Merry Christmas

What was I thinking? I said last night that I would possibly make some art for myself today. I think not. Not after all of the cooking, and the cleanup. A few weeks ago I filled a special request for a personalized ornament. I couldn’t post a photo of it because it was meant to be a surprise. So while I technically didn’t create art today (or did I? Pork Roast, gravy, spinach and garlic bread pudding, homemade chunky applesauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, chicken and spinach lasagna, and a Frango Mint Cheesecake, all of which was made today…) I am going to use my special order as my project for this evening. Long day on my feet. I’m tired, off for some sweet dreams. Merry Christmas to all! 12 25 1

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Nearing The Finish Line

My last-minute push to get as much done as possible has begun. I always think I have enough time but I never do. I have however produced quite a bit of product in the last month. Considering the amount of time and care I put into what I do I am surprised at the amount I have. I didn’t stop to count tonight, it’s just after ten and I’ve been working pretty much nonstop since eleven this morning. I’m dead tired. I had told Dan earlier today that I wanted to work late tonight, but I’m done. Not that I don’t want to produce more, but I can’t keep going. I will still have to knock out a few pieces tomorrow, but I think I’m ready for Saturdays show. I again today haven’t produced something in particular for my project, I’m just too busy. The show on Saturday is far too important. Tomorrow we are going to work out my display, make signs, etc., and finish up details. I did take one special order today, a very special order, from my Dad. As I’ve mentioned here before, he is Irish. I have also mentioned that he has just moved into independent living. He ordered a couple of “Irish” fairies to give to a few of the ladies at his apartment complex. I guess I’m not taking Sunday off after all.

Fairies once again. I created fairies of the month with monthly flower and birthstone, and one of my favorites, a centerpiece with a baby fairy. The fairy sleeps in a real pumpkin shell that I dried out. One more day and back to our regular programming. IMG_2818


Ninety-Two And Counting

I’m nearing the breaking point of exhaustion. I have produced ninety-two pieces of work for the show this Saturday, all in about three weeks. That does not include any work that I have produced for this blog, or my recent sales on etsy. I was hoping for one hundred for the show, and I think I should make it. We have plans to meet our daughter for breakfast tomorrow, and a doctor’s appointment late in the afternoon, which doesn’t give me a lot of time for work tomorrow. I’m fine with that, I’m looking forward to it, even the doctor appointment, it will force me to step away for a day. Now I’m dreading the weather. We get a little cold here at times, and I looked up Saturday’s weather only to see that it may rain and be fifty degrees. (I know, boo-hoo fifty. There are some of you that wish it were fifty!) What can I say, I’m a Californian now. I’ve acclimated. I’m missing the focus on my fine art, but I still have another show to get through on the fourteenth, after that I can return to painting which I am missing terribly. We drove to the store earlier today, and the clouds were strangely colored. It looked as though there was to be a storm, but the rain is only beginning now as I write this. I have mentioned before that I’m a bit of a cloud freak. I love a beautiful sky. I was explaining to Dan as we looked at them today that I always look at the sky with a painter’s eye. I suppose I do it with everything, but I think that the sky brings it out in me more than anything else. Cloudy skies have always been my favorite thing to paint. I would have loved to pull out the easel and paints this afternoon, but fairy duty stood in the way. I’m going to have to reward all of my hard work with the gift of a day of painting.


For tonight a recipe card. I’m playing around with a few designs for these. I give recipes to anyone who asks. I never understand people who don’t. If the person asking is a good enough cook they will figure it out. I have been known to eat at many nice restaurants and write down the description from the menu, and then to come home and recreate it. I have to say the idea of the card was inspired by a very lovely request, but it something long overdue. I have boxes of recipes. Hundreds of pages from Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and anything else involved with food. I want to make several types of cards. I’d like to have different ones for different friends. Well, I’m going to be short tonight. It’s late, I’m tired, and I need to call it a night.12 3

Hanging On

Standing on the edge, afraid to jump. That’s me. We went to look at commercial rental properties today and the enormity of our dream slapped me in the face. I’ve been dreaming of opening my own business for more than twenty years, and now that it could become a reality I feel the ghost of “not good enough” filling my brain with doubt. All these months of planning, and suddenly I feel clueless. I started the morning excited and ended it feeling nauseous. I think it’s time once again to have a good talking to myself. It certainly isn’t the work I’m in fear of. I strangely enjoy physical labor. It isn’t that I don’t have the intelligence or qualifications, and it isn’t that I have any doubts about working side by side with my husband every single day. I’ve spent so much of my life making sure everyone around me is happy. I have spent very little time or effort trying to do it for myself, and here it is, my dream, my happiness, my future, and I just don’t know how to do it. I started this post with “standing on the edge”, I think I feel more like I’m holding onto the edge and afraid to pull myself up. There is the chance of failure on the other side and I think that’s what I fear most. This project was the first baby step towards building a life for myself now that my kids are older, but when I think about opening our business it begins to feel like I went from first steps to marathon running. I’ve spent the day worrying, which I know won’t solve anything, but at least I know I’m good at it.11 8

Not much in the way of art tonight. My brain is in a state of panic. Just me hanging on and hoping to pull myself up.

Hitting The Halfway Mark

Six months and counting. It has been 182 days since I began this project, my studio is in disarray, but I am happy to say that I have more artwork in my portfolio than ever before. I think it just might be time to let my kids go. I haven’t sold a piece of fine art in years. It was my choice not to. I spent so little time pursuing my artistic dreams that I had almost given up on them. Every time I found the time to paint, and actually finish a piece, it meant so much to me that the thought of letting it go was incomprehensible. Not that every piece I have worked on in this last six months is a piece that I would sell. There are some that are definitely of the “last-minute homework” vein. There are those that I love so much I can’t imagine ever selling them, but I’m running out of wall space, I think its time to take the next step. So my choice is obvious, I turn my house into a museum…just kidding…time to start selling my work. There are a number of shows here in Southern California, now I just have to figure out the rest. As for my project, reaching this benchmark has re-energized me, I can’t wait to see what the next six months brings.

I mentioned a day or two ago that I love Maxfield Parrish, I felt inspired just writing about his use of color. I wrote that I wanted to duplicate his technique, but life as always gets in the way of plans ( no matter how inspired they are), so I took another route. I didn’t want to pull out the oils tonight, too much clean up, I decided to give it a shot with acrylics. Using Maxfield Parrish’s color palette, I painted a simple winter scene. I’m thrilled with the color, but it is missing the depth of color that I think the layering of paint and glaze would bring. Still, I achieved some vibrancy, and definitely Parrish color. I’m thinking that my next step will be to buy an acrylic glaze and see what it does for this piece. Next week, oils. I want to see what I can do with the oils and glaze. For anyone who might be wondering what happened to the portrait of Jessica, she is still peering at me from an easel in the dining room. You know how it seems as if the eyes of a portrait are following you? I think more than the eyes are following me, I think that the mouth is moving as well. It calls out, “chicken”, every time I pass it. I’ve been avoiding the challenge of finishing, it’s time to jump over that hump as well.10 11

My Skewed Brain

We all know that perspective is my arch nemesis. Maybe my brain is skewed. All I know is that if I don’t draw some kind of guideline everything goes to the right. That includes my handwriting. If I write on an unlined piece of paper, it will inevitably start climbing towards the right edge of the paper as if it were trying to make an escape. Tonight’s watercolor is a perfect example. It looks good as I’m sketching it, but when I pick up the paper and hold it away from myself it is definitely veering to the right. Its frustrating. Of course I know the answer to the problem, practice, practice, practice. I should be drawing daily. I also might try watching that perspective DVD I own. I think I may have mentioned it a few weeks ago. I did take a major step towards watching it then, by that I mean I took the wrapper off. I seem to have an aversion to actually learning how to do anything with help, but if I want to be a better artist I need to bite the bullet.

On a much better note, I love my gift for Dan. I actually ended up turning the cabinet door over and using the other side. The trim is flat instead of rounded and just worked better with the painting. I mixed a little flat black with a metallic gun metal and painted the door. I am also a huge fan of a worn edge, so I sanded the edges down. I glued the cut canvas down to the recessed area. It looks great. I do need to add a little trim inside around the painting. I may also add a finish coat. Dan and I also discussed putting a piece of glass over it. Not sure yet, but I’m really happy with it, and Dan loves it. When I think about it painting a cabinet door is the perfect gift for him. He is continually closing them behind me, and also shutting drawers.  Its not really my fault, it’s really because my brain is skewed.IMG_0828















Artistic Advancements

Caught your attention didn’t I? Artistic Advancements. What marvel of artistic achievement could I possibly be speaking of? Did I paint a masterpiece just waiting for the call from the Getty? Not so much, although as I said last night, I always do what I say, so I did work on Jessica’s portrait. I am really pleased with my progress. I am finally losing the flatness that has plagued my work in the past. I have also learned at last to just step back. Even now as I write this I want to be back in the other room fixing all the issues I see. I am an impatient artist, I want the painting where I want it to be as quickly as possible. Art doesn’t work that way, at least oil painting. That led to many, many muddy messes. That of course led to frustration and the inevitable resignation, and the declaration of “you aren’t good enough”.  I feel like I’m learning to let the work speak to me, knowing when to put the brush down, put the painting to the side, and return when its had time to dry a little. That is where I am at with Jessica’s face. I worked on it for a couple of hours this afternoon. I made very few changes, only following a few suggestions made by my “in-house” art critic, Dan. Yes, there are a couple of areas I’d like to work on, but I’m happy to wait until the painting is ready for me.


Dying of curiosity yet? Several blogs ago I referred to my extremely bad habit of painting where ever, wearing what ever, ruining many pieces of clothing in the process, not to mention a piece of furniture or two. There is also the olive-green carpet that was christened with a squirt of hot pink acrylic. My huge artistic advancement? When I decided it was time to paint today I was wearing a white t-shirt and a beautiful blue and white floral skirt. I set up my paints, my easel, and was about to pick up my brush when I stopped myself. I thought, “What are you doing?” I went upstairs and put on an old t-shirt, a pair of jeans (the victim of a previous paint), and went back down to go to work. When I mentioned to Dan that I felt like I’d made an advancement in my art, he took one look at me and laughed, he knew exactly what was different. Maybe not the most exciting news that you’ve heard today, but for my husband probably the best news he’s had in a while.

Jessica in progress. I’ve posted a “before” and “after”. You may notice a change in hair length. I took the photograph I’m working from a few years ago, Jessica has since grown her hair longer and I think it looks beautiful, so long hair it is.5 30 2 (2)8 21


Flipping The Switch

Today while sorting through the reams of paper clippings I have, I came across quite a few clippings of words and phrases. I love words, and particularly quotes. I cut them out to use with some collage pieces I had planned on doing. Those collages were part of a past project, one I began years ago, one of many half-hearted attempts at trying to figure myself out, both artistically and in my entire life. Like those “I’ll start Monday morning” diets I keep referring to, these collages were meant to jump-start self discovery because I felt so lost. I have a box of words, hundreds of them, I probably made four collages. I kept finding words that I thought would reflect my new outlook, or that would inspire my art. Like so many other projects the collage project was over before it started. Life is funny. I spent years trying to lose weight, twenty years of on and off dieting, and then one day I did it. I lost quite a bit of weight and although I’ve gained and lost a few pounds, I have for the most part kept my weight down for eight years. I don’t exactly know what flipped the switch, what got me to the place where I cared enough about myself to lose the weight. I find myself bewildered once again. I’ve been trying to discover who I am as an artist for most of my life, and I have the books and supplies to prove it. I may have mentioned that the book that started this blog happened to be one I already owned when I purchased a second copy. I didn’t buy a second one on purpose, it’s just that I have so much stuff I don’t know what I have. The difference is that this time I actually opened the book and read it. What got me here I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pin point exactly, but I’m grateful for whatever it is. I wish I had figured “it” out, whatever “it” is years ago. I can’t go back, I can only move forward. I’m liking so much of what I’m producing these days. That being said, I’m running on empty, not enough sleep, worried about my Dad and my sisters, and of course our situation here at home, so for this evening I did a little watercolor of some beautiful wildflowers that I photographed in San Diego when we went hiking. A tiny project from a very tired woman,8 19


Out Of Focus

An emotional roller coaster of a day. I said last night that my Dad was doing better, and he is as far as his injury. At least they have figured out what the issue is, or so they think, tests on Thursday will hopefully answer the question. The hard part is his confusion and fear. Shortly after my Mom died a friend said of my Dad, “What happened to the strongest man in the world? Samson has lost his Delilah.” My Dad is old school macho. He has very definite ideas of how a man should be. He does of course have a soft side. It’s just difficult to hear the confusion. Lots of phone calls back and forth from the hospital today. I am grateful to my sisters for being there. Someone has been with him all day. I just wanted to say “Thank You” to them.

I had a difficult time today thinking creatively. I looked at doing several projects, but nothing was really speaking to me. I printed out a handful of photos from my files, but just couldn’t find the motivation. I finally decided to work on one of the many wooden boxes that I have laying about. I have a very quirky confession to make. I so often speak of the “not good enough” thoughts that seep into my brain, but I realized tonight that it only happens when I am going to paint on canvas. When I work on “craft” projects, or painting furniture, I’m fearless. I never second guess myself. I think that I somehow in my twisted brain I have elevated painting on canvas to the epitome of artistic greatness. It’s ridiculous. I have done some beautiful painted wood pieces, but I never think of them as real art. I belittle the stuff that comes to me mindlessly, and the stuff that I imagine is harder, I condemn myself for not being good enough. (This is where everyone forms a line and takes a turn slapping me, all the while asking, “What the hell is wrong with you?”) There is nothing that I do that I don’t give every ounce of myself to. So why am I placing more value on one over the other? I don’t have an answer, and if anyone reading this has some armchair psychology that they want to pass on, please do. I am at a loss to explain my own way of thinking.  Its got to be the monkeys in my brain messing with me.

Another wood burning project, and those amazing Martha Stewart Pearl Paints. Love, Love, Love them. Project isn’t finished, much intricate work to do tomorrow.8 10 (5)Before with initial sketch

8 10 (1)Half finished project8 10 (3)And Mia, one of my cats, I don’t think she understands me either.


My Ruby Slippers

Some good news today, my Dad Is doing a little better.  I had more than one nurse tell me over the phone today how charming he is. It’s the brogue, does it every time. I’m still really worried about him, but he can be quite funny, and knowing he is up to his usual goofy behavior makes me feel better. I’m still praying for him, anyone else who wants to join in is more than welcome.

I spent part of the day working on the logo which is giving me more trouble than I expected. It’s tough to create a piece of art that will reproduce well in a two-inch size.

For tonight a little trompe l’oeil. It’s been years since I’ve done it, but tonight I came across a small wooden art box in my studio that I’ve been meaning to do something with and decided to play with that. I painted a pencil on the lid tonight. but want to add a few other items to the top. I had really intended to do a lot more today. I’m about a third of the way through this project. Seventeen weeks in to be exact. I had planned to celebrate with some fabulous piece of art, it just didn’t come to me. I think part of what is getting between me and the logo project, and the work from tonight and from last night, is worry. Things still don’t seem to be going our way around here, and then with my Dad getting sick on top of it…let’s just say that sometimes its tough to stay positive. I am worried for my Dad, for Dan, for myself, and our family. There’s a Death Cab For Cutie song called, “What Sarah Said”, it is a song that has a great deal of meaning to it. It’s as though someone was watching in the ICU when my Mom got sick. There’s one line, “And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time”, I’m not even sure I can explain how that line resonates with me. I have wasted so much time in my life focusing on the wrong things, or being angry about things that really don’t matter, and especially not taking care of myself. I think about my Dad, soon to be eighty-one, and I know he has his own little prayer for more time. This entire project where I am discovering myself as an artist, might not have been necessary if I had stopped worrying about the crap, and focused years ago on the one thing that could really make me happy, my work. I did a little altered art card, not a good one, a very early attempt at Photo shop, but you will understand it when you see it. I made it a year or two ago, and the message was right there, I wrote it, but I still didn’t get it. It’s a little sad to discover, like Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers clicking together to bring her home, that I had what I needed all along. So here I am, with my prayer to father time, trying to discover who I am, and what I am capable of, in the Fall of my life. Grandma Moses jokes aside, it is more than time to be who I was meant to be. Small work tonight, but its about all I can manage at the moment.8 9



Artist Jackie