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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

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.

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The Clock Is Ticking

I’m sure anyone who read last night’s post knows that I wasn’t in a great frame of mind. I was trying to focus on renewing our business plan in order to lift our spirits. That plan is still in place, but this morning I woke from a horrible dream where our house was emptied of everything, including one of my cats.  There’s no need to decipher that nightmare, but I decided not to let it ruin my day. I joined Dan for a long walk on a beautiful California morning. We were relatively quiet while we walked, both lost in thought, each of us worrying in our own way. I began to think about the beginning of the year when I promised a new start for us. I was reminded of my “to do” list by news I read here on WordPress. One of the blogs I follow (Beautiful Hello Blog) is of a young woman much like the young woman who I once was. She is a wife, a mother, and she is an artist. The glaring exception is that she is actually doing something with her talent. She recently posted that she will be working with West Elm. I sent her a “Congrats!” reply, and I mean it more than she could possibly realize.

I ended last year and began this year with the determination of getting my work out there. Of selling my art. Have I done it? No. I put maybe three art pieces on etsy (aside from the fairies I make), I sold one, and that sale made me feel great at first. Then I got a note from the person who purchased it. She said she loved it, but that it wasn’t what she thought it would be, that it was much more lightweight but that it would serve its purpose, and added a “Good job…” (She added the …) I was completely accurate in my description of the piece, a lightweight box that I had created using the burnt brown paper/cardboard technique. Even though she said she loved it, I sensed some disappointment, and let me tell you it is extremely easy to let the air out of my balloon. It made me feel bad, although I’m sure she hadn’t intended that. The truth is that I was so insecure when I prepared it for mailing that I must have asked Dan ten times if the price was too high, then I asked Jessica, who told me I was crazy that it wasn’t high enough. As I wrapped it I began to feel the “not good enough” voice in my head screaming in my mind. I added a thank you note, and a vintage handkerchief, explaining she was my first “art” sale on etsy. I wrapped the box beautifully, added ribbon and a silk flower, packed it was carefully so that it wouldn’t get crushed, and in the end it cost me three dollars more to ship it than I had charged. Obviously despite my recent proclamations to the contrary, my self-esteem, my artistic confidence, my self belief are sorely lacking. I had grand plans for this new year, and here it is days until April and I have yet to make the move to promote myself. My friend Theresa emails me with every opportunity that she can find. She believes in me, as do my husband, my children, my family, and my friends. Why can’t I do it for myself? Fear of rejection? Failure? I won’t know until I try, but I can’t seem to make myself take the first step. As I said last night, time is running out, money is running out, I have the ability to change that. My back is against the wall, and I have to get past myself. I’ve talked about it more times than I care to admit, and have written about it repeatedly here on the blog. Maybe another night or two of nightmares might do the trick. Nothing like a good scare to make you do the things you need to do right?

One more box for the show, and another (not shown) well on its way. Vintage postcards yet again, but done in a different way.

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Creating With Heart

Before I begin my rant, and there will be a rant, I want to acknowledge that I have touched on the following subject more than once before. (If you’re interested 4/23/13 I Am An Artist, 6/15 What Makes An Artist, and 7/16 We Are All Artists) When you post every single day for a year, and your brain is as full of knowledge as mine (a nice way of saying I’m getting older), there will be times that I may repeat myself. I can’t remember every single thing I’ve written about, but there are things that I am passionate about and things that get under my skin and I just can’t let go. Two days ago on Facebook there was a post about a photographer named Vivian Maier. She was a nanny by profession, but also a gifted photographer. There is a new documentary about her that opens this weekend. Ms. Maier was an unknown talent until a man named John Maloof purchased a box of negatives from a Chicago auction house in 2007. (One more recommendation from me about something to Google!) This morning while reading the NY Times I came across a review of the documentary and some criticism about Ms. Maier. I have in the past touched on the fact that I have no formal art education. My only exposure to an art class was in high school, and well, it was high school art. My teacher thought I was gifted and didn’t give me much in the way of guidance. I had upon showing her my work been allowed to skip Art 1. I now think that may have been a mistake. I don’t know the basics, but at this point I don’t really care. I could always actually take a class or read a book, but I am me, and that means I do everything my way. Some of the criticism leveled at Ms. Maier was that she had no formal training, and that she didn’t print her own photos (which I might add would be difficult because she is deceased), thereby she shouldn’t be called an artist, and also questioning photography as an art form.  Two days ago I wrote a post about the judgements leveled by other people. Why the need to demean this work? Any five-year old can take a photograph, but with an artist’s eye? Last night we watched American Idol (Yes, I am part of that demographic that no one cares about but still watches) Keith Urban made an excellent point. He told one of the contestants that you can sing from your head or sing from inside yourself, you are still singing the same words,but the performance changes. (Not an exact quote but the general gist of what he was saying) I am related by marriage to a very talented and successful artist. I love his work. He has been fortunate enough to have training that I have not. I don’t envy him, I admire him and have told him so. There was a point in my life ( before the blog) when I would use his talent as a weapon against myself, to further the agenda of “not good enough” that resides inside my head. I made myself feel inferior, that and another member of this same family called my work “primitive”. I would say to Dan, “Look how wonderful and talented he is. What could I have done if I had his training and family support?” That is a ridiculous question, it is the question of someone who doesn’t believe in them self. These days my mantra is, “Look what I can do when I’ve never had any training.”  (Thank you Mr. Urban for inspiring the following thought) I could paint with all kinds of skill if I had the right schooling, but my skill comes from my heart, and is God-given. Who gets to decide who gets the title? I see quite a bit of work in museums that I really, really dislike. It’s still art. The creator of that work is still an artist. The terms “outsider”, “primitive”, “amateur”, are words that I find offensive. Vivian Maier was an artist every time she pushed the shutter button, I am an artist every time I pick up a pen, a brush, a pencil, or for that matter a frying pan.

OK, got that out of my system. I managed to finish a few things today. I’m only posting one because there are five photos to go with it. Another box, this one done with scanned images of vintage French postcards that I own, decoupaged on painted wood, trim painted in the wonderful Martha Stewart Pearl Paints (Love them!)

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Stretched Thin

I spent the day juggling projects. The show that I’m in is only a little over a week away. I am hoping to make some much-needed cash. Trouble is I started on one piece, ran to get something to use on that, saw something else I could paint, grabbed that, realized the color I was using could work on another piece so I threw that in the mix, then had a light-bulb moment and remembered another piece I wanted to do….Help! I need to be stopped. In all I worked on seven pieces today and finished none. Tomorrow it’s time to focus and finish at least two of the pieces I started today. As I’ve said before, and as the tagline of my blog indicates, I had hoped to get through a lot of my supplies over the course of a year. I certainly went through paper, and bought more paper, paints as well, but there are so many other things I haven’t even touched in the last year. Most of what I haven’t touched are craft supplies. I really focused on my fine arts. I guess what I’m realizing is that the crafting was really a means for me to keep my hand in it artistically. It was my lifeline when I wasn’t feeling confident to pursue what I really wanted to do, but had to have a creative outlet. It helped to keep me sane. Just one more way this year of discovery and work is paying off.  Between my studio and our garage I came across much more “stuff” than I realized I had. I hope to produce as much work as possible between now and April 5th. It would be nice to make some money, but it would also be nice to clear some space in my studio, and in my head as well for what I really want to do.

Tonight one of today’s maniacally produced pieces, not completely finished of course, but well on its way. It’s an unfinished storage box that I bought years ago at Ikea. It comes unassembled, Dan was kind enough to put it together for me. Normally I would have painted the piece, but I also have way too much scrapbook paper and decided to go with a combination of decoupage and paint. I also have a few other ideas to add to it, but I really love mixing patterns, and I’m happy with where its going.

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