Beginning The Goodbye

I think I might just see the end in sight. As I said the other day, I’ve been dragging my feet, or in my case, my knee. I didn’t want to move, but as often happens, life sometimes makes our choices for us, this one wasn’t mine to choose. I believe we will be for sale by Wednesday. The last few details to be finished in the coming days. The endless weeks of primping my house as if she were going to her first prom are coming to an end. Freshly painted, immaculately clean (OK, so the cat hair tumbleweeds can be an issue), and dressed to the nines. I’m like a proud mother sending my girl off to the dance, and as any mother can tell you it’s never easy, except this time it will be me leaving my nest behind. I will worry and fret that she is loved and cared for in the same way I did. There has been much life lived in this house. My daughter was married from it, my son grew up in it, both Dan and I lost a parent while living in it. We found security within its walls as our life fell apart. As long as we had our home we felt that everything would be OK.  We celebrated our love and marriage of twenty-five years in it. When we left Chicago (actually the Village of Lindenhurst), where we bought our first home, we left behind a piece of our hearts as well as a sneaky reminder of us. Dan carved our names into the bottom of a post he installed between the living room and dining room, and had the kids sign as well. It remains to be seen if we will leave something so tangible here, but we will leave the ghost of us in its walls . The laughter, the tears, the heartaches, successes, and so much love, are the essence of what a home should be, and they are here, and in our hearts and minds. I only wish for those who follow the same kind of bond, the same kind of love, the same kind of precious memories that make a house a home. I will miss this place, my beautiful garden, but most of all I will treasure the memories that were created here.

 

I have made much of how I will miss my garden. I was looking through old photos tonight and thought I would share what our vision created.  A before and after, an engagement party for Jessica and John that we held there, and finally one garden project that will travel with us. The table that Dan and I built together. We will have to build a new garden around it.

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Back In The Saddle Again

It has been six days again. I know I said I would post twice a week, but much going on in my life and no time to write. Our daughter heads East later this week, lots to pack for her, and the Chicago Blackhawks are in the playoffs, so of course that takes precedence…We actually found a local pizza restaurant, a franchise from Chicago, and honestly it felt like being back home when we went to watch the games. Chicago is full of little neighborhood bars, the kind where everyone knows everyone. This is much the same. It felt nice and nostalgic, and of course the hockey and deep dish pizza weren’t bad either.

My cheesy title tonight refers to yet another tabletop for our bookstore. I had posted one some months back for little girls, a checkerboard with fairies on it. Tonight it is all about the boys. I had an idea, and I am happy to say it came to fruition beautifully. A western themed board, which is particularly appropriate here in Temecula. This is a town from the Old West. Another unfinished piece from the home improvement store. Preliminary sketches on the first pic.

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Now the finished wood burned piece.

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And finally a shot of the finished piece.

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I’m really enjoying these pieces. I love the effect of the wood burning and the pearl paint (although my burnt fingertips would say otherwise!), the plan is to continue to work towards the business, and in the process the furniture. As much hand painted by me as possible.

No complaints tonight. I was right, Dan was right, working makes me happy. I feel my stress melting away with every piece, and that is a very good thing.

Finding My Way Back…Once Again

I was going to name this post “Did You Miss Me?” The truth is that I’m missing me. The year I spent on my artistic project and blog had re-energized my creative self. It had, as I expressed before, become a lifeline, but then I let go. I allowed the waves of misery, depression, sadness, and self-doubt take over my life. It has now been almost fourteen months since Dan lost his job. There is an interview on the horizon, and it looks good, but I think the hope has been drained out of me. Our plans for the business are still alive, just far more complicated than we had anticipated. And now for the positive. I refuse to give in.  I kicked myself in the backside (which would be quite an accomplishment if I could actually do it), I decided to focus on what I can do in the midst of this beyond my control situation. I realized not only had it been days and days since I posted on this blog, but also that I hadn’t done one artistic project in the process. In fact I have three projects all started in the last six weeks that are languishing in my studio. Yesterday I was adding items to our etsy shop when inspiration struck. A Majolica plate that I was on the verge of listing spoke to me. Last year I posted two table projects I had painted. As it turns out both will be part of the furniture for our shop, but it is a cafe/bookstore therefore I need more tables. I ran to the home improvement store and grabbed a circular wooden tabletop. Using my plate as an inspirational starting point I sketched out the design, grabbed my wood burner, and went to work. When I was finished with the burning (I still don’t have full feeling in my finger tip), I used my Martha Stewart Pearl, and Martha Stewart Metallic to paint my waterlily design. Dan and I decided that we didn’t want the entire table to be painted, but that we liked the look of one of my other pieces where the pearl paint was set off by stained wood. I think we were right. I’m very happy with how the tabletop looks. A little touch up tomorrow when the stain is dry, and a mission will to be to find just the right piece to create the bottom.

Today felt good. It’s time to grab the lifeline, time to get back to what kept my head above water, art. My lifelong best friend, the one thing that has always been there for me. There is also my husband, Dan, the guy on the other end of the rope pulling me back in. He reminded me how focused I was while I was involved in last years project. Good days and bad I worked, maybe not always my best work, but I created every single day. So here is the commitment, it’s to myself, minimum twice a week for posting. As for art, something creative every single day. Unfinished work, new work, things for the business. No more feeling lost when what I need to find myself is right here in my hands.

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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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Oops!

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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Stretched Thin

I spent the day juggling projects. The show that I’m in is only a little over a week away. I am hoping to make some much-needed cash. Trouble is I started on one piece, ran to get something to use on that, saw something else I could paint, grabbed that, realized the color I was using could work on another piece so I threw that in the mix, then had a light-bulb moment and remembered another piece I wanted to do….Help! I need to be stopped. In all I worked on seven pieces today and finished none. Tomorrow it’s time to focus and finish at least two of the pieces I started today. As I’ve said before, and as the tagline of my blog indicates, I had hoped to get through a lot of my supplies over the course of a year. I certainly went through paper, and bought more paper, paints as well, but there are so many other things I haven’t even touched in the last year. Most of what I haven’t touched are craft supplies. I really focused on my fine arts. I guess what I’m realizing is that the crafting was really a means for me to keep my hand in it artistically. It was my lifeline when I wasn’t feeling confident to pursue what I really wanted to do, but had to have a creative outlet. It helped to keep me sane. Just one more way this year of discovery and work is paying off.  Between my studio and our garage I came across much more “stuff” than I realized I had. I hope to produce as much work as possible between now and April 5th. It would be nice to make some money, but it would also be nice to clear some space in my studio, and in my head as well for what I really want to do.

Tonight one of today’s maniacally produced pieces, not completely finished of course, but well on its way. It’s an unfinished storage box that I bought years ago at Ikea. It comes unassembled, Dan was kind enough to put it together for me. Normally I would have painted the piece, but I also have way too much scrapbook paper and decided to go with a combination of decoupage and paint. I also have a few other ideas to add to it, but I really love mixing patterns, and I’m happy with where its going.

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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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Motherly Advice

I am a woman, I am a wife, a daughter, a friend, and an artist. I am also a mother. I think a fairly decent one. So often on this blog I joke around and poke fun, almost always at myself, but tonight I am giving maternal advice to all those young artists out there. It is simple. WEAR A MASK! I have touched on this subject a little bit in the past, but tonight I am very serious. I never wore a mask. I sprayed dangerous chemicals indoors. I painted with semi gloss paint with improper ventilation. I have worked in garages, in basements, even in my studio without doing things the right way. I had an infection in my mouth many, many years ago from holding one paintbrush in my mouth while using another in my hand. I have wiped excess paint into my clothing, essentially wearing chemicals, all because I was too involved in the process to think about the consequences. My Dad yelled at me. He was a house painter who had gone through hazmat training. He told me if he ever came in my house again and it smelled of spray paint that he would be really upset with me. Dan has repeatedly warned me for years. Did I listen? No, stupidity and stubbornness rule the day. I didn’t want to stop what I was doing in order to take the correct precautions, now I pay the price. Last night I did a not so great piece of art. Why? Because I felt awful, because I spent the day wheezing. Last night Dan made me laugh as we went to bed and ended up running for the inhaler. I am an extremely intelligent woman who has made some really stupid choices. I have spent the last week with a simple head cold, but for me any illness goes straight to my respiratory system, which by the way wasn’t so great to begin with. I was the victim of cold and damp Chicago winters for many years. I’ve had bronchitis more times than I care to say. I had pneumonia last June. I can no longer be in the same room with a flower that has a strong fragrance. The detergent aisle at the grocery store is an issue. If it seems like I am belaboring my point, I am doing so intentionally, I don’t want anyone else to make my mistakes. I have a passion for art, but I also enjoy breathing (I just can’t go without making at least one semi serious joke). I woke breathless this morning, and struggled on and off through the day. No piece of art ever produced will be worth your health. Learn from me, just consider me your “artistic mom”.

As I said, today was a struggle. I began work on a piece, but as I have often done before I won’t be finishing it until tomorrow. Not enough oxygen slows me down.

 

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Progress Report

I think I may have dodged the flu bullet. Feeling much better today.

It’s been ten months since I began to clean out my “artistic fridge”. I bet you’re wondering how that inventory is going. I’ve hardly made a dent. Sure I’ve done a project nearly every day, all 308 of them, but I still have a lot of stuff. (Some of which are finished projects, still dragging my behind on selling) I have more than you can possibly imagine. I not only fill my studio until it is busting at the seams, but also both our two car and our single car garage, projects in the garden, and on the side of the house. If I died tomorrow my children would be buried alongside me in mountains of “stuff”. Today I began an attempt to rectify that. I am working on not one, but three projects today. All of them involve upcycling, or recycling pieces that I have gathered along the way one. I began working on a really cool old window, and a small door that at one time had two glass panels, one is still intact, the other was missing when I got it. Finally a very small piece of wood that was in the garage. Too small to be of any real use, but those who know me well are familiar with the sound of “I can do something with that.”, coming out of my mouth. I just hate to throw away anything that can be used. Here’s the plan.

Window number one. I broke the last of the glass panels out. I used a putty knife to get rid of all the loose chipped paint. I then sanded, and sanded, and sanded, trying to get to the nooks and crannies. For this one I believe I will be turning it into a very useful mirror. A mirror in the large center panel, and for the side panels, some bulletin board type pieces covered in fabric, and some hooks on the bottom. I may have to add a piece for that. Something that can be used in a bathroom or bedroom. The hooks for hanging necklaces and such.

Small door project. Again with some kind of useful bottom, possibly one of those boards with the ribbons that allows for tucking mementos in. For the glass part of the door I ordered two of my photos from Paris in poster size today. They won’t be ready until tomorrow, but I will choose between the two to put under the glass.

My small piece of wood. As soon as I laid eyes on it I knew. I’ve been pinning vintage book covers on Pinterest. I painted a watercolor the other night loosely based on one. This piece is the perfect size to replicate one of the covers. You can see them on my board “Books By Any Cover”. Incredibly beautiful work. I spent another twenty minutes or so sanding this piece as well.

Only sanded beginnings to share tonight, so I’ll post one of my photos as well. A photo I took last year in San Diego, just a reminder to those of you still in the midst of winter’s grip that spring will be here eventually!IMG_5558

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