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.


Using The Gift

I never quite understand people who,because they have a particular talent believe themselves to be better than others. I have a gift, an artistic one, but so do millions of others. I have often said, “Sure I can draw, paint, cook, do pretty much anything creative, but the laundry list of what I can’t do is ten times longer. There are those who can dance and sing, talents that I would love to have. I am sorely lacking in the coordination department, which essentially cuts out pretty much any athletic prowess. I bring this up for a number of reasons. I have had people suddenly become interested in being my friend because they see what I can do, and trust me, I can spot those ones a mile away. I have had more than my fair share of snide comments from other women who see my abilities as competition. I don’t feel that way about things that other people are good at. I admire what others can achieve. I will admit to having a little “hair envy”, basically mine sucks and always has. These days, much to Dan’s amusement I comment on how nice other women’s knees look. (If you saw mine you’d understand..six surgeries have done some damage) Do I wish I were thinner,richer, or more accomplished? Sure I do, I’m human, but I am more of the mind-set that when someone else looks better, or does something better or different from what I do, I applaud them. I had the conversation that I wrote about earlier in the week, the one that took a swipe at my self-esteem. Then yesterday I saw a neighbor, a woman who I at one time considered a friend. I did a lot for her. I foolishly gave and gave of my artistic self, doing things for her and her kids. She turned into one of the women who made the snide remarks. I’ve been accused of “showing off”, all because I made a beautiful dish to bring to a neighborhood gathering, or gave a hand painted piece of furniture as a gift to a neighborhood child. (Believe me, I was invited to the party for every kid on the street) My point, the reason I write all of this, is that I don’t show off. I never think I am better than anyone else, and I shouldn’t let someone else who has a ridiculous issue about me, (envy) to cloud my thinking, to get in the way of my art. I have given myself a stern talking to, and have had encouragement from a number of people in regards to that post.

Back to the “gift”. The best thing about having the ability to do everything I can do is that I can create something special for people I care about. I have a very dear friend in the midst of a horrible problem. She means the world to me, and other than letting her know that I am here for a shoulder to cry on, there isn’t much I can do to help her situation. We are good friends because we are much the same, nice, decent, thoughtful women. We accept each other, we share our lives, we support each other. We love our husbands and our children. We joke that we get along so well because we are both middle children. She is one of the finest people I have ever known. I can’t fix what is happening in her life, but I can use what I have, my artistic gift, to let her know that she is loved and thought about. So tonight I decided to make my project for her. She will be mad at me, she says I give her too much, but she is wrong. She has given me through her friendship more than I can ever repay. She loves pears. To eat, to wear, (her favorite pear sweater), she has pears all around her house, I think she needs one more. I raved about the wood burning and the pearl paint when I did the table. I’ve been anxious to try something else. I have some scrap wood in the garage, so I drew a quick sketch of some pears, and pear flowers, and grabbed the wood burner. I have barely begun to paint it, but it is late, so I will post part of the started project. I know my friend will read this, she is so very supportive of what I am doing, so I don’t want her to see it all yet.

In addition to tonight’s post is a quick pen sketch. I had a lovely day in the vineyards with Dan. As we sat on the terrace of one of the wineries I drew the scene in front of me. I have photos of this same location and think it just might need to become the inspiration for a painting.leoness photo

Following Through

6 7 (3)I spent the day working on following through on projects that I had already begun. Part of my artistic history that I am working to change is to finish things. So much unfinished work hiding in the studio avoiding judgement. So many years that I hid behind the words “I’m not finished”. That way when anyone saw my “not good enough work”, I had an out. I no longer want and need the out. I’ve walked through art fairs, museums and paged through art magazines and seen work that I love. So much of it is simple, uncomplicated, without the kind of perfection that I expect of myself. I see color that I am in awe of, or works that evoke feeling, it’s what I want to get to in my own work. To free myself of the weight of my own expectation. To learn to just let the creativity flow and watch what happens. To stop sitting in judgement of myself and create for the sheer pleasure of it. In a few days I will reach the two month mark with this project. I am seeing and feeling a difference in my work. I have not however, learned to put my work first. I am still on many a night scrambling at the end of the day for a project. It took far too many years for me to begin this journey, and I know I can’t expect everything to change over night. I told my son not long ago that I didn’t want to be “mad” at anyone anymore. Life is too short. I think I need to take that to heart for myself, to be a little kinder to me. I also need to make myself and my work a priority.

I did more work on the Iris box. It still isn’t complete, I’m waiting for some antique stain on the top to dry. I am also experimenting with something I read about on Pinterest. It is a technique to turn regular printer paper copies of my work into canvas prints. I am posting one of a painting I did based on a very old botanical drawing. I had some success with this first one, but I tried three others that were not quite as successful. I wasted a lot of time and materials. I’m not giving up. I like the first one, so I’ll have to try again tomorrow.6 7 (16)

When Have I Suffered Enough For My Art?

It’s OK to laugh now. I mean at me and the things I am about to reveal about myself. In the several weeks of blogging that I have done it has mostly been confined to my artistic troubles. I have let in little glimpses of myself beyond that, but it occurred to me that maybe people might want to read something a little more uplifting, well not exactly uplifting, but it might just give you cause to do that laughing I deemed permissible. For today’s project I decided to work on a small table. I’ll go into the details of it momentarily, except for now to say  that it involved using a wood burner, and it inspired tonight’s blog.

When I was twelve I slit my wrist. Before you gasp in horror let me tell you it wasn’t intentional. Crafty, artistic child that I was, I was in the process of trying to make a present for my working mother. I don’t remember exactly what I was making, but we can all assume it was a project from Highlight’s Magazine, I was an avid reader, and for those of you who are old enough to remember, I still quote Goofus and Gallant. I was cutting a bleach bottle in half with an open blade, it got stuck on the seam so I did what any brainiac would do, I slashed hard at it while holding it in my other hand. My parents were at work, so my big sister put a rubber band on my wrist to stop the bleeding. (She was a freshly turned fourteen year-old, how would she know?) Fortunately my dad came home shortly after that and took me to the emergency room. Two hours later with a butterfly bandage, because it was too late for stitches, and an interrogation by the police officer on duty who I had to convince I wasn’t trying to kill myself, I had for the first time officially suffered for my art. I bring this up because today while using my wood burner I turned to Dan and said that I couldn’t believe my parents gave me a wood burner for Christmas that same year. They gave a burning hot, searing weapon to their daughter, the daughter who accidentally slit her wrist, the daughter who had a gap between her front teeth until she tripped over her sister and smashed her face on the sidewalk, the same girl who can’t tumble, failed swimming lessons, can’t roller skate and didn’t figure out how to ride a bike until she was nine. Did anyone ever get the toy where you poured paint on a spinning device similar to a record player? I got it, spun the paint all over my bed. Stepped on a tube of acrylic paint in my teenage bedroom and shot hot pink across the olive-green carpet. I swear I have no fingerprints, they are all attached to the hot glue that I have had to pull off my burning fingers. My dad’s favorite story to tell about me to anyone willing to listen (and even those who don’t want to listen) is that I failed Phys Ed in high school. It’s true, of course my P.E. teacher is a dead ringer for the witch in the Wizard of Oz, I kid you not, I’ve got the yearbooks to prove it. Then there is of course my six knee surgeries. Tripped over a vacuum cleaner and fell down a flight of stairs, fell off a ladder, (twice) tried to hang a kitchen curtain, you get the idea. (Although Dan said he likes to tell people I did it pole dancing. Which might be possible if I could actually get on a pole) What I want to know is if suffering makes your art better, then why aren’t my paintings at the Getty yet?

Now that you all know just how pathetic I can be, I will tell you where I’m not. I took this five dollar table that I bought at a yard sale and am in the process of turning it into something I love. (I have a before photo. I’m not sure where in my pictures it is right now, but I promise to post it when I put up the finished table tomorrow) I had two ideas for it. One would have turned it into something for a kid’s room, but I went instead with an idea based on a piece of vintage fabric. Dan painted the base black for me. On the top I wood burned a floral design that I am painting with those Martha Stewart Pearl paints I mentioned before. I love, love, love them! It looks like inlaid Mother Of Pearl. I still need to draw two more of the flowers for the top and burn them. It is painstaking and time-consuming, but I love the finished look. When I am finished with the flowers I am going to add a light coat of stain.

It’s been a good day, and I only burned myself once!