Pearls Of Wisdom

We often hear about wisdom that comes with age. My personal experience is that its true, at least for me, and at least in terms of how I view myself. I was talking to a friend earlier today, she is a wonderful, warm, loyal, and very loving person. She suffers from a terrible lack of self-esteem. She puts up a fairly decent front, but I know her well. She is several years younger than I, and I feel very protective of her. I was trying today to impart some of my hard-earned wisdom in terms of how I have learned to deal with my own issues. It has taken me a long time to realize that I will never be good enough in the eyes of some people, some who know me well, some who don’t but think they do. I have spent years feeling inferior, and I believe that in many ways most of us do. We live in a judgmental society, bombarded with ads of how we are supposed to look, dress and act. Family expectations based on who our families want us to be, but not who we are. Religious judgment, people who claim to love God, any God, but are quick to condemn their fellow human being. Not smart enough, not pretty/handsome enough, too thin, too fat, wrong color skin, wrong color hair, too old, loving the “wrong” person…I could keep going, but I think everyone gets the idea. Do we do it to make ourselves feel better? Think about what we are doing to each other. Think about times when you feel bad about yourself. Do you really want someone else to feel that way? We can’t make everyone happy, we have to make ourselves happy,  we should cut ourselves and others a break. I want my friend to realize, I want everyone to realize, that the only opinion that matters is the one inside your head. Am I perfect? Absolutely not! I am stubborn, and messy, I procrastinate, have absolutely no coordination, I eat out of stress, worry about everything and anything, continually leave every cabinet door in my kitchen open, I can be controlling, opinionated, have a sometimes foul mouth, have a horrific temper, and still frightened of far too many things in life. I am also very kind, considerate, compassionate, loving, thoughtful, creative, artistic, a terrific cook, inventive, generous to a fault, a good wife and mother and a bleeding heart Liberal. I’m working on a few of my issues, particularly the messy cabinet door opening foul tempered parts of me. The thing is that when you weigh the good against the bad, I’m a pretty decent person. Do parts of me bother others? Yes, but I have learned that it is their problem not mine. I can’t please everyone, neither can my friend, neither can any of you. Be nice to each other, be considerate, help one another, but don’t judge each other no matter how much you disagree with how the other person lives their life, it’s theirs not yours. Believe in yourself, make a list of your best qualities, and those you want to change for yourself, the person who matters most.

To my friend (and she knows who she is), it hurts me to see you in so much pain, as I said this morning, you keep telling me how “Amazing” I am, if you really believe that then you need to remember that my friends are “Amazing” too.

Tonight options. Working on stuff for the show next week. One photo I took in Paris, two identical boxes, two designs, two techniques. two lids, all interchangeable. Haven’t completely finished either, haven’t decided which lid will go with which box. One more fault of mine, sometimes I can’t make up my mind.

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The Price Of Impatience

Twenty four hours have passed. Where is my second box? I didn’t wait long enough. I know, I know, I said I would, but the impatient me just couldn’t wait. I ruined it. I did wait twelve hours, so I thought it would be OK, nope. I had to start again. This time I absolutely promise to wait, maybe even forty-eight hours.

I love spring. When you grow up in a place that has harsh winter weather the first day of spring is cause for celebration. There’s nothing to beat those early warmer days. I’ve lived in Southern California for ten plus years and I still miss the change of seasons. I don’t of course miss the frigid weather, or the ice and snow. I have to admit it is pretty nice to have seventy degree weather in January, but I miss the feelings that come with the change. I think maybe for me spring seemed a little more hopeful when it came after a hard winter. We need new beginnings around here. Let’s hope the new season ushers some in.

In honor of the new season a drawing of an Iris done in watercolor pencil. I chose to paint the background black to make the colors pop.

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Watching The Clock

Still a little breathless, but I feel like maybe things are getting better. Of course me being me I rushed things. (Explanation to follow) I am usually a very patient person. In fact my Dad always says that I remind him of my grandmother. The roof could cave in around her, and she’d look at it and say, “I’ll get to that tomorrow.”  I am that way about quite a lot of things, but when it comes to art I can’t seem to wait. It is really one of my biggest issues with oil painting. I have ruined quite a few great beginnings by turning them into mud because I couldn’t give things a day or two to dry enough for the next step.

…Before I continue I’ll explain the process. A wooden box coated in a light color paint, for this one I used a very pale gray. A reverse image photocopy from my home computer. I used a photo I took in France that I changed to sepia. One coat of decoupage medium. Place the copy print side down, top with another coat of decoupage medium. Here’s the hard part, for me at least. Wait twenty-four hours. (That’s like asking me not to breathe for a day) At the end of the wait period simply dampen the paper, wet but not soaking wet. Then rub the paper with your fingers. The paper will rub off and leave the image behind. Amazing!

I said last night the fumes prevented me from finishing my project from Tuesday. I went back to it today, knowing there were no fumes for the next step. Here’s where I went wrong, I was so happy with the results that I began another. (I’m an idiot, feeling the fumes just a touch. I am now publicly vowing to behave!) I’ll finish that one tomorrow. I’m not finished with the first piece as of yet, I’ll be adding some hardware, possibly some kind of feet to the bottom, and a small mirror piece in the interior. As for the second piece, no photos yet, but I did all four sides of the next box. All I have to do is wait twenty-four hours….

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The Fever Rages On

I’m alive! Well sort of. I still have a heavy head and a fever, but things seem to be moving in the right direction, although my couch does bear the imprint of my body. I lay here all day imaging the things I would be doing if I felt better. Of course if I actually did feel better I probably wouldn’t be doing any of them. I did feel sorry enough for myself to indulge in an ice cream drumstick, something I cannot afford, but I’m sick so I deserve a treat. (Right?) I talked to my Dad a couple of times in the last few days. He can be quite a character. He could hear that I was ill, shout, “Go to bed!”, into the phone, and then talk to me for another ten or fifteen minutes. He also offered his best medical advice. “Do you have any whiskey? You need a small glass of whiskey. That will take care of everything.” I still remember as a teen having the family concoction of tea, whiskey, and honey as the remedy for a sore throat. Horrid stuff. Last night I took Niquil. I am not usually a fan of sleeping medications, and for good reason. Let’s just say when I watched Walking Dead tonight I could relate. The stuff not only knocks me cold all night, but most of the next day I’m fairly close to a drug induced coma.

I based my watercolor tonight on a photo from a magazine. It was most likely inspirational due to the amount of tea I have consumed in the last few days. (No, not with whiskey.) Again working with a fever, my excuse for my as usual not so great perspective (but its true!), but not too bad for someone still battling a head cold. I just realized that my photo is slightly out of focus. Photo courtesy of Niquil.

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I painted today. Rejoice, right? Nope not that kind of painting. As many of you may know my son recently vacated the premises, AKA moved out, left the nest, I’m sure you get the idea. That left me with an empty room in my house. Worse yet, an empty undecorated room. That just can’t be tolerated. I have a show coming up, one that I am in no way ready for. Dan and I decided yesterday that we would postpone the painting of the room formerly known as Brian’s room until further notice. My studio is entirely to small for the amount of crap in it. It is busting at the seams. We decided I would use the extra room to work in until after the show. I began to move things in there, wait! Not so fast. I am a person who cannot eat at one of those throw your peanuts on the floor, and allow the waiter or waitress to be rude to you kind of restaurants. I encounter enough rudeness in my every day life as it is, and as for eating with a dirty floor? No way, no how. I can’t do it. I am a publicly admitted slob, I said so myself right here on these pages, but only when I’m creating. That means that when I cook the kitchen is a disaster that will later be cleaned by my minions. (Although now that I have an empty nest I have no minions. That’s a problem.) When I create art there is paint/paper/pastel dust/brushes/etc…everywhere. I clean that mess up by myself. (I haven’t discovered any art minions as of yet.) Dan was gone most of the day. I thought, “I’m going to paint.” What I intended was art, what happened was decorating. I went into the spare room, which had the studio overflow everywhere, and I began to look for what I wanted to do and realized I couldn’t. The room was worse than peanuts on the floor dirty. I just couldn’t work in there. I did the only thing I could. I went into the garage to look for paint. I had some blue, but not quite enough, found some white and, voilà another custom blend. I didn’t even bother to empty the room. I pushed everything in the middle and went to work. That was five hours ago. I’m finished. Sometimes it’s good to be a painter’s daughter. Brush is washed out, roller wrapped up for touch-ups in the morning light, and I’m beat.

No art that was created today, unless you count the abstract art on my hands and face (like I said, slob). Instead I am posting an old one, a painting that I did a very long time ago. I had gone out with a friend for coffee, she was an actress, I the artist, and we had a wonderful afternoon talking all things creative. When I got home I was so inspired that I painted the following piece. Now I am off to rest my weary bones.

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A Belated “Thank You”

I haven’t been doing my best work as of late. I’ve probably phoned it in more in the last month than in the eleven months prior. We’re still not out of the woods here at home, and the clock is ticking. Worry and stress do not make good creative partners. Tonight I tried to clear my mind and focus on some work. I chose my subject matter for a very particular reason tonight.

I still haven’t sent my mother in-law a thank you note for her gift. I had an idea for something to include in her thank you. Like me, she is a collector. I remember the first time Dan brought me home to his parents house. Two things struck me that night. First was his Mom’s incredible antiques, the second was his Dad’s cooking. Don passed away a few years ago. A hard lesson that so many people learn as they age is to not let things go unsaid. The old cliché about life being short is so true. I have more than one regret about things that should have been said, or done and the opportunity has passed. I am late on my “thank you” to Joyce, but better late than never. I have often mentioned here that I am a really good cook. My interest in cooking started at about age seventeen, but it really took off after I started eating at the Zuckerman house. Both of Dan’s parents were terrific cooks, and in later years it was almost always his Dad that made the meal (except for gravy, Joyce’s specialty). I never told Don what an inspiration he was to me. I eventually had the chance to cook for him, and when he praised the meal I was beyond thrilled. Amongst my mother in-laws collections are some vintage sugar jars with the label “Zucker”,  which is German for sugar. I love her jars, so I made it my mission to find some for myself. One of my other collections is a group of chefs. Joyce wanted to collect them but didn’t have the room, so she began to collect them for me. One in particular always reminded us of Don. I wanted to pay tribute to both of Dan’s parents tonight. One of my Zucker jars, and “Don”, one of my chefs in watercolor. Belated thanks for inspiring one of the great pleasures in my life, cooking. (Oh, and by the way, thanks for the really wonderful son I have for a husband.)

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Self Esteem By The Numbers

I seem to be on a recurring theme these days, but I did something yesterday that made me question just how much I believe in myself. As I said last night I had a little battle waging in my head between my “not good enough voice” and my inner cheerleader. (I am so not a cheerleader, quite frankly I lack a certain amount of enthusiasm, but that is a topic for another day.) I thought that I had to a certain extent conquered my feelings of inadequacy, but I was wrong. I put a piece of work on etsy yesterday. It is part of the fairy making I do. I hesitate to call it a craft, I think of it as art. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for craftsmen and women. I think the word “crafter” has gotten a bad rap. Unfortunately thanks to shows of a certain caliber, crafting is far too often associated with items such as my most hated craft, the crocheted toilet paper roll cover. (I just had a visual image of one and cringed) I know there is a market for these kinds of items, I think it may involve blue hair of some sort, but I cannot think of a ….I’m sorry, I have no words. I feel that strongly about them. To get back to my point, there are many fine crafts people, people with envious skill and talent, and their work is art. I hereby decree that artists and true craftsmanship be one and the same. (I can do this because I should be ruling the world) My piece is a fairy playground. It took vast amounts of creative imagination, hours of intricate work, and numerous hot glue burns to create it. When I began to list it on etsy the doubt began to creep in. Materials ran me roughly twenty-five dollars. I originally thought to list it at $100, its one of a kind, unique, it’s art, but then “not good enough” spoke up. “No one will pay that much.”, or “It only cost you $25” (not including the day and a half labor). I’m sure you get the idea. I listed it at $65. When I told Dan he said I was crazy. Later in the evening I went back on etsy. I didn’t sign in, I just wanted to see how long it would take me to find my item in the search engine. I came across a fairy house created by another artist. No fairies, just the house. It was more than three hundred dollars. Yikes! Those must be very rich fairies, like Trump fairies. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t believe the price. Then I thought to myself, “This woman values herself, and her work.” I showed it to Dan, and then I raised my price to $95. When I told my saga to my daughter this morning, she too pronounced me crazy, and said $95 is too low. I haven’t changed it, but it did get me wondering about the connection between my pricing and my low artistic self-esteem. I always under price myself. So I guess I have to ask myself just how much my self-esteem is worth?

Something a little different tonight. Theresa gave me a pot of beautiful little daffodils today. I was out most of the day, so I decided to do a quick watercolor of them. I really didn’t care for my finished painting, but then I began to play with the Photo shop filters. I found several that I liked, suddenly I didn’t think the original was so bad. I’m going to post the original, one with a poster edge filter, and an eggshell crackle finish. I’m not sure which I like best.

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The Positives

Last night I said I would look at my work over the last (almost) year to find the positives. I am horribly hard on myself. As I said last night criticism sticks in our brains, it’s a scientific fact. What the piece about criticism I watched on Sunday Morning failed to address was whether our own criticism of ourselves sticks as well. I am here to say in my own private not so scientific study ( which means I talked to myself, Dan and our friend Lori), we do hang on to our own criticism. I think we are harder on ourselves than anyone else. But that begs the question why? Are we innately self-critical? Or are we the product of societies influences? Obviously mass media has a great influence, as do our parents, our friends, our teachers, the list could continue. How does it start? I again will make assumptions. My Mom spoiled my Dad horribly, I think Dan would be happy to agree that I do the same thing. I learned it from my Mom. My Mom was also very insecure…ditto. I knew that as I headed into motherhood. I tried my best to instill confidence in my kids. Did I succeed? Yes and no. Why? Because my children grew up watching me. I was very nobly self-sacrificing, not such a good example to set. That is why I am now on this journey of self-discovery that I should have been on twenty years ago. (Kids, if you’re listening, take time for yourself. Giving all of yourself away no matter how well-intentioned sets a terrible example, and in the end everyone pays.)

Has anyone noticed that I’m avoiding the question at hand? The homework I assigned myself? In my defense I will again explain the Catholic thing. I feel guilty if I feel like I’m bragging. If my history serves me right the original verse reads, Our Father who art in heaven, guilt is part of the game, Thy forbids some fun…oh come on, I’m just kidding. ( I’ve served my time, thirteen years of parochial school, I’m entitled.) Anyway, here goes….

I have discovered that I have a real talent for pen and ink.

My work is so much more alive, more textured, richer. I discovered how much I enjoy working with just a palette knife.

I’m actually finishing pieces. For so many years I left work half done in fear of being judged. This is one where I still struggle a bit, but again, acknowledging the problem is part of the solution.

If I actually take my time (and give myself the time) I can do some really nice work.

I’ve heard so many people say how hard watercolor is. I find it incredibly easy and enjoyable.

That very nasty word, perspective. It’s getting better, and more than that, I’m getting less hung up on it.

My biggest accomplishment is that I no longer feel like I need to be a human copy machine. Art is meant to be expressive, not replace a photograph.

These days I’m struggling on so many levels because of other stuff going on in my life, but I’m still doing this every single day.

As I try to write these positives, I find the little voice on my head saying, “But what about….?” The voice of “Not good enough” is making a case for herself, dropping negative bombs in my brain. Not today. Enforced self-esteem, that’s what I need.

Tonight a watercolor. New issue of Country Living arrived in the mail, this painting is inspired by a photo in the magazine.3 3 14

Following The Thread

Believe in yourself. That has been my journey in the almost year since I started my blog. I didn’t begin with that as the intent. I actually don’t think I had anything in particular in mind when I began, only inspired to start a 365 day project, I forged ahead. Today I was reading through posts of some of the blogs I follow and throughout I began to see a thread that connects us all. Self doubt, and far too many that mentioned fear of rejection. Are we so programmed from birth to fit in that we fear that what we do, what we create, doesn’t fit? I looked through some art today as well. Some of it I didn’t care for. Does that make it bad art? I used to argue with my son about music taste. There was a time when he was quick to condemn music he didn’t like, he criticized others for liking what he didn’t. I always held to the argument that everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just because I don’t like a song doesn’t make it a bad song. After reading through the posts this morning I looked at some of my own, both art and writing. I realized that I was in many ways rejecting myself. I almost wrote a comment today to someone else, but then I saved it for myself. A little bit of advice that I was about to lay on another struggling artist, that is until I realized that there was some wisdom there for me. “There will be those who love your voice, as much as there are those who won’t.” I need to believe in my work, to stand by what I do, to understand that rejection is nothing more than the opinion of someone else.

There is a little story behind this piece. I spent the entire evening working on something in clay that broke as I was painting it. I had no project for today. Dan suggested putting up the broken pieces. I couldn’t. I grabbed a couple of things, not sure what to do. I painted a little on a mirror. Not feeling it. A board. Nope. I began to play with my pearl Martha Stewart paints on a small canvas.  Brushing on, wiping off, brushing again, not sure where to go, and then a break though. Break Through will be the name of this piece. I was pulling paint away and began to see something. I was talking to my Dad earlier. Another snowstorm in Chicago. I had been thinking about Spring trying to break through the snow and ice, and here it was in front of me.  Ice and snow, and color, that is Chicago in the Spring.  Memories of the purple crocus popping through the retreating snow.3 1 14






Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall

When I was younger I found it impossible to say “I’m sorry”, or to admit I was wrong. That thankfully has changed with age, and I know that my near and dear ones greatly appreciate it. The day before yesterday I said we were expecting “a little” rain here, and I said I welcomed it. I’m sorry, I was wrong. (See I said it) Not that a little rain wouldn’t be nice, but torrential downpour with heavy winds I could do without. I know I should consider us lucky that it isn’t that four letter word…S N O W, but it kept us in our house all day. The nearest thing I can compare it to is being inside a car in the middle of a car wash. It was as if someone were outside throwing buckets of water at the window. Neither Dan nor I remember any weather as bad as this in the ten years we’ve lived here. In honor of this momentous weather day I painted a watercolor of vintage souvenir key holder that I own. It’s from Toronto, where I was born, and given to me as a gift. Its one of those kitschy little items that I own that I really love. He also so happens to be a guy with an umbrella.2 28 14