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.






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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The Clock Is Ticking

I’m sure anyone who read last night’s post knows that I wasn’t in a great frame of mind. I was trying to focus on renewing our business plan in order to lift our spirits. That plan is still in place, but this morning I woke from a horrible dream where our house was emptied of everything, including one of my cats.  There’s no need to decipher that nightmare, but I decided not to let it ruin my day. I joined Dan for a long walk on a beautiful California morning. We were relatively quiet while we walked, both lost in thought, each of us worrying in our own way. I began to think about the beginning of the year when I promised a new start for us. I was reminded of my “to do” list by news I read here on WordPress. One of the blogs I follow (Beautiful Hello Blog) is of a young woman much like the young woman who I once was. She is a wife, a mother, and she is an artist. The glaring exception is that she is actually doing something with her talent. She recently posted that she will be working with West Elm. I sent her a “Congrats!” reply, and I mean it more than she could possibly realize.

I ended last year and began this year with the determination of getting my work out there. Of selling my art. Have I done it? No. I put maybe three art pieces on etsy (aside from the fairies I make), I sold one, and that sale made me feel great at first. Then I got a note from the person who purchased it. She said she loved it, but that it wasn’t what she thought it would be, that it was much more lightweight but that it would serve its purpose, and added a “Good job…” (She added the …) I was completely accurate in my description of the piece, a lightweight box that I had created using the burnt brown paper/cardboard technique. Even though she said she loved it, I sensed some disappointment, and let me tell you it is extremely easy to let the air out of my balloon. It made me feel bad, although I’m sure she hadn’t intended that. The truth is that I was so insecure when I prepared it for mailing that I must have asked Dan ten times if the price was too high, then I asked Jessica, who told me I was crazy that it wasn’t high enough. As I wrapped it I began to feel the “not good enough” voice in my head screaming in my mind. I added a thank you note, and a vintage handkerchief, explaining she was my first “art” sale on etsy. I wrapped the box beautifully, added ribbon and a silk flower, packed it was carefully so that it wouldn’t get crushed, and in the end it cost me three dollars more to ship it than I had charged. Obviously despite my recent proclamations to the contrary, my self-esteem, my artistic confidence, my self belief are sorely lacking. I had grand plans for this new year, and here it is days until April and I have yet to make the move to promote myself. My friend Theresa emails me with every opportunity that she can find. She believes in me, as do my husband, my children, my family, and my friends. Why can’t I do it for myself? Fear of rejection? Failure? I won’t know until I try, but I can’t seem to make myself take the first step. As I said last night, time is running out, money is running out, I have the ability to change that. My back is against the wall, and I have to get past myself. I’ve talked about it more times than I care to admit, and have written about it repeatedly here on the blog. Maybe another night or two of nightmares might do the trick. Nothing like a good scare to make you do the things you need to do right?

One more box for the show, and another (not shown) well on its way. Vintage postcards yet again, but done in a different way.

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Creating With Heart

Before I begin my rant, and there will be a rant, I want to acknowledge that I have touched on the following subject more than once before. (If you’re interested 4/23/13 I Am An Artist, 6/15 What Makes An Artist, and 7/16 We Are All Artists) When you post every single day for a year, and your brain is as full of knowledge as mine (a nice way of saying I’m getting older), there will be times that I may repeat myself. I can’t remember every single thing I’ve written about, but there are things that I am passionate about and things that get under my skin and I just can’t let go. Two days ago on Facebook there was a post about a photographer named Vivian Maier. She was a nanny by profession, but also a gifted photographer. There is a new documentary about her that opens this weekend. Ms. Maier was an unknown talent until a man named John Maloof purchased a box of negatives from a Chicago auction house in 2007. (One more recommendation from me about something to Google!) This morning while reading the NY Times I came across a review of the documentary and some criticism about Ms. Maier. I have in the past touched on the fact that I have no formal art education. My only exposure to an art class was in high school, and well, it was high school art. My teacher thought I was gifted and didn’t give me much in the way of guidance. I had upon showing her my work been allowed to skip Art 1. I now think that may have been a mistake. I don’t know the basics, but at this point I don’t really care. I could always actually take a class or read a book, but I am me, and that means I do everything my way. Some of the criticism leveled at Ms. Maier was that she had no formal training, and that she didn’t print her own photos (which I might add would be difficult because she is deceased), thereby she shouldn’t be called an artist, and also questioning photography as an art form.  Two days ago I wrote a post about the judgements leveled by other people. Why the need to demean this work? Any five-year old can take a photograph, but with an artist’s eye? Last night we watched American Idol (Yes, I am part of that demographic that no one cares about but still watches) Keith Urban made an excellent point. He told one of the contestants that you can sing from your head or sing from inside yourself, you are still singing the same words,but the performance changes. (Not an exact quote but the general gist of what he was saying) I am related by marriage to a very talented and successful artist. I love his work. He has been fortunate enough to have training that I have not. I don’t envy him, I admire him and have told him so. There was a point in my life ( before the blog) when I would use his talent as a weapon against myself, to further the agenda of “not good enough” that resides inside my head. I made myself feel inferior, that and another member of this same family called my work “primitive”. I would say to Dan, “Look how wonderful and talented he is. What could I have done if I had his training and family support?” That is a ridiculous question, it is the question of someone who doesn’t believe in them self. These days my mantra is, “Look what I can do when I’ve never had any training.”  (Thank you Mr. Urban for inspiring the following thought) I could paint with all kinds of skill if I had the right schooling, but my skill comes from my heart, and is God-given. Who gets to decide who gets the title? I see quite a bit of work in museums that I really, really dislike. It’s still art. The creator of that work is still an artist. The terms “outsider”, “primitive”, “amateur”, are words that I find offensive. Vivian Maier was an artist every time she pushed the shutter button, I am an artist every time I pick up a pen, a brush, a pencil, or for that matter a frying pan.

OK, got that out of my system. I managed to finish a few things today. I’m only posting one because there are five photos to go with it. Another box, this one done with scanned images of vintage French postcards that I own, decoupaged on painted wood, trim painted in the wonderful Martha Stewart Pearl Paints (Love them!)

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Stretched Thin

I spent the day juggling projects. The show that I’m in is only a little over a week away. I am hoping to make some much-needed cash. Trouble is I started on one piece, ran to get something to use on that, saw something else I could paint, grabbed that, realized the color I was using could work on another piece so I threw that in the mix, then had a light-bulb moment and remembered another piece I wanted to do….Help! I need to be stopped. In all I worked on seven pieces today and finished none. Tomorrow it’s time to focus and finish at least two of the pieces I started today. As I’ve said before, and as the tagline of my blog indicates, I had hoped to get through a lot of my supplies over the course of a year. I certainly went through paper, and bought more paper, paints as well, but there are so many other things I haven’t even touched in the last year. Most of what I haven’t touched are craft supplies. I really focused on my fine arts. I guess what I’m realizing is that the crafting was really a means for me to keep my hand in it artistically. It was my lifeline when I wasn’t feeling confident to pursue what I really wanted to do, but had to have a creative outlet. It helped to keep me sane. Just one more way this year of discovery and work is paying off.  Between my studio and our garage I came across much more “stuff” than I realized I had. I hope to produce as much work as possible between now and April 5th. It would be nice to make some money, but it would also be nice to clear some space in my studio, and in my head as well for what I really want to do.

Tonight one of today’s maniacally produced pieces, not completely finished of course, but well on its way. It’s an unfinished storage box that I bought years ago at Ikea. It comes unassembled, Dan was kind enough to put it together for me. Normally I would have painted the piece, but I also have way too much scrapbook paper and decided to go with a combination of decoupage and paint. I also have a few other ideas to add to it, but I really love mixing patterns, and I’m happy with where its going.

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Learning To Let Go Of The Negative

Last night I wrote about believing in myself, and how we should remember that while some people might not like our work as artists, others do. We all tend to hang onto the negative, we remember the bad stuff. Dan and I have talked about this with our children. Their recollections of incidents are vastly different of ours. Careless or meaningless remarks made by us were words that they seem to have taken to heart. This morning on CBS Sunday Morning there was a piece about criticism. It seems that our brains are actually geared this way, that our ancestors had a built-in self-preservation system. They remembered the things that were bad or dangerous in a particular part of the brain in order to stay safe. It evolved into an area that processes negative thought. In other words, we hang onto the bad stuff by nature. It shapes who we are. (I’m loosely describing the story, but its worth checking out.) When the piece finished airing Dan and I had an interesting discussion about what we remember from our own childhoods. We both remember many negative incidents, things our parents said or did. When we though about it, we really couldn’t remember as much of the good as the bad. The negative things definitely made the stronger impression, the more lasting memories.  I’ve thought about it today. I think finding that piece of information out might actually help me in my struggles. Maybe if I concentrate on focusing on whats good about my work, understanding all the while that those negative thoughts are part of who I am, I can change that within myself. I’m not foolish enough to think that I can change thousands of years of evolution, but I’ve always thought that being aware of a problem is half the battle. The power of positive thinking. We’ve all heard those words. I think I’m giving myself some homework. All of the work I have produced for this blog is in one file in my computer. I’m going to look back at it tomorrow. I’m going to make a list of the positives I see. Funny, but it automatically just entered my mind to list the negative as well. I’m not going to do that. This is an assignment to change my thought process. Results tomorrow.

I didn’t produce any art today except in my kitchen. Academy Awards are known around here as my Superbowl. Our kids, our friends, good food and fun. I’m posting a piece from awhile ago. Mary Cicely Barker, who I may have mentioned in the past, is an artist who painted the “Flower Fairy” characters. A few years ago I began mixing my painting with her work. This is a checkerboard tabletop I painted and then decoupaged with her characters. Its sitting on top of another table because I haven’t been able to find the right legs for it as of yet. I’ve been giving serious thought to contacting the estate to gain permission to do one of a kind pieces. That again is something I keep putting off.IMG_5782

Has Anyone Seen My…?

Maybe it has to do with all the balls I’m juggling in the air these days, but I seem to be losing my mind just a wee bit. For example, twice in the last week I have gone in search of my glasses only to find them attached to my body. I hang them on the front of my shirt, I’ve done so for years, yet somehow these days that little fact seems to be slipping my mind. I do have a very long history of losing my car, and I mean losing it everywhere. Church, the grocery store, the mall, so much in fact that I now have particular spots that I use just so I know where to look. A while back I wandered aimlessly through a store lot searching for my pickup. I was just about convinced it had been stolen. I had been looking for a good ten minutes. I finally called Dan, who after he stopped laughing, reminded me that I had driven his car. Which by the way I had walked past at least three times in the search for my own vehicle. I’m obviously not a stupid woman. Look what I can do. I also solve the New York Times crossword puzzle every morning. I’d say I have about a seventy-five percent average on finishing it alone, seventy-six to one hundred if I bug the crap out of Dan. So obviously I remember some things. He was making fun of my latest glasses mishap today, referring to me as the absent-minded professor. I am of course getting older, and I have a lot on my mind, but I’m beginning to wonder if some glitter hasn’t made its way into my brain. Or maybe it has to do that as an older woman I have learned to prioritize what matters to me, pushing little details to the side. (That sounds good doesn’t it?) I can still tell the men in my life, Dan and Brian, where every single thing they can’t find in this house is at. It seems that my bad memory only has to do with myself. That would make sense since I usually put myself last. So to sum it all up, I’m forgetting things because:

A.  I am trying to do too much

B.  I am absentminded

C. I have glitter on my brain

D. I’m older

E. I put myself last

F. All of the above?

Actually I have decided that it because for the first time in my life I am devoting every waking moment to creativity. My house is falling down around me, and right now I don’t really care. I am motivated and determined, and have had in recent weeks some new-found confidence in my work. The things that are important to me are always on my mind. My family, my kids, and most of all Dan, but for the first time in my life I’m beginning to see the glimmer of a dream for myself, and if that means I lose a few things along the way…well, except I really do need those glasses.

For tonight a little “upcycling”. A vintage box that I found in OK shape. I’m giving it a touch of nostalgia. One of my photos from Paris changed to black and white and then computer colorized, decoupaged to the top. Inside copies of some of my collection of vintage French postcards, and a small mirror. I have a few finishing touches to complete, but the glue on the mirror needs to dry so those will wait until tomorrow.  I’m pretty happy with the finished product.IMG_2729





An Invite

So much to do, and running out of time. I continue to work on my fairies, my game board, and a couple of small wooden mirrors. The mirrors were unfinished wood. I painted one, and am thinking of adding a little decoupage tomorrow. The other I decoupaged with photos of vintage book covers. I’ve been photographing them at antique stores for art projects. They are really quite beautiful. I am now in countdown mode for my December 7th show. If anyone lives in the Temecula/Murrieta area in Southern California and cares to come by, I’ll be at the River Springs Charter School Holiday Show, Saturday, December 7th. It’s at 41866 Kalmia, Murrieta. I’ll be the one with the glitter trail. On Saturday, December 14th, I’ll be at Old Town Antique Fair at their outdoor Holiday Fair, 28601 Old Town Front Street in Temecula. If fairies aren’t your thing, I will have other items, and possibly some prints. There are so many artistic things I enjoy I never know what I will end up doing. This is my Christmas shopping money so I’m hoping to do as well as possible. Dan and I were both having a difficult day today, it seems these days that one of us is up while the other one is down. Today was the exception. Heading into the holiday’s worrying about our future isn’t the best feeling in the world. I thought about all the times that he was kidding and said that I should be supporting him because of how talented I am. The thing is he is right. I just never had the confidence, but there’s nothing like worry to motivate me.  I also believe, and again and again I say it, as long as we are together we are good.

Here are a few photos of projects in the works for my shows. Feel free to introduce yourself if you stop by.IMG_2659



Sept 2011 040

From My Artistic Fridge Into The Frying Pan

Tonight’s project isn’t really in the pan, it’s in the oven. Just sounds better doesn’t it? As I promised myself at the beginning of this blog, I intend to use up the supplies in my studio over the course of the next year. I started today with adding a little gold leaf around the table top that I painted. I’m really happy with the results. I need to touch up the underside of the table top, and then Dan will be attaching it to the bottom. I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but the bottom is the stand from a bubble gum machine that I purchased at Goodwill. It’s an ornate metal which I think will look really good with the top. It is a little too shiny, kind of cheap looking right now, I may repaint it and possibly add some gold leaf there too. I was liking the effect of the gold leaf so much that I looked through my crap to find something else to use it on. I found a cheap unfinished wooden frame from the craft store. I decoupaged some vintage wallpaper on it, and then gold leafed the edges. I also have a book of project ideas. More craft than fine art kind of stuff, but I paged through that to look for other ideas for the day. I found something about transferring photo copies using a black and white copy, coloring the back with light gray marker and then transferring it onto another piece of paper. I did it twice, followed the directions exactly and it didn’t work. I was more upset about using up my gray marker than anything else.

The crafty stuff comes really easy to me. I honestly don’t even have to think that much about it. I wish I could find that ease and confidence with the stuff that does matter to me, the fine art stuff. Hopefully by the end of my year-long process that will happen. I’m hoping to gain confidence, but also I think like any instrument if you don’t use it you aren’t going to play well. I’d honestly at some point like to have enough work to have a show. That would be a real achievement for me. I’d also like to get some prints made of my work. Does anyone who reads this know the best place for that? I’d really appreciate the info.

Back to tonight…What’s in the oven? Not a cake, though I wish there was one. I sculpted a few flowers out of home bake clay. In my search for something to do I came across a rough piece of wood. I’m not even sure what it’s from, but I like the texture of it. I thought adding a few sculpted flowers would look beautiful on it.

I’m back with a finished project. Well, almost finished. I glued down the flowers and then painted the whole thing with a coat of white wash. I’m not 100% sold on the white, but it’s late. Tomorrow I plan to finish the table and post a photo. I also am anxious to get back to my oil painting. I need to see if it is dry enough yet. I feel good tonight about the things I got done today. I felt like I let myself down last night. I need to stop second guessing myself!ImageImage

Game Change

9:45 And an unfinished project. I had another epiphany tonight. It actually came from the project I started last night.  I was angry and frustrated last night because I allowed too many outside influences to get in the way of my art. As a result I was sitting outside last night racing to get something done. I ended the post with “see you in the morning”, but you didn’t hear from me because I didn’t work this morning. I spent the day out enjoying time with my husband. I’ll get to my epiphany in a moment, but first let me explain how it came about.

I started the cigar box last night, I kind of sort of had a plan.  I was going to use the clay molds that I made yesterday, but as I tore apart an old book to decoupage the box the words on the pages began to speak to me. The chapter titles either in single word or in their entirety jumped off the page. “The Unlit Lamp”, “Self -Bound”, “The Second Dreaming”, and more, but in particular there is a chapter named “Accidents Of Imperfection”. (Long explanation ahead!) I feel kind of like an unlit lamp. I have lived my entire life with so much unused talent waiting for the “spark” that would light the artistic fire within. “Self -Bound”, if you’ve been reading my blog that one needs no explanation. “Second Dreaming” feels like where I’m at in my life. If you haven’t figured in out by now, I’m not a young girl, young at heart, yes, but young in body,well, talk to my knees.  As I said, “Accidents of Imperfection” really got me thinking.  I’m a flea market girl. I hate new stuff, the more dinged up, worn out and well-loved something is, the more it means to me. I create on the spur, don’t think about the end results, and actually like things that come out looking old when I’m finished, except for fine art, there I expect perfection.  Somewhere a light bulb went on. Art is subjective, so are opinions, my advice to me is, “Stop it! No one expects perfect, nothing is perfect.” (I think I may be finally making progress with the chip on my shoulder…)

I was so hard on myself last night for not finishing a project yesterday. Then today I was putting incredible pressure on myself to finish not only last night’s project, but thinking I had to get a second project done for today. Epiphany number two, I started the blog, I make the rules. Yes, I said 365 project. Does that mean I will complete 365 projects? I thought so, but then that would mean I could never accomplish anything on a large-scale, or with any real meaning. That would be me doing homework every night for a year, throwing things together just to get something done. That won’t help me accomplish what I set out to do, and that is to find out who I am as an artist. So, new rules. I will work for 365 days, I will use what I already have, but it won’t always be a different project every day. Some days I could end up putting up more than one. It will be what ever it is.

The box is beginning to tell its own story, I don’t know if it’s a long or a short one. Time will tell. I will write and share every day, I will show both finished work and work in progress. I was putting unhealthy pressure on myself. No more!

So, here is what has happened to my box today. I finished the outside decoupage, and started working on the inside. It is turning out to be a very personal piece. I will explain more about that tomorrow.image image