Beginning The Goodbye

I think I might just see the end in sight. As I said the other day, I’ve been dragging my feet, or in my case, my knee. I didn’t want to move, but as often happens, life sometimes makes our choices for us, this one wasn’t mine to choose. I believe we will be for sale by Wednesday. The last few details to be finished in the coming days. The endless weeks of primping my house as if she were going to her first prom are coming to an end. Freshly painted, immaculately clean (OK, so the cat hair tumbleweeds can be an issue), and dressed to the nines. I’m like a proud mother sending my girl off to the dance, and as any mother can tell you it’s never easy, except this time it will be me leaving my nest behind. I will worry and fret that she is loved and cared for in the same way I did. There has been much life lived in this house. My daughter was married from it, my son grew up in it, both Dan and I lost a parent while living in it. We found security within its walls as our life fell apart. As long as we had our home we felt that everything would be OK.  We celebrated our love and marriage of twenty-five years in it. When we left Chicago (actually the Village of Lindenhurst), where we bought our first home, we left behind a piece of our hearts as well as a sneaky reminder of us. Dan carved our names into the bottom of a post he installed between the living room and dining room, and had the kids sign as well. It remains to be seen if we will leave something so tangible here, but we will leave the ghost of us in its walls . The laughter, the tears, the heartaches, successes, and so much love, are the essence of what a home should be, and they are here, and in our hearts and minds. I only wish for those who follow the same kind of bond, the same kind of love, the same kind of precious memories that make a house a home. I will miss this place, my beautiful garden, but most of all I will treasure the memories that were created here.

 

I have made much of how I will miss my garden. I was looking through old photos tonight and thought I would share what our vision created.  A before and after, an engagement party for Jessica and John that we held there, and finally one garden project that will travel with us. The table that Dan and I built together. We will have to build a new garden around it.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Confidence

It’s been some time since I visited my orphans. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, they are the pieces of work that I have left undone. Many months ago when I first relayed the tail of my “orphans” I had offered the explanation that it was because I was suffering from such a lack of artistic self-esteem that I was in effect, afraid to finish in fear of being judged. This project that I have been working on for the last year has done tremendous things for me. I no longer sit in fear of judgement by anyone, particularly myself. (And I do that better than anyone) Last week I was sick and did a really crappy piece of art, and you know what? It happens, it isn’t the end of the world. I was hung up on perfectionism in a world that is far from perfect. I’m still not happy when something doesn’t work out, but I no longer use it as a means to tear myself apart. That is some real progress.

Several months ago I began using my friend Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet doors to create new things from what essentially would have been material for a landfill. Recycling maniac that I am, that just wouldn’t do. Theresa had been kind enough to offer the doors to me knowing that I would do something. At this point I’ve used only five or six of them with plans for the rest. I had used one of them to create a mirror. When I posted the photo not all  the pieces were fully attached. I had painted the piece out in a silvery blue, but in the end I wasn’t happy with it. The pieces languished in my studio for months. The other day as I began to look through my things for pieces for my upcoming show I came across it. I decided to revisit the piece. I took a section away, and added another, and then changed the paint color. The blue was flat, boring, and did nothing to highlight what I liked most about the piece, the raised curved lines, the crevices, and the intricacies of the added floral wreath. Using a combination of metallic paint colors, silvers, antique bronze, and a champagne, changed everything. The colors really made the mirror come to life. It no longer looks like a kitchen cabinet door, but what I wanted it to be, something that looks like it’s been around for a while. Something beautiful and elegant. It left me anxious to get to the next one, and gave me a little more confidence, so much so that I may be adopting more of my orphans in the near future. First a reminder of the mirror with the blue paint finish, and then the new metallic finish.

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Compromises

There are times as an artist when you feel the need to bend just a bit on artistic integrity. By that I mean working for the almighty dollar instead of for the love of the art. That is where I will be for the next two weeks. I have a show in two weeks at a charter school. I have some pieces ready to go, but not nearly as much as I’d like to have, and these days I need the cash. I have so many small wood boxes and pieces sitting around that I’ve been meaning to get to. Now is the time. I’d like to head in to the show with at least fifty painted wood pieces. It would mean a lot for me to contribute to our dwindling finances. I’m sure many people who know me and some who don’t wonder why at this point I haven’t gotten a job. Three reasons. The first is that Dan hasn’t wanted me to. The second is that I never finished college. I was married, working full-time, and attending night classes when I discovered I was pregnant with Jessica. I was roughly a year from graduating and made the decision to leave school. I had never really figured out exactly what I wanted to do anyway, but I did know that I wanted to be a mother. Now I find myself in the position of not being qualified for anything other than standing on my feet, and when you’ve had six knee surgeries that’s a problem. Finally, I quit my last “time clock” job twenty years ago, again it was about being a mother. Brian was three, Jessica was nine, and I felt the need to be home with them. I’ve made money here and there since then with my art, but the truth is that I’m completely intimidated. Years ago my Mom said that the longer you stay out of work the harder it is to go back. She was right. I know that I’ve mentioned our business that we hope to open, but that will be a work of joy. A dream come true, and of course Dan will be at my side, and that makes me feel invincible. So this is the work I can do, and when I say I’m doing it for the money it in no way means it won’t be my best work. I always do my best.

The piece I’m working on tonight is for a child’s room. A small toy box dedicated to reading. I think instilling the love of books is one of the greatest gifts a child can receive. Each panel of this box will feature a beloved character from a book. I am usually so respectful and careful not to copy the work of others, but this is a one of a kind, one time use, and done in great admiration for the people who created these characters. Only the two end panels are started. The piece had to be sanded and primed first. I’ll post the finished box tomorrow.

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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

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.

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Progress Report

I think I may have dodged the flu bullet. Feeling much better today.

It’s been ten months since I began to clean out my “artistic fridge”. I bet you’re wondering how that inventory is going. I’ve hardly made a dent. Sure I’ve done a project nearly every day, all 308 of them, but I still have a lot of stuff. (Some of which are finished projects, still dragging my behind on selling) I have more than you can possibly imagine. I not only fill my studio until it is busting at the seams, but also both our two car and our single car garage, projects in the garden, and on the side of the house. If I died tomorrow my children would be buried alongside me in mountains of “stuff”. Today I began an attempt to rectify that. I am working on not one, but three projects today. All of them involve upcycling, or recycling pieces that I have gathered along the way one. I began working on a really cool old window, and a small door that at one time had two glass panels, one is still intact, the other was missing when I got it. Finally a very small piece of wood that was in the garage. Too small to be of any real use, but those who know me well are familiar with the sound of “I can do something with that.”, coming out of my mouth. I just hate to throw away anything that can be used. Here’s the plan.

Window number one. I broke the last of the glass panels out. I used a putty knife to get rid of all the loose chipped paint. I then sanded, and sanded, and sanded, trying to get to the nooks and crannies. For this one I believe I will be turning it into a very useful mirror. A mirror in the large center panel, and for the side panels, some bulletin board type pieces covered in fabric, and some hooks on the bottom. I may have to add a piece for that. Something that can be used in a bathroom or bedroom. The hooks for hanging necklaces and such.

Small door project. Again with some kind of useful bottom, possibly one of those boards with the ribbons that allows for tucking mementos in. For the glass part of the door I ordered two of my photos from Paris in poster size today. They won’t be ready until tomorrow, but I will choose between the two to put under the glass.

My small piece of wood. As soon as I laid eyes on it I knew. I’ve been pinning vintage book covers on Pinterest. I painted a watercolor the other night loosely based on one. This piece is the perfect size to replicate one of the covers. You can see them on my board “Books By Any Cover”. Incredibly beautiful work. I spent another twenty minutes or so sanding this piece as well.

Only sanded beginnings to share tonight, so I’ll post one of my photos as well. A photo I took last year in San Diego, just a reminder to those of you still in the midst of winter’s grip that spring will be here eventually!IMG_5558

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Orphans Of Another Kind

Last night I brought out one of the “orphans”, my half done works of art. There are however other “children” lurking in the corners of the studio. I have mentioned that I’m a little A.D.D. in the art department. I start many other projects that I am completely interested in at the moment, but then my attention gets drawn to a different project and I forget all about the first one. Many of these orphans happen to be furniture pieces. Always with the idea of resale in mind. I have more of these projects than I care to say. Pieces that fill my garage and even my garden in hopes of one day finding a new home. I have chosen to adopt one of them as my project for today, and possibly tomorrow. It’s an old drop leaf table I bought a few years ago. One of the reasons I haven’t finished it as of yet is that I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to paint it. I have finally decided to paint it like an old hand painted Victorian plate. I have a small collection of these beautiful antique plates, some of them are exquisite. One of my favorites has both Violets and Hydrangea on it, which just happen to be amongst my favorite flowers. I thought if the top were down it would be a beautiful piece of art on its own. I still have some work to complete on it, but I think I’ve finally hit on what I want to do. The base of the table is still painted from another incarnation, but the top is well on its way to where I want it to be. I want to get it finished tomorrow. There are way too many unfinished art projects cluttering up my house and my head. New year, time to clean up the clutter, and more importantly time to make some money.IMG_3565

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