A Quote, A Definition, and A Discovery

The Quote:

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dreams.”

Vincent Van Gogh

For many, many years I have carried around a greeting card with that quote on it, and for those same many, many years I have used it to beat myself over the head as an artist. I don’t dream of painting, I’m actually one of those people who rarely remember their dreams. I took that quote quite literally, like the children of The Night Before Christmas, but instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head I thought I should be conjuring up great works of art.  I paint from my photographs and sketches. There are gifted artists who can imagine worlds of their own creation, I’m just not one of them when it comes to painting, and quite frankly I’m not sure Van Gogh was either. He painted what he saw in front of him, from sketches he made of places he’d been, or places he lived, and maybe a little dreamy magic. I seem to have a gift for getting in my own way as an artist. I tell myself I’m failing at it, or somehow don’t have the right to call myself one. That leads me to…

A Definition: (Thank you Google)

art·ist
ˈärdəst/
a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.
a person skilled at a particular task or occupation.
I started drawing at a very young age, I began to paint at twelve, and I sold my first piece at fifteen. Did I call myself an artist? Yes I did, at least in the beginning, but then the self doubt began to creep in. There’s the “I’m not good enough” monster that resides in my brain. I mentioned the monster back at the beginning of this blog four years ago. I was under the illusion that I had defeated it, but I haven’t and thought I couldn’t. I’ve spent a lifetime with this constant companion; it lives inside me as much as every other part of me. I think part of my artistic problem is last I’m living in the land of “Supposed To”. In my mind an artist was always a painter and a skilled technician in drawing or sculpting.  I realize that’s ridiculous. Read the definition. I should have it tattooed on my forearm so that every time I feel the monster raise its ugly head I can read it myself. I think that from a very young age I thought that I had to paint to call myself an artist. The reality is that I have no problem acknowledging the art of others and giving them the title, I just have a problem with myself.  Which leads me to…
The Discovery (actually discoveries):
I haven’t posted on this blog as of late because I had no work to post. Have I been working?  Yes, I have been working every single day.  The problem (in my own mind) is that I haven’t been painting. What I am about to write is so absurd that I can’t believe it myself. I have been embarrassed to call myself an artist because of the work I have produced. There, I said it out loud. I have spent the last several weeks producing work for a show, a show that calls itself an “Artisan Walk”. Was I invited to be part of the show because I am a talent-less hack? Nope, I am just being me again and getting in my own way.  I gave all of this a great deal of thought yesterday. Much of the thought was inspired by an outing with a dear friend on Sunday. This dear friend has a tendency to be highly critical of me, but when he saw what I have been producing he called me a genius. My discovery is this: I don’t dream of painting, but I have very magical and enchanting visions when I am awake. It involves fairies. That’s right, fairies. I have been making them for more than twenty years, and it has been my greatest financial success as an (dare I say it?), artist.
My second discovery or better yet realization is that as much as might dream of painting, I am more compelled by anything in my life to make children happy. I love creating enchanted worlds, of inspiring little ones to use their own imaginations, and to hopefully give them a moment of magic in a world that can be a very difficult place. I have loved the idea of fairies since childhood. At the last show I did I was approached by a woman much older than myself who was so excited by my work. She spoke to me of growing up in England near a forest. She and her sisters would play at the edge of the woods. Their mother would tell them tales of fairies, and leave them “fairy notes” tucked in tree trunks and flowers. While she was speaking to me her face took on a faraway look, as silly as it might seem in that moment she looked like a little girl again, lost in the memories of her youth.
I may never produce the masterpiece that I thought I was supposed to do, and in the years after I am gone no one may see my work hanging in a museum, but I have no doubt that in the imagination of many children I have planted a seed that they will hopefully remember and pass on.
If you happen to be in or near Fallbrook, CA on April 23rd, I will be at The Artisan Walk on Alvarado as part of the Fallbrook Avocado Festival. Stop by and say hello.
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Validation

I didn’t expect to be writing again so soon, but as always I write when I am moved to by the universe, recent events, or sometimes because I need to blow off steam. This morning I write for a different reason. For many years when people asked what I did I would say, “I am an artist”, while the entire time in my heart and mind I felt like a fraud. Last year in one of the earlier posts of this blog I wrote about a woman I met who in a way challenged me on calling myself an artist. She asked if I had sold any work, the implication being that if I hadn’t, that somehow I couldn’t claim the title. I have also heard of others being called “professional artist”, again the implication being that unless one is earning a living by selling their work, they are somehow an amateur. I was angry about it for some time, that is until I came to understand that the proclamations of the judgmental crowd are merely words of jealousy cloaked in self-righteousness. Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Wood, O’Keeffe, names sound familiar? There was a time in each of their lives when they didn’t earn a living as artists, they still painted, they were still artists, they just weren’t selling any work yet. I guess if you read my blog you know by now that judgement is a sore issue with me.  I honestly didn’t intend to head down the rabbit hole of defending myself to these people, but I feel my temper rising when I think about being judged as an artist by people who can’t or don’t create…..breathe…breathe…

OK, so now the real reason for my writing this morning. Last night I mentioned my work on etsy. Again, there are not as of yet many offerings in the way of prints of my work. It is at the moment more crafty kind of stuff. One of the things I have listed is a box. It is called the “Key To My Heart” box. It’s a small box made of paper, not quite cardboard, though it is sturdy, and inside this box I made an accordion of paper sentiments about love. A few days ago a young man on the other side of the world reached out to me. He said that he couldn’t think of a better way to express his love for his girl than with my piece of art. We have exchanged a few messages back and forth. My offer on etsy is to create a personalized version for the recipient, including quotes, verses, song lyrics, etc., anything the purchaser wants included. Last night he told me that the reason he wants this box is to use it as a means to propose on New Year’s Eve. There are no words to describe what this means to me as an artist. That someone is so touched by what I have created means everything to me. I have had to deal with more than a few detractors in my life. People who are not supportive of what I do, and have no respect for my talent. On the other side of the world there is a young man who is anxious, excited, and thrilled in anticipation of receiving my work in the mail so that he can give it to his love. The last page will be his proposal. I am hoping she is as moved by it as I am in creating it for her. When you can create something through words, through music, through painting, photography, or even craft that causes someone else to feel, you are successful, you are an artist. I need no more validation than that. I may not be Picasso or O’Keeffe, but I am no less an artist than they are.

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She Speaks

After a year of blogging every single day, and then a couple of times a week, it might seem like I am running out of things to say. That isn’t true of course, although I am much less of a “talker” than most. I am comfortable in my own silence (and even more comfortable in the silence of some others…) The truth is that things haven’t changed. Our life is still on hold as we try to sell our home. At the risk of offending some very dear friends (who happen to be decent human beings and realtors), I will say that we are beginning to feel a bit like shark bait for the local realtors. We continue to have people contact us about our home, always starting out as if they have a possible buyer, ask lots of questions and then go for the kill. When I explained to a caller the other day that I had a realtor in line, a best friend in line for the sale of our home should we decide to go that route, she began to badger me on the whys and hows of why in her opinion, “That just doesn’t work.” I explained that my dear friend is away for family medical reasons. I explained that I had already made the promise to my friend that the listing would be hers. I explained about a bad realtor experience back in Chicago that made me wary. None of that mattered. She simply ignored everything I said and told me that I needed to have an “open mind” when her boss came to preview my property. I was losing my temper (which is never, ever a good thing for the person on the other end of it), I was trying to be as pleasant as possible, but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. If this particular caller had her way I would be greeting my returning friend with, “Sorry your family member was gravely ill, by the way our friendship of nine years means nothing, and I’m giving someone else my house to list.” I actually thanked this person for her professionalism (which she wasn’t), but I find myself in a very awkward position. I want to tell these people exactly what I think of them and their “ethics”, but if I do that I risk alienating them even farther. I just don’t understand. Why is my need to sell my own house such a bad thing? We are offering compensation to the buyer’s realtor. We don’t expect these people to work for nothing, but not a single realtor in the area has brought a client to our home. One realtor went as far as telling us that we weren’t worth his time. Since when is a paycheck of nearly ten thousand dollars not worth someones time? We aren’t against someone earning a living, but we are people who had very little income for sixteen months and need to keep as much of our money as we can for ourselves. I’m angry and frustrated. I want and need to move ahead with our life, but I am also as stubborn as they come. So I will sit in my beautiful home with my heels dug in and wait for the buyer to find us without any help from anyone else, because ten thousand dollars is definitely worth my time.

Breathe….now I feel better.

Art! There hasn’t been a piece every day. There have been fairies and other things. I will share the photo from my altered art piece from my daughter’s birthday. (She may kill me for it, but if you don’t think she was one of the cutest toddlers ever…) This was the cover on one of thirty gifts I sent her. A small cigar box that contained a little tiny set of pages where I wrote out the story of her birth. One thing that the last year and a half has taught me is that “things” don’t matter. People matter, memories matter, spirituality matters. The things that mean the most are the things that cannot be held in our hands, but only in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jessica.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Just Ask Me

The window saga continues. I won’t bore you with the details…until tomorrow.

My work of art tonight is a gift for a friend, and while the subject of my blog tonight is about asking, my friend didn’t ask for this gift. I love to do things for people. I truly enjoy giving of my talents to others. As I told Dan earlier this evening, if I weren’t me, but knew me, I’d ask me to do things for me. Got that? I have many talents and am more than happy to make, or paint, or draw, anything for those I care about. Several months ago I created a piece of altered art that I recently brought out to hang in my hallway. Theresa was here and saw it, and admired it greatly. I had made this particular piece on a board that we had left over from a project years ago. I had another nearly identical piece of the same wood. I sent her a message today asking which bible verse it was that she liked. Proverbs 3:5-6. Using a photograph of a small statue I have in my bedroom as my angel, and some photos of Calla Lilies taken in a graveyard in Richmond, I created “Deum benedicite”, “God bless” in Latin. In several areas I secured the pieces so that it is three-dimensional. There are stenciled areas in copper, silver, and gold. The proverb is printed on vellum, which when sprayed with polyurethane becomes almost translucent.

In these last trying months of our life, Dan and I have been blessed to have much love and support from our friends and family. In time I plan to do a little something for all to show our appreciation. Theresa has been the sister that I don’t have here in California, as mine are in Chicago. Her family is like my family. Just the first of many, many gifts to say, “Thank you.”2 19 14

Life Changes

We had big changes here today, our son Brian has moved out.  We are now officially Empty Nesters. It’s a strange feeling knowing that he won’t live here anymore, it will definitely take some time to adjust. I’ve spent twenty-three years seeing him daily, and worrying about him continually. Of course the worry won’t ever go away, I am of course a mother, but I will miss him terribly. I did request an occasional text message so that I know he is OK. It seems silly since he will only be living fifteen minutes away, but he is still my baby. It does of course mean that I might be able to steal some storage space for my supplies.

We spent most of today trying to escape our noisy house, hopefully by tomorrow the bathroom floor and dining room ceiling will have dried. We spent time at Starbucks, the library the grocery store, and the home improvement store, basically anywhere that was less noisy than here. As for tonight, we are holed up in our bedroom with the door closed. It is the quietest spot in the house. It’s been a rough week, I’m more than happy for it to be coming to an end.

After days of not feeling so creative today was a good day. I pulled out my Sculpey and ended up creating some really nice pieces. I’m working on another of my small art boxes and came up with an idea for the cover. In keeping with my romantic themed art boxes, I created a piece to glue to the top of the box. I used a cookie cutter to cut out a Sculpey heart that I attached to a flat piece of the same clay. Once those were secured together I added a metal keyhole, and then I embellished it with very small handcrafted details. After the piece was baked I used my favorite paints for crafts, the Martha Stewart line, this time in metallic. I used the same paints to paint the cardboard box. The piece is really coming out nice. I needed to create another piece to cover the inside of the hole in the box cover. I’m not sure which yet I’ll use, but I created two pieces to choose from. I really love how these pieces came out, as did Dan. Its nice when he has a reaction to something I’ve done. He’s used to me messing around with stuff and showing him what I’ve come up with. He always likes what I do, but every now and then I get a really great reaction and it means a lot.2 7 14

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The Death Of Imagination

A little bit of a somber post tonight, and for me out of the ordinary social commentary. Dan and I had a discussion this morning while walking, it was about imagination. The topic was inspired by my search for supplies provided by Mother Nature to add to my ever-growing ideas for the fairies I make. Not long ago I was asked by a friend how I get my ideas, and what inspires me. I touched on it a bit here in the blog. Then the other night a new friend asked why I make fairies, again I said that I’m not really sure. This morning as we walked along and I treasure hunted, I think I figured some of those answers out. I honestly don’t have any idea where much of what I do, or the inspiration for the projects come from except to say that they are from my imagination, and I believe that much of that comes from my childhood. We spent several years living next to the elevated train tracks in Chicago. Under the tracks there was nothing but empty space, weeds and occasionally trash.There was also an empty lot directly across the street. We played under those tracks and in that empty lot. We played house and pioneers amongst other things. We gathered sticks and rocks, and anything we “imagined” to be something else. We came home from school and played “school”. We read books voraciously, and added color to the black and white line drawings of coloring books. All of that activity spurred the growth of more imagination, and if you were like me and born with the drive to create it was fuel for the future. Several years ago my son commented that Dan and I must have been really bored growing up because we had no video games. I said, “We used our imagination.”  No there were no video games, no DVDs, and television was limited to the three major networks and a local channel. No one was telling us how to play, no one was putting the ideas in our heads. Violence on television wasn’t the realistic gore of today, unless of course we had on the evening news in which case we watched the war in Vietnam in our living rooms. There is so much trash filling our kids heads, so much “celebrity”, it isn’t reality. Sometimes I am shocked at how little class people show, how they debase themselves for their fifteen minutes of fame, it sends out the wrong message to everyone who watches it. My childish brain was full of scenarios of my own creation, and I didn’t have to grow up before I was ready. So much of what I do is born of the kind of childhood I had. Fairies? “The Fairy Who Didn’t Believe In Children” by Marjorie Barrows, a story I loved. I wonder how much time kids these days get to pretend to be something other than who they are, if they even know how. How much time is being spent with a good book in hand instead of an I Pad, or a video game controller? Who will write the next great fairy tale, the one that will last for generations?  We hear so much talk about what skills kids need to learn in school to be competitive in the future, I think maybe we need to add to the curriculum, a class titled “Imagination”, no books, no video, a room full of sticks and empty boxes, and inventiveness. Just imagine what could happen.

Last night I was juggling three projects. Tonight I’m down to one. I’ve put my suitcase box idea off for a day in order to cook something special for Dan for Superbowl Sunday. I focused on finishing the keyhole box, and I am again very pleased with my results. Instead of painting over the metal finish I added a scan of one of my vintage French postcards, and then on the other side I decoupaged a beautiful photo I took a few years ago. It is of a bouquet of dried roses and hydrangea. The photos are just beautiful and I’ve used them on several projects. One more vintage postcard, and the glue and burning metal technique for the back.

Just to make your mouths water “imagine” this: Korean Barbeque Short-rib Tacos, creamy homemade guacamole, a chipolte mayo coleslaw, and a lemon Sriracha aioli, and sesame seed, on small appetizer size corn tortillas. Amazing. Probably the best thing I’ve ever cooked. I think great cooks have a gift for inventiveness too.

A reminder of the front that I posted last night…IMG_5328

…The interior of the finished box.IMG_5343

A side viewIMG_5342

Just one more to add a picture to your imagination…my tacosIMG_5334

The Art Of Juggling

 

Today was one of those days where I barely functioned. I had less than four hours of sleep. I spent most of the day in a zombie like state only to find myself with a burst of energy at about eight p.m., that’s when I suddenly found myself wanting to start all kinds of projects.Tonight I am actually working on three projects at once. Playing a little catch up after a lost day yesterday. I have finished the tin box with my grandmother’s gypsy photo, but have realized as I photographed it tonight that I would like to add a piece of old chain that I have to hang it from. I posted a photo on the night before last of another cigar box project. I managed to glue the vintage keyhole in, but that left the interior of the lid a mess. The backside of the keyhole poking through my rough cut did not look good. I tried covering it with an additional piece of wallpaper but it was awful. I turned to my old standby, the burnt glue technique. I grabbed the back off an old pad of paper (which by the way I always save), as always terrific results. I will be making some additions to that lid tomorrow including a color change. I also have a small wooden box that served at one time as a child’s school box. There is still a name written on the outside corner. To me it looks like a small suitcase, and I believe that’s where I’m headed with it. I have pulled out a stack of vintage French postcards that I own to use on both pieces. I also made the addition of some small metal pieces on the corners of the cigar box. It gives the cover a nice finished look. As you can see I’ve put a lot on my artistic plate at the moment, juggling the three projects at once, but very happy and feeling inspired which is always a good thing. I am hoping after a good nights sleep to knock these out tomorrow.IMG_5324

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The school boxIMG_5325

Possible idea???????

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Under Lock And Key

Onto more of art of a different kind. As I near the final stretch of this three hundred sixty-five day project I haven’t used nearly enough of the supplies in my studio, which as I pointed out a few weeks ago was the inspiration for this project. I have several cigar boxes that I bought without having a project in mind. I also have quite a bit of hardware. Old drawer handles, knobs, light switch plates, etc. I seem to be on a roll with the lock and key designs. I have a fascination with vintage locks and keys. It makes me wonder if it has anything to do with that love of hiding as a kid, or the more likely cause, my horrific claustrophobia. I got locked in a bathroom when I was five, big old wooden door with old-fashioned key lock. It seemed like an eternity before my Uncle Johnny climbed through a second floor window to rescue me. I think it may have contributed to some control issues as well. I’m OK as long as I have the control, or the key. It’s funny how you can have these moments when you remember something in your life that takes you back, and you can realize as an adult how it contributed to the person you have become. I would consider myself a very introspective person, I like to analyze the who’s and why’s of myself and other people.

The cigar box I used today is wood, I managed through a lot of trial and error to cut a hole big enough to set a vintage keyhole into. Once I had managed to get the hole into the box I covered the front in some vintage wallpaper and added a little bit of copper leaf. The inside of the lid is a quandary for me at the moment, how to cover the hole in the inside of the lid but allow the keyhole to remain open. As for what else will occur with the box remains to be seen. I’m just not sure where I want to go with this one. As for last night’s project, my altered art piece, I have a piece I want to add to it that I can’t find at the moment, hopefully tomorrow. I’ll post photo of the finished project when I have it completed.1 30