Addicted

I always say I don’t have an addictive personality. I’ve thankfully never smoked, have a take it or leave it attitude about drinking, and…well OK, there is chocolate, but I don’t consider that an addiction, I consider it a necessity. Oh, and there’s coffee, and my secret unhealthy relationship with Double Bubble. What did I say about not having an addictive personality? Never mind, because I am addicted. To what? To the paper, glue and candle crafting I did last night. Today I decided to go for it again. I saw a photo on Pinterest again, this time it is the sign that hangs in front of The Writer’s Museum in Scotland. I loved it, showed it to Dan and he loved it, so that became my project for tonight. This time recycler that I am, I decided to try using a box that a book was delivered in. I had visions of never throwing away another box and making great art in the process, you know a one woman show, “The Box Lady”…  Not so fast. The box was corrugated. It did not cooperate, it did not want to be cut out with an exacto knife. Thankfully the piece wasn’t as intricate as last night, but still by the time I had finished cutting it out my wrist was throbbing. (Thank you 18 years at the grocery store for giving me carpal tunnel) It did take the glue and burning technique OK, but not quite as nice as last night’s board. Color is another issue. It took the metallic hue, but I am not satisfied with the result. I decided to rest my hand and go back to it tomorrow with some light bronzes and gold acrylics that I have. So here you have it. I’m good on about three-quarters of it, but I also am not crazy about the size. I want to go bigger and bolder with it. I have to admit I’m pretty excited by this stuff, and I don’t get enthusiastic about anything…except maybe chocolate.IMG_3266The original box top drawing

IMG_3270The excruciating cutout

IMG_3283The not quite where I want it so it’s not quite finished piece.

 

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All I Want For Christmas

Dear Santa, I have been a really good girl. This year for Christmas I would like a …break.

Last night I posted that I had pulled out of my show today due to weather. The predicted weather was 50 degrees with a ninety percent chance of rain. I woke this morning to a shining sun, and I kid you not, a hot air balloon sailing past my son’s bedroom window. Really? I couldn’t believe it. It sent me into a tailspin of self-pity and tears. I’ve been working so hard and was terribly upset about the weather forecast, that shining sun was more than I could handle. The sun managed to stay out long enough to make me miserable, and then the rain started. What does it say about my life that I’m upset by a shining sun? The torrential rain that began didn’t make me feel better. I felt bad for the people who were probably set up for the show and were drenched. I think maybe these days my emotions are a little too close to the edge. I’ve spent months having my hopes dashed. Every time I think something good is going to happen for us something goes wrong. I spend a lot of time convincing myself that there are so many people in the world worse off than us. It’s an interesting little mind game that I play on a regular basis. To be honest I am counting the days until this year is over. New beginnings, new year, and new attitude. Just what the doctor ordered. Now I just need to get past the next three weeks.

After that little rant of self pity…I am still a woman obsessed. I had another idea for my nephew’s apartment. I love dictionaries. Obviously because I love words. I wanted to create another art piece for John’s place and came up with the idea of using a word to do with his profession. I chose “gastronome”. It’s just a cool word. I painted a piece of wood white and set out to paint the definition. As always as I look at the almost finished product it is slanted and skewed just like my brain. This can be explained by a number of reasons, my arch nemesis perspective, my horrific eyesight, and probably the fact that I start these things at nine o’clock at night. What all of that means is that tomorrow I will be whiting out areas and redoing them. For tonight however what you see is what you get. I would like to point out that my hand painted font is pretty decent. Many years ago in a land with no home computers, I was a college student majoring in advertising. We went to an advertising show in downtown Chicago. At the show we were given sample font books. I gave mine to my daughter just a few years ago. There wasn’t a font in there I couldn’t copy free hand. Still can, just like a Xerox machine. A what??? If you are too young to know what that is Google it. For tomorrow it is predicted to be sunny, and I hope to have an outlook to match.12 7

An Invite

So much to do, and running out of time. I continue to work on my fairies, my game board, and a couple of small wooden mirrors. The mirrors were unfinished wood. I painted one, and am thinking of adding a little decoupage tomorrow. The other I decoupaged with photos of vintage book covers. I’ve been photographing them at antique stores for art projects. They are really quite beautiful. I am now in countdown mode for my December 7th show. If anyone lives in the Temecula/Murrieta area in Southern California and cares to come by, I’ll be at the River Springs Charter School Holiday Show, Saturday, December 7th. It’s at 41866 Kalmia, Murrieta. I’ll be the one with the glitter trail. On Saturday, December 14th, I’ll be at Old Town Antique Fair at their outdoor Holiday Fair, 28601 Old Town Front Street in Temecula. If fairies aren’t your thing, I will have other items, and possibly some prints. There are so many artistic things I enjoy I never know what I will end up doing. This is my Christmas shopping money so I’m hoping to do as well as possible. Dan and I were both having a difficult day today, it seems these days that one of us is up while the other one is down. Today was the exception. Heading into the holiday’s worrying about our future isn’t the best feeling in the world. I thought about all the times that he was kidding and said that I should be supporting him because of how talented I am. The thing is he is right. I just never had the confidence, but there’s nothing like worry to motivate me.  I also believe, and again and again I say it, as long as we are together we are good.

Here are a few photos of projects in the works for my shows. Feel free to introduce yourself if you stop by.IMG_2659

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Finding The Right Words

There are many nights as I sit and write this blog where words fail me. I can’t quite think of exactly what I want to say, or exactly how to form the sentence to convey the point I’m trying to make. Eventually something comes to me, and for the most part I am happy with the outcome. Last night in my description of the glitter issues that confront my family I consulted a thesaurus looking for synonyms. I was trying to express just how defenseless we feel in the war against glitter. Tonight as Dan, Brian and I sat at the dinner table it became apparent that the glitter was already taking the upper hand. Each of us was sparkling. While that wasn’t surprising for either Dan or I, as we were both in the middle of the mix of my supplies all day in the dining room, but for Brian who had only passed through to be sparkling just proves my point. That’s when Brian came up with the words I was looking for last night. He called glitter the “herpes of craft supplies”. I couldn’t have said it better. I laughed at him and asked where he was last night when I needed him.

Dan as always is my extra pair of hands. He is doing all of what he calls the “grunt work”, but it is of immense help to me as I try to crank out as much work as possible. I  shouldn’t say “crank out”, I actually spend far too much time on each piece. When I stated last night that I don’t charge enough for my work I wasn’t exaggerating. I will fuss over the smallest detail, but I care so much about what I do that I can’t help myself. When it comes to pricing I agonize over it. I’m always sure that I’m charging too much…wait, not enough, but no one will pay that much, I wouldn’t pay that much, but it took me this (insert minutes) long, then there is “There’s always a kid with $5 , I need to have something they could buy”.  Years ago in Chicago I had my own business painting murals. My first clients lived a half hour drive from me. They wanted their “Hey, Diddle, Diddle” border reproduced on the nursery wall in a much larger scale. Get ready to groan, shake your head in disbelief, have your jaw hit the floor, I charged $250. That’s all. A week’s work, an hour drive daily, including supplies, for $250. Dan tried in vain to talk me into a price that was reasonable for the amount of work I was doing, while being fair to the clients. I couldn’t do it. As I explained to him, the wife was a social worker, and the husband worked at a grocery store. He tried to talk some sense into me, explaining that they hired me, that it wasn’t my problem what they could and couldn’t afford. I didn’t change the price. Apparently I have many issues, and much in the way of my favorite scapegoat, Catholic guilt.

We had other company in the dining room. Our cats are particularly happy. There are many small items for them to steal and bat around, or string to run off with. Mia loves it most of all, so much in fact that she likes to join us in the center of things, like the middle of the table, in the middle of my supplies.image

Tonight another upcycled project. One I like so much I may never sell it. An old box that I bought for a few dollars. Painted, decoupaged with one of my photos from France and some scrapbook memorabilia. Acrylic paint projects (12)

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IMG_2177But then again, I need the cash…now if I only knew what to price it at…

Almost There

A very short post tonight from a very tired woman. As I mentioned last night, I’m a worrier. For last night that meant not being able to sleep until after two thirty this morning, and when sleep finally did come it was short-lived. My neighbor decided to turn on his garden lights at five thirty. I was done sleeping after that, needless to say I am exhausted. I will post and head to bed.

I get a great deal of satisfaction when something that I have a vision for in my head becomes a reality. A few posts ago I wrote about a little antique cabinet that Dan gave me as a Christmas present. As I said then, from the moment I saw this cabinet I thought grandfather clock. Dan built a bookcase for me last week. I tried to match the stain for the bookcase to the stain on the old cabinet, but it just didn’t work. I gave some thought to painting the entire piece, but I really didn’t want to paint the cabinet. It is a beautiful piece, and I really couldn’t bring myself to do it. I left the project unfinished until today. I looked in our garage to see what we had on hand. I came across a can of a lighter brown paint. I had an idea that I wasn’t sure of but decided to give it a try. The problem with the unfinished wooden bookcase that Dan built was that the wood was different from that of the cabinet. By adding a light coat of paint to the cabinet, it allowed the wood to be sealed but still show the wood grain. I let the paint dry and then went over the entire piece with a dark wood stain. Amazing results. The wood of the bookcase is incredibly close to the wood finish of the cabinet. I still have some work to do on the piece. I need to add a back panel, and something really special, the words of the nursery rhyme, Hickory Dickory, Dock. Of course that means I needed a mouse to run down my clock. I used Sculpy to make a mouse, painting him when he was finished baking. I also want to add some trim, a bottom panel, and finally some feet. Hopefully I can get to that in the next few days.The finished piece will be for the children’s section of our store. I want the shop to be as inviting as possible. A few photos, before and after, and of course my mouse. That’s all for tonight. I need sleep! Goodnight.10 22

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Hitting The Halfway Mark

Six months and counting. It has been 182 days since I began this project, my studio is in disarray, but I am happy to say that I have more artwork in my portfolio than ever before. I think it just might be time to let my kids go. I haven’t sold a piece of fine art in years. It was my choice not to. I spent so little time pursuing my artistic dreams that I had almost given up on them. Every time I found the time to paint, and actually finish a piece, it meant so much to me that the thought of letting it go was incomprehensible. Not that every piece I have worked on in this last six months is a piece that I would sell. There are some that are definitely of the “last-minute homework” vein. There are those that I love so much I can’t imagine ever selling them, but I’m running out of wall space, I think its time to take the next step. So my choice is obvious, I turn my house into a museum…just kidding…time to start selling my work. There are a number of shows here in Southern California, now I just have to figure out the rest. As for my project, reaching this benchmark has re-energized me, I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.

I mentioned a day or two ago that I love Maxfield Parrish, I felt inspired just writing about his use of color. I wrote that I wanted to duplicate his technique, but life as always gets in the way of plans ( no matter how inspired they are), so I took another route. I didn’t want to pull out the oils tonight, too much clean up, I decided to give it a shot with acrylics. Using Maxfield Parrish’s color palette, I painted a simple winter scene. I’m thrilled with the color, but it is missing the depth of color that I think the layering of paint and glaze would bring. Still, I achieved some vibrancy, and definitely Parrish color. I’m thinking that my next step will be to buy an acrylic glaze and see what it does for this piece. Next week, oils. I want to see what I can do with the oils and glaze. For anyone who might be wondering what happened to the portrait of Jessica, she is still peering at me from an easel in the dining room. You know how it seems as if the eyes of a portrait are following you? I think more than the eyes are following me, I think that the mouth is moving as well. It calls out, “chicken”, every time I pass it. I’ve been avoiding the challenge of finishing, it’s time to jump over that hump as well.10 11

My Skewed Brain

We all know that perspective is my arch nemesis. Maybe my brain is skewed. All I know is that if I don’t draw some kind of guideline everything goes to the right. That includes my handwriting. If I write on an unlined piece of paper, it will inevitably start climbing towards the right edge of the paper as if it were trying to make an escape. Tonight’s watercolor is a perfect example. It looks good as I’m sketching it, but when I pick up the paper and hold it away from myself it is definitely veering to the right. Its frustrating. Of course I know the answer to the problem, practice, practice, practice. I should be drawing daily. I also might try watching that perspective DVD I own. I think I may have mentioned it a few weeks ago. I did take a major step towards watching it then, by that I mean I took the wrapper off. I seem to have an aversion to actually learning how to do anything with help, but if I want to be a better artist I need to bite the bullet.

On a much better note, I love my gift for Dan. I actually ended up turning the cabinet door over and using the other side. The trim is flat instead of rounded and just worked better with the painting. I mixed a little flat black with a metallic gun metal and painted the door. I am also a huge fan of a worn edge, so I sanded the edges down. I glued the cut canvas down to the recessed area. It looks great. I do need to add a little trim inside around the painting. I may also add a finish coat. Dan and I also discussed putting a piece of glass over it. Not sure yet, but I’m really happy with it, and Dan loves it. When I think about it painting a cabinet door is the perfect gift for him. He is continually closing them behind me, and also shutting drawers.  Its not really my fault, it’s really because my brain is skewed.IMG_0828

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unsolicited Advice

When my friend Theresa offered me her old kitchen cabinet doors I was thrilled. I’ve already mentioned how much I enjoy re-purposing things. We already have multitudes of stuff in our garage, things that I’ve picked up over the years, always with some purpose in mind. Unfortunately there are too many pieces that I haven’t gotten too. I hesitated to take on the doors because I knew I had other projects I should attend to. I’m glad I did it. I only took four, there are several more for me to pick up, and I’m anxious to get to them. I’m working on the fourth one tonight. Before I let you in on what I’m doing with this one, I’m going to hand out a little free relationship advice.

I’ve been with Dan for twenty-seven plus years, married for twenty-four. What makes things work is this, think about each other, and then actually follow through and show it. Tonight as I was working Dan put on a movie that I love, just because he wanted to do it for me. Each day, in the smallest ways, we show each other kindness and consideration. He knows there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thinking of him, and I know the same. I had suggested that he pick a movie to watch because I was working. I brought it up because as he was choosing a movie, not for himself to enjoy, but one for me, I was using that last cabinet door to make a gift for him as a surprise. That’s how we work, always thinking about each other. A few years ago at Christmas we were opening gifts with our children and much to my surprise I received an Easy Bake Oven from Dan. I had mentioned to him that I had always wanted one as a child and had never gotten it. That same Christmas he unwrapped “Rock em Sock em Robots” from me. He had told me once that he had loved playing them as a kid with his brother. The kids were way beyond the getting toys years, and both of them laughed at us, but it was for me another reason why we are so happy together. We surprised each other that Christmas, but it just goes to show how two people who really care about each other end up thinking the same way. The movie Dan put on tonight was “Life As A House”, it stars Kevin Kline and Kristen Scott Thomas. A very meaningful movie about what’s really important in life. It was a good choice. I know what’s important in my life, my family back in Chicago, my kids, my friends, and in particular my husband. Four years ago Dan fulfilled a life long dream of mine, he took me to Paris for our twentieth wedding anniversary. Tonight when I was trying to decide what to do with the last door I decided to use it as framework for a painting for Dan. We went to a restaurant in Paris near the Moulin Rouge for dinner the night of our anniversary, Le Moulin De La Galette. The restaurant is housed in the only other existing windmill in the Montmartre area in Paris, and has been the subject of many great works of art. I had grabbed a business card on the way out the door. Dan loves the card, so I decided to reproduce it on a piece of canvas for him. I actually ended up rescuing a damaged canvas as well. An old canvas in my studio had been bent out of shape, I stripped it from its frame and cut it to fit the door. For tonight only the figure is done, I need to paint in the rest of the info from the card. As always it is late, and I will finish in the morning. I promise a finished photo for tomorrow night. So here we go again with a work in progress…for my husband, I love you.8 24 (1) 8 24 (2)

Out Of Focus

An emotional roller coaster of a day. I said last night that my Dad was doing better, and he is as far as his injury. At least they have figured out what the issue is, or so they think, tests on Thursday will hopefully answer the question. The hard part is his confusion and fear. Shortly after my Mom died a friend said of my Dad, “What happened to the strongest man in the world? Samson has lost his Delilah.” My Dad is old school macho. He has very definite ideas of how a man should be. He does of course have a soft side. It’s just difficult to hear the confusion. Lots of phone calls back and forth from the hospital today. I am grateful to my sisters for being there. Someone has been with him all day. I just wanted to say “Thank You” to them.

I had a difficult time today thinking creatively. I looked at doing several projects, but nothing was really speaking to me. I printed out a handful of photos from my files, but just couldn’t find the motivation. I finally decided to work on one of the many wooden boxes that I have laying about. I have a very quirky confession to make. I so often speak of the “not good enough” thoughts that seep into my brain, but I realized tonight that it only happens when I am going to paint on canvas. When I work on “craft” projects, or painting furniture, I’m fearless. I never second guess myself. I think that I somehow in my twisted brain I have elevated painting on canvas to the epitome of artistic greatness. It’s ridiculous. I have done some beautiful painted wood pieces, but I never think of them as real art. I belittle the stuff that comes to me mindlessly, and the stuff that I imagine is harder, I condemn myself for not being good enough. (This is where everyone forms a line and takes a turn slapping me, all the while asking, “What the hell is wrong with you?”) There is nothing that I do that I don’t give every ounce of myself to. So why am I placing more value on one over the other? I don’t have an answer, and if anyone reading this has some armchair psychology that they want to pass on, please do. I am at a loss to explain my own way of thinking.  Its got to be the monkeys in my brain messing with me.

Another wood burning project, and those amazing Martha Stewart Pearl Paints. Love, Love, Love them. Project isn’t finished, much intricate work to do tomorrow.8 10 (5)Before with initial sketch

8 10 (1)Half finished project8 10 (3)And Mia, one of my cats, I don’t think she understands me either.

 

My Ruby Slippers

Some good news today, my Dad Is doing a little better.  I had more than one nurse tell me over the phone today how charming he is. It’s the brogue, does it every time. I’m still really worried about him, but he can be quite funny, and knowing he is up to his usual goofy behavior makes me feel better. I’m still praying for him, anyone else who wants to join in is more than welcome.

I spent part of the day working on the logo which is giving me more trouble than I expected. It’s tough to create a piece of art that will reproduce well in a two-inch size.

For tonight a little trompe l’oeil. It’s been years since I’ve done it, but tonight I came across a small wooden art box in my studio that I’ve been meaning to do something with and decided to play with that. I painted a pencil on the lid tonight. but want to add a few other items to the top. I had really intended to do a lot more today. I’m about a third of the way through this project. Seventeen weeks in to be exact. I had planned to celebrate with some fabulous piece of art, it just didn’t come to me. I think part of what is getting between me and the logo project, and the work from tonight and from last night, is worry. Things still don’t seem to be going our way around here, and then with my Dad getting sick on top of it…let’s just say that sometimes its tough to stay positive. I am worried for my Dad, for Dan, for myself, and our family. There’s a Death Cab For Cutie song called, “What Sarah Said”, it is a song that has a great deal of meaning to it. It’s as though someone was watching in the ICU when my Mom got sick. There’s one line, “And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time”, I’m not even sure I can explain how that line resonates with me. I have wasted so much time in my life focusing on the wrong things, or being angry about things that really don’t matter, and especially not taking care of myself. I think about my Dad, soon to be eighty-one, and I know he has his own little prayer for more time. This entire project where I am discovering myself as an artist, might not have been necessary if I had stopped worrying about the crap, and focused years ago on the one thing that could really make me happy, my work. I did a little altered art card, not a good one, a very early attempt at Photo shop, but you will understand it when you see it. I made it a year or two ago, and the message was right there, I wrote it, but I still didn’t get it. It’s a little sad to discover, like Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers clicking together to bring her home, that I had what I needed all along. So here I am, with my prayer to father time, trying to discover who I am, and what I am capable of, in the Fall of my life. Grandma Moses jokes aside, it is more than time to be who I was meant to be. Small work tonight, but its about all I can manage at the moment.8 9

 

 

Artist Jackie