At the show, and the fact that I have time to write tonight’s post should give you some inclination of how it’s going. Not a customer in sight, this despite the fact that I am between an exit door coffee/ice cream stand. I was assured that this was a successful show in the past, but not for me. Oh wait, I did make one sale, an adorable little girl came by and was looking longingly at one of my zombie ornaments so I sold it to her for a dollar. What can I say? I’m a sucker for kids. It’s really disappointing. We didn’t get to bed until nearly twelve thirty, got up at six fifteen, and have now been standing on my feet since about eight fifteen this morning, it’s currently 12:27 Pacific Coast time, two and a half hours left to go. I know I’m in the wrong place, if you were to look around me you would see quite frankly momentous amounts of crap. I’m talking manufactured merchandise, the toilet paper cover crafting that I abhor, and a lady trying to sell massages. An “art show” it’s not. I try not to judge the work of others, but I know that my work is heads above what I’m seeing. I always swear I’ll never do another one of these school shows, but I thought maybe I could add a little to the family finances. I’ve gotten several comments on my work, “Beautiful!”, “You’re so talented.”, etc., but no one seems to want to pay the price. My pieces are always marked less than they are worth (insert lack of self-esteem here), but still people don’t seem to want to buy them. It’s hard, I’m tired, I’ve worked really hard for nearly a month, and I just wanted to succeed a little. I need to learn from this, and discover where I belong. I need to find better shows. I’m not sure how, but I guess a little internet investigating is in order. As for today, I can’t wait to go home and get off my feet. Tomorrow everything will go on etsy. I probably should have done that in the first place.

It is much later in the day, 7:15 in fact.The earlier blog was posted by accident…oops, from Dan’s iPad. So the result of all my hard work? $68 Whoopee!!! After five hours of standing on my feet, weeks and weeks of hard work. We took my meager earning and went out to dinner. Our feet hurt, I was understandably upset, and we were hungry. No new art to post tonight but some I haven’t posted yet. Taking the night off. I deserve it.IMG_6551 IMG_6549 IMG_6548 IMG_6547 IMG_6546 IMG_6545 IMG_6544

Nothing to choose from right?

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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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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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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The Time Nears

The year nears its end. On April 13th, 2013 I began what I thought was an insurmountable task, 365 days of art and writing. I can finally see the finish line of my personal marathon. What a year. Started only a week after my daughter’s wedding (Happy almost-Anniversary Jessica and John!), I have seen my daughter happier than ever, my son Brian moving out to begin his adult life, and my Dad moving into what will most likely be his last home. Of course there is also the fact that Dan and I are struggling. Not on a personal level, this year has made us closer than ever, but it has now been nearly a year since he lost his job, that’s a tough one. I had imagined big changes in the course if this project but never anything like this. As a result I haven’t dedicated as much time to this project as I would have liked, but there were other very important priorities. Dan has always been my rock, my greatest champion, and the best thing that ever happened to me. It has been my turn, my honor to try to be the same for him. A couple of people have asked what’s next for me.  I’m not sure. I will admit it will feel nice to take a night off because with the exception of a case of pneumonia, I haven’t done so for a year. I do think that this project has become such a part of my daily routine that it will seem odd without it. I won’t quit writing, and I’ll never quit art. I have a month to think about what to do next.

A year ago I wouldn’t be as confident as I now in my abilities. I was very hung up on not having any kind of artistic training, now I’m not sure I’d want it. I think I do OK on my own. I certainly wouldn’t have posted this rough sketch of Otis, the mischievous Puggle of Jessica and John, but I actually love this. A simple line drawing in pen.

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Leave My Clock Alone

Spring back, Fall ahead. My head is spinning. I have had insomnia since birth. My parents tried everything to get me to sleep. Crushed sleeping pill and sugar mixed together on a spoon? Check. Shots of Chianti for a nine-year old? Check. They really did try everything, it just didn’t work. When I wanted a day off school all I had to do is pretend to sleep, my Mother thought I was ill. I still struggle nightly. I rarely if ever sleep through the night. I hate DST, you know Daylight Savings Time. I hate it so much that I refuse to reset the clock in my truck. I leave it be, my stubborn silent protest. Not that I don’t enjoy a little extra sunlight, and lovely summer evenings. I just want it to stay that way all of the time. I know it sucks when people have to get up early to go to work and it’s still dark out. I did it for many, many years. I would sit on the edge of the bathtub at five a.m. and bemoan my fate. I would actually moan aloud saying, “Nobody should have to get up this early.” The unfortunate thing for me is that when the sun comes up so do my eyelids, no matter what time I hit the sack. (I believe I may have been a rooster in another life.) This whole DST throws me off my game. It takes me weeks and weeks to adjust. In the mean time I wander through my day struggling to keep my eyes open, not to mention that when I’m tired, I’m hungry, not a good combination for me. That is when “you deserve this, you’re tired” makes an appearance. That is “not good enough’s” roommate in my brain. (Yes, there are voices in my head, most of them are very nice and offer fairly good advice.) I actually Googled DST, long boring explanation followed, I will not share, bore yourself if you must. So here I am after ten in the evening, which was actually nine just days ago. It is almost time for bed, but I’m not tired. I could stay up (I am sort of a grown up), but in the morning when the sun rises at seven a.m. my eyelids will open, and I will inwardly weep for the hour of sleep that is lost.

Today I had a really great compliment. I happened to run into Mia, whose portrait I have been working on. I also had my sketchbook on hand. I opened to Mia’s portrait and showed it to her, and asked if she knew who it was. “It’s Mia.” My day was made. When a two-year old can recognize them self in your work I think that’s pretty awesome. I worked on Mia’s portrait again tonight. She is just too cute to be shades of gray.3 11 14

Words Of Wisdom

There’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for a few days now. Last week Dan showed me a You Tube video of Lupita Nyong’o making a speech at Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. For those of you who might not know who Lupita is, just a week ago she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in Twelve Years A Slave. She is of Mexican and Kenyan heritage, and she is beautiful. As I listened to the emotional speech made by this insightful, intelligent, and lovely young women, I was astonished at her wisdom. She spoke of the seduction of inadequacy. Feelings that I am quite familiar with. She is a very dark-skinned young woman, and I am about as pasty white as they come. (I have been known to joke from time to time that I am not Caucasian, I am see-through.) In her speech she spoke of the pain of her childhood, of being ashamed, of wanting to be different. It is unfortunately a pain that I think all young people are familiar with, unless of course through genetic gifts they are blessed with what our society deems “perfection”. There are very few that fit that description, and yet I would bet that most if not all would be the first to point out flaws they find with themselves. I am old enough to be Lupita’s mother, but I learned much from listening to her eloquent words. What a shame that we have all been so convinced that there is something wrong with us. That we have the wrong hair, eye color, body type, skin color, and so on. I am an older woman. I am aging OK, not as bad as some, and not as good as others. As I listened to Lupita’s speech it was like listening to my own often mentioned “not good enough” voice that resides in my brain. I write of that voice in association with my art, but it is a far-reaching voice, and it can be very loud. I still struggle with self acceptance at my age. I think we could all learn a lesson from the gifted Lupita, and I think if you are a parent of a young girl or boy, there are lessons to be taught as well. If you have the time and inclination the video is well worth listening to.  Just go to You Tube and put “Lupita’s Essence speech” in the search engine. I guarantee its five minutes that will make you think.

I was tired today. Spring forward my…(more about that tomorrow) Despite feeling tired I worked on finishing the room formerly known as Brian’s. In the end I did a small pen and ink of some Lily of the Valley. A favorite of mine that I haven’t seen since my last Chicago Spring ten years ago. The drawing was inspired by an old tin from Crabtree and Evelyn. When I was finished I decided to add a little color. Two photos, one without color and one with.

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The Hand Of God

Several months ago I wrote a post about my feelings of hopelessness due to our situation here. I received quite a bit of religious advice from people who read that post. At the time I said I appreciated the thoughts,prayers and support, and of course I still do. I bring it up because of some thoughts I had today. We spent most of the day in the car. We drove out into the desert to a place named Pioneer Town. It’s east of Palm Springs. Old westerns were filmed there in the 30’s and 40’s and the structures still stand. The scenery was starkly beautiful, pale sands, sage brush, and rocks and boulders changing color with the sun. Later we drove back to Temecula through a mountain back road, and again I marveled at beautiful skies and lush greenery. Finally we headed to dinner towards an incredibly beautiful setting sun. I do consider myself a spiritual person, it is just that like almost every other place in my life I am quiet. There are so many people who want to share their faith, or their version of faith with others. I am happy for anyone who has spirituality in their life, but I find that for me my spirituality is in the world around me and within me. I can sit in a church obeying laws of holy obligation, but my mind wanders. It is out in the world where I see, and hear God that I feel my faith. I have written quite a bit about feelings of poor self-worth, or lack of self-confidence in my artistic life. Tonight as I looked through photos I took today, and as I marveled at the magnificent sunset, the thought occurred to me that there is one way that my work will always be inadequate, but it isn’t because of lack of self-esteem. I just know that despite my talent, and no matter how hard I work, there are strokes of greatness that exist in nature that are beyond this world.

I didn’t have much time to work on art today. I worked a little bit on Mia’s portrait from last night, and a very small watercolor. I do however have a few photos from today’s beautiful drive.



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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