My Early Spring

We are finally expecting a little rain out here in Southern California I know for some people that rain isn’t very good news, but for me it is more than welcome. Aside from the fact that California is in the midst of a drought, I miss rain. I miss weather. I spent most of my life in Chicago, in hot humid summers, freezing cold winters, but glorious spring days, and crisp fall winds. I’m sure everyone who is freezing in the Midwest and the East must think I’m insane, but for me a little bad weather takes me home. It was overcast this morning and I was sure a few drops might fall from the sky, but by late morning the sun was in full shine. My sister tells me that they are expecting a snowstorm in Chicago this weekend. Dan and I walked this morning in the unusually cool air, and as we walked I, as always, admired the beauty that is around us. Yes we are very lucky to live where we live, where Spring raises her head just a little earlier than most places, but in my heart Chicago will always be home, late season snow storms and all.

Tonight just a little pen and ink, part of a thank you I need to send. The drawing inspired by a terrific book by W.G. Paulson Townsend, “Plant And Floral Studies for Artists and Craftspeople”. I loved the finished drawing, but I also enjoy adding just a touch of color with Photo-shop. Last week a package arrived with a small kitchen scale in it. I hadn’t ordered it, and I was quite puzzled at where it came from, there was no receipt included. After a few days Dan received a text message from his mother. My mystery gift was from her. My mother in law very generously wanted to help with my business, and said I could use the scale to help to figure out shipping. It is a very thoughtful gesture. I plan to incorporate the drawing into a card in the morning.2 26 14 (2)

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Also for tonight a touch of Spring, photos from our walk this morning. The Jasmine is in bloom, as is Iris, and quite a few flowers in my garden. A gift of hope for my family and friends due east.

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Taking A Break

I took most of the day off today. I’ve been working on those windows for days, and honestly my hands are a little raw, not to mention all the sawdust in my nose and in my hair. I’m just tired, and at this point getting a little less enthusiastic about the amount of work it is taking to get them where I want them to be. So while I didn’t actually take the day off (because I never really do), I did need to leave those projects be for a day. I spent more time creating in my other studio, my kitchen. I made not one, but two dinners, both were penne with chicken and Alfredo sauce. One was for Dan, myself and our friend Lori, the other was for Brian. He stopped home today, and is typical for a newly moved out “bachelor”, he hadn’t eaten. We fed him lunch, and then I sent him home with dinner for himself and his two roommates. i also whipped up some homemade thousand island dressing and croutons for our salads, and molten chocolate cakes for dessert.

As far as an art project for this evening, just a little doodle while sitting in front of the television. It’s actually again something we may use in our business. I’ll attack the windows in the morning with fresh perspective.image

Who I Am

I think I was born with a “No Compete” clause. I have no competitive edge, none. It doesn’t mean that from time to time people don’t annoy me enough to make me want to prove something, that is a whole other animal. Maybe that’s why I shy away from promoting myself. A few things brought this to mind tonight. First on the list is that I happen to be watching some of the Olympic coverage. I marvel at the athleticism. (We all know by now that I have none.) In college I had switched majors to advertising, a young and stupid move. Not that I couldn’t have produced some fabulous ideas, I come up with some pretty amazing ones all the time, if I do say so myself. It’s just that there aren’t too many careers as competitive as advertising, I’d have been eaten alive, unless of course someone pissed me off, then it’s game on. There was also a conversation that I had not once, but twice today. I have three sisters, when everyone starts to talk I quiet down. With Dan’s family, everyone talks over one another. They are quite good at it, and amazingly all know what the others are saying. I’m not loud enough for that. I don’t even try. Another reason is that last night a friend (well-meaning of course), wanted to know how to post a comment on this blog to tell the world how (her words) AMAZING I am. While I very much appreciate the sentiment, I would be mortified if someone wrote that. This isn’t a self-esteem or self-confidence issue. I am old enough to realize it’s OK to say that I’m talented without feeling like I’m bragging. It’s a fact, I do indeed have a lot of talent (not downhill skiing talent, but talent none the less), I’m just not comfortable shouting it from the rooftops. It’s not who I am. Thanks to age (and this project), I am more and more comfortable with the idea of myself as an “artist”. I spent a lot of years feeling like a fraud. Claiming to be an artist, but feeling like I didn’t have the pedigree. Well I do have the credentials,( just ask God, he gave them to me.) I’ve always loved being able to do the things that I can do, I’ve always longed to do other things that I can’t do, (No, not downhill, but maybe figure skating, or even walking and chewing gum at the same time without requiring knee surgery.) I’ve just always felt that as privileged as I am to have the skills that I have, I realize that they are skills that many other people are blessed with as well. I have from time to time been accused of “showing off”. It couldn’t be farther from the truth, because the truth is that I enjoy using my talents, every one of them to do things for others. Whether it is cooking a beautiful meal for friends or loved ones, painting something for a friend, or (my favorite) making something as a gift for a child, it’s never about, “Look what I can do.” It is always about my love of giving, of making someone happy, or hopefully making a difference in someone’s day, or a child’s life. That is who I am, no rooftops required.

Back to readying things for our business. I completed last nights pen and ink. It will be used as an award for one of the promotions we want to run with local schools. The second piece tonight is an idea I “borrowed”. Not the artwork, that’s me, although it was inspired by an old vintage book, but the idea for the product it will become. My daughter was invited to a baby shower. The guests were given a label and instructed to put it inside any book they might purchase for the baby. It had a place for the baby’s name, and who it was from, but my favorite part was where the guest was supposed to say why that book in particular. I loved the idea. I love children’s books and love to give my favorites as gifts. I wish I knew who to credit for this lovely idea, unfortunately I don’t. I do think it adds something really special to the gift of a book, and I think a book is the best gift one can get. My finished pen and ink, and watercolor, and pen on Bristol board with a little bit of computer help on font.

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Reality Sets In

I’m struggling tonight. Parenthood never ends. I offered help to my son last night as he prepared to move on to bigger and better things. He and his friends rented a truck for 7a.m. this morning, and despite our earlier suggestions that he just might want to pack, he waited until the last-minute. Youthful optimism and inexperience were the order of the day, Brian turned down my help, but later once the enormity of the task at hand hit home, he finally caved. I’ve moved thirteen times in my life. Dan is an Air Force brat, and I’m sure doesn’t even have a count. Essentially we know what we are doing. It had to be near ten when I began to help, Dan wasn’t feeling well and went to bed, and Brian? He had his fill at about ten forty-five. (To his credit he had been working for about three hours before I came in.) As for me, Mom, tenacious, stubborn, hard-working, and did I mention, Mom? I worked until one fifteen, until I forced myself to go to bed. When he came for the final push this morning things were well-organized. Today we helped with the moving in, and tonight I shed my first tear when I started to make dinner and realized that Brian wouldn’t be here later to rummage through the fridge for a late night snack.

As for the other part of my day, breakfast with Gabby and Kingston, it was wonderful. To begin with I gave King his painting from last night. I got more from his response than I could ever possibly ask for. He is a very happy little boy. We decided based on the painting to write a story together. Its something I did with my daughter. I would write a line, then she would write a line. Kingston and I wrote our first two lines this morning. I also made them a favorite of mine from childhood. My Mom would soft boil eggs, cut the tops off, and place them in egg cups. She would make toast and cut it into “fingers” for dipping. They loved it, and loved it even more when I told them how we would turn the empty egg shells upside down and try to trick my Dad into thinking he had a boiled egg. Hearing them laugh is the best way to start the day.

I wrote my post a few hours ago, knowing that at some point I would hit a wall. The wall has arrived. I’ve spent the last two hours working on a pen and ink, but I just can’t go on. I’m much, much too tired. Here is my incomplete pen and ink…to be continued tomorrow…IMG_5514

Mission Accomplished!

Three days in and I’m finally finished with this project. As I said last night I will never be able to charge enough to cover the amount of time I’ve spent on this project, but I had a few mishaps along the way, as well as some areas where I rethought the way I was doing things. I’m pleased with the finished project. In all there are thirteen pages in this miniature accordion folded book. Each about the size of a business card. It has a velvet ribbon inside to keep the accordion in place, and the same ribbon to tie it shut. I’d really like to expand on this idea. The one I created for Dan has photos of us, and more personal notes and quotes. As I thought about the piece today I thought it would make the perfect vehicle for a romantic proposal. I may offer them with blank pages for personalization, places for photos, song lyrics, anything that someone might want to add to make it a really special gift.

I admittedly have still not really bitten the bullet and put any of my art up for sale. Dan and I talked about my artistic insecurities again this morning. I really don’t understand what’s fueling these feelings at this point. I’ve produced a lot of work I love including what I did tonight, but I can’t seem to shake the insecurity. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a good cook, actually a really good one. Last night we had dinner at the winery. My food was good, not great, but considering how fussy I can be it was really good. I got up this morning determined to recreate last nights meal, only better. I didn’t hesitate, it never once occurred to me that I couldn’t do it, I recreated that dish and it was better. I am completely fearless in the kitchen. I want that fearlessness when I pick up a brush as well as a spatula. I’m going to put at least five pieces up tomorrow. I need to force myself to get over the hump. I know that as I move forward there will be judgement and rejection, it’s part of the game. I just need to find that belief in myself so that what anyone else thinks won’t matter so much.1 26 (2)

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Self Reflection

I had a real crisis of self-esteem yesterday. I think it was reflected in my work last night. I’ve been spending months building my artistic self-esteem project by project, and in one bad afternoon I allowed myself to undermine months of hard work. I thought a lot about that today. I don’t want to give power to those feelings of inadequacy. I’m disappointed that I let those old demons out.

I again find myself having a day where art got pushed to the back burner. I had a lovely afternoon with Gabby (my nine-year old friend). We did homework, and then we made banana bread muffins, and a couple of deep dish pizzas. I have promised myself the full day tomorrow to paint, and I fully intend to keep that promise. For tonight one more mirror pen and ink. I wasn’t up to much, still struggling against something, still have a headache. Grabbed some vitamin C today in hopes of keeping the flu away. Either way I’m painting tomorrow, promise.1 22

One Down…

At least a dozen more to go. That would be New Years resolutions. I’m breaking one as I write…at ten o’clock. I said I wouldn’t post late, but here I am posting at the end of my day. In all fairness to me I did have a dental appointment today, did take care of a couple of children who needed some “Mommy” time, cook breakfast and dinner, organize all of our medical receipts, clean my family room and kitchen…and then some. It’s amazing I get to the artwork at all. My other resolution was to have confidence in my work. I blew that tonight. I was working on the final mirror in my series of mirrors. It was coming along nicely and I started second guessing myself. I screwed up a perfectly good drawing. I didn’t leave well enough alone, and when pen and ink is the medium of the day, mistakes are definitely permanent. I covered up the error to a certain extent, but I look at the illustration and for me there are neon arrows pointing out my mistake. I just need to recognize that the work is good enough, and just walk away (Didn’t I just point out that I had learned to walk away? Apparently I was mistaken.) So here it is, mistakes and all, the last of my antique silver mirrors. Long day, late night…off to bed!1 9 14

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The finished series. I guess tonight’s doesn’t look too bad after all.10 29

Reflections On Writing

If you’re a writer I don’t believe there can be anything worse than a lost thought. I’m sure writer’s block has its issues, but for me there is nothing worse than that fleeting thought that disappears from my mind in nearly the instant that I have it. I had such a thought this morning, and I remember thinking I need to remember this for my blog later. (Notice I remember thinking I should remember, but I don’t remember what the thought was) At least with writer’s block you aren’t pulling your hair out at the sentence that got away. I’ve been writing about as long as I’ve been drawing. Stacks and stacks of poetry, and endless beginnings to short stories. I have several journals with words contained within, but what I have much, much more of are the scraps of paper where I managed to record some of those fleeting thoughts. Grocery store receipts, deposit slips from my check book, and a pile of the loose subscription cards that fall from the pages of magazines. I have always planned to go back to them. Some to decipher the sentences that I scribbled in the dark when inspiration struck in the middle of a restless night, others because I was in an inconvenient place or time and just grabbed a quick second to record my thoughts before they vanished. There are times when these quick notes have turned into something special. Times when I reread words and they in turn gave birth to poetry. I have said it before, I love the written word. Much like art, when two people look at a painting they don’t both have the same reaction, each individual is made up of their own thoughts and experiences that play a part in how the work speaks to them. Reading the written word also speaks to our own experiences, we take those words and unknowingly apply it to our own lives. The words live on deep in our minds and can color our view by what we have taken from it. There have been times when I have read words that have caused me to go back in my own life and see a situation in a new light.  There may come a time before this project ends that I will illustrate my words. There has never really been a time when I thought of having the two connect, although I guess in some ways this very project has done that.

I had planned on finishing my table today, but as always there were other things to attend to. In the end I decided to return to one of my favorite activities, pen and ink. This piece may look familiar. Quite some time ago I drew an antique hand mirror in pen and ink, I have done the same tonight. It’s just a different mirror. I actually own four vintage mirrors and decided to draw another. As I sketch this beautiful mirror I again marvel at the craftsmanship of old. It is in itself a beautiful piece of art.1 7 14

Mirror illustration from October 29th.10 29

A Fresh Start

First day of the year, a fresh start in so many ways. I’ve made as lot of promises to myself, ones I will do my hardest to keep. I am keeping one promise right away, I am posting early. I want to stop leaving Dan to fall asleep on the couch as I rush to write before bed.

We started the year the right way, we hiked for six and a half miles. It took us close to three hours. We live very near the Santa Rosa Plateau. It is a beautiful place with hills, and wildlife. In the Spring there are vernal pools, water that rises up out of the ground for a very short time span, and fields of wildflowers. We plan on making the hikes a regular thing this year. It’s great exercise, but more than that it is a place that brings serenity. There were moments today when the only sounds we heard were the wind blowing through the trees, the cry of the hawks circling overhead, woodpeckers at work, and the songs of the birds. There is a peace that comes when you take yourself away from the world.  As we walked all I could think about was the beauty around me and what I wanted to paint. Did I paint when I got home? No, the truth is sometimes I forget how old I am, or that I’ve had six knee surgeries. By the time we neared the end of the path on our way back to the car, I was telling Dan that I longed to see civilization, a glimpse of the parking lot, or maybe roadside assistance to pick me up on the path. I was so tired, hot, and in need of a foot bath. Struggling uphill with my bad knees, hoping we were near the end. We stopped at grocery store on the way back and had to laugh as we struggled to get out of the car. When we got home I simply passed out. Happy New Year to me.  So, no painting today, instead a pen and ink of another of my favorite things. It’s an old letter opener. A simple tool with amazing detail work. Things simply are not made like they used to be, and I am definitely not as young as I used to be!

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I wish everyone could start the year in peace, so I’ll share some photos of our day. IMG_9778

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In Need Of A Fix

I write every day. I have written every day for 204 days now with the exception of the lovely case of pneumonia I contracted last June when I missed one. I never really know what I will write about until I sit down at this keyboard. There have been one or two occasions where I sort of knew ahead of time what I wanted to say, and very early on I got sick of my “woe is me of the no art lessons” stories, sometimes I talk about the work, but I really don’t get into it in-depth. I just write. I have a friend who has asked on more than one occasion, “Why?” She says that she is fascinated with how my brain works, my thought process, the whats and whys of the piece of work I am currently creating. She has brought this up more than once. I don’t really have an answer for her. Much like I sit down here night after night and words begin to flow, I do the same most days/nights with my art. It is second nature to me to create. I don’t think about it all that much, I just do. I cook, I write, I sculpt, I paint, I design, I never stop creating. When I have an idea I go with it. I went to my nephew’s apartment in LA the other day. He is a chef, a very busy, talented chef, and he is relatively new to his apartment. He needs a decorator. It’s a small place, two rooms, kitchenette and bathroom, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. That will come to no surprise to those who know and love me, as well as those I annoy to no end. I’m a girl who loves a project. I have so much to do with two shows right around the corner, Christmas cleaning and decorating (although the glitter issue has me way ahead on that!) I have to shop for Christmas, get a tree, rescue my snowman collection from its garage prison, and write those Christmas cards that will never see the inside of a mailbox. (Story for another time) What is on my mind? John’s apartment. If I didn’t need the money I would forget the shows and be there now, paintbrush in hand. It’s as though I’m in need of a fix, it is that bad. To know that somewhere in this world there is an apartment laying in wait is killing me. My home is done, several times over in fact. My sister once said that I paint my walls more often than she changes her sheets. Sad but nearly accurate. About two years ago I painted the kitchen three times in three days. (Dan only had to help the first two times) It’s an illness, but the color just wasn’t right. The ideas for John’s apartment will not let my brain rest. I have to wait at least another eleven days until after my second show. I don’t know how I will get through it.

I took a day off from fairies today. My back was pleading with me, and as I mentioned last night I am exhausted. Something simple tonight, another book-plate for the business. A pen and ink, computer tinted in photo-shop.12 4