Wanted: Juggling Teacher

I’m looking for help and advice. I didn’t start this blog to gain followers. I began the blog as a way to publicly blackmail myself into moving ahead with my art. (Don’t get me wrong, it is nice when you learn that someone cares to read your ramblings. In my case way too personal ramblings, but there’s no looking back, only moving forward) It worked for a year, and then I fell back into old habits and worse yet the land of self-doubt.  So here I sit getting older by the second (I think I can actually feel a wrinkle forming), and still trying to gain the confidence to succeed. Here’s where you come in, the person who has decided to take five minutes to read my thoughts. I’ve been a stay at home mom for a good portion of my life. Now the kids are gone, but I’ve spent twenty plus years living by their schedule. From school to after school activities, vacations, and bowing to (almost) their every need and whim, I think I’ve forgotten how to schedule myself. I need to structure my day, which when you work at home can be difficult. There is always a bathroom to clean, laundry to do, meals to prepare, etc. I make lists of things I want to accomplish artistically in a date book. A date book that I purchased last December that quite frankly has very little written in it. Does anyone out there work at home? How do you manage your time? How do you ignore the dirty socks and paint instead? How do you fit in time for friends, grocery shopping, and doctor’s appointments? Despite my best intentions I can’t seem to walk though my house back to my studio without stopping to clean. It isn’t that there’s a lot to do, and there are only two of us here, (well, five if you count the three cats, needless to say cat hair tumbleweeds abound). With no clock to punch, or school bell to answer I’m at a loss. I’d appreciate any advice.FullSizeRender(13)

 

Now that I’m done with my plea for advice, I’d like a little help. The help is with social media. I’m not so old that I’m computer brain dead. I have of course my blog here on WordPress, but I also have two Facebook accounts, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest account, and an Etsy shop. Everyone tells me that I need social media to move my art business ahead. I am a one woman glitter factory making fairies to sell, I am also a fine artist working on three pieces at the moment, and I just don’t know how to get to all of the posting, descriptive tagging, tweeting, and hash tagging required. I currently have three thousand one hundred and fifty five emails, and that’s in only two of my four email accounts. Clever me, I thought having one for business, one for personal, one for the house, and one Hotmail account (that’s from the dawn of the internet, I can’t seem to shut it down!) was a good idea. It’s not, it’s a nightmare. Facebook sends me “You haven’t posted this week and your followers want to hear from you” emails. Not to mention (but I will) all my friends and loved ones who post on Facebook that I feel obligated to “like”, and then those same people who post the same photos on Instagram. I feel a surge of Catholic guilt wash over me and must “like” again. Daily notifications from Instagram on who is now following me, and the new posts from the people I “follow”. From Etsy Success and Etsy there’s the “Here’s what you need to do in order to succeed in your shop”, or “remember you looked at this” emails, and Twitter notifications. New posts from the people here on WordPress whose work I enjoy reading, but again don’t know where to find the time. (Insert screams here) It’s never ending. I have no staff, or management, it’s me doing everything. I currently have only sixty pieces listed on Etsy. I have more than two hundred and fifty created. Why aren’t they in my shop yet? It’s because I have to write a description for each piece to try to help buyers understand my vision, and I have to tag each fairy or print with the recommended and allotted thirteen tags. I have more than two hundred pieces to list, that’s more than twenty six hundred descriptive words to come up with. Yes, I could use the same tags again and again, but I must vary them so that when potential customers search with certain key words I might be “found”. It has in fact become a dreaded chore, like the homework I once hated. To say I’m feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. HELP! How do you manage all of this? Are you scheduling time for each? I would really love to hear from anyone who can help me in this juggling act. And now the tags for this post….sigh….

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It’s Final

I wrote the following a week ago. Too much to do to sit and post, and now the time is here. As of five o’clock yesterday the house officially belongs to another family. We closed on our new home today. It was a bittersweet moment to be sure. When I heard it was official all I could do was cry.
I look to where a clock once hung; I’m reminded that the time has come. The boxes are packed, the echo of hollow walls sounds with each and every step. The day I had hoped would never come is imminent. I look wistfully out my windows to my garden, my sanctuary, and know now it will belong to someone else. The process of moving is never easy. Memories reside within these walls around me, and now they will have to live inside my mind. It has been a long and difficult road filled with job loss, fear, anxiety, and wisps of hope. I recently said to Dan that it has been like have a bandage pulled excruciating slow from a wound. There is a difference in deciding that it is time to leave your home and having to leave your home. We could have hung on, but we are tired of struggle. I remind myself that things will be better once we are settled, but I think that this wound is so deep it may never close. We are lucky, I know that. There are those who didn’t make it, who not only lost the life they were living, but the four walls that contained that life. My heart bleeds for them. We made it. Through the grace of God, through the love and support of family and friends, we had a house to sell. For that I am grateful. I look for the positive in all of this, and there is much good in this move. I, the one so intimately acquainted with orthopedic surgeons, will be moving to a one story house. I will also be moving to a house half the size of this one. Half the house means half the cleaning. There is also the challenge of a new space. I passionately devoted myself to this home for almost twelve years and it shows. I have loved design since childhood, and now I begin again. That has been the saving grace through the last few weeks. I have begun looking at colors, and redesigning spaces in my mind. I am more than anxious to get to work. The next few weeks bring a new life, lots of work, and I’m sure some nostalgic sadness as well. I haven’t been writing much, too much work to be done, and too many tears. I’m ready to go. This place that I have loved so well is no longer my home, without my things around me it has become a house for someone else. They already love the garden, and have chosen not to paint over my mural, that makes me happy. I wish them well, and hope they have as many wonderful memories here as we did.

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Riley is all set to go.

The Not So Open House

A few words from yesterday…

The “Open House” has ended, it actually never really started. No knocks on the door, or rings of the bell. Just silence. In reference to what Dan said about having a party that no one shows up to, this feels like being the jilted prom date. I worked so hard yesterday perfecting it all, I got up this morning hurting in so many places I had long forgotten, but filled with anticipation and hoping for the best. I am proud of my home and what we have accomplished. I was feeling down as the clock struck three, but then set out to amuse myself with one of my favorite things to write. That would be a reworking of The Night Before Christmas. I’ve done it in probably ten different ways along the years. I love words, and the challenge of trying to recreate within the stanzas of that poem always gives me great satisfaction. So here it is in its goofiest form yet:

‘Twas the night before the showing,
Just me and my spouse,
We were frantically De-furring
And tidying our house.

With three cats, and so much dusty desert air,
It seemed to need cleaning most everywhere!
The cats were no help, and continued to shed,
By evenings end we were ready for bed.
With both of us ready for a good long nap
We decided to call the evening a wrap.
We knew that we had completed most of what mattered
And if we didn’t rest, the next day we’d be shattered.

Into our bed we fell with a crash,

hoping tomorrow would bring a buyer with cash.

 

We slept until the sun’s earliest glow,
We made a fast list of what to do and let go.

Running out of time was our fear,

before the chime of the doorbell we’d hear.
A little more tweaking, fresh flowers might be the trick,
To make this the home that a buyer would pick.
Eleven O’clock, time to begin the waiting game
For that one special person who might want to lay claim:
We waited, and waited for a bell to answer

Waited and waited to let someone in!
No bell ring, no knock, our excitement was muted!
All that wasted work what a sin!
Not a step on the porch!

Or a telephone call!
Please pray tomorrow is a better day

What in the world happened to them all?

I know you might think there’s no reason to cry
But you must understand I try, and I try.
I think that you‘d be sad too
If you worked and you worked as hard as we do.

It really looks lovely under this roof
Look at the video to see the proof.
We set off to drive around
And sadly take today’s signs down.
Day after day of being covered in soot
To make sure everything is perfect where put
Night after night where I’d hit the sack
And lay there sleepless as I’d plan the next day’s attack.
Day after day that was truly quite scary
Of losing this home I was quite wary
Worried that we would have nowhere to go

I blogged and I blogged with tales of woe.
Then along came a job and room to breathe,
but it came with a trek long enough to make Dan seethe!
Three hours each way gritting his teeth

(and just a little cussing and yelling)
We need to move to another new dwelling!
Surely some pity I felt for myself
As I began to pack every room, every shelf.
As I filled up the boxes filled with dread
A new idea popped into my head.
A home that just might need a little rework
One filled with lots of character and quirk
Now I am anxious for this house to close
If only tomorrow’s open house has any shows.
The house is as clean as a whistle
I need a buyer! Let’s make this official!
I’m ready to move on to brand new sights
Let’s hope for tomorrow and to the right price!

 

OK, so I know it is hideously corny, but it was either that or a good cry. I opted for the horrific poem instead. It is now 12:48, Open House day number two. I’m anxious and nervous, and tired yet again. I ran through the house to touch it all up. So stay tuned later to hear what’s new…is it me or is this thing starting to rhyme?…Anyway, hopefully, hopefully, someone (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller, Bueller?) will come to see this place.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired Amusement

Be careful what you wish for. Well I didn’t exactly wish for it, but last night I mentioned I’ve only missed one day in the last year due to illness. At 3:30 this morning I woke with a horrific earache and sore throat. I’ve spent most of the day lying around and really thought I had jinxed myself and would miss my project tonight. A quick cat nap and dinner prepared by my wonderful husband, and I found myself able to function once again. We spent most of the day yesterday in Los Angeles. My nephew lives in Echo Park, and my sister was in for a visit. The architecture in downtown LA is amazing. As much as I’ve grown to love Temecula, I am a city girl at heart. I want to spend a day there just photographing architectural detail. There is an amazing place there called The Last Bookstore. Well worth checking out on-line just to see the incredibly clever art entirely made from books. Dan and I are both horrible book fiends, we have a shared addiction for them. I picked up two books yesterday that both focused on pen and ink. One was a book about illustrated borders. The other is a book on the amazing work of Jean-Ignace-Isidore Grandville (1803-1847). The book contains 266 illustrations from “Un Autre Monde” and “Les Animaux”. In English, “Another World”, and the other section, Les Animaux, which consists of metamorphoses of animals, giving the animals human emotions. The drawings are delightful, and I couldn’t help but be inspired by them. They made me smile. I decided to draw my own “Grandville”. One of my cats, Riley, was kind enough to pose for me (at least her head). Riley sometimes looks lost in thought and gets quite annoyed when we bother her. She is very vocal in letting her displeasure be known. Here is Riley dressed to go to town, looking very bothered my interruption.

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One For The Money

Every now and then I can pick up a small side job, or a craft show that brings a little money into our house. These days any extra cash is welcome here. I have a dear friend who has in the last few months thrown a little work my way. She has found projects around her home that she has asked me to update, or refinish. I really appreciate the business. Last year I painted a mantel shelf for her. A few weeks ago she asked me to paint a table to match. The table is my art project for today, I’ve spent the better part of today perfecting the finish. I unfortunately didn’t take a “before” photo, but if you can imagine it in its original form it was brown, non-distinctive wood. A few coats of polyurethane and it’s finished.

I haven’t really picked up my regular paintbrush in a bit. As things here at home have gotten down to the wire I’m feeling very stressed. I haven’t felt like painting. It’s honestly been a struggle to work at all in the last few days. I have so much on my mind, hesitant to hope with Dan’s job opportunity, adjusting to Brian moving out, and daily issues with my aging father. I need to figure out a way to relax and let my mind wander, and recharge my creativity. There are a few things in my life that always cheer me up. Three of them are my cats. One of them is always near getting in my way while I work. Whether its to sit on me, to sit on the paper I’m working on, or making a bed in my drop-cloth so I can’t move it, they always make me smile.

2 27 14

Home

No ruby slippers to instantly transport me home, so another five-hour return drive in the car. No watercolor paintings this time. I was busy taking photographs. I began to play with my phone taking pictures as we drove through the Arizona desert. We’ve made this same journey several times before, and I have taken hundreds of photos along the way both coming and going, but I wanted to play with the filters on my iPhone. I have always loved black and white photography, and there is a filter on my phone named “transfer”, the colors were really different, very vintage looking. I went crazy for both. I shot more than five hundred photos. I couldn’t wait to get home to unload my phone to see all of them. I had been checking through them as we drove and was loving the results. Then I unloaded my phone. Not one photo appeared in my computer with the filter on it. I have been having issues with the phone, but not with the camera. I was devastated, of course me being me, I deleted all of the photos before really looking at them to see that they had unloaded without the filters. I checked with my local tech gurus (that would be Dan and Brian, husband and son respectively) but no one seemed to have an answer. I finally googled it. To my dismay it seems that there is no way to save them with the filter unless you email them to yourself. Ridiculous if you take as many photos as I do, and I had already deleted them. I called the help line (Jessica) who is always quick to help her not so tech savvy mother in a pinch. I followed her instructions and emailed myself one of my photos back out of my desk top, applied the filter and then emailed it back to myself. Success! Now I only have hundreds more to do. (Just kidding) I’ll have to take a good look before I decide which photos are filter worthy. To say I am annoyed with the entire process is a major understatement. However, I did manage to take quite a few photos today that I love, so I will be busy emailing myself for the next week. Because I have nothing better to do.

You have probably guessed by now that I am home, happily ensconced in my nest, and I am. As wonderful as new experiences can be, as lovely as visiting family can be, as intriguing as exotic destinations are, there truly is nothing like the feeling of walking in your own front door, putting up your feet, and letting out a sigh of satisfaction. Our girls, Riley, Mia, and Sophie were glad to have us back to do their bidding. Mia in particular knows exactly what she wants. She walks towards me with determination, hops onto my lap, and demands to be petted as she purrs away. I was tired today, ten hours of travel between Friday’s trip to Phoenix and the return trip today, and my usual restless hotel sleeping, I decided that tonight I would do something just for fun. A watercolor of my Mia. It’s also been quite a while since I threw in a little photography. Some desert shots, one in its original color as nature intended, a black and white, and a before and after with the filter applied (thank you Jessica!) Back to my life tomorrow, with bigger and better art to come.IMG_5105As nature intended…

IMG_4840Black and white Photo Shop

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OriginalIMG_4075

With” Transfer” filterphoto-2

Twas Two Weeks Before…

Today was my show. The one I worked so hard for, the one I lost sleep over, the one I neglected this project for. I received several texts from friends and family, all asking the same, “How did it go?” It was a bust. Flat out terrible. There simply were no customers, and those that did come, the same people who would pay $15 for twenty cent piece of plastic at the gift store, turned their noses up at my under-priced items. One even tried to bargain me down. Needless to say I had a lot of time to kill. I used it to write this:

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas

I’ve been trapped in my house,

not a surface sans glitter

including my spouse.

There are no stockings

hanging anywhere,

I’ve been too busy crafting

stuck in my chair.

My cats are all merry

stealing fairy heads.

Why play with their toys

when they can chase my supplies instead?

With no shopping done

and nothing to wrap,

what I need for Christmas

is a really long nap.

My show was today

not sure what’s the matter,

I was hoping and praying

for a wallet that’s fatter.

It’s near the end of the day

and still no cash.

I’m still hoping and praying

for a last-minute shopper dash.

I see lots of people

go to and fro,

but no one seems to want to spend any dough.

I’m running low on Holiday cheer,

we haven’t hit bottom yet is my greatest fear.

Maybe I need some kind of magic trick,

or maybe I should have just called in sick.

There truly is no one person to blame.

I’ve done enough of these shows

to know some are lame.

I’m in a funk I don’t want to be in.

I’m trying to smile but don’t know where to begin.

What I really want is to sit down and bawl,

but I know that won’t help anything at all.

I guess there’s no use in asking why?

Why can’t I get someone to buy?

I guess you all know that I’m feeling blue,

but you’d feel the same if you were sitting here too.

My empty wallet is mathematical proof

2013 has thrown me for a loop.

2014 for you I am bound

to search for the luck that needs to be found.

I’m gearing up for the new year, I’m no pussy-foot.

Bad karma behind me where it needs to be put!

I will promote myself where I have a knack,

art that was learned off the beaten track.

I didn’t succeed with all of those fairies!

Despite my prayer of the Hail Mary.

It’s a Catholic thing as you all must know

to ask for a favor in times of woe.

I won’t give in, I won’t retreat,

instead I need to get back up on my feet.

Its time to load up my pickup the Chevy

I was hoping to leave with boxes much less heavy.

You may think that I’m feeling sorry for myself.

I think it might be the same for yourself

if you wanted to get ahead,

but you kept falling backwards instead.

I’m off to etsy to do some work

on my own little personal merc.

There is no one more than me that knows

that selling on-line does more than these shows.

Just a few more words until your dismissal.

New items tomorrow at the nine o’clock whistle.

Sunday shopping for a fairy or sprite

can be just the thing to make your Holiday bright.

Merry Christmas to all,

here’s my etsy site.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/jackiez59?ref=si_shop

From a very worn out and disappointed me, there isn’t anything new for you to see. But in the spirit of not giving up, an older acrylic from my kitchen. The fridge will be up and running tomorrow with new work.

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Open To The Future

Here I go again, sitting here at ten o’clock writing my blog with blurry eyes. Another long day of working on my fairies. I did sell a few which is of course the point of all of this, but I have this weird thing going on in my head. I had a goal in mind of how many I wanted to have for the show on December 7th. I have been working towards that number, but then I sell one, or two, or as it turns out this week, seven, I find myself thinking I won’t have enough. As I said, the point of all of it is to sell them. I guess my worry is that I won’t have enough physically to put out at the show. I still have thirteen days to work on them, and of course I don’t have to put them up on etsy, I could just save them for the show, but what if I don’t sell as much at the show as I’d like? Do you see how my brain works? I am easily my own worst nightmare. I’m like one of my cats chasing my tail. Any way I make money these days is good enough. I have to admit I am enjoying them, and it does make me happy to sell them. I need to go to bed.  Speaking of my cats…last night Mia made an appearance. Tonight it is Sophie. Every time I sit down to work she sits at my feet waiting. For what? For me to amuse her with something. Its my duty as her human. As always I obey, a piece of string, her favorite.IMG_2475IMG_2476

I’m still struggling to make that time for art. I may be sticking to pen and ink for the immediate future. Tonight I began to think about our business. I can’t wait to get in the space and go to work. I can’t believe how many people feel the need to point out to us that it will be very hard work. We know that, we are hard workers, and I actually love it. The closer we get to making it a reality, the more nervous I get, but I can’t wait to hang our sign that says “Open for business”. I began working on our sign some months ago and haven’t finished it. I need to pull it out after Christmas and get it completed. It is a rather large wood burning project. I want to put our personal touch on everything in the place. Tonight just a little sign to spur us on. I can’t wait until I can hang one for real.11 23

 

The Battle Is Lost

I surrender. The glitter has won. My house is beginning to look a little like Santa’s Workshop. Actually due to my bad knees I’ve lost an inch in height, I believe I am beginning to look like an elf. We had a friend come over for dinner tonight, as she walked in the door and gave me a hug I warned her, “The glitter, it will get you”. She laughed and told me that there was glitter outside the front door. I was so worried about Dan going for his job interview the other day sparkling, I actually brought in the wet/dry vac to get as much of it up as I could. Even my cats are glittered. Of course in Mia’s case it’s because she has some strange need to sit in the middle of my supplies. We keep catching her digging through my boxes looking for little objects to run off with.

See Mia here in a box of silk flowers?IMG_2405Do you see Mia here?

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I’m working as hard as I can to produce as much as I can in a very short amount of time. I’m sure everyone knows by now how much I appreciate my husband. Once again I need to praise him. He made lunch both yesterday and today, and dinner both nights so that I could get my work done. He also sat this afternoon and painted forty little wooden heads for me, painted on their eyes, painted enough hands and feet to match, and traced and cut out the body base. Once again, wonderful! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and tonight he mentions that we need to go to the Farmer’s Market in the morning so he can buy me flowers. What can I say, I am the luckiest woman in the world.

Needless to say, (so why am I saying it?) my blog/project is taking a serious backseat these days. I am trying to get to it earlier in the day but stuff just keeps coming up. I even gave thought to putting this project on hiatus, but I know the reality is that if I do that there is a good chance I’ll never come back. My friend suggested I post fairies. Not every night. We are still of course working towards our business. I have more ideas than I have time for in terms of marketing and advertising. Tonight because my day ran late, I did one more book-plate. This one I really like. I really don’t have anything planned for tomorrow other than work. I have a couple of half done projects to get back to. I’d like to have at least one completed for tomorrow night.

My pen and ink bookmark, with a little font help via the computer.11 22