Back In The Saddle Again

It has been six days again. I know I said I would post twice a week, but much going on in my life and no time to write. Our daughter heads East later this week, lots to pack for her, and the Chicago Blackhawks are in the playoffs, so of course that takes precedence…We actually found a local pizza restaurant, a franchise from Chicago, and honestly it felt like being back home when we went to watch the games. Chicago is full of little neighborhood bars, the kind where everyone knows everyone. This is much the same. It felt nice and nostalgic, and of course the hockey and deep dish pizza weren’t bad either.

My cheesy title tonight refers to yet another tabletop for our bookstore. I had posted one some months back for little girls, a checkerboard with fairies on it. Tonight it is all about the boys. I had an idea, and I am happy to say it came to fruition beautifully. A western themed board, which is particularly appropriate here in Temecula. This is a town from the Old West. Another unfinished piece from the home improvement store. Preliminary sketches on the first pic.

IMG_8707

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the finished wood burned piece.

IMG_8712

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally a shot of the finished piece.

IMG_8728

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really enjoying these pieces. I love the effect of the wood burning and the pearl paint (although my burnt fingertips would say otherwise!), the plan is to continue to work towards the business, and in the process the furniture. As much hand painted by me as possible.

No complaints tonight. I was right, Dan was right, working makes me happy. I feel my stress melting away with every piece, and that is a very good thing.

Advertisements

Finding My Way Back…Once Again

I was going to name this post “Did You Miss Me?” The truth is that I’m missing me. The year I spent on my artistic project and blog had re-energized my creative self. It had, as I expressed before, become a lifeline, but then I let go. I allowed the waves of misery, depression, sadness, and self-doubt take over my life. It has now been almost fourteen months since Dan lost his job. There is an interview on the horizon, and it looks good, but I think the hope has been drained out of me. Our plans for the business are still alive, just far more complicated than we had anticipated. And now for the positive. I refuse to give in.  I kicked myself in the backside (which would be quite an accomplishment if I could actually do it), I decided to focus on what I can do in the midst of this beyond my control situation. I realized not only had it been days and days since I posted on this blog, but also that I hadn’t done one artistic project in the process. In fact I have three projects all started in the last six weeks that are languishing in my studio. Yesterday I was adding items to our etsy shop when inspiration struck. A Majolica plate that I was on the verge of listing spoke to me. Last year I posted two table projects I had painted. As it turns out both will be part of the furniture for our shop, but it is a cafe/bookstore therefore I need more tables. I ran to the home improvement store and grabbed a circular wooden tabletop. Using my plate as an inspirational starting point I sketched out the design, grabbed my wood burner, and went to work. When I was finished with the burning (I still don’t have full feeling in my finger tip), I used my Martha Stewart Pearl, and Martha Stewart Metallic to paint my waterlily design. Dan and I decided that we didn’t want the entire table to be painted, but that we liked the look of one of my other pieces where the pearl paint was set off by stained wood. I think we were right. I’m very happy with how the tabletop looks. A little touch up tomorrow when the stain is dry, and a mission will to be to find just the right piece to create the bottom.

Today felt good. It’s time to grab the lifeline, time to get back to what kept my head above water, art. My lifelong best friend, the one thing that has always been there for me. There is also my husband, Dan, the guy on the other end of the rope pulling me back in. He reminded me how focused I was while I was involved in last years project. Good days and bad I worked, maybe not always my best work, but I created every single day. So here is the commitment, it’s to myself, minimum twice a week for posting. As for art, something creative every single day. Unfinished work, new work, things for the business. No more feeling lost when what I need to find myself is right here in my hands.

IMG_8652IMG_8653IMG_8655IMG_8680

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding My Way Back

Three days since I last posted. The honest truth is that I just haven’t been feeling much in the way of creativity. Not that I need to continue to pound in just how precarious our situation here is. Speaking of pounding…I hit myself in the hand with a hammer, that doesn’t help with creativity either. We had workmen here in our garden several years ago, and to make a long story short, they messed up, we caught them, they gave us a “special” finish on the concrete paths on either side of our house as way of making amends. Now the special finish is bubbling up and chipping off. It almost feels as though you are walking on broken glass. Me, being the industrious me that I am, decided to chip it off with a chisel and a hammer just to see if I could. I can, and I can also miss the top of the chisel and hammer my hand instead. OUCH! Fortunately it was not broken, it is just very badly bruised and hurts quite a bit.

I decided tonight that I needed to be here in front of this keyboard. I haven’t been posting, and I haven’t been working. I’m in a funk, and that isn’t good. This project has helped me quite a bit in the last year. I need to keep going. I keep trying to convince myself that we don’t have it as bad as so many people, but faced with the day-to-day of watching our life fall apart somehow those sentiments don’t make much of a difference. There were times when we were younger and poorer. The key word being younger. Starting over when you are young can be exciting, starting over when you are our age is terrifying. We’ve hit a few snags on the road to the shop, but we are looking at other ways to approach the situation. There will always be unexpected challenges when opening a business, we are prepared to deal with them.

I started working late tonight. The Blackhawk’s were playing so we were out to see the game. (They won, Yea!) It was after nine when I began to paint. I mentioned a few months back that our son had moved out. I had painted an abstract for Brian, but I wanted to give him something else. This one is for him. It isn’t even halfway done, but I feel like I have a good start. Frank Zappa from the cover of a record. It doesn’t look enough like him as of yet, but I am only forty-five minutes into the painting. It’s after ten now, so Frank will have to wait until tomorrow to look more like himself.

IMG_7142

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more mention of our business. I’ve designed the logo. It is of Riley, the oldest of our three cats. I will also again say if you are so inclined to help us in our endeavor it would be appreciated more than I can say. Jessica started a crowd-funding option for us. Just click on the link below.

The Curious Cat Books & Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04

To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.

 

 

 

 

IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.

 

 

 

image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.

 

 

 

 

Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.

 

 

 

 

005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.

 

 

5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.

 

 

 

image  Pastel desert scene.

 

 

 

 

 

6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

12 20 Riley once again in pencil.

 

 

 

IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.

 

 

 

 

12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.

 

 

 

 

2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.

 

 

 

3 24 14 Another cabinet door.

 

 

 

 

4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.

 

 

 

 

There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh No, I’m Addicted

Last night was the first in a year when I didn’t post. I actually took a day off, and you know what? It was sooo hard. To begin with I started to feel guilty, like I wasn’t doing something that I was supposed to do. (It’s the whole Catholic thing, its ingrained in my brain) I was working on something creative, all day in fact, but it wasn’t something I can share as of yet. It’s a gift for someone, a very involved gift, and its a surprise. Late in the afternoon I began to feel the pull of the blog. Feeling the need to produce a piece of art to put up, and then I realized I didn’t have to. I’m dead serious, I was feeling like a bad person because I hadn’t produced anything. It may be time for an intervention. I’m still in the middle of my very involved gift, so for tonight more of my retrospective of a year’s worth of art. Paintings in oil and acrylic, and one pastel. Tomorrow the last of the retrospective and new art!

IMG_9703   This is an oil done entirely with palette knife. It was a first for me. It’s based on the view from my studio window.

 

square painting cropped  Acrylic, based on a vintage Japanese mirror from the Forties.

 

 

 

 

Pear Pastel (3)  Pear pastel. My dear friend loves pears.

 

 

 

 

gate  Oil. This is the door to a garden in Santa Barbara. I call it “My Secret Garden”

 

 

 

 

DSC05785  The Kitchen Worker. Oil, inspired by a photo in Gourmet magazine.

 

 

 

 

6 7 (16)  Oil on board. Inspired by a vintage illustration.

 

 

 

 

608 (2)

Waterlily’s, because every artist needs at least one right?

 

 

 

6 15  For Dan. His Dad’s watch, penknife and martini glass, oil.

 

 

 

DSC03388

 

Temecula. Oil

 

 

7 11  Acrylic on canvas. I was imaging an old Polaroid.

 

 

 

 

7 12  Acrylic garden shovel. Inspired by a photo in Country Living.

 

 

 

 

7 22  Oil on piece of old wood. For my Mom who loved Lilac.

 

 

 

 

8 2 (2)  Oil. Painted this in roughly two hours, right out of my head.

 

 

 

 

8 6 (1)  My first abstract.

 

 

 

 

8 16 (2)  Oil. Palette knife and thirty minutes.

 

 

 

 

8 20

Another Waterlily in oil.

 

 

 

IMG_1062  Oil. Painted on a day when I wasn’t feeling great and my wonderful husband painted a version of his own alongside me to help me get past my artistic block.

 

 

 

 

10 11  Acrylic. An attempt to capture the colors of Maxfield Parrish.

 

 

 

 

winter scene

Old work, oil on canvas with a great story to go with it. (If you are interested, “A Little Tale”, posted 12/11/13)

 

 

12 24  Brian, my son in oil. An “orphaned” painting from many years ago that I finally rescued.

 

 

 

 

12 23

 

Acrylic. Palette knife once again.

 

12 28

 

Oil. La Jolla, California, from a photo I took. My favorite piece from the entire year.

 

 

cropped barn  Oil. From a photo I took in California Central Coast farm territory.

 

 

3 7 14  Oil. A really old one, but a favorite.

 

 

 

3 25 14 An abstract in Acrylic.

 

 

Day 365

Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.

There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.

I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.

Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”

IMG_03417 13 (4)

IMG_9708

 

 

Oops!

At the show, and the fact that I have time to write tonight’s post should give you some inclination of how it’s going. Not a customer in sight, this despite the fact that I am between an exit door coffee/ice cream stand. I was assured that this was a successful show in the past, but not for me. Oh wait, I did make one sale, an adorable little girl came by and was looking longingly at one of my zombie ornaments so I sold it to her for a dollar. What can I say? I’m a sucker for kids. It’s really disappointing. We didn’t get to bed until nearly twelve thirty, got up at six fifteen, and have now been standing on my feet since about eight fifteen this morning, it’s currently 12:27 Pacific Coast time, two and a half hours left to go. I know I’m in the wrong place, if you were to look around me you would see quite frankly momentous amounts of crap. I’m talking manufactured merchandise, the toilet paper cover crafting that I abhor, and a lady trying to sell massages. An “art show” it’s not. I try not to judge the work of others, but I know that my work is heads above what I’m seeing. I always swear I’ll never do another one of these school shows, but I thought maybe I could add a little to the family finances. I’ve gotten several comments on my work, “Beautiful!”, “You’re so talented.”, etc., but no one seems to want to pay the price. My pieces are always marked less than they are worth (insert lack of self-esteem here), but still people don’t seem to want to buy them. It’s hard, I’m tired, I’ve worked really hard for nearly a month, and I just wanted to succeed a little. I need to learn from this, and discover where I belong. I need to find better shows. I’m not sure how, but I guess a little internet investigating is in order. As for today, I can’t wait to go home and get off my feet. Tomorrow everything will go on etsy. I probably should have done that in the first place.

It is much later in the day, 7:15 in fact.The earlier blog was posted by accident…oops, from Dan’s iPad. So the result of all my hard work? $68 Whoopee!!! After five hours of standing on my feet, weeks and weeks of hard work. We took my meager earning and went out to dinner. Our feet hurt, I was understandably upset, and we were hungry. No new art to post tonight but some I haven’t posted yet. Taking the night off. I deserve it.IMG_6551 IMG_6549 IMG_6548 IMG_6547 IMG_6546 IMG_6545 IMG_6544

Nothing to choose from right?

Determination

Just finishing up a twelve-hour work day. Still plugging away at having as many pieces as possible for Saturday. We’ve put all our decisions about whats next in our lives off until Sunday, too much to do. Dan has been a tremendous help, he is sort of like my artistic sous chef. He preps for me on many of my projects and with finishing work as well. We really do make a terrific team. I was mistaken, because the one plan that we are talking about is our business. It is past the time when we need to take control of this situation we are in. We are both intelligent, hard-working people. We are also very determined people. I no longer want to watch Dan give his all to people who don’t appreciate his efforts. I want us to do what I know we can do, and that is succeed together. No more self-pity. Time to take a leap of faith in ourselves.

In amongst all the things I have picked up over the years was an old plaster frame. I haven’t looked at it in years. I pulled it out the other day and took a good look at it, it screamed, “Mirror, mirror on the wall.” This was a Disney piece just waiting to happen. Tomorrow I will attempt to either find a mirror or cut one to fit, although with my history of accidents…

4 2 14

4 2 14 (2)

Signs

Tonight I will spare you all the “woe is me” saga. I had a couple of really bad days. As if things weren’t troublesome enough around here, the IRS has not taken kindly to our situation and is hitting us hard for tapping into retirement funds. Imagine that? We had the nerve to want to use our own hard-earned money to eat and pay our mortgage. Just when you think things can’t get any worse…

Strange dream again this morning. I was walking for miles and miles, but it was back in Chicago, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) was waiting for a bus, there was a woman’s voice on an intercom, then I woke because the phone was ringing. It was my Dad and it was 4:54 a.m., I jumped out of bed and ran for the phone. (Insert minor heart attack here. When the phone rings at night or early morning I always assume the worse) He felt really bad when I answered. He knew he had woken me, but he is eighty-one and gets confused, and the two-hour time difference between here and Chicago sometimes get switched around in his head. I told him it was fine and tried to go back to bed, thinking maybe I could go back to sleep and find out where I was walking to, and why Phillip Seymour Hoffman was waiting for a bus. Unfortunately for me at that precise moment our neighbors decided to let their dog out, and turn on the security light in their garden that shines right in the window next to where I sleep. I mumbled some choice language and gave up. No sleep for me!

Dan and I went out today to look at a few possible locations for our business. We still don’t know how we will pull this one off, but we aren’t giving up. He also got another lead on another job. (Major good karma and prayer request.) We need a miracle and we need it fast. I’m a person who believes in signs. Not like stop signs ( I do try to come to a complete stop, but there’s a reason they call them “Hollywood stops”, and I’ve lived here more than ten years), but signs from God, or Mohammed, or Buddha, or to whomever it is you give your prayers to. My Mom prayed to Our Lady Of Perpetual Help. Swore by her. My Dad was out of work when we were young and my Mom prayed a particular prayer that was answered. We put the photo on her mass card when she passed away. I’ve been praying my Mom’s prayer, I actually have the ratty old cardboard one that she had for years. I’ve been praying for a year. Honestly I’ve been questioning why my prayer hasn’t been answered, but I haven’t given up. I did my prayers this morning, even cried a bit asking for help. After looking at business locations we stopped at Walmart. We rarely go there. (We don’t like their politics or how they treat their employees, but that’s a story for another time.) As we walked to the back of the store we saw a display of religious candles. The kind that I see many Hispanic people buy. There are usually photos of Jesus or Our Lady Of Guadalupe on them. There She was, Our Lady Of Perpetual Help looking right at me. I’ve never seen that photo on one of those candles before, and I worked at a grocery store for eighteen and a half years. I bought it, She is sitting next to my bed with my Mom’s mass card, and my Mom’s Prayer card. Dan isn’t religious, he is too practical, too scientific, but not completely closed to it. I am choosing to believe, I need to. I’ll be lighting the candle tonight.

One more day, one more box for the show. I’ve had this box, an unfinished wooden one, for years. Grabbed it out of the studio the other day and thought, “Suitcase!” Searched Google images for copyright free luggage stickers. Added some faux ribbon straps, a chain, and lined the inside with decoupaged paper. I’m rather fond of it, but it needs to go, hopefully Saturday.

Off to bed now, wondering if maybe just possibly I will dream something not so odd tonight, or that maybe my Mom and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are cooking up a plan to get us out of this mess with a little help from a particular Lady.

IMG_6485  IMG_6487 IMG_6490

IMG_6492IMG_6486