BlackScape Musings

What is an Artist Statement? November 16 2016

“And now I will present to some and introduce to others …….” 

How often have you heard these words during an introduction? An introduction can be written or verbal, and is the primary way that we learn more about a person, object or subject, especially if that person or object is a public figure such as a musician, artist or author.

Consider going to the theater, buying a book or piece of music, or maybe going to an art show or lecture. You want to get more information about the person, object or subject before you make your purchase. One of the first steps you take is to look for some kind of information that will answer these questions: “what the show is about,” what are the qualifications of the speaker, artist, or writer," or "what is the subject of this book?"

So how do you get an introduction or get the information you seek?

We get it from an introduction, as explained here by Toastmasters International:

“Ideally, a social introduction should accomplish several things” Toastmasters International: The Speaker is, How to Introduce:

  • Focus the audience's attention on what is to come;
  • Create an interest in the topic and the speaker;
  • Briefly tell why the speaker is qualified to speak on the subject.

Regardless the situation, there is usually a written introduction explaining it; theater has a playbill; music has an album or cd cover; books have a forward; artists have an “Artists Statement." If done effectively, an introduction stokes your interest to see the movie, hear the music, read the book, hear the speaker, or see an artist’s work.

An “Artist Statement” Is the Introduction to an Artist.

Our specific interest here is the Artist Statement.

An Artist Statement is used to give the public and organizers of an art show information regarding the artist and their genre of work. An artist’s statement answers who an artist is, what they do, and why they do it.  

Art shows are often juried, meaning the artist must submit slides or photographs of their work to be reviewed by a jury (a knowledgeable committee) to assess the artist's technical skill, creativity, the medium, and any other pertinent requirements. 

Show organizers typically request that artists submit a statement conforming to specific word limitations and including specific information pertaining in particular to the show in question. It is usually recommended to write several versions (short 75 words, medium 100 words and long 155 words) to be presented upon request. To that end, I wrote three versions of my “Artist Statement."

Now I’d Like to Present to Some and Introduce to Others Joice Thomas, Mosaic Artist.

"I enjoy making art because I can express myself and show my creativity. I enjoy making mosaic art in particular because I love the beauty and responsiveness of glass; I get excited when the assembly of tousled glass elements results in an unparalleled image. 

My inspirations are my experiences in the spirited African-American community and my need to connect with my culture. 

I use a palette of stained glass, ceramic and glass nuggets to create my mosaic art which is unlike any other mosaic art. I blend my mosaic art with factual and whimsical nuances of the African-American lifestyle, design it with an affinity for African-American culture, and create it to be enjoyed either indoors or outdoors.

My art expresses the characteristics and essence of African-American history and I’m attached to each piece. 

I design my art to go beyond a visual presentation for enjoyment. My goal is to educate about mosaic art in general terms, and at the same time, to celebrate African-American history.

 

You are invited to view more of my art at Blacksape Studio.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Politics, Religion and Sex! October 26 2016

I have reached the point of election fatigue and enough, is enough!

  • In this nasty, endless political season, the likes our country has never seen before – and hope to never see again – your political choice is your right, exercise it.
  • Discussions surrounding religion are often shunned to avoid offending others. Religion in this country is a constitutional right and a personal choice; respect it and practice it!
  • Sex is nature, natural and personal; the use of the word or the discussion of the act is acceptable for some and offensive for others. It’s their choice, respect it!

What ever happened to the law of reciprocity that says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Whether you learned it as a Bible verse or as a Golden Rule, remember it!

   

 

Let's stop the madness.

For the sake of humankind, enough is ENOUGH!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


10 Reasons Blackscape Studio Art is Unparalleled September 19 2016

If you enjoy spending time on your patio or garden, you probably appreciate the little touches that beauty, personality, and culture can add to your outdoor experience. Blackscape Studio  provides some of the most unique, beautiful, and interesting ways to bring your culture outside.

If you've been holding off on picking up a piece of outdoor art to accent your outdoor spaces, I'd like to offer you a few reasons to take the plunge!

Read on to discover 10 reasons our mosaic pieces are absolutely unparallelled!

  1. Each piece of art is a “One of a Kind” design that is distinctive, special, and unique; if I've signed it, you can be assured that no two designs are exactly alike.
  1. Each work of art is “Original”, created personally by me, not by anyone else. It is the one and only of its design; there are no copies or lesser editions. 

"Designed with your choice of colors"

  1. Each piece of art is designed “Beautifully and Colorfully,” capturing the essence of the soul.”

 

  1. “Handcrafted," each by my own hands just for you. Nothing is mass produced in a factory in a faraway place!

 

"Custom Orders are Welcome"

  1. Each work of art is “Quality” designed with superior commercial grade materials resulting in superb durability and strength.
  1. Designs reflect and honor African” history and heritage.

 

  1. Each design has its own “Artistic Personality” that speaks quietly to your soul!
  1. Designed featuring “African-American” eclectic lifestyles and affiliations.

  1. Blackscape Studio art presents “African and African-American Culture and Art," through the medium of stained glass!

 

  1. Blackscape Studio believe in and provide “Customer First” Customer Service.

Please browse our catalog to discover even more reasons to take African-American culture outdoors! 


The Name Game August 17 2016

What’s in a name? What does your name say about who you are? How does a name identify a business? How many times have you met a person and they looked different from the picture of them you had formed in your mind? How often have you called a business for one type of service and they provided a different service? What’s in a name?

They say a person’s name can chart their future, determine their personality, make or break their career. Because certain names are popular every year, you can even use a name to help determine a person’s age; a person with my name, Joyce, is likely to be close to my age (I'm not telling!).

The same is true of a business’ name. It often tells customers what you do, your location, your hours of operation,and more.

A Rose by Any Other Name...

My identity is in my name; my family is in my name. Parents have different methods for naming their children. Some work from a list, others use a patchwork of different names to develop a new name. There are traditional family names that have been passed down for generations and other names that need to be explained. Regardless of how you were named, I guarantee, there is a story behind it.

Naming a business is like naming a child, it should be given a lot of thought. A business name does the same thing as a personal name, it identifies who you are, what you do, your geographical location, your culture, your business and your future. Some business names are surnames, others have an extension (and Sons) and some business names are purposeful; guess where “AAAAA Signs” will fall in the business listing?

It Ain’t What They Call You. It’s What You Answer To.

OK, if a name is all that, why change it? There are essential and legal reasons that may require you to change your personal name or your business name. Some of the most common reasons to change your personal name include, adoption, marriage, divorce, or the loss of a spouse. Changing a name for personal reasons, require some paperwork, proper ID, and possibly a trip to city hall.

Business name changes could result for some of the reasons above in addition to dissolving or forming a partnership, changing the legal status or physical location. Some business name changes are forced; other name changes are made by choice. Changing the name of a business requires industry research, in-depth knowledge of the business, a powerful vision, and strategic plans for your company's future.

If you are considering a business name change, wondering how to get started, or just need some pointers for pondering, there is plenty of information online. When I searched “change business name,” these are the top titles that came back: “10 Reasons to Change Your Business Name Today,” “4 Smart Reasons for Changing Your Company Name,” “8 Reasons Why Companies Change their Names,” “Top 10 Reasons People Change Their Names,” “5 Reasons Why Changing Your Company Name Might Be a Good Idea," and the list goes on.

Here are a few reasons why a business might consider a name change:

  • Your company name is too small.
  • You company name is too big.
  • Your company name is too general.
  • You have a legacy name that is outdated or that is hurting the business.
  • Your business name can’t be found online, or it is hard to remember.
  • When the company name is no longer accurate, (or worse) misleading.
  • When the business name is too literal, too descriptive, or too generic.
  • When the company name has a geographic reference in it.

I've recently changed my business' name in order to address a few of these points:  

 

While Blackscape Outdoor Living is the heart, soul and legacy of this venture, we love the company’s new name! 

BLACKSCAPE Studio, going forward, defines the future course of the company by providing an opportunity for product expansion, and protecting its longevity. Of course we will continue our most passionate service: designing unique art for your garden and home that reflects African-American history, community and lifestyle.

 

So if you're considering business name change, I’d say do your homework and follow your heart!

 

 

 


Planting your Flowerbed July 18 2016

Time to Identify

Well, readers, we are in the full bloom of summer, having passed spring, the time of year when the beauty of the tulips, crocus and hyacinth are so short lived, yet so intensely colorful. Spring buds and flowers push their way through the spring snow to show their color and letting us know that spring is near, warmer days are ahead and the snow will be no more.

I’ve been very busy working on Blackscape Studio’s new logo and identity, so I realize I’m a little late to be talking about spring time, but it is the time for planting annuals and perennials. Annual flowers add color to your flowerbed at ground level and various heights in your garden, while flowering perennials will stand as an anchor behind colorful annuals.

What are annual and perennial flowers and plants?

  • Annuals are typically flowering plants with a life cycle that lasts only one year, so they must be replanted each year. They grow from seed, bloom, produce seeds, then die – all in one growing season; most annuals bloom for a long time.
  • Perennials can be either flowering or non-flowering. They grow and bloom over the spring and summer, die back every autumn and winter, and then return in the spring from their rootstock They are also known as herbaceous, thus perennial.

 Annual Flowers

There are many types of annuals, including those that will thrive in the shade, those that love full sun, flowering annuals and annual vines. When planting your garden, make sure you have at least a general plan for where you’ll be putting each plant. Determine if you would like the plant to add color thanks to its flowers, or to contribute depth of greenery. A tall plant is good to add height in the backdrop, while close-to-the-ground plants are good for borders.

I love adding annuals to my flower bed, and look for those hidden spots that need color throughout the season as the different plants bloom.

  • Annuals are one of the most popular plants mainly because they supply beautiful pops of color throughout the current growing season.
  • Annuals can fill in where your other shrubs or trees are lacking. Pots and containers are great for annuals because it is easy to remove them from their containers once their life cycle is complete.
  • They are the easiest flowers to take care of, and are the least expensive. Some of the most familiar and recognized annuals are:
Petunias Impatiens Zinnias

 

Perennials Plants

The endless varieties of perennial flowering plants, non-flowering plants, woody bushes and trees appear throughout the early summer months of June and July. This is the time of year that we begin to smell the sweet fragrance of Lilac and Honeysuckle bushes.

I have spent the last four years planting plentiful perennials around my home and yard, and I’m now beginning to see the fruits (so to speak) of my labor. The plants grow tall and colorful; they come back stronger and denser than the previous year.

I’ve become a perennial kind of gardener!

  • Perennials are popular because they come back year after year without replanting, are easy to grow, and come in a large variety of colors.
  • Perennials usually live for more than two years if taken care of correctly. They cover the ground well, and most are able to survive a cold winter. Once winter hits, perennials die back to the roots (which stay alive in a dormant state). Then when the warm spring weather rolls around, new foliage and flowers begin to appear.
  • Most perennials grow larger every year, which is great for filling in spaces in a garden. On the other hand, if they grow too large without being divided or trimmed they can take over the other plants around it.
Roses  Hostas Carnations

Imagine a custom paver, terra-cotta pot or porcelain tile in your flower bed!

Blackscape Studio enhances your beautiful outdoor space with both additional color and culture. Designed specifically for outdoor beautification, our decorations can be placed in your flowerbed or garden, next to your doorway or garage and is an awesome compliment on your deck, patio, or porch.

Tile  Terra Cotta Paver
Tile Terra Cotta Paver

Please call or contact us for more help beautifying your outdoor space!


The Perfect Storm June 14 2016

Today is the 6th day of the month and my June edition of Musings is due to the editor by June 8 for a June 15 publish and I have no idea of what I’m going to write. It’s “The Perfect Storm!” Usually I write my blog weeks in advance of the due date, then spend a day or two “tweaking” it; not this month!

Frankly, I have given little to no thought of a subject matter or title. The act of writing is not the problem, my biggest challenge is deciding what to write. So I find myself in this quandary, asking myself the question “what happened?” What is the reason that I have not written my June Blog, or given it much thought? In my circle I’m known as the closer. If a job is assigned to me you know that it will get done; period. Not half done, not the day before it is due done, not just done, or barely made it done.

How I Got Here

I generate blog subjects and titles in several ways; I take a lot of pride in the titles, subjects and content that have been inspirational, instructional, educational, informative and funny. Sometimes I have a subject I want to share and I research for qualified support and references; other times I like to play around with word antonyms, synonyms or rhyming words that eventually become subjects or titles. This month I did none of the above, and here I am, on the eve of June 8 with no subject or title to blog. What happened?

Every month between blogs we have the standard, usual list of things that we do or/and need to have done. This month as been the month where an overwhelming number of situations came to their various heads all at once. A Perfect Storm is defined as a ”particularly bad or critical state of affairs, arising from a number of negative and unpredictable factors.” In my case this month the negative and unpredictable factors were essentially everything needing to be done at the same time. This month everything either began, continued or ended; a month of highs and lows; I had fun times and difficult times.

My Routine and Its Discontents

Since the last blog, I have trudged through the day-to-day routine of life alongside a month of my typical activities: family, work and projects. There have been birthdays, graduations and other celebrations. My family celebrates, not necessarily hard, but we celebrate big. A birthday party means a homemade cake decorated with the usual “Happy Birthday” and candles, family, friends, gifts and a meal. A continuation, from kindergarten to first grade, or from middle school to high school is another time of celebration balloons and a meal. I had two short, over-the-weekend vacations, and you can always count on work projects ramping up just as your get your “to do” list completed.

Home, house and yard projects are never ending; there are always things that must be done. I had bathroom renovation, carpet laid and hardwood floor installed. I had the pulling off and putting away of winter tarps, pulling out and putting on spring cushions, digging soil and planting flowers, cleaning the yard and washing down the patio.

Oh yeah! I was also designing and creating Stained Glass Art and Terra-Cotta Pots.

     

An Opportunity in Disguise

Now along with the usual day-to-day, came the period of unexpected circumstances and challenges that were out of our control. Mine included illnesses and loss of family and friends. It is often the challenges in life that impact us the most and cause us to reflect on all that is around us. It helps us put things into perspective and assess what is important and what is not important. A specific amount of time is allotted to each a minute, hour, day, week, month and year; and there are only so many things that can be done or accomplished in that given time. Some things will get done and others just won’t. To hold onto my sanity, I had to postpone some activities and projects, and totally let go of others.

This blog and you, my readers, are important to me; that is why I decided to share with you my experiences of the last month or so, and the fresh perspective I’m taking from them.

While these circumstances can easily disrupt your usual routine, they can also present a chance to step back, review the situation, and think hard about what is really important to you. You may be surprised to learn that some of the tasks you believed to be of vital importance, are less critical than you had assumed, while others offer greater reward than you might have imagined.

                                               

I’m pleased to report that I didn’t jump ship when it came to my blogging this month. Writing it has been rejuvenating, and has provided a bit of an escape (that I needed badly) during a stressful month, allowing me to reflect upon my routine in a new and creative way.

So I can face the next 30 days until we speak again with the strength and satisfaction of having successfully ridden out the Perfect Storm.

Have a great month!


Be a Niche or Switch May 17 2016

I have written briefly about the birth of Blackscape Outdoor Living in the past, but have never really sat down to tell how It all really happened, until now.

Why now, you ask? Because we find ourselves at another crossroads, another time of transition, and this has inspired me to think about my market, my products, and what these things mean to me.

At the beginning of my journey, the question of defining my market never crossed my mind. There was an obvious void in the market, for a specific type of product. I knew the product I wanted to provide would serve a limited market and be a niche business.

What Is a Niche Business?

When defined correctly, a niche market is a small, well-defined subset of the larger market into which a product is introduced. A niche market doesn’t really “exist,” in the way we think about the market existing, almost as a natural phenomenon. It’s more precise to say that a niche market is created when an entrepreneur sees a void in the market where there are wants, needs, and requirements, but no supply to fulfill them; ideally that entrepreneur develops and delivers the goods and services to meet this demand.

The idea (from the business owner’s perspective) is to identify this small market before her competition does, and to dominate it.

 

 

How I identified my niche

In the case of my business, I identified this niche based on my own desires. I have always been proud to decorate my home in vibrant colors, soft hues, and with culturally significant patterns that capture the distinctive mixture of the African history and eclectic African-American culture that so excites and pleases me.

One summer, while gardening, I went to look for ethnic, cultural yard art and decorations, to create an outdoor ambience at my home that was as culturally stimulating as my indoor decor. The experience was very dispiriting.

I couldn’t find any such products; I was puzzled.

There are plenty of African and African-American themed textiles, framed art and artifacts for interior design. All around me I found original art, note cards, and hair care products. Just last Christmas I saw African-American Santas and Mrs. Clauses, Angels, and even colorfully-painted wooden nutcrackers. So it seemed reasonable that I should be able to find African-American themed yard decorations. But I didn’t find a single product on the department store shelves or even online.

Plato said it first, and we still use his saying today:

“Necessity is the mother of invention,”

And this necessity led me to start Blackscape Outdoor Living.

Faith. Community. Strength.

From the start I decided to make and procure outdoor living products that were culturally specific to our African and African-American culture. Products that respect and reflect our faith, community values, and strength as a people. Symbols and images that reflected our language, our unique and beautiful facial features, our wide eyes and kinky hair.

I sat down and worked through these questions, knowing that by defining my needs and knowing my community, I would be able identify a small but unserved target market.

 

                     

Stay True to Your Calling

I was told by some to broaden, widen, and expand the definition of my target market. Some said the market was too small, too narrow, or too limiting. I decided to stay true to myself, and to the calling of “necessity,” solving the problem I identified by providing a product that was missing from the market.

I knew that if I couldn’t find these products after literally years of searching, that they just did not yet exist. Meaning that there was minimal competition for my idea.

I was encouraged by family, friends, and consumers who bought the product to continue to serve this niche. It’s a smart business move to know your market intimately, because this allows you to more effectively serve them. In my case, I am my market; I know how they feel, what they like, what they do, and how they respond. I’m familiar with their actions and responses to situations. Having a niche market allows me to quickly respond to customers needs.

It’s a choice I have never regretted, even when warned that there is limited growth potential in this niche.

If you’re still reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a member of this niche market, searching and searching for culture-specific outdoor art and decor.

Let me help you select the most beautiful yard decoration for you to enhance your outdoor space.

 

 


So You Think You're Cut Out for Gardening... April 19 2016

Here’s a simple test that I thought was appropriate as our spring weather finally starts to take hold. The purpose is to discover if you are cut out for gardening. There are only 3 questions and they're all pretty simple.

  1. Do you enjoy being outdoors?
  2. Do you enjoy drinking a tall glass of ice tea or your favorite cold beer?
  3. Do you dislike working out at a gym, lifting weights, squats and rowing?

    If you answered yes to even one of those questions, it turns out, you may be cut out for gardening.

    And do I have a proposal for you!

    OK, stay with me. A garden is any cultivated plot of soil where herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables are in the ground. Gardening is the act of working, cultivating, tending to, and developing this plot of land into a true garden.

    With that established, let’s talk gardening – Blackscape-style!

    I bought most of my gardening tools at the Goodwill, or yard sales. I had a home with a BIG YARD and a small flower bed that had a little path where I could walk, and tend to the flowers. If a section of the flowerbed had only yellow and oranges flowers, I’d go out and buy blues and violets; if a section had all tall plants, I’d go buy medium and short plants.

    This continued for a few seasons. I’d stand back take a look at the flowerbed and was pretty happy and pleased with what I saw, but realized I had run out of space.

    Once those flowers were in and doing well I wanted to kick the space up a notch, so I started looking for stuff to decorate my flower bed with some ornamental elements, like stepping stones, fountains or the like.

    I could find nothing that really spoke to me, which turned out to be the first step on my journey to founding Blackscape. But that’s another story for another time.

     

     

     

     

     

    Soon, my flower bed bloomed into a very colorful and pretty space.

    So I started working on the shrubs and vines outside the house. One day after spending an entire weekend working on the shrubs and vines, and pulling weeds out of the rocks, I decided that this sort of drudgery was not what I had in mind when I conceived of my garden.

    I experienced a moment of clarity then, that what I wanted to do was “yard beautification,” as opposed to “lawn maintenance.” My drive and goal was to make things around the outside of my home look pretty and colorful. So I hired someone one else to do yard maintenance.

    After that I turned my focus two small plots of soil (not dirt a friend once told me), and I started to plant flowers there and got the place looking pretty darned good. Not only was the outside of my home looking better, so was I. I physically felt the best i had in years, and even saw a little sculpting in my upper arms, yes really!

    I realized that walking around and looking for the right plants, digging in the soil, reaching for flowers to plant, bending, stretching, and lifting soil and water hose, things I enjoy doing, was a full upper and lower body workout, outside in the fresh air and sunshine (getting my Vitamin D!).

    It didn’t feel like work to me, but a form of pleasure. While gardening I was relaxed and destressed. Plus it cost me next to nothing. It was much better than getting up early to workout before work, or going late after work.

    The key and beauty of gardening Blackscape-style is that it’s all in moderation.

    I’m not into the farm type of gardening – acres of land, raising food for the year and so forth. I garden for the enjoyment of putting a seed in the ground and getting green beans for my troubles, or putting a 4” plant in the ground, and getting hundreds of cherry tomatoes. Or just sitting on my porch and looking at a colorful flowerbed.

    One of the reasons I chose my current home is that the places to plant were minimal, but adequate. Just enough ground to have fun and to see the results of my playfulness.

    Because I hired a person for yard maintenance, I know have the time a couple of weekends a month, or on a warm evening after work, to sit on my garden bench (yes we have garden seats), or to get real and get on my knees and tend to my flowers or vegetables. After a few hours of playing in the soil, I take a cool shower and tilt back my head for a tall glass of cold, sun brewed tea.


    So does this sound amazing to you? Do you think you are cut out for gardening?
    Of course you are. If you don’t have any tools, just head on down to the dollar store to pick up a few hand tools, gloves and a hat. They may even have a knee pad to make it all more comfortable. Get a few inexpensive plants and top soil, and you are on your way. Have some fun and a glass of ice tea.

    And congratulate yourself. You’ve taken the first step into a world of beauty, fun, health, and living outdoor art!


    The Untold Story of Being an Arts Festival Vendor March 15 2016

    If you are a business owner, crafter or artist you may have had many opportunities to participate in business or craft shows as a vendor.

    A vendor is a person or business offering something for sale; vending is an opportunity to show your goods for sale, to define your marketing or close your business, at a location outside of your work location.

    If so,  you have undoubtedly seen or read dozens of articles with titles like “10 Reasons Why ….”, “4 Ways to ….”, or, “The 36 things about …” giving you tips on how successfully sell your creative or artistic work. Most of these contain pretty basic, common sense tips on displays, set ups, and so forth.

    Some of the more helpful suggestions that I found included:
    • Making sure to have a professional-looking, attractive table sign
    • Getting professionally printed business cards
    • Decorating tips to keep a tidy and attractive table set up
    • Tips on bringing change to meet customer needs

    My First Time Was Easy & Fun

    My first vending display as an artist was EASY.  I remember it as if it were yesterday: I was invited to vend and display at the Delaware Art Walk. So I pulled out one of the many vending lists and got to work on a basic table design, ordering business cards, etc.. Not only was it easy, but it was fun, very successful, and educational. I learned a lot that day, and I’ve applied those lessons to the vending opportunities I’ve had since then with very good results.

    But I still had a lot to learn.

    Behind the Scenes at the Colorado Black Arts Festival

    In July of 2015, I had an opportunity to vend at the annual Black Arts Festival (BAF) in Denver, CO. It is the premier exhibition event for artists and crafters in the region and is the best place to showcase your artistic work for all to see.

    Here’s How My Festival Experience Went

    Once I registered with BAF as a vendor, I received a vendor information and instructions packet outlining specific vendor requirements and the reason for each requirement was explained. Up until now none of the vending articles or opportunities had prepared me for the UNTOLD story of vending

    Here it is.

    Vending: The Untold Story

    • Submit photos of work – Even though this is not a juried show where artwork is judged for acceptance, monetary value or an award, I submitted photos of my work to BAF. This ensured the sponsor of the quality of products that would be displayed.

    Lesson: take good photos of your best work and be prepared to submit them should a request be made.

    • Vendor License – While my business is legally registered with the city and state, a vendor license confirmed that my business was legitimate and professional.

    Lesson: keep legal paperwork updated and handy for easy access when needed; it certifies your legal right to collect and pay taxes. 

    • Vendor Insurance – For the protection of vendor and customers, I was required to buy Vendor Insurance for the days I was selling at the BAF. Side Note: I had no idea there were companies that make money selling only vendor insurance!

    Lesson: go online, search “vendor/exhibit insurance” and you will have plenty of choices.

    • Tent Walls and Tent Weights – I had a tent and string tie downs; no walls, no weights.

    Lesson: go online, search “tent walls” to fit your tent and tent weights, again there are plenty of choices.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: following the close of the first night of vending the city had a big rain storm with howling winds. The next morning, at the vending site, unlike the damaged tents around me, my tent was standing tall, secure, and dry with no damage and little water intrusion.

    It took me several days to work through the vendor information package and become compliant with the requirements. The result was well worth it though, as it made for – thus far –  my most successful vending event.

    So remember to come out to see me at the Colorado Black Arts Festival July 8-10, 2016 in historic Denver City Park West. In the meantime, feel free to browse through my store!




    How Did We Become? February 15 2016

    A short history of black history

    What causes us to annually gather together and light candles and dance, or honor a harvest crop, or stand in a circle and look up at the stars, or drink kegs of beer to celebrate a “milestone” or an event? Our heritage, is the answer to that question. The rituals that we observed as a child and repeated annually is why we continue to observe our cultural heritage.

    Our culture is inherited, natural, and intuitive. It is not family, local or regional specific. It is shared values and attitudes, and practices regardless of our environment.

    Every group of people has its cultural traditions and celebrations. Germans’ Oktoberfest – the celebration of the King’s wedding. Mexicans’ Cinco de Mayo – not the celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, but the date observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla.

    And Black Americans’ Juneteenth or Freedom Day that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South celebrated on June 19th. Most of these cultural celebrations occur across the country, while locally, we come together to honor and celebrate these familiar traditions.
       
    HISTORICAL

    February is Black History Month, launched in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson. It is a time to recognize the important milestones and achievements of a people who have made significant contributions to our history. Programs and displays retell the story of African and African-American history. Historical traditions and celebrations reveal our inherited and cultural background. It is a month to remember the details of our ancestors’ lives before our time.

    Selected Black History Milestones
    • 1773 – The first book published by an African American is published: Phillis Wheatley's book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
    • 1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. It becomes one of the most influential works of fiction ever, stirring anti-slavery sentiments.
    TALENT AND SKILL

    Black History celebrations are filled with informational and educational discussions and artifacts. There are colorfully decorated cars, and amazing costumes of reds, greens, yellows, and oranges; there are marches and parades. Here in Denver we celebrate our heritage with a “Marade,” (march and parade). Festival grounds explode with people and art. Music is played on drums, xylophones, and gourd instruments – fashioned much as they were 200 years ago.

    Vendor booths are filled with complex textile designs, tooling of unique jewelry and bright and colorful fabrics. We learn of or meet people with an imaginative eye for art and ingenious talent. People blessed with skills for crafts and designs that have been passed down for generations and that are still being used and enjoyed today.

    ADINKRA

    One of the traditional designs celebrated by many during Black History Month is the Adinkra. Used in clothing, jewelry and even marketing for generations, this pattern or group of patterns can be seen throughout Black History Month events.

    Adinkra symbols are traditional drawings and icons, originally created by the Akan in what is now Ghana in West Africa. The name “Adinkra” can probably be traced back to the word “Dinkra” of the Akan/Twi Language, which is spoken by the Ashanti. “Dinkra” means: being separated, taking leave, saying farewell or goodbye.  Adinkra was the exclusive right of royalty and spiritual leaders, and only used for important ceremonies such as funerals and times of mourning. 

     African Akinkra Symbols

     

    Adinkra Fabric

     

    Originally the symbols were hand printed on undyed, red, dark brown or black hand-woven cotton fabric. The symbols have a decorative function but also there are many different symbols with distinct meanings, often linked with proverbs.

    Adinkra Fabric

    The symbols are a representation of distinct philosophies, proverbs, beliefs and history. Ghanaians use them to to communicate evocative messages representing wisdom, norms, culture, parts of their lives or those around them, as well as life in society. The Adinkra symbols of the Ashanti are timeless and still in use today.

    Here at Blackscape, we use Adinkra in our mosaic stepping stones and clay pots. Of course Adinkra symbols are no longer are reserved for use only at funerals or in times of mourning. Today the symbols represent a more general sign of respect for the experiences and aphorisms, and truths of our ancestors.

    Black History Month is the ideal time to celebrate these inherited concepts, which we do by featuring Adinkra symbols prominently in our outdoor mosaic designs.

    Friendship
     

    Esn Ne Tekrema – “friendship, interdependence. The perfect gift for your BFF!

    Adinkrahene – Chief Adinka Symbol. Represents “greatness, charisma, and leadership.”

    Chief Adinkra

     

    Gye Nyame – “supremacy of God.” The most recognized Adinkra Symbol.

    Kwatakye Atiko – Show your appreciation to the men in your life by gifting this outdoor mosaic symbolizing “bravery and valor.”

     

     

    Welcome – A new homeowner would appreciate this beautiful mosaic. 

     

     

    House of Peace – A stunning way to welcome visitors to your home.  

    For more information about our beautiful products, call Joice at 303-437-5893 and let us help you "Take Culture Outdoors."


    Food, Family, Friends: My African-American Mosaic Art Inspiration! January 15 2016

    Happy New Year, the Christmas holiday is over; I enjoyed the time off and I survived all the food, family and friends.  

    I smile as I think about the wonderful time spent with family, friends and neighbors. We cooked and ate a lot of food – both traditional and old favorites, and  tried some new dishes we may keep around as well. And the African-American mosaic art inspired by my time spent with family and friends over the holidays has truly nourished my creativity.

    All of the food was delicious because the one thing my family does well… is cook good!

    We add a few pepper flakes, a clove or two of garlic, chopped onions or bell pepper. The seasonings are tangy, peppery, delicate, sweet and smooth; some aromatic and some pungent. And as we add a little of this and a lot of that, it results in a very tasty dish. We enjoy cooking with different herbs and spices, as when all the spices and flavors blend together the dish becomes even more delicious.

    And when I think about how these different spices flavor a dish to make it great, I contemplate how the colorful mix of personalities and characteristics of the folks who surround me adds a delicious dash of spice and personality to my community. And this unique community is what inspires my drive to create beautiful african-american mosaics.

    My community is much like food; the presentation is much nicer with a variety of colors and flavors.

    The men, women and children are like herbs and spices. While some are spicy, others are delicate and sweet. Sometimes we use a different seasoning that will result in a distinct, yet delectable flavor. The traits and uniqueness of this eclectic group of people are the inspiration for the designs in the community section of the Blackscape.

    Our images represent men of strength and leadership, wise and beautiful women with style and sizzle, and the playfulness and spontaneous of children.

    Allow me to introduce my community to you through these African-American mosaic stepping stones

    Brotha Man
    The leaders and protectors of our community are represented by the image of Brotha Man. Along with Mr. Man and other images of powerful males, they represent the builders of families and communities; they demonstrate examples of trust, honesty and integrity for this generation. Honor the men in your life with these images of Mr. Man in your outdoor space or your home.

       Li'l Man

      Little Man in the neighborhood stands on a strong foundation built upon the people in his community to whom he looks up. His image represents play and mischief, as he is well mannered, helpful and respectful. The image of Lil Man on a stepping stone or porcelain tile will be perfect in the middle of your flower bed.

       Mizz Lady

      Mizz Lady’s image captures the essence of beauty, respect, sophistication and style. Mizz Lady is a nurturer in the community, setting the example of a wise woman. The image of Mizz Lady represents all things good in the community. Place a Mizz Lady stepping stone or porcelain tile anywhere in your outdoor living space to add color and style.

       Sistah Gurl

      Add fiery spice to your community with the sizzle and soul of Sistah Gurl. Nothing is boring about Sistah Gurl who keeps it real. The image of Sistah Gurl will bring pizazz and interest to any corner or special place in your outdoor space or in your home.

       Sister Girl

      Sister Girl is the different spice that makes our dish uniquely sweet. A diverse community allows us to celebrate our differences and similarities and makes us stronger. Sister Girl and Sistah Gurl represent this diversity; the images of either or both will add the perfect flavor to your outdoor space.

       Baby Girl

      The Baby Girl image was inspired by the charming playful manner and simplicity of a child with no worries of the world. It’s the sweet flavor of goodness; Baby Girl’s image represents the fun and liveliness of our community. Place this image among your colorful flowers and it will truly put a smile on your face.

       

      As our families and communities continue to grow, change, and evolve, what is exciting and fun for me is to think about meeting more people from different places, backgrounds and ages who will bring their uniqueness and each will contribute to who we are.

      As my community and surroundings were the inspiration for the “Lifestyle Collection,” I look forward to capturing in design, more images of exceptional people in the community. I’m sure they will make for a colorful palette of stained glass images and beautiful, inspiring African-American mosaic art.

      So please come back and check us out. 

      And Happy New Year from Blackscape Outdoor Living!

       
      Presidents Complexions Seniors

       


      Magic of the Holiday Season: Religion or Morals? December 15 2015

       

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      The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

      Regardless of your religion, belief, faith, or spiritual background, you must agree that this time of the year – the “Holiday Season” – is one of the most joyful times of the year.

      People just seem to be happier, more giving and more forgiving during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

      And even though “Season’s Greetings” is typically seen as a Christmas salutation, and Christmas is a Christian religious holiday, in our country today people of nearly all religions, as well as the non-religious share the joy of the Holiday Season. Some fully embrace the Christian side of the Holiday, while others have taken to “X”-ing Christ out from Christmas and refer this season as “Xmas.”

      More Than Half the Human Population Are Believers

      According to the “Population Clock,” a feature provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the world population is approximately 7.3 billion. Of those billions, more than half – 4.9 billion individuals – self-identify as followers or believers of one of the five largest major world religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

      And at a time when it seems as if powerful forces are conspiring to tear us apart, this is the season that brings us together year after year, celebrating generosity, gratitude, joy and love in spite of our many significant differences.

      And make no mistake, these differences are real and they are meaningful. But they pale in comparison to the things we share, regardless of whether we are religious or not, regardless of whether our beliefs fall under a formally organized religion or if we refer to ourselves as “spiritual.”

      Blackscape Outdoor Living Celebrates Your Faith Community

      I respect your choice of religion. My purpose for writing this post is to celebrate the spirit of people of all faiths during this most joyous time of year.

      I am an avid and enthusiastic cook, and especially love to prepare and share special meals during the Holiday Season. Using food as an analogy for faith, this topic has been sliced, diced, chopped, minced pureed, boiled and examined from every point of view imaginable. From the literary and theological to the scientific, it sometimes seems as if religion has been analyzed and thought nearly to death.

      But the beauty of a great dish is that it takes a variety of different but complementary ingredients, and with a little TLC (or in this case Holiday Cheer) blends them together into a wholly new and different concoction that’s more delicious than the sum of its parts. And that is basically how the Christmas Season works also.

      Regardless of whether you believe or not, whether you’re a member of an “organized religion,” or not, regardless of whether you consider yourself spiritual, I’d like to share with you what I have found to be some of the similar characteristics of the top five major religions, and how they combine to help make Christmas one of the most popular and festive holidays of the year.

      Here Are Four of My Favorite Common Characteristics

      In his book Religions of the World, Niels Nielsen presents 13 common characteristic found in most religions. I am especially in love with these four.

      1. Religions commonly promote a moral code or ethical principles to guide individuals and communities.
      2. Religious life engages and incorporates common emotional and intuitive human feelings, a sense of wonder, and the bond experienced in the community.
      3. Religions promise an inner peace and harmony despite the changes of life.
      4. Religions typically offer a future hope of a better life through some type of transformation.

      Every religion has special, sacred days and holidays that they celebrate throughout the year. Each religion is distinguished by its method of practice and rituals that are approved and accepted by its followers and members, yet found strange and mysterious by others, usually non-followers of that particular religion.

      But to me, these 4 truths are the ones that we’ve been taught since childhood. Taking care of ourselves and our communities, being kind to others, the golden rule: “treat others as you’d like to be treated.”

      There is no scientific research or correlation to back me up. It is my own observation that tells me people are kinder, more generous, and more patient during the “Holiday Season,” and that this is based not just on religion, but on our innate human kindness.

      The holiday season is a happy, giving, forgiving time that helps us all be better people. Is it thanks to religion or morals, or something completely different? It doesn’t matter so long as we treat each other and ourselves with love, respect, and joy during this Holiday Season.

      Season's Greetings from Blackscape Outdoor Living!


      The Christian cross is one of the most recognized symbols in the world, and is the current symbol of faith in our collection. However, I respect all faiths and beliefs and will, upon request and with discernment and commitment to quality, custom design a work of outdoor art based on the symbol of your faith. 


      9 Reasons Mosaic Art is Awesome November 16 2015

      Ever since I was a child, I have been inspired by the huge variety, incredible durability, and awesome beauty of mosaic art. When I was young I believe it was the bright, colorful patterns that drew me in. As I became more mature, I began to appreciate the symbolism and storytelling that great mosaic artists incorporated into their work.

       

      Outdoor Garden Mosaic

      Now, as the owner and proprietor of Blackscape Outdoor Living, and as an artist active in the mosaic arts myself, I have developed great appreciation and reverence for the skill, craft, and artistry it takes to create each piece. Because the process of crafting each individual work of art is unique, every piece is different, expressing a different aspect of the creator’s personality, or telling its own tale.

      Today, I would like to tell the tale of mosaic art itself.

      What is Mosaic Art?

      Mosaic is the decorative art of creating pictures and patterns on a surface by setting small colored pieces of glass, marble, or other materials -- called tesserae -- into a bed of cement, plaster or adhesive. I thought it would be fun to share a few details what I learned about mosaic art in form of an acrostic.

      Mosaic Art: An Appreciative Acrostic

      M – Mixed Medium: Mosaic is a mixed medium art form. A medium is what an artist uses to create his or her work. Painters use paint, sculptures usually use clay, welders use metal, musicians use instruments. Mosaic artists can use a combination of mediums such as glass, wood, metal, ceramic, textiles, to create their expressive art; thus, mixed medium.

      O – Origin: The earliest known examples of mosaic art dates to 3rd millennium BC Mesopotamia. Mosaic art has been found throughout Greece and Rome in arts and crafts  from the 3rd and 4th centuries. In the 1920s, a discovery revealed that affluent 4th century Greeks crafted elaborate mosaic floors of black and white pebbles, in their lost city of Olynthus, near present day Olinthos.

      S – Sensational Sites: Feel free to browse these resources for more information and photos related to the history and artistry of mosaics.

      Santa Costanza and Santa Pudenziana, both from the 4th century, still exist.

      St Peter's Basilica, 4th-century vaulted tomb with wall and ceiling mosaics that are given Christian interpretations.

      St Aquilinus Chapel of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, executed in the late 4th and early 5th centuries depict Christ with the Apostles and the Abduction of Elijah.

       

      The ceiling mosaic in the Baptistery of Neon, Ravenna

      A – It’s Art: Art is creative, visual, emotional and technical. Mosaic art is typically seen as an applied and/or decorative art, which is the application and design of objects to make them aesthetically pleasing, or the design and manufacturing of beautiful objects that are also functional.

      I - Inspirational: One of the most inspirational aspects of mosaic art is the fact that anyone can learn to do it. If you are so inspired, go to your local arts and craft store and buy a book on mosaics. Be inspired, collect your own materials or use prepackaged materials. To to a studio to learn from well-known or young aspiring artists. Creating mosaics is inspiring at any age, so go ahead! Get started and have fun.

      C – Cool: Mosaic designers uses bits and pieces of stained glass, ceramic, opaque or shimmering glass, wood or metal of different that are different, colors, shapes, sizes and textures to create a cool piece of art.

       

      Mosaic work studio

      A - Art Nouveau: Art Nouveau was an applied and decorative art, popular between 1890 and 1910. It was characterized by its propensity for organic forms and nature-inspired curves, as well as the extensive incorporation of mosaics. Mosaic Art Nouveau pieces can be viewed at art galleries around the world.

      R - Ravenna: During the 5th century AD Byzantine period, Ravenna, Italy leaped forward with radical new materials, techniques, and designs becoming the world center of Christian mosaic art. Mosaics in this era specialized in covering walls and ceilings with special glass and techniques to reflect light in the tiles. One of the most notable is The Basilica of San Vitale; today modern mosaics are still created in Ravenna.

      T - Technology: Today, some “artists,” are attempting to replace hand-made human creativity with machines. Pending may be an apparatus that could scan an image, generate colors, score tiles, identify matching pieces and produce mosaic art, essentially removing the artist from the creative process. This technology could remove our ability to craft mosaics with our own hands; to see the paint, mold the clay or cut the glass. Sure, technology is efficient. It’s just not fun!

       

       

       

       


      Blackscape Mosaics October 15 2015

      A Matter of the Heart

      How far away do you to go to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors, breathe in fresh air and the fragrance of flower beds, gardens, shrubs, and trees? In today’s busy world, it often seems like these qualities of life are a million miles from home.

      There’s no need for you to go far any longer. You can put your feet up and relax, dine alfresco, look at the twinkling stars, and enjoy the coolness of the evening – all from the comfort of your own backyard, front porch, patio, deck, or terrace.

      A Handcrafted Outdoor Living Space Begins with Blackscape Outdoor Living

      I handcraft garden art, including mosaic stepping stones, mosaic porcelain tiles, painted terra-cotta pots and decoupage terra-cotta pots for your outdoor and in-home enjoyment. My goal is to help you create a more colorful, stimulating and attractive space for your outdoor enjoyment.

      Blackscape Outdoor Living was created as a result of my desire to see outdoor art that was specific to my culture. I enjoy being outdoors and wanted to take my culture outdoors, but there was little outdoor art that filled the exceptional, culturally specific, and aesthetically pleasing vision I had for my backyard space.

      I sought garden statues of children with African-American features; I searched for stepping stones, tiles, and clay pots painted in bright colors with ethnic patterns and designs, but came up short in my quest.

      To fulfill my passion for this art, I realized I would have to bring these items and artifacts into being myself. I began by began creating what I envisioned would be a space full of African history, references to our African-American lifestyle, culture, and faith – to capture the true flavor of my community.

      Inspirations and Education

      My passion for mosaic art began with the purchase of a garden mosaic book from a craft and hobby store. It was a great book because it covered the disciplines, fundamental techniques of art, patterns and design; it was vital to building my basic skills.

      I’ve had the good fortune to learn stained glass and mosaics from some of the finest mosaic artists across the country. I’ve studied and learned at Bella Mosaics, Philadelphia, Reflections Stained Glass, Wilmington, DE, Bella Glass Studio and Glass Warehouse, both in Denver, CO. I continued my study with ceramic tiles at the Arvada Arts Center, in Arvada, CO.

      I look forward to tips and tidbits I’ll pick up as a member of Colorado Mosaic Artists.

      Symbols of Culture and Faith

      Our mosaics include Adinkra symbols from west Ghana, West Africa – created by the Akan – which represent concepts relating to our lives, our environment and our faith.

      CindyAfricaIrr

      I also find inspiration in African American culture and have created works that represent the diversity and beauty of our people including Brotha Man, Lil Man, Mizz Lady, Sistah Gurl and Baby Girl.  

      TB12SisGurl1

      While the Adinkra symbols represent some of my earliest inspiration, and while the Christian Cross is the current symbol of faith in our collection, I respect all faiths, and am happy to create a custom design representing your faith tradition or community.

       Cindy 8" Cross

      Bringing these stepping stones, tiles and pots home to your outdoor space will make it a special place to be, enhancing your outdoor living space, generating conversations, and honoring the traditions and faith of your community in beautiful and enjoyable ways. Make a gift to yourself, your family, or your friends.

      Check out our collection at www.blackscapeoutdoorliving.com.

       

       


      Welcome to Our Blog October 01 2015