Last week I wrote a post I didn’t publish. It was about our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It had inspired me to write a list of twenty-five of the reasons I think our marriage is successful. I didn’t publish it not because of any change in my marital status. (Still madly in love) I just didn’t feel like offering advice when the rest of our life isn’t in a good place. Maybe another time… I haven’t been creating much in the way of art as of late. That is unless of course you consider packing an art. I’m actually quite good at it. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles, so fitting as much as I can in a box is my daily challenge. Now that I’ve made that poor attempt at a joke, the reality is that the days are becoming more difficult. We hope to have our house on the market in about two weeks. The hardest thing isn’t letting the house go, it’s that we have no idea where we will be when it sells. Everyone “downsizes” eventually, but what if it means you have nowhere to go? It isn’t as if we can shop for a smaller home, we couldn’t qualify for a mortgage, the same with renting, no jobs do not make for good renters. Dan still is without employment. I had a job, but turned it down. I’m sure everyone will think I’m insane, but I have health issues that would have been exacerbated by standing on my feet all day. I am looking for work as a nanny, something that I am very well suited for. I’m a kid person through and through. I actually enjoy the company of children more than many of the adults I’ve met in my life. We are struggling to find the bright spots these days. We have actually discussed the idea of moving overseas. Once the house sells we don’t have any real financial obligations tying us here. Our daughter put us in touch with a friend who lives in France. He has offered to advise us, and tell us how he made the move. It is more than an intriguing thought. We do however have a son close by, and I don’t know that I can leave him. This is all so incredibly hard. We need help. If only life were like “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Can someone throw us a lifeline? We’ve already phoned a friend, and have asked the audience for help with our business. And not above asking again…(http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04) If we could get our business off the ground it would be amazing. We are still short on start-up funds. Here is where the 50/50 comes in. We are thinking of taking a chance with what we earn from the sale of the house. Half to live on, half to start-up the cafe/bookstore. Not sure what the tax implications are, but at this point what else can we do? Yesterday I woke feeling a little lost. Actually a lot lost. It inspired me to do something I haven’t done in quite a while which is write. It is for Dan, who I would be completely lost without. Last night I painted a very quick watercolor. Something to lay my words upon.
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.
Now the finished wood burned piece.
And finally a shot of the finished piece.
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.
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.
Three days since I last posted. The honest truth is that I just haven’t been feeling much in the way of creativity. Not that I need to continue to pound in just how precarious our situation here is. Speaking of pounding…I hit myself in the hand with a hammer, that doesn’t help with creativity either. We had workmen here in our garden several years ago, and to make a long story short, they messed up, we caught them, they gave us a “special” finish on the concrete paths on either side of our house as way of making amends. Now the special finish is bubbling up and chipping off. It almost feels as though you are walking on broken glass. Me, being the industrious me that I am, decided to chip it off with a chisel and a hammer just to see if I could. I can, and I can also miss the top of the chisel and hammer my hand instead. OUCH! Fortunately it was not broken, it is just very badly bruised and hurts quite a bit.
I decided tonight that I needed to be here in front of this keyboard. I haven’t been posting, and I haven’t been working. I’m in a funk, and that isn’t good. This project has helped me quite a bit in the last year. I need to keep going. I keep trying to convince myself that we don’t have it as bad as so many people, but faced with the day-to-day of watching our life fall apart somehow those sentiments don’t make much of a difference. There were times when we were younger and poorer. The key word being younger. Starting over when you are young can be exciting, starting over when you are our age is terrifying. We’ve hit a few snags on the road to the shop, but we are looking at other ways to approach the situation. There will always be unexpected challenges when opening a business, we are prepared to deal with them.
I started working late tonight. The Blackhawk’s were playing so we were out to see the game. (They won, Yea!) It was after nine when I began to paint. I mentioned a few months back that our son had moved out. I had painted an abstract for Brian, but I wanted to give him something else. This one is for him. It isn’t even halfway done, but I feel like I have a good start. Frank Zappa from the cover of a record. It doesn’t look enough like him as of yet, but I am only forty-five minutes into the painting. It’s after ten now, so Frank will have to wait until tomorrow to look more like himself.
One more mention of our business. I’ve designed the logo. It is of Riley, the oldest of our three cats. I will also again say if you are so inclined to help us in our endeavor it would be appreciated more than I can say. Jessica started a crowd-funding option for us. Just click on the link below.
Last night was the first in a year when I didn’t post. I actually took a day off, and you know what? It was sooo hard. To begin with I started to feel guilty, like I wasn’t doing something that I was supposed to do. (It’s the whole Catholic thing, its ingrained in my brain) I was working on something creative, all day in fact, but it wasn’t something I can share as of yet. It’s a gift for someone, a very involved gift, and its a surprise. Late in the afternoon I began to feel the pull of the blog. Feeling the need to produce a piece of art to put up, and then I realized I didn’t have to. I’m dead serious, I was feeling like a bad person because I hadn’t produced anything. It may be time for an intervention. I’m still in the middle of my very involved gift, so for tonight more of my retrospective of a year’s worth of art. Paintings in oil and acrylic, and one pastel. Tomorrow the last of the retrospective and new art!
Waterlily’s, because every artist needs at least one right?
Another Waterlily in oil.
Old work, oil on canvas with a great story to go with it. (If you are interested, “A Little Tale”, posted 12/11/13)
Acrylic. Palette knife once again.
Oil. La Jolla, California, from a photo I took. My favorite piece from the entire year.
My year is up. I am no longer obligated to post or create every day. My self-imposed project is complete, or is it? Did I accomplish everything I had hoped? Not in so many ways. Did I discover parts of myself? Yes. So now what’s next? I am a creature of habit. Something I haven’t revealed about myself (Yes, even after all this time) is that there was a time in my life when I kept a diary almost every day for seven years. When you don’t have friends books, paper and pen, and music become your lifeline. When I started my blog and project I never thought about what would happen when it was finished. I wasn’t even sure I would finish, but here I am a year later. I still have much room to grow artistically. New skills to master, and quite possibly having to let go of the one I love most, oil painting.
I still haven’t finished my portrait of Jessica because it is in oil. My respiratory system is taking a stand. Its been weeks since my cold ended, but I’m still feeling that little catch of breath in the back of my throat. As much as I hate the idea of it, I may have to resort to wearing a mask if I want to continue to paint. I think I may not have a choice. It was my first artistic love and I’m not ready to let go.
As for this blog, as I said last night, I will continue. Although I just might take tomorrow off. We’ll see. It’s become as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth.
I’m going to spend the next day or two organizing the work I love most. Pen and in later in the week. Tonight another retrospection, this time some watercolor.
Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.
There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.
I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.
Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”
No news tonight, no complaints, just some thoughts on an observation from this morning, and how it relates to the kind of business I want us to have.
I was getting dressed this morning and knowing it was going to be 90 degrees today, I looked in the back recesses of my closet. I pulled out a shirt I haven’t worn in years. It happens to be a shirt that Dan bought me in Paris. We actually didn’t spend a lot of money there. We aren’t souvenir type people. If anything we had hoped to come home with something from a Parisian flea market. We unfortunately went to the wrong one, unless of course we were millionaires. The furniture was incredibly beautiful, and incredibly expensive. On our next trip (Don’t know how, don’t know when, but it will happen!), we will do our research and make sure we know where we are going. What we did end up buying was a sweater because I am always cold, and in the same shop the shirt I am wearing. We also purchased a shadow puppet for Jessica at the Musee d’Orsay. We had seen the collection of Theatre du Chat Noir (forgive me if I’ve gotten that wrong), incredibly intricate shadow puppets. Jessica is a graphic artist and loves strong imagery. I knew she would appreciate the design. Imagine my surprise when we got back to our apartment and discovered the sticker on the back that said, “Made in Chicago, Illinois”. I kid you not. It struck me as so funny. I flew all the way to Paris to buy my daughter something from her hometown. On the next to last day I mentioned to Dan that I had been admiring a second shirt in the window of a clothing store near where we were staying. We went to the shop and purchased the shirt. That night as I packed my suitcase I noticed the tag inside of my new shirt, “American Rag”, the same brand as my jeans from Macy’s.
The world is becoming so interconnected thanks to our unbelievable ability to communicate, but at the same time I feel like something is being lost. I traveled with Dan on and off on business trips through the Midwest. I loved all the little towns, the shops, the local flavor. I think it many ways it is being lost. Now no matter where you go there is a Target, a Walmart, a Home Depot, etc…even in Paris I ended up with items I probably could have gotten back home. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love antique stores and flea markets so much. Pretty much everything is one of a kind. I want our place to be the shop that everyone will think of as “their place”. I hope to make every person that walks through the door as welcome as they feel in my home. I want it to be a place, like my home, where people want to stay awhile and put their feet up, enjoy some really delicious food, a good cup of coffee, a good book, and some interesting conversation. (Now all I need is some money!)
As has happened before my art tonight is inspired by a photo I saw in the newspaper. I didn’t copy exactly what I saw, but definitely the feel of it with my own little twist. Something simple, I’m feeling nostalgic tonight.
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.
Nothing to choose from right?