What It’s Really All About

Merry Christmas to all!

Now that the frantic shopping has ceased (at least for a day), I thought it was time to reflect on what this holiday truly means. I have a very simple story to tell that will say it all…

As you may or may not know, this blog began as a way to force me to focus on my art for a year. I had spent a lifetime putting the needs of everyone in my life ahead of my creative dreams. It worked for a while, but then life thumbed it’s nose at me and the blog became more about my life’s journey. I have however in the process produced a lot of art, and some that I am quite proud of. I hope to return to its original purpose soon. For today I am posting art, it just isn’t mine.

I have never posted the work of another artist on my blog, until today. Last week my dear friend Theresa asked me to pick her daughter up from school. Emily is six. We had a great time together, we made matching poinsettia bracelets out of felt for both Emily and her mom, and with me handling the hot glue gun, and Emily choosing the silk flowers, we created an angel for her bedroom Christmas tree. We weren’t quite finished when Theresa came to get her. As we continued to work on Emily’s angel Theresa and I talked about the holiday. I mentioned that I wasn’t quite in the spirit, missing Jessica, Dan’s long commute keeping his days away from me quite long, and that because we had packed to move I couldn’t find half of my Christmas decorations. Among them my nativity set. Emily left the room and came back bearing a shoebox she had come out of school with. “You can have this.” I opened the shoe box to find a nativity scene she had created in school. I said, “Oh Honey thank you, but I’m sure your Mommy wants this.” Theresa said, “No, she wants you to have it.” I said that I would put it out every year. Emily cleverly pointed out that it was only paper and might not last. I said not to worry. Amongst the many, many art supplies that I own is a small machine to do lamination. This morning I laminated my nativity scene. I will keep it forever and display it with a warm spot in my heart. That lovely gesture from Emily is what Christmas is all about. No UPC code, no brand-name tag, no fancy wrap. A simple white shoe box filled with love from the heart of a six-year-old. You can’t get a better present than that. I bring you my first guest artist, Emily Navis. Have a Happy Holiday.

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Into Every Life A Little Glitter Must Fall

I’m out of touch with the real world these days. I’ve been lost in the land of fairies. Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time when glitter like an infectious disease clings to those who dare enter my home. We are still struggling along here. No bites on the house, and we are considering a new plan of action. Meanwhile I have decided to use my God-given talents to pay for Christmas. If you have followed along my journey you know this started out as an art blog. Truth be told, it started out as a way to publicly blackmail myself into working. It worked for a year, but then life snuck in and pulled the rug from under me. I tried again a few weeks ago to blackmail myself again, but I truthfully haven’t had the time to work on what I consider my serious art. Instead I am focusing on what brings in the cash, and that would be fairies. So I am here again, just like last year, to ask anyone who reads my blog to take a look at my etsy site. I have a few pieces of art up there, and intend to have more after the beginning of the year, but for now I’m asking you to take a look at my ornaments. Lots of new ones this year. I’ll post a few photos here. So if you are looking for an inexpensive handmade gift check me out.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/jackiez59

My new International Fairies, bearing a “Merry Christmas” message in their native language.

Irish Fairy Liberty The American Fairy The Japanese Fairy

 

I also have a vintage site on etsy. Again, very, very inexpensive. I need to downsize, and I am listing new treasures weekly.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/PyewackettVintage

Thanks to all who take the time to read my writing. When the glitter clears I’ll be back to my opinionated self.

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?

Merry Christmas

What was I thinking? I said last night that I would possibly make some art for myself today. I think not. Not after all of the cooking, and the cleanup. A few weeks ago I filled a special request for a personalized ornament. I couldn’t post a photo of it because it was meant to be a surprise. So while I technically didn’t create art today (or did I? Pork Roast, gravy, spinach and garlic bread pudding, homemade chunky applesauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken and spinach lasagna, and a Frango Mint Cheesecake, all of which was made today…) I am going to use my special order as my project for this evening. Long day on my feet. I’m tired, off for some sweet dreams. Merry Christmas to all! 12 25 1

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Feeling Merry and Bright

Dare I say it? I’m feeling just a little merry, as in Christmas. We went out today to get our tree. It’s really sort of a non event for us. We don’t have little ones who are excited. There is also the fact that as we chose our tree I was taking photos in the garden center at Home Depot to torture my sisters with. (Come to think of it that made it worth the trip.) I knew it was snowing in Chicago and it was eighty-four here. The temperature also affects the way I feel. When you grow up in the Midwest you want a white Christmas. The only snow I see here is on the tops of the mountains which are more than an hour away. I’m not complaining. I’m getting older, and I am getting to the age where every injury I have sustained in my life is tapping me on the shoulder to say, “Ha, forgot about me didn’t you?” I hurt in multitudes of places depending on the day. I can only imagine what some nice icy weather would do to me. I think I miss the idea of a white Christmas more than anything else. Didn’t I say I was merry? Doesn’t sound like it, but I am, really I am.

There is also this, before we moved to California we cut down our own tree. Our home was outside the city and we lived only a few minutes from a tree farm. I have fond memories of going with the kids in the cold picking our tree, coming back to the house and drinking something hot, and decorating the tree. The experience isn’t quite as picturesque at the home improvement store when I’m too warm to wear a jacket, but once the tree is in the house, and the boxes of ornaments come out, I’m in full holiday mode. I am a very sentimental woman, I remember nearly every ornament and when we got it. My favorites of course are the goofy ones that the kids made, and one that my mother in law made. It is in the tradition of the old German ornaments made with cotton and cloth with the exception of a cut out from a photo of Jessica’s face. It was really cute when it was new, but as the years have gone by it has gotten really creepy looking. I make sure to put it front and center. The tree wouldn’t be complete without creepy Baby Jessica.  Every year I am also reminded of an ornament I made a very long time ago. It was in the third grade. When I was a kid there weren’t many of the current safety regulations in place. We created an ornament with a Styrofoam ball, toothpicks, paint, and glitter. I remember mine was orange. We had to stick the toothpicks all around this ball, dunk it in paint, and then again in glitter. It wasn’t an ornament, it was a deadly weapon. Like a giant porcupine ball, or some Medieval instrument of torture. (Possibly a craft idea inspired by the Inquisition?)  I can’t imagine a school these days allowing kids to make anything close to it.  Of course once the ornaments come out, the snowmen come out. I’ve mentioned my dirty little collecting secret before. I haven’t taken them out of the boxes quite yet, they are awaiting my attention in the morning. (Photo tomorrow night)

Tree trimming in our house usually starts with Vince Guaraldi and the music from Charlie Brown Christmas. It sets the tone perfectly. Dan really likes Charlie Brown Christmas so a few years ago I made him a Charlie Brown tree and painted an ornament red for him to hang from it. I also painted a few ornaments for him as a gift.  They will have to suffice as my art project for the day. I spent the morning creating my Dad’s five Irish fairies. (Much thanks to my cousin Lorna in Ireland for giving me the correct spelling of Merry Christmas in Gaelic.) One of the things I truly love about the artistic abilities I have is that when I want to make something special for someone, I have the skill to do so. It makes me very happy…I mean merry.12 17 (3)

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12 17 (2)And finally, a few Irish fairies.

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The Upside

Despite what I wrote last night the day wasn’t all bad on Saturday. It was just that I worked so hard preparing for the show, and on my poem, and well, I thought I was so clever that I couldn’t resist using it. Now for the upside. Yesterday was lousy, but I did sit outside all day on a beautiful afternoon with Dan, we did enjoy our favorite pastime, which is making fun of the general public, and we met Isabella. Isabella is a beautiful young girl who was at the show with her parents who also had a booth. Shortly after I set up Isabella came over to our tables. She was enchanted by my fairies, and couldn’t decide which she liked best. Several times throughout the day she came over to play with the fairies, or drag one of her parents over to see them. Eventually she wore her father down. They came over together to choose a fairy. Isabella was beyond excited, and would pick one, then quickly change her mind and choose another. I had mentioned to her earlier in the day that I had created a “Katniss” ornament for my daughter. (For those if you who are out of touch with the universe, Katniss is the character in The Hunger Games) I had a photo of the ornament and showed it to her. That was it, that was the one. Her dad asked if she was sure that she wanted to wait for me to send an ornament rather than buy one that was already on the table. She was very definite about what she wanted. In the photo of Katniss I showed her the ornament was holding a bow, but no arrows. Isabella requested that I not permanently attach the bow, and could I make arrows? Oh, and since the fairies only have eyes could I add a smile? She was so sweet, and then she looked at me shyly and said, ” I still like to play with dolls, especially little ones, I know I’m too old.” I asked her how old she was and she said she was twelve. I said, “Honey, you aren’t too old to play with dolls. My daughter was older when she gave up her Barbie.” She broke into a huge grin. In this day when most kids are nothing more than miniature adults it was so refreshing to see a little girl who was still a little girl. It made my day.  At the end of the show Isabella’s mom came over to tell me how much her daughter loved my things. I told her how sweet I thought her daughter was.  Isabella came over to say goodbye to me before they left. Today I made Isabella’s ornament, including her bow, and arrows and a quiver to keep them in. That wasn’t enough. I want to encourage the imagination of any child that wants to be a child. She said she likes to play with little things, so I’m going to surprise her. When I mail her Katniss in the morning, Katniss will have a friend, her name is Isabella. I made a little doll the size of fairy that resembles Isabella. Of course since Katniss has a bow, arrows and a quiver, Isabella needs them as well, I mean if they’re going to play together… I know I whined and complained about my day, but there really was a wonderful bright light in my day, her name was Isabella.

Tonight a slightly askew watercolor of some flat ware. I was working and watching a movie at the same time so my perspective might just be off a little (any excuse, we know its my nemesis. Damn you evil perspective!) Its been weeks since I sat down and just relaxed. It is a difficult concept for me. I’m not totally unhappy with the results, but it did feel good just to be back working on my project once again.IMG_3112

And just in case you were interested in seeing them, Katniss and Isabella.IMG_3114

A Passenger’s View

It may seem at times that I focus on the negative. That isn’t really true. I will admit to some dark days as of late. I thought a lot about it this morning. When I started this blog last April I had no idea that my life would take such a dramatic turn. I find myself using these pages not only as a place to express my artistic struggles, but also the unintended recipient of my frustrations, worries, and life struggles as well.  I have a deep appreciation for the good things in my life. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but trust me I do.

I also take time every day to look at the world around me and breathe in the details. Every morning as I go outside to pick up our newspapers I stop to listen the silence of the morning. I also look to see what’s happening with the sky, and am known to often run inside to grab the camera to take a few sunrise shots. I mentioned the other day that I look at clouds with a painter’s eye. I actually do that with most everything. I am nearly always a passenger. I didn’t learn to drive until I was twenty-six, and in the twenty-four and a half years I have been married to Dan, I rarely drive. He likes to drive, I hate it. A necessity of life, my life, that I don’t enjoy. The benefit of always being the passenger is that you get a better look at the world. I often complained that I wish I had my camera, visualizing a painting as I looked at neighborhood streets,and then losing the mental picture by the time I got home. That problem is solved now with my phone. Back in September I used one of those photos as inspiration for a painting for this project. I pay attention to every detail. Every color, every cloud, every face that I see. I don’t want to miss a thing, because you never know when you will see something beautiful, when you will find inspiration, or discover some little place you never realized was there. There are definitely problems in my life, but I never for a second stop looking and being grateful the world and the people around me. This morning when I went outside I stood looking at a tree across the street, enjoying the simplicity of the tree against the morning sky. I have been buried in fairies as of late and today was no different. I haven’t taken the time to sit and paint, but today I thought a lot about that by beautiful tree. A simple watercolor of this mornings moment with nature. I will also pat myself on the back just a little for my inventiveness. (By the way, I take back the “my font looks good” remark of last night. My eyes are betraying me horribly) Two things that I created today made me happy. It really was true about the hot air balloon of yesterday. They float over my house regularly in the early morning. They take off from the vineyards. My show this coming Saturday will be here in town. Two things are very popular in Temecula, wine and hot air balloons. I made the wine fairies last week. I needed a hot air balloon. After several failed experiments I believe I’ve come up with one I like. The second was a special request for an ornament for a friend’s son. The little boy likes penguins. I didn’t have one, so I made one. Somehow life doesn’t seem so bad when I’m making penguins.12 8 (1)

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Rekindling A Memory

 

I have wonderful memories of Chicago at Christmas, both from my own childhood, as well as my children’s. My favorite activity was always looking at the holiday windows of Marshall Field’s. There were other stores that had displays, but Field’s was always the best. We didn’t go down every year when I was a kid, but we did do it enough that I remember it well. With my own children I made it a yearly event. We would bundle up against the cold Chicago wind, and walk down State Street looking at the windows, hearing the Christmas Carols played overhead. Marvelous mechanical puppets moving on tracks working a little Holiday magic. Afterwards we would take the kids to the seventh floor to the Crystal Palace for ice cream. Yes, ice cream. Despite the cold and the wind, and often times snow, the day wasn’t complete without ice cream. The Crystal Palace was made to look like an old-time ice cream parlor. The hot fudge was delicious. (Recipe anyone?) Unfortunately, as it seems it is the way of the world these days, Marshall Field’s is gone. It is now Macy’s to the great horror of many of us who remember just how special a trip to Marshall Field’s was. The Crystal Palace is gone as well. I haven’t lived in Chicago for a little over ten years. I don’t know whether or not Macy’s has continued the tradition of the windows. I hope so. What led me down memory lane today? My fairies. I know you are probably sick of them about now, but what started out as a fairly simple ornament many, many years ago, has evolved into art for me. I still make the ornaments, but they are much more elaborate than in the beginning. In the last few weeks as I’ve been creating them I have been taking them a step further. I’ve been creating little vignettes. The artist fairy with her branch easel, the teacher with the real tree bark chalkboard, the sewing fairy sitting on her spool of thread with her “toothpick needle”. Today I took it even further. I had two pieces of Manzanita wood branches. It’s a beautiful shrub or small tree, the branches are really interesting, twisted, gnarly, very sculptural. I actually purchased them to use in displaying the fairies a few years ago, but I never used them. I’ve been eying them for a few weeks now. I had an idea that came to fruition today. My “Fairy Playground”, a vignette of fairies at play. The elf riding the bird, the mother and her baby in his seed pod stroller, the white fairy on her swing of flowery vines, and the blue fairy and her elfin pal picking berries. I’m not sure if the pictures will convey just how enchanting it is. When I was finished and sat back to look at my handiwork I was reminded of Marshall Field’s marvelous windows. My elves and fairies don’t move, they aren’t puppets, but there is definitely something magical about them. The backdrop is my work, a painting I created when I was nineteen.  So tonight again, fairies.IMG_2666

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Focus

I thought a lot about what to write this evening. The night before Thanksgiving, except I’m not feeling very thankful. It’s been several months since Dan lost his job. It has been a roller coaster of feelings around here, but there’s nothing like the beginning of the holiday season to bring emotion to the surface. I really struggled at the grocery store today. This time a year ago I was shopping for food to donate to the food pantry. Don’t get me wrong, we are nowhere near that kind of problem, but it hit me hard that our life has changed so much inside this past year. I think I took a lot for granted. Not the people in my life. I make a point of telling and showing them how much they mean to me. I did however, take for granted that Dan would always have a job, that we would always be OK. So for now my plan is to focus on what’s right in our life. We love each other, we have good kids, we have a wonderful new son-in-law, who makes our daughter very happy, our families are for the most part doing well, and we have some really wonderful friends. I also have a couple of children in my life who have had tragedy strike their lives much too soon. Focus. Focus on what is good in life, focus on what is important, focus on what you have not what you don’t have. Tomorrow I will be grateful to be with the person I love most in this world, there are far too many people who don’t have even that.

My project for tonight is an ornament, but not a Christmas one. It is for Emily. Tomorrow she will be five. She loves mermaids, so a mermaid it is. Also a box to put it in, another of my painted soap boxes. Emily is one more reason to be grateful tomorrow.IMG_2625IMG_2627IMG_2626IMG_2628IMG_2632