t remember who it was, but whoever did, was a genius! I squeezed some acrylic paint from tubes into the balloons, stretched them over the faucets and filled them the rest of the way with water. Then we finally dropped them out the window onto the canvas.

It. Was. Awesome.

As I recall one of the first balloons dropped didn’t pop on impact. It got a tiny hole in it when it bounced off the canvas, then proceeded to roll down the hill next to a car, nearly spraying it with paint. I ran down out the door, down the stairs, and out the front doors so fast only to find a white patch on the school parking lot. OOPS! At least it didn’t get on whoever’s car that was.

I ended up painting over the entire canvas and taking it in a totally different direction, but I have always looked back at the technique as something worth doing again, and not because its shit-tons of fun, but because it creates a really interesting surface to work on.

This is the resultant painting. You can’t see it very well from this picture, but there is some cracking and bumpy texturing that adds to the impact of the piece.

Oh right, so the whole point of me telling you this is because I did it again last week. This time, since I live in an apartment complex, I had to do it in my garage. And being that I don’t want to get paint all over my apartment I had to fill the balloons out there as well. I taped up the garage Dexter-style (well if Dexter was suddenly super lazy and nonchalant about hanging his plastic) with old plastic sheets from fabric rolls and garbage bags.

Squeezing the paint into the balloons was essentially the same, but being that I don’t have a sink in the garage, I used a straw and bottle to fill the balloons with water. It was trickier and more time consuming, so I only filled two balloons.

After three attempts to pop the balloons they finally exploded rather splatter-tasticallly. I need less-holey plastic next time though because it shot through the gaps and holes and went 4-5 feet into the garage. What’s art without a little mess, right? The image on the left is where it stands as of yesterday. It’s the start of something. What, I do not know. I did come up with an idea while I was working on this, for a series of sarcastic propaganda posters. I’ll get into that another day though since this post is already longer than I expected! 🙂

The other things I’ve been working on is setting up a few more social networking sites for both my art, and my PartyLite Consulting biz. I joined Twitter and I may regret that later, but it won’t hurt to give it a whirl! (I hope). If you’re a twit, or tweeter, or whatever you call yourselves, please follow The Kerrminator on twitter! I try to keep it all strictly art-related so I don’t bog down your feed with political or personal bull crap.

I just recently created a Facebook page specifically for my art-doings as well.  Check out Thekerrminator on Facebook! Make sure you *like* it and tell your friends to *like* it as well 🙂

Lastly, I made a Facebook page for my PartyLite Consulting Biz. Be sure to like my “PartyLite with The Kerrminator” Facebook page too, as I’ll be using it to post monthly specials, host and guest rewards, giveaways, party info, and consulting opportunities. Don’t forget to get in on my party going on today and tomorrow and get in on some free tea-lights!

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for liking my pages! Happy Spring, everyone!

The difference between finding time and making time for art.

Can you agree that you are usually the hardest on yourself most of the time? I certainly am. Recently, I’ve been disappointed in my neglecting to work on any of the “masterpieces-to-be” that are chillin’ in my garage. And yet with that disappointed voice nagging in my mind, I sit here typing out this post. Though I did tweak my back last night at work (twice). So, I don’t really want to move around too much, but I digress because there are always a million reasons NOT to do something.

The point I’m getting at is one I read in “Art & Fear ~ Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.” I’ve read it twice and thoroughly enjoyed the motivating – yet brutally diminishing – theme of the book. It had a key message that stands out in my mind at this time simply due to the situation I’m in now. There is a passage discussing the difference between finding time for artmaking, and making time for artmaking. I can’t find the exact passage at the moment so I’ll do my best summarize it.

As artists, we make excuses about why we can’t sit down for a few hours to work, probably more often than we realize. There is an  endless river of “obligations” and “plans” that prevent us from reaching our serene garden of essential creative time. The issue is not the lack of time, it’s that we don’t make the time, either for fear of failing, rejection, or whatever. Unless you set aside time to do it, you may never get it done. How do you know whether you will succeed or fail if you don’t ever get around to trying? I feel it’s a struggle I share with a lot of people.

The idea of sharing struggles with millions of artists is one of the many humbling points made in the book that makes me feel less alone as an artist and part of a community, but at the same time, less unique and more “common.” It’s a good book if you want a reality check and an ego boost all wrapped into one concise read.

The book also contains quotations from various artists and historical figures at the head of each chapter. Here’s a suitable one for the end of this post. . .

Artists don’t get down to work
until the pain of working is exceeded
by the pain of
not working.
                         –Stephen DeStaebler

P.S. – Does taking the time to talk about my lack of time to create art count towards making time for creating art?

Visual Art + Music = :-)

Do you listen to music while you draw, paint, doodle, and sketch?

I do.

It may seem odd, but sound plays a huge part in art for me in the sense that I either need complete silence, chatter, or most often, music. The music I choose to listen to is both influenced by and influences the visual art I create. For example, while I was working on this drawing, I almost solely listened to Lynard Skynard, 70’s and 80’s rock, and metal.

Custom colored pencil drawing by Sara Kerr of four Harley Davidson motorcycles with American flag background.

Music sets the mood and inspires the feeling I’m trying to portray. [However, sometimes certain songs are distracting and it’s hard to concentrate on the work when I get too focused on singing along.] What music do you listen to? For you, does the drawing you’re working on dictate the music you play or is your ipod set on shuffle? Do you always listen to the same type of music for everything you work on or are you like me and setup a playlist with a specific style of music for a piece?

Here are a few more examples of my ‘music-influenced’ art:

  1. I listened to classical music during this one [because I was forced to, not because I chose to] and as you can see it’s somewhat bland and “dusty”. No offense to classical music lovers, it’s just that not all classical music has the same pizzazz that modern music does, therefore it doesn’t get my blood flowing or inspire me as well.

    Acrylic painting by Sara Kerr of a still life containing a candelabra, blue glass bottle, a ball, and a couple bowls, titled "Irony."

  2. You might remember seeing this painting from an earlier post about the band Epica. To summarize, they were looking for artists located in the cities along their tour route to create art inspired by their music. After listening to song after song, this is what I came up with.

    Oil painting by Sara Kerr for Epica of a still life with a candle on a piano and violin in the background.

  3. Many of my blog followers will recognize this piece without a doubt. 😉 For those of you who haven’t seen this before, may I introduce you to an abstract piece [of crap], I call “The Turd.” I’m not 100% sure I should admit this, but Lady Gaga and the Isley Brothers helped me finish this one.

  4. This piece was 100% influenced by one song that whenever I listened to it, I had this image in my head – A man performing on stage, completely engrossed in the music, unaware of who is watching him, not caring about them, only the sound he’s making. A high school classmate saw it and said the guy looked like he was having an. . . orgasm. I was slightly offended and embarrassed at first thinking that I drew something like that unintentionally, but I thought about it for a while and in a way he was correct. The portion of the song that had the biggest impact on the scene was the climax in the song. So, in a way the performer is having an orgasm from playing a song that makes him feel this amazing!

    Pastel drawing by Sara Kerr of a man playing piano.

Are there any other environmental factors affect your work?

First abstract piece complete! WOOT!

First and foremost, please read [if you haven’t already], “Abstract art, why do you escape my grasp?” so you will understand what I’m about to scream because otherwise this is going to seem really random. . .


I’m actually sort of happy with the way it turned out. It’s amazing to think I could potentially tolerate it being hung in my apartment considering how much I hated it and wanted it destroyed. I didn’t do much to it; as you can see I only painted the brown stripes across it. For me they symbolize a cage containing all the struggles I had with this piece (hopefully they will remain there so the next one won’t be such a poop!).

Also, I hope that with the completion of this piece I will not reference BMs in my blog ever again. . .

What do you think?

Interested in bi-monthly art giveaways?!

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Even if it’s free paper clips; It’s just fun getting stuff for nothing! 😀

I’ve been contemplating a giveaway for a while, but now I’m thinking if there is enough interest, why not do one every couple months?

However, before I commit to this I want to get an idea of how much interest there is in my art/photography/design “stuff.” I’ll call this my “Test Giveaway” because what would be more embarrassing than asking for likes/comments and ending up with no replies? Heh. . .

For the Test Giveaway I’ll be giving away note cards! They’re printed with a photograph I took last summer of a pair of mushrooms growing on a moss-covered branch I came across while hiking at Tryon Creek State Park in Portland, Oregon.

For the first and fifth commenters, you will each receive one of these note cards!

I know it’s not much, but it’s just a test. After liking/commenting I’ll send you an email (make sure you provide an email address 😉 ) asking for your mailing address and in a few days voila! Note card delivered!

I like doing the note cards, but I’m open to suggestions on giveaway items so please offer up some ideas! We’re brainstorming so no idea is bad (I might come to regret saying that later). I included a couple silly ideas (and of course some serious ones as well) to get the flow of ideas started: