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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Validation

I didn’t expect to be writing again so soon, but as always I write when I am moved to by the universe, recent events, or sometimes because I need to blow off steam. This morning I write for a different reason. For many years when people asked what I did I would say, “I am an artist”, while the entire time in my heart and mind I felt like a fraud. Last year in one of the earlier posts of this blog I wrote about a woman I met who in a way challenged me on calling myself an artist. She asked if I had sold any work, the implication being that if I hadn’t, that somehow I couldn’t claim the title. I have also heard of others being called “professional artist”, again the implication being that unless one is earning a living by selling their work, they are somehow an amateur. I was angry about it for some time, that is until I came to understand that the proclamations of the judgmental crowd are merely words of jealousy cloaked in self-righteousness. Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, Wood, O’Keeffe, names sound familiar? There was a time in each of their lives when they didn’t earn a living as artists, they still painted, they were still artists, they just weren’t selling any work yet. I guess if you read my blog you know by now that judgement is a sore issue with me.  I honestly didn’t intend to head down the rabbit hole of defending myself to these people, but I feel my temper rising when I think about being judged as an artist by people who can’t or don’t create…..breathe…breathe…

OK, so now the real reason for my writing this morning. Last night I mentioned my work on etsy. Again, there are not as of yet many offerings in the way of prints of my work. It is at the moment more crafty kind of stuff. One of the things I have listed is a box. It is called the “Key To My Heart” box. It’s a small box made of paper, not quite cardboard, though it is sturdy, and inside this box I made an accordion of paper sentiments about love. A few days ago a young man on the other side of the world reached out to me. He said that he couldn’t think of a better way to express his love for his girl than with my piece of art. We have exchanged a few messages back and forth. My offer on etsy is to create a personalized version for the recipient, including quotes, verses, song lyrics, etc., anything the purchaser wants included. Last night he told me that the reason he wants this box is to use it as a means to propose on New Year’s Eve. There are no words to describe what this means to me as an artist. That someone is so touched by what I have created means everything to me. I have had to deal with more than a few detractors in my life. People who are not supportive of what I do, and have no respect for my talent. On the other side of the world there is a young man who is anxious, excited, and thrilled in anticipation of receiving my work in the mail so that he can give it to his love. The last page will be his proposal. I am hoping she is as moved by it as I am in creating it for her. When you can create something through words, through music, through painting, photography, or even craft that causes someone else to feel, you are successful, you are an artist. I need no more validation than that. I may not be Picasso or O’Keeffe, but I am no less an artist than they are.

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Back In The Saddle Again

It has been six days again. I know I said I would post twice a week, but much going on in my life and no time to write. Our daughter heads East later this week, lots to pack for her, and the Chicago Blackhawks are in the playoffs, so of course that takes precedence…We actually found a local pizza restaurant, a franchise from Chicago, and honestly it felt like being back home when we went to watch the games. Chicago is full of little neighborhood bars, the kind where everyone knows everyone. This is much the same. It felt nice and nostalgic, and of course the hockey and deep dish pizza weren’t bad either.

My cheesy title tonight refers to yet another tabletop for our bookstore. I had posted one some months back for little girls, a checkerboard with fairies on it. Tonight it is all about the boys. I had an idea, and I am happy to say it came to fruition beautifully. A western themed board, which is particularly appropriate here in Temecula. This is a town from the Old West. Another unfinished piece from the home improvement store. Preliminary sketches on the first pic.

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Now the finished wood burned piece.

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And finally a shot of the finished piece.

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I’m really enjoying these pieces. I love the effect of the wood burning and the pearl paint (although my burnt fingertips would say otherwise!), the plan is to continue to work towards the business, and in the process the furniture. As much hand painted by me as possible.

No complaints tonight. I was right, Dan was right, working makes me happy. I feel my stress melting away with every piece, and that is a very good thing.

Finding My Way Back…Once Again

I was going to name this post “Did You Miss Me?” The truth is that I’m missing me. The year I spent on my artistic project and blog had re-energized my creative self. It had, as I expressed before, become a lifeline, but then I let go. I allowed the waves of misery, depression, sadness, and self-doubt take over my life. It has now been almost fourteen months since Dan lost his job. There is an interview on the horizon, and it looks good, but I think the hope has been drained out of me. Our plans for the business are still alive, just far more complicated than we had anticipated. And now for the positive. I refuse to give in.  I kicked myself in the backside (which would be quite an accomplishment if I could actually do it), I decided to focus on what I can do in the midst of this beyond my control situation. I realized not only had it been days and days since I posted on this blog, but also that I hadn’t done one artistic project in the process. In fact I have three projects all started in the last six weeks that are languishing in my studio. Yesterday I was adding items to our etsy shop when inspiration struck. A Majolica plate that I was on the verge of listing spoke to me. Last year I posted two table projects I had painted. As it turns out both will be part of the furniture for our shop, but it is a cafe/bookstore therefore I need more tables. I ran to the home improvement store and grabbed a circular wooden tabletop. Using my plate as an inspirational starting point I sketched out the design, grabbed my wood burner, and went to work. When I was finished with the burning (I still don’t have full feeling in my finger tip), I used my Martha Stewart Pearl, and Martha Stewart Metallic to paint my waterlily design. Dan and I decided that we didn’t want the entire table to be painted, but that we liked the look of one of my other pieces where the pearl paint was set off by stained wood. I think we were right. I’m very happy with how the tabletop looks. A little touch up tomorrow when the stain is dry, and a mission will to be to find just the right piece to create the bottom.

Today felt good. It’s time to grab the lifeline, time to get back to what kept my head above water, art. My lifelong best friend, the one thing that has always been there for me. There is also my husband, Dan, the guy on the other end of the rope pulling me back in. He reminded me how focused I was while I was involved in last years project. Good days and bad I worked, maybe not always my best work, but I created every single day. So here is the commitment, it’s to myself, minimum twice a week for posting. As for art, something creative every single day. Unfinished work, new work, things for the business. No more feeling lost when what I need to find myself is right here in my hands.

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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.

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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?

Last Minute Projects

I’m on deadline, and as always happens the night before a show, I am nowhere near ready. I lost my man Friday, because it is after all Friday (So sorry for that. I assume we all know Robinson Crusoe, right?), anyway Dan had a job interview that turned out to be a waste of his time. (It’s never good when the person interviewing you tells you he needs to be armed because “people” want to get him) As much as he needs a job, this is one I’m not sure I’d want him to take.

I’m a procrastinator, one might say the queen of procrastinators, but not this time. I’ve been working every day, but with so much on my mind my creativity has been hit or miss. I’ve messed up quite a few projects, started some that won’t be completed, killed myself with fumes, but in the end what will be, will be. I always think I won’t do well (you know the Irish broken glass on the floor thing), occasionally I do very well, sometimes terrible, shows are like gambling, sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not. I made an attempt to cut the mirror for the “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall” piece. I bought an inexpensive door mirror for another project and I had more than half left over. I broke the mirror four times. Hmm four times seven, another twenty-eight years of bad luck for me, oh and Dan broke two, another fourteen years, added to my twenty-eight equals forty-two. OK, so we’ll be unlucky until we are dead, what else is new, although I did manage to break four mirrors without slitting my wrist, or needing a band-aid, and trust me that is progress, and more importantly… Success! Dan finally cut a piece of mirror without breaking it.

Sometimes in the midst of the chaos (which would be my kitchen at the moment) something great happens. I love aging mirror. You know when the glass is old and the silvering is disappearing? The patina of it is gorgeous. I was messing with a mirror that I bought at the thrift store a couple of months back. I was aging it with chemicals (so cool!), but it wasn’t turning out exactly as I wanted. Then I turned it over. Beautiful! I added one of my photographs from the Eiffel Tower, which I had changed to sepia, painted the frame in metallic black, and I love it. It’s one of the best “night before my homework is due” projects I’ve ever done. Now comes the hard part, selling it. Everything I do is one of a kind. Especially when it is the “accident that turned out incredible” kind, I’ll never be able to do it again.

Short post tonight, work still to be done, but here is my happy accident, and my frame with a mirror.

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Return To The Past

My writing has been a bit dreary as of late. I decided today to forgo any and all complaints, and instead write about my curiosity with human nature. I think I’ve mentioned once before my fascination of why people are who they are. I was reminded of it this morning when I was choosing what to wear today. I have a plaid black and white blouse. In fact I always seem to have a black and white something in my wardrobe. When I was a little girl my Dad took our clothes to the laundromat. (A momentous occasion I assure you) It wasn’t his habit to do the laundry, but I believe this particular incident happened around the time my youngest sister was born which means I’d have been five at the time. Dad put the wash in and went next door to where there happened to be an Irish pub. While he was at the pub the laundromat went on fire. Amongst the clothes that were in the laundry was my favorite dress, a black and white check with a red bow at the collar. I remember being very upset at the loss of that dress, and all these years later I still love black and white. It makes me wonder what little occurrences happen in our lives, some when we are too young to recall that shape the people we are to become. Wouldn’t it be interesting to visit our younger selves and discover secrets of why we are who we are? There is a book about what kind of advice that you would give your younger self, but the truth is that our journey makes us who we are, both the good things we’ve done and the ridiculous antics of our youth. I like who I am. I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes and some fairly stupid choices. I’ve also made some really spectacular choices. I’ve reached my age with a wonderful husband that I adore, two amazing children, and a very good man as a son-in-law. Any change that I would make in my past would change what became my future. I’m not interested in going back.

No boxes tonight! A return to fairyland. The show on Saturday is to benefit a Christian school. I came up with a new design for my fairies. My Mother would say a prayer with us at bedtime. It was the prayer she knew and said as a child. My Dad has a different prayer, one that his mother said with him. When I called him not long ago to get it he was rather upset with me for not knowing his mother’s prayer, but as I pointed out to him it was Mom putting us to bed. My new design pays homage to both. My fairies kneel before a prayer, half dedicated to my Mom’s prayer, half to my Dad. Some fairies, some elves. One day left to prepare, and I can’t wait, because I’m tired!

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Determination

Just finishing up a twelve-hour work day. Still plugging away at having as many pieces as possible for Saturday. We’ve put all our decisions about whats next in our lives off until Sunday, too much to do. Dan has been a tremendous help, he is sort of like my artistic sous chef. He preps for me on many of my projects and with finishing work as well. We really do make a terrific team. I was mistaken, because the one plan that we are talking about is our business. It is past the time when we need to take control of this situation we are in. We are both intelligent, hard-working people. We are also very determined people. I no longer want to watch Dan give his all to people who don’t appreciate his efforts. I want us to do what I know we can do, and that is succeed together. No more self-pity. Time to take a leap of faith in ourselves.

In amongst all the things I have picked up over the years was an old plaster frame. I haven’t looked at it in years. I pulled it out the other day and took a good look at it, it screamed, “Mirror, mirror on the wall.” This was a Disney piece just waiting to happen. Tomorrow I will attempt to either find a mirror or cut one to fit, although with my history of accidents…

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Staying With It

I started the day hoping to be very productive, but my artistic mojo had jumped ship. It seemed that no matter what I put my hand to it just didn’t want to work. I began to get discouraged but I didn’t give up. First because I have the show to get ready for and time is moving fast, but I am also fighting some inner demons. My mind isn’t where it needs to be, which is focusing on my work. I almost quit, but I don’t have the luxury of quitting. So I plowed ahead and you know what? My mojo made a return appearance. By the end of the afternoon I was well into not one but three pieces. Only one is fully completed, but there isn’t much to do on the others. I’ve produced a few pieces that I really love in the last few weeks. That’s one of the unfortunate perils of artistic creation. You fall in love with the work, but you can’t keep everything. On a positive note, as I near the one year mark of my project, my “artistic refrigerator” is starting to look a little empty. I feel like I’m making real headway on finishing many of the upcycled projects that were started long ago, using up unpainted wood that has been sitting for years, and turning some old pieces into something really nice.

In a little less than two weeks I will be at my year’s end. I had promised to do something fabulous for the anniversary, but what I had in mind might not happen as of yet. My head cold of a few weeks ago left me a little on the breathless side. Working with semi-gloss paints on these wooden pieces isn’t helping. I’ve promised myself a break from fumes after Saturday. I had planned on something in oil, but it may be a last-minute production.

I forgot to take a “before” tonight on this box. It was an old piece I picked up a few years ago in an Arizona antique mall. The perfect size to use as a desk top file folder. I had attempted to work on it a while back using the photo to wood transfer technique, but of course impatient me ruined it. I thought I might try again but then remembered that I have a roll of beautiful vintage wallpaper. I attached the wallpaper using spray mount, added metal corner brackets on the bottom, but I still wasn’t satisfied with the piece. A look through my stuff turned up a piece from the back of an old chair. I painted it black, distressed it, and attached it to the back of the box, perfect! This is one of those pieces I love that I wrote about, but off to the show it goes in hopes that someone else will love it as well.

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