Progress Report

I think I may have dodged the flu bullet. Feeling much better today.

It’s been ten months since I began to clean out my “artistic fridge”. I bet you’re wondering how that inventory is going. I’ve hardly made a dent. Sure I’ve done a project nearly every day, all 308 of them, but I still have a lot of stuff. (Some of which are finished projects, still dragging my behind on selling) I have more than you can possibly imagine. I not only fill my studio until it is busting at the seams, but also both our two car and our single car garage, projects in the garden, and on the side of the house. If I died tomorrow my children would be buried alongside me in mountains of “stuff”. Today I began an attempt to rectify that. I am working on not one, but three projects today. All of them involve upcycling, or recycling pieces that I have gathered along the way one. I began working on a really cool old window, and a small door that at one time had two glass panels, one is still intact, the other was missing when I got it. Finally a very small piece of wood that was in the garage. Too small to be of any real use, but those who know me well are familiar with the sound of “I can do something with that.”, coming out of my mouth. I just hate to throw away anything that can be used. Here’s the plan.

Window number one. I broke the last of the glass panels out. I used a putty knife to get rid of all the loose chipped paint. I then sanded, and sanded, and sanded, trying to get to the nooks and crannies. For this one I believe I will be turning it into a very useful mirror. A mirror in the large center panel, and for the side panels, some bulletin board type pieces covered in fabric, and some hooks on the bottom. I may have to add a piece for that. Something that can be used in a bathroom or bedroom. The hooks for hanging necklaces and such.

Small door project. Again with some kind of useful bottom, possibly one of those boards with the ribbons that allows for tucking mementos in. For the glass part of the door I ordered two of my photos from Paris in poster size today. They won’t be ready until tomorrow, but I will choose between the two to put under the glass.

My small piece of wood. As soon as I laid eyes on it I knew. I’ve been pinning vintage book covers on Pinterest. I painted a watercolor the other night loosely based on one. This piece is the perfect size to replicate one of the covers. You can see them on my board “Books By Any Cover”. Incredibly beautiful work. I spent another twenty minutes or so sanding this piece as well.

Only sanded beginnings to share tonight, so I’ll post one of my photos as well. A photo I took last year in San Diego, just a reminder to those of you still in the midst of winter’s grip that spring will be here eventually!IMG_5558

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Orphans Of Another Kind

Last night I brought out one of the “orphans”, my half done works of art. There are however other “children” lurking in the corners of the studio. I have mentioned that I’m a little A.D.D. in the art department. I start many other projects that I am completely interested in at the moment, but then my attention gets drawn to a different project and I forget all about the first one. Many of these orphans happen to be furniture pieces. Always with the idea of resale in mind. I have more of these projects than I care to say. Pieces that fill my garage and even my garden in hopes of one day finding a new home. I have chosen to adopt one of them as my project for today, and possibly tomorrow. It’s an old drop leaf table I bought a few years ago. One of the reasons I haven’t finished it as of yet is that I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to paint it. I have finally decided to paint it like an old hand painted Victorian plate. I have a small collection of these beautiful antique plates, some of them are exquisite. One of my favorites has both Violets and Hydrangea on it, which just happen to be amongst my favorite flowers. I thought if the top were down it would be a beautiful piece of art on its own. I still have some work to complete on it, but I think I’ve finally hit on what I want to do. The base of the table is still painted from another incarnation, but the top is well on its way to where I want it to be. I want to get it finished tomorrow. There are way too many unfinished art projects cluttering up my house and my head. New year, time to clean up the clutter, and more importantly time to make some money.IMG_3565



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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You Do The Math

Let me repeat myself. You do the math. Seriously, I need help. I mentioned last night that I was working on the grunt work of starting a few pieces. One of them is a game board, a checker board to be precise. What was I thinking? The board I’m working on is a wooden circular table top from the home improvement store. So in the same time-honored tradition of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, I was trying to figure out where the center of the circle was in order to draw a square. Now as we have discussed in the past, I suck at math. Really, really, horribly suck at math. Yes, I can add, subtract, multiply and even divide, but that’s where I draw the line. I remember algebra and geometry, I still have nightmares, and I distinctly recall thinking, “Why are they making us learn this stuff? I will never need it. It serves no purpose in my life.” I was mistaken. I majored in interior design for a time. Something I have been passionate about as long as I can remember. Then I hit blueprint drawing. Yikes! I switched my major to graphic design and advertising. I never measure anything. So here is the circle sitting in front of me. How to find the middle? You put an album (remember those?) in the middle, eyeball it, sort of kind of measure around it, and trace the shape with a pencil. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Not so much. I spent about a half hour on one side, gave up, flipped it over and started over on the other side. Then came the division of the square into sixty-four evenly sized squares. Nine times. Again I repeat myself, nine times. I finally grabbed another tabletop I had done a few years back, one where I apparently still had some amount of brain function. I used some vellum paper, placed it over the existing checker board and marked the lines. Then after several minutes of professional eyeballing, I managed to finish it. This of course took way longer than I would have liked. My posted picture is a work in progress. I am liking it already. Finished piece tomorrow (promise!) As for the base, you are invited to the marriage of two oddball pieces tomorrow when all will be revealed. I’m not sure if you can tell, but I am again using some Martha Stewart Pearl paint. Beautiful on the unfinished wood. More math tomorrow. I have to figure out the center to attach the post. I think I feel a nightmare coming on…11 30

Shining A Little Light On The Future

I read somewhere yesterday that an optimist is someone who starts a diet on Thanksgiving. I think we all know by now that I’m not exactly an optimist, although I’m not really a pessimist either, more of a realist. My reality is that the black cloud that has been hanging over my head needs to take a hike. (And I need to lose ten pounds) We actually had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I thought about what I wrote last night. I think I need to just put this year behind me and focus on next year. (Because it has to be better than this one!) Good things ahead.

I did prep work today for some projects I need to get done for my upcoming shows. Cutting papers for decoupage, sanding, and priming. Nothing is ready to post for tonight that would give any idea of what the finished product will be, so instead I decided to post a photo of an older project. I have a lot of odds and ends. Sometimes inspiration strikes. I had an old standing lamp base, and an old ceiling fixture that needed repair. I soldered the two together to make a single piece. I didn’t want to use it as a lamp, but rather as a plant stand. I removed all the electrical wires, added candles and succulents. I have to admit even I was impressed with my results.lamp 026lamp 027lamp 043

A Distant “Goodbye”

As the day draws nearer to my Dad getting the keys to his new place, I find my mind returning to thoughts of he and my Mom. I won’t get a chance to say goodbye to their home. I live too far away, and well, if you regularly read my thoughts, you know that money is tight. Going home isn’t an option. Tonight as I prepare dinner it is just Dan and I. The kids are grown. Brian is still here, but as young men often do, he is out more than he is in. We are in the kitchen/family room together, Dan watching the television and reading, I am cooking, painting, and writing all at once. There is a comfortable silence wrapped around us, one that two people who know each other so well, and love each so much can be content in, like a well-loved blanket. From time to time one of us speaks. A comment from him, or me asking his opinion on the piece I am working on. Satisfied to just be with each other. It makes me think about my parents. I’m sure they had evenings like this in that house. I am also sure that since my Mother died my Dad has longed for those evenings. Life moves, and although all of us moving through it have emotion, there is no emotion in time. Even though Mom has been gone for six years, the finality of her house no longer there for me to return to makes me sad. In a way it is like losing her all over again. But again there is time. It is time for life to continue there, another family will move into that house, another family who knows nothing of us or who we were as a family will make new memories there. For them it will be a new place, for me it will be the last place my Mother lived. One thing I have learned, particularly in these last few years, is to value these moments, these quiet evenings, because they won’t always be here. Each of us will have those moments of great loss, remember to hold on while you can.

On a less melancholy note, I am just about finished with my clock/bookcase. I say “just about” because I need to cover the back of the door, but it is a detail that isn’t important for tonight, and I need to add one more piece of trim to a shelf. What I am thrilled about is how it has turned out. The vision in my head is complete. I have so often mentioned that I love to do things for children. This is one of those projects. I’ve written so many posts that I don’t recall if I have ever written this before, so please forgive me, but then again it was one of the greatest compliments of my life. My Mother told me that she wished I were her mother, because of all the things I loved to do for my children. I am me because of her. I want to do things for as many children as I can. I am so excited about this project because there isn’t a doubt in my mind that when children come to our shop and see the enchanting world inside the clock, they will love it. When I had finished the clock face I was happy with it. However, the inside of the cabinet was empty. What to do? I had in mind all along the “Hickory, Dickory, Dock rhyme in my head. Inspiration struck. Why not a secret mouse house in the clock? First floor, the garden. Second floor, the main house. What to do on the third floor? It came to me last night. A bookstore, just like the one I will be opening. The mice are made of Sculpy, and the rooms are full of things I found in the garden, or leftovers from other craft projects. There are a few things that I think every child needs: discipline,love, and imagination. I want to spark a little magic in their minds.IMG_2118






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Finally, tonight a piece of work that isn’t mine. My friend, Gabby asked me for an art lesson. I’ve mentioned Gabby before, she is nine. I have been asked to teach before, but never felt comfortable passing on my “I’ve never had lessons, have a million bad habits, don’t really know what I’m doing, flying by the seat of my pants” art. For Gabby I’ll make an exception. We did a lesson in watercolor. Gabby’s Waterlily.IMG_2087Gabby did a beautiful painting.

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







Just Say “Hello”

I have decided that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those that say hello, and those who put their heads down, or avert their eyes, all in an attempt to not acknowledge their fellow human beings. We live in Temecula, which essentially means we are living in a tourist destination. I don’t mean that in a bad way, there are some pretty beautiful places in the world that have been turned into living nightmares of junk and fast food, Temecula is not one of them. We have I believe over 60 vineyards here, and our Old Town, a place that still has wooden sidewalks and historical plaque on nearly every building. Beautiful weather nearly year round, and settled in between San Diego (less than sixty miles), and LA (roughly 85 miles), an hour from Disneyland, less than that to Legoland, and about thirty miles to the Pacific Ocean, although there is that pesky mountain range in the way. In other words, we have it really good here. We should all be walking around feeling pretty lucky. Now I realize that stuff happens, it is still happening in my own life, but basically we Temeculan’s (new word, just made it up, clever right?) are very fortunate people. Dan and I walk every morning. We walk through our subdivision and one across the street from us. We walk anywhere from thirty-five minutes to an hour. In the course of those walks we run into a handful of people. There are some people who greet us with a smile and say, “Good morning.” There are those that suddenly become very interested in their phone, their dog, a speck of dirt on the walkway…anything to avoid looking at us and having to say hello. It’s strange. We are not bad people, nor do we in any way resemble the extras on The Walking Dead, we are just regular humans. What really puzzles me are the ones that do say hello, but say it in the most begrudging fashion, as if we have forced them to do something against their will. We saw a woman this morning on our walk. She couldn’t really avoid us. She didn’t appear to have a phone handy, or a dog to use as an avoidance prop, she did have a few small children walking ahead of her, but too far ahead for her to use as a shield, so she had no choice but to say hello. The look on her face said it all. We bothered her. Somehow we offended her.  All we did was smile (the horror!), and say “Good morning.” I have no way of knowing what is happening in that woman’s life, but she was walking down the beautiful streets of Temecula with some pretty cute kids, on an absolutely gorgeous morning. Like I said, I think there are two kinds of people, the kind that ignore you and the kind that don’t, but if you can’t return a smile, I guess I’d rather you find a sudden interest in studying cement texture in the sidewalk than looking at me as if I have a problem. OK, now that I got that off my chest….art.

Two years ago for Christmas I received a beautiful little cabinet from Dan for Christmas. It was a great gift, it was the kind of gift where I saw it in a store and…bought it, called Dan, and  said, “You can give it to me for Christmas.” Like I said, it was a great gift. From the minute I saw this little cabinet I thought, “Grandfather Clock”. Now that we are embarking on our business I am taking all the ideas that have been laying in wait in the recesses of my brain and putting them into action. The crib/ bench was one of them. The next idea is my Grandfather clock/bookcase. The cabinet appears to have had glass in the door at some point in its life, but when I bought it the frame on the front was empty. My partner in life and in creativity, aka Dan, helps me bring my ideas to life. We went to the store and purchased wood to create a bookcase to put under the cabinet. Today we made that bookcase, and then laughed our behinds off. The bookcase is fine, but when you put the cabinet on top it becomes a clock for the Jolly Green Giant. It has to be eight feet tall. What can I say, sometimes I just don’t think. We need the bookcase, so it won’t go to waste. (Without the cabinet on top it is six feet tall.) Tomorrow we will be returning to the store to create the four-foot bookcase we need. Dan also cut a panel from MDF for the frame opening. It is my project for tonight. The clock face for my cabinet. I can’t wait to make the smaller bookcase in the morning and add it to my cabinet. I have some really great ideas to finish it off.10 22

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I’m not really distressed, but my project will be by tomorrow night. The marriage of my two pieces finally took place today, but we aren’t quite at the honeymoon stage yet. The crib panel is too large in proportion to the height if the seat. I have a number of solutions in mind, one of which I may attempt tomorrow. For now the piece is painted, but even that isn’t where it will end up. You may have noticed in the before photo that the color is similar to the color I started with, that is purely coincidental. I am trying to work with what I have on hand. That color was in the garage. The finish will look different tomorrow when I have my way with it. I don’t like new and shiny, never have. I love vintage and time-worn. There is very little in my house that is new, most of what I own is vintage. In my armchair psychologist best I believe it has to do with my longing for family connection. Growing up many of the kids I knew had grandparents, I didn’t. My grandfathers had both passed away when I was very young, and both were living in Ireland, as were my grandmothers. I met my Mother’s mom several times, and we stayed at her house in Ireland for a few weeks when I was thirteen, but we were never with her enough to really get to know her. I knew my other grandmother slightly better. She had tried to live here in the States but only lasted a few months. I was only five or so at the time, the thing I remember most was that she sat in my rocking chair all the time and I wasn’t happy about that. When I grew older I wrote to her, and on my last visit to Ireland in 1983, I spent some time with her at the home she was living at. She died a year later. I think I’ve spent my life searching for that connection to the past. I know there are people who hate antiques. For me I appreciate that the piece has a history, a story, that it was loved enough by someone to still be around. When I finished painting my bench it just looked too new. So, after all my hard work of stripping and sanding, and adding a fresh coat of paint, I grabbed the sandpaper once again and went to work distressing. Tomorrow I will be taking it a step further by adding an antiquing glaze. I love that aged distressed look, kind of like me.10 19


A little extra project tonight. I was having fun doodling with my fine line markers. Tomorrow another marriage of sorts.10 21

I’ve Got No Time For This

I’m one of those people who almost always follows the rules. I often joke that I was born responsible. Throughout my life I have always tried to do things the right way. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had some major league failures, but I try hard, always give my best effort, and crucify myself with guilt if I fail. (Catholic, remember) I never had a teenage rebellion, always did what my Mother asked, at the moment she asked, and could probably be labeled a “goody two shoes”. (An odd expression, who comes up with this stuff?) I think my only rebellious streak applies to the a fore mentioned failure to read the rules.  I’m a very smart woman, really smart, apparently so smart that I think I can do everything without reading the instructions. I mean, who are “they” to tell me how to do something? I bring the “not following the rules” issue up because I had a moment today when I thought about my biggest faults as an artist.

1. Failure to read instructions, or to take classes. In my defense, I have been doing things my own way for so long that quite frankly other people annoy me when they tell me what or how I should do something.

2. That dirty word, Perspective. Hate it, wish I didn’t have to care about it, and generally it gives me nightmares. It is equal to the horror that is geometry.

3. Impatience. I’ve touched a little on this in the past in regards to oil painting, but it really applies today. As I write this I am waiting for paint stripper to take effect. Herein lies the problem. I don’t want to wait. I want the paint to fall off right now. I’ve mentioned before that I have artistic vision. In particular when it comes to painting, recycling, upcycling, reupholstering, and re-imagining furniture pieces. In my head the piece is done. It is painted, stained, distressed….and so on, in my head. Therefore I want it done now. Not in thirty minutes, or even fifteen. I want what is in my head standing in front of me.

4.  Procrastination. Once again, putting myself and this daily project on the back burner. Poor Dan has spent more than one night falling asleep on the couch waiting for me as I type my blog late at night. Starting paintings after dinner is not the way to go, it’s just that I am ingrained with the notion that everyone else comes first. It’s only four in the afternoon here in Temecula, a fact I proudly brought to Dan’s attention. The truth is I’m only writing because I have to wait for more stripper to work! Sixteen more minutes until I can scrape again, its killing me. Maybe I need to work on consecutive projects, that way I’ll fill every minute.

Much, much later…

I took my own advice, and thrilled that I did. Stripping my wood piece is taking much longer than I planned for. As I was looking for pieces to add to my project I came across a small piece of vintage decorative wood I bought years ago. I have been meaning to do something with this piece for the longest time. From the moment I saw this piece of wood it reminded me of church windows. I have several gravestone photos from Richmond, Virginia, one of which I used in a previous altered art project. I changed all the photos to black and white,  then I cropped and printed my photos on vellum. Attached inside the frame and lit from behind using battery operated candles, it’s beautiful! I have some finishes to add in the morning, as well as continuing with my furniture piece. It is now ten at night. I know, I started this blog hours ago, but in the interim I had a very romantic evening with Dan in the garden. First a wonderful dinner, and then a movie. A few years back we built our own outdoor screen. Tonight we watched Midnight In Paris under a full moon. Sometimes the blog can wait.

Photos of the beginnings of a project. Roughly fifteen years ago I purchased an antique headboard from a crib with the intention of doing something fabulous. It never happened. It was the height of my ignoring myself. Today I decided to do something with it. The second piece happens to be the top off of a small dresser from my Mom. The dresser fell apart, but since my Mother gave it to me I needed to keep some part of it, and it happens to be a perfectly good piece of wood. The two shall marry tomorrow, all are invited to the reception. The crib still needs a little work. (So I guess that makes it the groom…just kidding) Also the photo from the second project from today. My candle lit gravestone piece. Much to do tomorrow….stay tuned.10 19

Before stripping10 19 1Dresser top

10 19 2The almost fully stripped piece

IMG_1812Gravestone piece in progress, back-lit with candles.