Stepping Away

It has been two months since I last wrote on these pages. I considered labeling this post as “Running Out Of Words”, but the truth is I haven’t. I think maybe I was too sad to share, or that what I felt was far too personal. As I mentioned in a previous blog this was never intended to be such a personal and revealing account of my life. I began it in a search for self fulfillment, a way of forcing myself to tend to my own needs after a lifetime of being everything for everyone else. It has also had unintended consequences, one of those being that some people who read what I write think they know me. Yes, there have been very deep heartfelt thoughts on these pages, and a very personal glimpse into my life, but there is much more to me than what you might read and assume. I also discovered that there are two people “looking” for me on a website that reveals people who are searching for you. I have no way of knowing if it is as I suspect a sales pitch to get me to purchase “Protection”, or if someone has garnered enough information from the web to decide to look further. Either way it creeps me out. One of the names is of a woman, the other a man. I looked them up. The male exists, has a Facebook page, and I have no idea who he is or why he would look me up. Like I said, creepy. The female lives in Florida, and until recently I knew no one living there. That one is unnerving for me, especially in these days of identity theft.

As for my sadness, four months have passed since my Dad passed. There is still an aching hole that will take some time to heal. I think I realize that it never will, because it’s right next to the one that has been there for eight years, the one created by losing my Mom. That post would be titled, “Running Out Of Words”, because sometimes it hurts too much to be crafted into a coherent sentence.

People say, “Life moves on.” and it does. I’m going to be a grandmother. The immense joy that the news brought to my heart is again difficult to put into words. I will of course unfortunately have to be a grandma from the other side of the country, but these days of social media make that a much easier pill to swallow, and I can guarantee that my daughter and son in law will get to know the postman very personally.

Finally there is this, the much promised return to what this was all meant to be about…art. Our dear friends and former Chicago neighbors are themselves relatively new grandparents. Their new joy lives even further than mine, he resides in New Zealand. Our daughters grew up together, and will now be moms within a year of each other. Life does move on. While looking at Facebook I came across a photo on Nicole’s page that stirred something in me that hasn’t been there in some time. It is a photo of her baby and his father. The baby is beyond adorable, the word (as weird as it is) that comes to my mind is “scrumptious”. He is so damn cute I could eat him up, but it was John, and the look of love and tenderness that really spoke to me. I’ve never met John, but that photo speaks volumes, and it gave me something I needed, a reason to paint. Congratulations to Nicole and to John, and thank you for giving me the inspiration I so desperately needed. (It will FINALLY make its way to you. Promised weeks ago, but I found myself hearing the call of “not good enough” yet again. Having to remind myself that it’s not meant to be a Xerox copy, but a piece of art. I’m sending it today in order to shut off the voice in my head before I ruin it!)

In full disclosure I need the art police here to demand that I put down the brush. I’ve retouched this painting six times since I started photographing it…sick, just sick…

So, a return to art, and a return to writing. The first hurdle is behind me. I know it won’t be the only one, but it feels good to begin again. My life moving on.

for nicky

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OK, I admit it. I took the photo of the painting no less than a dozen times. Why? Because I started finding fault with it and “fixing” it. Memo to the voice in my head…SHUT UP! Oh no, I hearing it again….I need to fill in John’s beard a little, fix the baby’s hairline, darken the ear on one side, ….help!

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Adrift

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.   IMG_9178

To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.

 

 

 

 

IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.

 

 

 

image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.

 

 

 

 

Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.

 

 

 

 

005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.

 

 

5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.

 

 

 

image  Pastel desert scene.

 

 

 

 

 

6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

12 20 Riley once again in pencil.

 

 

 

IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.

 

 

 

 

12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.

 

 

 

 

2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.

 

 

 

3 24 14 Another cabinet door.

 

 

 

 

4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.

 

 

 

 

There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do We Go From Here?

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.

 

Iris painting.color adjusted003IMG_9702cafe (4)5 8coneflowerAutumn (1)5 24 (5)5 306 56 106 28 (8)5 82 (6)7 298 18 148 178 278 26photoIMG_1598imageimage11 111 16IMG_31281 8 14IMG_3834imagePhoenix 09 1172 6 142 13 143 21 147 5 (12)7 15 17 17

Day 365

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.”

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Our Place

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.

 

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A Change In Attitude

A change in the atmosphere? I’m not sure what it is, but today was the first day in quite a while when I spent the day feeling hopeful. Still no news on the one job that may still be in the works, but we are pursuing some financial options for our business that look very promising. There is also another plan in the works. Dan and a friend have an idea for another business, something that could prove to be very successful if they can get it up and running. There are two things about it that I love, one is that it should bring money in quickly, the other is that it would allow Dan to continue to work with me on our business. It’s literally down to the wire around here. Something has to work!

I’m also surprised that I feel as good as I do because I’m exhausted. I was up early on Monday, didn’t make it to bed until 12:30 Tuesday morning, up at 6:15 a.m. yesterday. I should have slept well last night but I didn’t. I went to bed at around 10:30, slept for maybe twenty minutes and then…wide awake. I laid there for at least a half hour before giving up. I came downstairs and used the time to do research for our business. My mind is racing with ideas and possibility.

I actually have two projects tonight despite the fact that I’m falling off my feet. In a flash of brilliance (if I do say so myself) I came up with a quick project to turn two vintage plinths into book ends for our upcoming shop. We ran over to the office supply store and grabbed a couple of metal bookends, added some glue, and there they were. There is a little bit of the new metal showing underneath which I plan to address. I’ve been pricing out bookends and they are really expensive. I’m going to need a lot of bookends. This project inspired me to see what else I have that can serve the same purpose.

I’m craving oils once again, but unfortunately my respiratory system is still not up to par. I am only days away from the end of my year. It may just end up in watercolor. I did a small one tonight of one of my Giverny photos. Dan and I are both longing terribly to go back. We went to Paris for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We are a little over ten weeks away from our twenty-fifth. We had hoped this would be the year, but things change. It will certainly be a different anniversary this time around.

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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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Feverish Perspective

Still on the mend, but slowly feeling better. I wanted to do something today for my Dad for St. Patrick’s Day. In 1956 he left Ireland with all the big dreams that young men have. Heading to Canada in the bottom of a ship, taking a chance on a better life. My Mom followed about three months later. He was just short of his twenty-fourth birthday, my Mom was only nineteen. I can’t imagine the courage it took to leave home and family, to leave everything they knew, and jump head first into the vast unknown. Then just four years later to do it yet again and move to Chicago. Another new country, starting over, except that this time they did it with two children and a third on the way. Amazing. Happy St. Patrick’s Day Dad.

My brain is still foggy from my head cold, and this relentless fever, my perspective is again my own private torment, but it’s St. Patrick’s Day, so this one’s for Dad. He grew up above his grandmother’s fruit and vegetable store on Dominick Street in Dublin. I saw it once many, many years ago. I don’t remember much so most of this is imagined, with the inspiration coming from a watercolor book on Ireland. Finally, to end this post a little tale to amuse one and all. The little tree wasn’t in my original sketch. There was a man on a bench. (Before I continue remember that I am delusional with a low-grade fever.) When I was just about finished I realized that he was so out of scale, so out of perspective, that he looked like one of the “wee” folk, you know a leprechaun. I turned him into a bush. Artistic improvisation at its best.

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