Do You Really “Like” Me?

My husband writes a blog, its nothing like mine, he wouldn’t consider himself an artist, but I think he is wonderfully creative in many ways. One of which is that he is a good writer. We had a conversation the other day about our respective blogs. I write every day, he writes when the mood strikes. We are both very curious about something. When we write about something serious, something that we feel is important in our little part of the world, we get maybe one, maybe two “likes”. When we write something that we feel isn’t up to par, our “likes” go through the roof. ??????  We are puzzled. If it happened to one of us then we might reason that what we feel is our better writing is crap, and in this apparently alternate universe we reside in, our not so good stuff is stellar. However, it is happening to both of us, and our blogs couldn’t be more different, in content, in writing style, and quite frankly, mine has more pretty pictures than his. (He occasionally posts a photo.) I wrote a post the other evening about hearing my couch call to me. It is one of the highest amount of “likes” I’ve received. I was a little delirious with pain at the time, and I think my writing reflected that. Now my brain hurts. Do I write better when in pain? Will you “like” me if I stub my toe before I blog?  I know it can’t have been the artwork from that night. It wasn’t my best, and actually since this started out as a blog about my art as well as my life, I’d be horrified if you thought that was my best. I believe that I have produced some really nice pieces in the last few months with not a lot of feedback. My son said something last week (in his superior “I’m younger and smarter than you” best), he said that he thinks people who write blogs are self-serving. (He has his moments as a compassionate and understanding human being, this was obviously not one of them.) I think he’s just pissed that I started one first. (Just like the tattoo story…another time.) I explained to him that I started this blog because of the 365 project. I was hoping it would change my life, and it has. I also knew that I never do anything for myself, and would continue to ignore myself, and to feed my “not good enough self” that lives in the recesses of my brain unless I made it impossible to quit. The blog was born. As I explained the other night, I’d feel too guilty if I didn’t follow through. (Thank you Sr. Rose Vincent, Sr. Therese Angela, Sr. Aloysius, and all the other nuns who participated in my “guilt” education, and of course an honorable mention to my parents.) I wasn’t looking for accolades when I started this, I was looking for pressure. I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination.  I feel like I’m back in high school and I want people to like me, gross. When I was in high school I never cared if anyone liked me. So I find myself at odds with myself. I have to admit it, I want you to like the art, it means a lot to me, and I hope you enjoy my ramblings, as for me personally….

For tonight another piece of pen and ink for my upcoming endeavor.

P.S. The couch says “Hello”.9 30

A Good Day

Not 100% today, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. I heard quiet whispering from the couch, but I had too much to do to answer the call. That and my inner Martha Stewart was talking over it. Every now and then I feel really inspired to cook. I have mentioned before that I love cooking, and that I’m quite good at it, but once in a while I have the urge to really create in the kitchen. Tonight I made Deviled Crab Cakes with a mango lime butter mayo, on freshly baked brioche, served with a small salad. For dessert Goat Cheese Cheesecakes with Rosemary, with a ginger snap crust, served with blackberry sauce and mango purée. I got the recipe for the cheesecake from a Food and Wine email, created by chef Sandi Reinlie. It is meant to be served with a lavender honey, but I make a terrific blackberry sauce that I thought would pair well with the cheesecake and I was right. Delicious. And since I was in such a culinary state of mind I chose an appropriate subject for tonight. I have a handful of photographs that I took at our local farmer’s market. I chose a photo of some beets, and painted them in watercolor. (I think I hear inner Martha telling me to alphabetize my spices, but I’ve decided to ignore her.) A day like today makes me feel terrific. I love feeling as though I’ve accomplished something. A very satisfying, creative day. IMG_1549

Deviled Crab Cake on BriocheIMG_1556

Goat Cheese cheesecake with Blackberry sauce and Mango puree IMG_1555Watercolor on paper

Answering The Call…Of My Couch

I hate to admit it, but today is one of those days when any project is an issue. Not enough sleep, feeling a little under the weather, I just can’t seem to find any inspiration. I looked through some old photographs in my computer and actually picked a few, but the truth is I’m just not up to it tonight. I promised art every day for a year, and as I have said in the past, there are days I just didn’t count on. Today is definitely one of them. I pushed through it last night when I wasn’t feeling well, but tonight I think I’ll be raising the white flag. The only thing that I’m finding inspirational at the moment is putting my head down. However, I have been raised on the ultimate force of power in the universe, otherwise known as Catholic guilt. When I make a promise, I keep it. I realize that there is no WordPress hotline to the Vatican that might report my missed deadline, but due to masterful parental manipulation, guilt rules my life. I wouldn’t dream of not following through when I say I’ll do something. I really was going to try, but in the not so far distance I hear my couch calling my name. Of course all of the above being said, I can’t answer the call of the couch until I post something. A simple watercolor. I hope to be back in fighting form tomorrow.Image

Organic Process

Working on my lamp shade became a much bigger project than I imagined, and also headed in a direction that I hadn’t planned on. To begin with my matte knife blade began to dull from cutting out the cardboard tiles and I didn’t have a replacement handy. There was also the fact that I was trying to spell out specific words and as always failed to plan ahead. I don’t like to plan too much when I’m working on a upcycling project. I’d rather the process be more organic and evolve as I work. I’ve produced some really terrific work that way. I made the tiles individually, and then attached them to the frame as I finished them before beginning the next one. I was incorporating the name of our upcoming business (which I can’t reveal just yet), and of course began to realize that the tiles should probably be larger going down the frame. Part of the fun in not planning is running into the “mistakes” or problems and coming up with creative ways to deal with them. I like to let the project lead me by what it needs. In this case I liked the oddity of what was beginning to happen. I also realized that I was going to have some empty space to deal with, this is when the lamp shade headed down the Steampunk path.  I have so many little pieces in my studio that I have gathered over the years, I went up and began poking through drawers and boxes. I came up with a little bit of rusty chain and a box of vintage keys. I began to drape the chain behind and hang keys throughout. I thought it was finished, but as I photographed it for this post I discovered a lot empty space I want to deal with in the morning.Sometimes it takes stepping away to see what is missing. Even as I write this I think I have the perfect piece in mind to add in the morning. I also need to get the right bulb and lamp base. Dan is going to help me tomorrow by creating a lamp base using some pipe. For tonight the not quite finished shade. It’s well on its way, it just needs the right accessories.IMG_1522IMG_1527

Illuminated Inspiration

I was looking on Pinterest last night and came across a photo of a lamp that I really loved. Like so many things I see that I love I decided to make it. I’ve actually been playing around with stripped down lamp shade frames for about a year. Again in my efforts to recycle I try to make new things out of old things. I like to take something ordinary and turn it into something interesting. The lamp I saw was made from a stripped down frame and some vintage tin alphabet stencils. My first thought was to go to etsy and purchase some vintage metal stencils to use to create my own version of the lamp. I quickly realized that it would cost me more than I wanted to spend if I purchased as many stencils as I would need. Years ago I was watching a television show about craft projects that showed a technique involving glue and brown paper. The glue was painted on a brown paper bag that was then held over a candle flame. The glue begins to blacken and bubble, and when the blackened portion is wiped off the paper looks like metal. I remember when I first attempted the technique, I was amazed at the results. I went on to improve on the technique, and actually made a frame for a mirror using it, and then went on to sell it at a show. I haven’t used the technique for years until today. I also save all of cardboard backing from my pads of drawing paper, and any larger pieces of cardboard that are inside packages. The burning glue technique works really well on cardboard. I created my own version of the stencils out of cardboard and used the technique on them. Free “metal” stencils from recycled cardboard. I didn’t get enough of them done to finish my lamp today. I did take before and after photos of the cardboard to post for tonight. I can’t wait to finish the lamp, and will definitely post the finished project tomorrow .IMG_1485IMG_1488

Late Grade

Last night I gave myself an unofficial report card on my project so far. Guess what I forgot? Come on, we all know what it is…Perspective of course. Notice how I managed to forget that little issue? I think its post traumatic stress disorder caused by geometry. I was straightening out all the supplies that are laying about in my family room and found not one but two books on the subject. One was a book I own and have owned for years. The other was the library book I wrote about last week.  Have I read them thoroughly? No I haven’t. I did crack open the library book and make a few rough sketches that I had posted last week. I also wrote last week about my love of reading. So that might make one wonder why I haven’t read these books on perspective. I have had a lifelong issue with reading. Back in the third grade I was pulled from reading class by the nuns to help the first graders with reading. My reading skills were always above my grade. I can knock off a novel in an afternoon. However, if the reading material happens to be in the form of an instruction manual, or a text-book on a subject that I am not interested in, I can read a page again and again, and nothing, not a thing. No comprehension what so ever. I hate to admit this but I’m about as stubborn as they come. I mean no disrespect as I say this, but to quote my Dad, “That one could argue Jesus Christ off the cross”. If I don’t want to do something it just doesn’t happen. I really believe that if I’m not interested enough in the subject my brain closes its eyes and refuses to look. There can be no other explanation. So my grade on the offending perspective…C- I think that’s fair, I have seen some improvement, but obviously if I actually tried to work on it I could do better. I’d like to promise I’d do so, but I really, really hate how mathematical it is. Like everything else I do and have done with art, I will continue to work on it in my own way.

And in taking a step in the right direction, I started my project early today. I’m really happy with my finished piece. Sometimes the unexpected comes into your life, and sometimes it brings incredible people with it. Alexis, a beautiful young lady and the subject of my painting tonight. I’m not actually sure who took the photograph of her, I saw it on her Facebook page and thought she looked beautiful. I also loved the abstract way the light had blurred the line of her pants, and the unusual color it cast on both Lexy and her surroundings. I’d like to think I captured her essence and the reflected color. It is the most ambitious watercolor I have done to date.IMG_1482

Heading Into Midterms

At the birth of this project the object was to use up the supplies I have on hand in my studio. The project evolved into much more than that, but the original purpose is still a challenge to be met. It’s been a while since I’ve written about my artistic self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy due to my lack of artistic schooling. I bring it up again because I am nearing the halfway point in the promise of a year of art. I am roughly two weeks away, and decided to step back a little and check my progress. I have produced a tremendous amount of art since April when this all began. Not all have been pieces that I love or even like. There are some that I am immensely proud of. It is without question the most productive I have ever been artistically. The state of my studio? It pretty much looks the same. I have gone through quite a bit of watercolor paper, several canvases, some drawing paper, but for the most part it looks the same. Which is strange considering that a great deal of my materials have made their way down to our dining room, our family room, our guest room, the kitchen and even the garden. In terms of cleaning out my artistic refrigerator, I am a total failure. I might also mention here that I tend to be a bit untidy as an artist (OK, in other areas as well, particularly when creating in the kitchen), I’m working on it. However, the clutter in my brain is beginning to straighten itself out. Not that I don’t still have total meltdowns and think my work is crap. Years of self-doubt aren’t that easy to shake off. It is just that I am feeling more fearless in my art. I don’t give up when I begin to feel “not good enough” trying to sneak back into my brain. I do have to admit that there are a few recently orphaned canvases that need to be addressed. Oil is still my big hangup. Patience is really in need of attention.I have of course recently professed my new-found love of pen and ink. My watercolor skills are much better than I realized. So as I near that halfway mark I think I’m doing OK. I give myself high marks for growth in artistic confidence, but I am failing in making myself and art a priority. I am still cranking this work out after dinner. That’s right, ninety percent of the work that I have produced and posted on this blog have taken place between the hours of seven and ten at night, including writing. I guess I have to stop and ask myself what the problem is. What is the roadblock in my way? I don’t know. I do know that I can see what I am capable of in three hours, imagine what I could do if I actually gave myself time.

I decided to head up to the studio and dig out something different. Pastels. Which I will now admit I am discovering are not my favorite medium. The point is to use up the supplies. I’m trying! This piece is based on a photo from La Jolla Cove here in Southern California.9 24

Living A Better Life

While I was at my Dad’s house I looked through his old photo albums. I ended up bringing quite a few photos back with me to repair. I’ve gotten pretty good with Photo-shop, particularly on the old damaged pics. Some were photos of my grandparents when they were young. Those pictures got me thinking.  I wondered if my grandparents thought about their lives, if they were satisfied, or if they ever gave it any thought at all. We live in a very me, me, me, society. Some of that I believe is good. I think if we are allowed and encouraged to grow as people it benefits us in a multitude of ways.  At the same time, in all of this self focus, do we lose sight to those around us? Is it possible to satisfy your own needs without taking into consideration the needs of others? Yes and no. One of the books I really enjoy, and have reread many times is Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet In Heaven”. In essence the book speaks to how each moment in our lives we touch others in ways we don’t even realize. I think about that a lot. I’ve mentioned before that I like to think about being the “nice lady”  someone remembers from their childhood. Just think of the difference we could all make if we thought about that every day. A smile, a compliment, an open door for a stranger, simple acts that cause a ripple effect. It is so easy to change the day of another person. When I think back on my life I can remember moments that make me smile with the memory of something I did that I know made a positive difference in the life of someone I barely knew. Unfortunately I can also look back and remember when I wasn’t my best. These days I’m working on always keeping what is really important in life at the top of my list. I believe as I grow (yes, even at my age…), in particular through this project, as I am more content, as I am happier, I want others to feel the same. Things that bothered me in the past seem silly now. Anger has changed for me as well. I am angry about things that I see happening in the world that I cannot change, but I am finding it difficult to be angry with those I love most. Learning to let go of nonsense makes for a better life. Focusing on who and what we love can change all of us. Thinking about those single moments with the people you love, as well as those you will never know but have a split second with, can change a life, and you won’t even realize you did it. I guarantee that in that instant you can make the world a better place.

In amongst the photos at my Dad’s was a picture of my cousin Lorna’s son Oisin. As the world around me moves at lightening speed, Oisin is quite a bit older than when this photo was taken, but I loved it. Like the painting from last night it called to me. I experimented a bit with mixed media for tonight. Watercolor, pencil, and pen.IMG_1474

Acting On Inspiration


I spoke the other day of not quite understanding inspiration, what makes one idea or subject stand out more than another, why one photo calls to me more than another. That isn’t the case today. A friend of mine posted a photograph of his son and a friend on his Facebook page. From the moment I saw the photograph I wanted to paint it. I actually had turned to Dan and said, “You know what this is? It’s a painting, a watercolor painting.”  My friend labeled it, “Best buds on the bench.” I love the photograph, and I love the label. There is a nostalgia that emanates from this photo, an innocence that these days is too easily lost. As I said, I know why I wanted to paint this one. Mike, thanks for permission to paint your wonderful photo, for giving me inspiration, and I hope Ryan and his “Best Bud”, remain that way for a very long time. 9 22


A Plethora Of Pen

As a testament to how much I am enjoying the process of pen and ink, I did not one, but three sketches today, and all in I day where I wondered where I might find the time. I was cooking dinner for Brian’s birthday tonight, and as always it is the choice of the birthday boy/girl to decide what it is I will be cooking. Pastitsio, for those of you who are unfamiliar it is Greek lasagna. It can be complicated, and definitely time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Brian also doesn’t love cake and requested a French Silk Pie. Also a little complicated and time-consuming. Between the two I wondered where I might find time for art, but I did. First in the form of a homemade gift certificate, the second sketch while I waited for the base of my Pastitsio cream sauce to cool, and finally at the end of the evening when all was said and done, and everyone was groaning from the amount of food consumed (did I mention that I also made potato ravioli, with a brown butter Alfredo, crispy sage, and a little crumbled bacon?) We were sitting around the kitchen table talking, and I started to doodle. Sketch number three. So this is the part where I tell you all that this will be a very short blog tonight. I was on my feet all day, I ate too much, and I’m tired. This is one of those days when I forget just how old I really am. Lots of energy first thing in the morning, not so much energy by nine at night. Goodnight, I hope you like the work as much as I enjoyed creating it. And just to make you hungry, a photo of my pie.IMG_1465