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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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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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

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

My Constant Companion

Still in the process on the window projects. They are both turning into another of those pieces that I put far too much into with no hope of ever selling them and paying myself anything for my time.

I decided tonight to return to doing a little fine art for a project to post. A solitary figure in watercolor based on a rather out of focus photo of my son Brian’s performance as the town drunk in a high school production of “Our Time”. I think I was inspired by a conversation that Dan and I had earlier this evening. We talked about ourselves now that we are officially “empty nesters”, and are now alone. I had been talking to my Dad. He is eighty-one and living in an independent living home. It has been nearly seven years since my Mom died, and in those seven years my Dad has been desperately lonely. He made a few half-hearted attempts at seeing other women, but it never felt right to him. I call him every night, and have done so for the last seven years. I hate the idea of his loneliness. He is in Chicago and I am in California, the phone calls are the best way I can help him. He has often said that for him loneliness is the worst disease a person can have. I have to agree. I have spent a great deal of time alone in my life. The difference in my Dad and myself is that while he is a very social person, I am the opposite. I am a very solitary person, someone who enjoys quiet, and doesn’t mind being alone. I have always said that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. The truth is that I’m never really alone, I always have one companion, my art. I quit work twenty-four years ago to stay home and raise my children, and yes there have been times when I’ve been very, very lonely, but my salvation has always been my creativity. Without art, without creative expression, I think I might have lost my mind. I never really worked on my art, on the kind of art I wanted to do, but I used the gifts I have to do things for my children, to design my home, and to do the occasional craft show to contribute to our holiday spending. I’ll never regret spending the time with my kids (who are by the way, two pretty spectacular human beings), I do regret not giving myself a little love and attention along the way. I will always be grateful for the lifeline that kept me sane, gave me personal moments of joy, and I think gave my kids a rather special childhood. Art and creativity is so much a part of who I am, it’s been my place to hide, my place to express happiness, and my best friend when I had no friends. Now as I near the end of this year-long project I realize that I need to work a little harder to honor my companion, my talent, and continue to push myself to go far beyond this year, to realize my potential while I still can.2 17 14

So Many Projects, So Little Time

After a very hard days worth of work, I again find myself with no photos to post. I made some progress today on two of my projects from yesterday, and then just to add to my workload I added one more piece. I have a children’s rocking chair that I picked up years ago. It’s missing the seat and needed to be repainted. Dan cut a new piece of wood for the seat which I will be upholstering tomorrow. I have also decided to paint on the fabric for the seat. Not sure what as of yet, but I’m thinking some kind of vintage children’s illustration. My window project from last night is also still a work in progress. It is a very old window and needed to glued and nailed in a number of places. Dan took care of that for me as well, but it took a while to fix and then to dry so that also bleeds into tomorrow. I picked up my posters to add to the other window only to discover that neither will work. I have to revisit it in the morning and choose another photograph to use. I did work on a table that I am refinishing for a friend, and painted two chairs and a table for Brian’s new place, and reupholstered those seats. No wonder I’m exhausted. So although I worked for several hours today on a multitude of pieces I have no finished projects as of yet. Hopefully all of our work today will pay off when everything is finished tomorrow.

I will share instead a little something I did here at home, something that I love, but unfortunately can’t travel with me when I leave. It’s a mural on the wall in my butler’s pantry. A watercolor of the original idea, and then the completed wall. I took a dead space in our house and I think turned it into something special.IMG_5565



Looking For Suggestions

Tonight I will be a woman of few words. The reason? A low-grade fever, dripping nose, (I know, too much information), sneezing, oh and I forgot to mention that my head weighs twice as much as it did when I woke this morning. Flu shot? Yes, I had one, and although many people I care about have had the flu in the last few weeks, I thought I dodged the bullet. I was wrong it just took longer to reach me. I still managed to get a little something done for this evening. A watercolor based on a vintage book cover. One of the things that Dan and I want to do in our business is embrace the community we live in. This piece is part of that. We want to involve the people who visit our store and make them feel like its their place as well as ours. As I mentioned last night I love children’s books. I plan on doing a little story telling, and I’m looking for suggestions of favorite stories.  If anyone has one I’d love to hear it.

For now I’m calling it a night.2 13 14

Little Gestures and Good Dreams

From time to time I mention some younger friends of mine, Emily who is five, Gabby who just turned ten, but there is one I haven’t mentioned, his name is Kingston. Kingston will be eight next Sunday. He is a very smart, athletic little boy, but he also has a problem with bad dreams. One of the things I did for my own kids when they had bad dreams was to create a “Dream Pillow”. Created from muslin and filled with good smelling ingredients, and a hand painted cover, I convinced them that as long as the pillow was in the bed that they would have good dreams. As an extra measure I shook a little Lily of the Valley dusting powder at their feet, although to them it was “Fairy Dust”. I made Emily a pillow last year and passed the fairy dust on to her, but Gabby and Kingston’s Mom is no longer alive. They have no one to sprinkle fairy dust. I plan on making them both a pillow, but as of late Kingston is having some bad dreams about dinosaurs. I tried to convince him that it isn’t at all possible for a dinosaur to get him, but he is by nature a worrier. I will see Gabby and Kingston tomorrow for our regular standing Tuesday and Thursday breakfast dates. For my piece of art this evening I decided to create something to ease Kingston’s mind. A drawing that strays a little from the norm for me, more children’s illustration, storybook style. I thought that maybe if the last thing Kingston saw at night was a picture of himself wrangling a dinosaur he might feel a little more brave in his dreams. If there is one rule in life I believe in, it’s that anything you can do to make someone else have a better day, or in his case, a better night, you should do it.

Kingston and “friend” in watercolor.2 10 14

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…

” Into every life some rain must fall.” I don’t know who said that, and I really don’t care at the moment, other than to say that it’s been torrential here, and I don’t think that rain was meant to come from my dining room ceiling. Things were slightly better today, and all that means is that the guys that are repairing my house don’t have to cut out a piece of my ceiling, or a hole in my studio wall in order to get to the damage in the bathroom. Meanwhile we are suffering through noise I haven’t lived with since I lived eight minutes from O’Hare Airport in Chicago. We have in our dining room four contraptions meant to dry out the ceiling, and a few more upstairs running to dry out the floor. Non stop noise since seven this morning, and they won’t be off for three days. To say our nerves are just a little frayed is an understatement. Nothing like feeling like you live inside an airplane hangar to ease our stress levels. I spent much of the day listing on etsy, fairies for the most part. I am aiming to get prints up as soon as possible, but I am still in the process of figuring out watermarks. I think much like yesterday my work today is inspired by what I’m feeling. I want and need serenity, quiet, and peace. I am a person who enjoys solitude, who loves quiet, who hates noise. I don’t know how we’re going to make it through the next two days, but I guess after the last ten months we can do anything. So here is my imaginary place of quiet in watercolor.2 6 14