December 22, 2011

Bah Humbugging as a Sport

Is it just me?  Everyone on the roads and in all of the shops seem to be less than courteous or even civilized these days.  The holidays used to bring out the best in many people, but these days it seems to bring out the worst.  While running errands yesterday, I can say with all confidence that I felt like the only person left on planet Earth that used the words, "Excuse me" or "Pardon me."  Seriously.  After one errand, I encountered a family with elders, one of which was clearly experiencing a medical emergency.  I called for help and stayed until help arrived, offering my cell phone for their use while we waited for paramedics.  How sad that they seemed surprised to receive help!  I spent the rest of the day in holiday traffic, letting bedraggled shoppers trying desperately to get out of parking lots and into the clogged roads go ahead of me, hoping they'll pass it on and be kinder on the road.

Today I am going to be busy shopping for holiday meals, wrapping gifts and enjoying holiday music playing loudly.  I may even bake some cookies (or buy some and smear flour on my face to make it look like I did again :-)  There's got to be at least one house in the neighborhood where the occupants aren't trying to perfect their bah humbugging skills.  No art, but lots of time on mom duty.

December 14, 2011

The Legs Have No Bird

My lovely husband is coming home after a week in China and I decided I should really do a little more deeper cleaning than usual to perk him up when he walks in the door.  If I run out of time, I may employ the trick of spilling and spraying cleaning products all over the place to make it smell brilliantly spotless, regardless what it looks like.  Boys are dumb and it has worked in the past.  Bahaha!  It's like tossing flour on your face and spilling some on the counter to make it look like you slaved over dinner ;-)

So the bird legs still sit on my artsy desk with no bird, but the cat's bathroom is free of litter all over the floor and I've vacuumed an entire school of Goldfish crackers from the living room floor.  Sigh.  Such is the life of a mom trying to be an artist.  There was yet another battle for the crackers, with two "kids," aged almost 17 and 26, running around the house, screaming and laughing and stealing the gigantic box of crackers from each other, applying graffiti in an effort to "tag" the carton as their own.  It was the silliest thing that I ever thought (the key word, thought) I got on video.  There's always that darned little button I forget to press sometimes....

December 13, 2011

Gotta Love Pavlov

Yesterday I actually managed to get some artwork done!  OK, I'm not sure if it qualifies as art if I'm using a pattern.  The intensity of focus is something I've missed.  It takes much longer to turn two pieces of floral wire and a bunch of ridiculously sticky floral tape into bird legs than I had anticipated.  It's a good thing I had the garage door closed (it was freezing and I had my little space heater zooming) because I think I had my tongue sticking out to one side, clearly aiding me in my bird-leg making efforts, as I focused on how to make proper legs with too-short wire.  It would have been embarrassing to have been spotted by the neighbors looking like that.  In any event, I enjoyed plowing through my stash of fabric and finding the perfect trio for the project.  Not everything from the indoor studio has made it to the garage studio, so I found myself muttering a few choice words under my breath each and every time I realized that something I needed was in the house.  Did I mention that it was pouring rain?  And that there is no path from the garage to the house free of said rain?

Today I had hoped to clean up for a while (my children are savages) and then move on to the next stage of bird making.  There were a multitude of distractions - the charming Egyptian gentleman that lives around the corner feels compelled to come to the door and share a bit of his religious beliefs with me in exchange for letting him pick all of the oranges he wants.  Does one get assigned a special place in you-know-where when one ducks and hides after hearing his car pull up?  I just wanted to get some art work done!

Then I found myself having to actually holster an air horn (ok, I don't have an actual holster; the front pocket of my jeans served me well).  One of my two cats has discovered the kitty version of carpet sliders.  Carpet sliders are the most magnificent invention for boys named Kevin with carpeted homes.  They are made of flat pieces of plastic with velcro straps and are worn like very unattractive shoes, then the boy runs and stops so as to skid across the carpeting.  Sox, the deviant cat, started in the living room and absolutely bolted across the house, leaping to the dining room table that is complete with a lovely red holiday tablecloth.  He was sliding at great speed, and I actually watched him spin like an ice skater, making horrible scratches with his back claws in the wood.  I lost my mind, yelled, blasted the air horn and watched him bolt.  Hiding behind the sofa while I returned the tablecloth to its proper state, that rotten cat waited until I left the room, wound himself up and did it again.  And again.  And again.  There has been a lot of hollering, blasting of the air horn, and a cat doing a good impression of Fred Flintstone.  In order to save the dining room table, I've propped the air horn in the middle of it.  Pavlov had it right.  So far, so good.

But no progress on the bird or the art journal.  Without any kids home for more than an hour, I'm going to try to get something done.

Stupid cat.

P.S.  The air horn works great for arguing kids.  It's a most glorious Mom tool.  :-)

December 11, 2011

Stepping Out

Moving the studio to the garage has been a mixed bag for me.  It's often noisy, and it's a serious pain in the patootie to have to shut down the big door for security purposes every time I have to go into the house to retrieve something.  My books are still in the house and, after the little puddle of water I saw inside the garage door after the sprinklers ran, I think the books are going to stay indoors.  I will say that the inconvenience does keep me from over-referencing books! 

Stepping out of the house and away from the hustle and bustle with kids, cats, televisions and phones does have its perks.  I have actually begun to make headway on my art journal.  I feel a little flummoxed by the project (am I ever happy with my own work?) but have plodded along a bit with my iTunes going on the laptop.

Today I stepped a little more out of my comfort zone and signed up for an online class with artist Susan Sorrell.  An article about her appeared in a magazine I purchased about a year ago and I must admit to returning to the article and loving the photos time and time again.  Her artwork is fun, colourful and engages a lot of the skills that I've not used for a long time such as applying embroidery and beading and applying them to fabric collage.  How exciting!

In the meantime, I continue to try to do a little something every day in my new art cave.  We'll see what I can accomplish today before the rain starts.   I've got this much done - the journal stitched, the pages painted and the first few bits of paper collage started, all with the glare of the light coming in from the garage door windows.  Whoops!

December 6, 2011

Another Day...Little Done

I had the joy (sarcasm alert) of spending the morning at the doctor's office getting an over-due peek-a-boo-oscopy.  For once I felt like the practitioner was listening to me!  I'm sure this is TMI, but several years ago I had bilateral breast reduction surgery in an effort to qualm the never ending migraine headaches.  It was a miracle!  I haven't had one since.  However, I was left with what has yet to be identified, initially thought to be a hematoma near an incision site.  Eleven years later, it's still there and I think it's bigger.  I've expressed concern to several physicians over the years, and they've all blown it off telling me it was probably scar tissue.  Probably?  Really?  We're going to guess, cross our fingers and swing chickens and hope for the best?  So the mammogram scheduled for today was cancelled and, instead, I was referred to the breast clinic at the hospital.  I'm not going to fret, but just plug along taking control of health issues as they arise.  I've lost 42 lbs. (with a good chunk still to go) and I'm working out HARD several days a week trying to improve my health.  Needless to say, the elliptical isn't in the studio, so guess what I'm NOT getting done.  Sigh.

Today I decided that I won't get any art done, but I will get my son to the sports shop to order his Letterman jacket, having lettered in marching band, and get the house really tidy so that tomorrow I can focus on art for the entire day.  I am committing to looking away from any "how to" book or magazine article and just play, going to the next step on my art journal.  The Mom job is certainly taking a front seat these days. 

Wish me luck.

November 30, 2011

Delays and Distraction

It's almost 2:30 p.m. and I haven't accomplished much today.  I did work out for an hour and a half, distressed that I still have a muffin top.  Well, more than a muffin top, but I continue to hope that some miracle will occur and I'll get off of the elliptical thinner than when I got on the beast.  I need one of those trick mirrors like the ones in the dressing room at Nordstrom.  The dresses always look great during the trying-on phase, then my picture is taken at an event wearing said dress and somehow the camera added 30 pounds and a puffier muffin.  Ugh.  There are no skivvies tight enough.

I'm distracted by the holidays.  I love the holidays, but it's hard to focus on anything like art and impossible to catch up on housework.  The loss of my studio to my "boomerang" daughter also means the loss of the sacred hiding place for Christmas gifts as they are delivered.  This year, most of the gifts are larger than one can shove under a bed or hide in a shared closet.  As long as we're still fetching the mountains of holiday decorations from the garage, that isn't exactly a safe haven either.  It's good that no one in our family wants their holiday surprise spoiled, so no one is hunting or snooping.  Maybe the best thing is to find time to wrap gifts, a specific paper for each recipient so that I can avoid tell-tale name tags, and "hide" them under a blanketed table in the pseudo-studio, aka the garage.

My distractability has caused more than a pause in being creative.  I'm so glad I turned down the request to paint a cradle (for free, no less).  Now and again when I find myself in the garage, I also find myself sitting at the desk and slopping a little more paint on my art journal.  I had hoped to finish the collage part by last week but, alas, have been constantly distracted and hit snags in the schedule.  My goal today - get in there as soon as the yard dudes are finished blowing dirt all over the front of my house and collage just one page!  I need to make something.

November 18, 2011

Loneliness Stinks

Three and half years have passed since I left a fabulous job at the hospital to be a stay-at-home mom and artist.  In that time, I've done too little.  Worse, I've lost nearly all human contact and, for whatever reason, am really struggling with that issue this week.  The holidays are always fun in our home, though sparsely attended.  Usually the table is set for just my husband and, if I'm lucky, both of my kids are present and accounted for.  We play goofy board games, watch seasonal movies and just have a lot of fun goofing off.  Last year I turned 50 and that meant a MOB at the table, with family flying in from all corners of the country.  What fun!  But my in-laws live hundreds of miles and many states away, and my sister lives across the country and the economic environment has put quite the damper on travel for everyone.  Sigh.

So what do I do?  I feel like I did in high school.  Frequently the new kid (many times as I was a military brat), I would watch clusters of friends that had known each other for years, and I just couldn't seem to wiggle my way into the crowd.  What would it have been like to go to school with the same kids for more than three years?  I'm very outgoing and have a lot of fun talking with people, so it isn't a matter of being shy.  My husband's staff insist that I, "the party," am included in their office lunches so that they spend the hour (plus) goofing and laughing, so it's not that I'm dull.  And contrary to the tone of my blog, my spill-my-guts place, I'm quite the goof in person.  So what is it?!?  I just always feel like the odd girl out.  I have no artsy or craftsy friends locally, as I've fussed about before.  They've got to be out there somewhere.  I'm losing my sanity being alone so much, holding full-fledged conversations with cats.  THAT is the true sign of insanity.

While I've joked about placing an advertisement in the "Want" ads for artsy friends, there's a part of me that is thinking there's got to be a way to do such a thing.  Where do I begin?

Here kitty, kitty, kitty.  I need a chat.

November 13, 2011

Moving Day

The mom and artist tangled today.  On the artist front, it was with mixed emotions that I started moving the contents of my studio from what had been my son's small (8'x10') bedroom when he was younger (he now resides in what had been big sister's room when she was home) to the garage.  On the mom side, my "Boomerang" daughter will be moving back home in December, but she spends so many nights here already that I thought it would be nice to start making the indoor studio more like a special room for her.  We don't know how long she will be with us, though I imagine it will likely be a year or so.  She is struggling with her first semester of graduate school after ending a long relationship, wrapping up a temporary position and applying like mad for a full time position.  Trying to find a job in this economy is a nightmare.  So for now, she'll be back home and I'll enjoy having her company.  We're going to do some serious bridal-tv-watching together.  The boys in the house aren't going to know what hit them.  Bahaha!

The new digs
Trying to make due in the garage is going to be a challenge.  The good news is that I get terrific internet reception on my Mac.  I regret I'll be losing my fabulous wide screen digital tv, but I'm NOT going to pay to have a cable line dropped in the garage for a year.  I can always stream on the internet if I need to hear human voices, or pop a DVD into the computer.  What the heck, I'll just work with the garage door open and chat with neighbors as they pass on their walks.  I may make new friends :-)  It will be a while before they realize they'd better change their route if they want to make good time on their trek.  Ooh, maybe I'll put a coffee pot out there and lure new friends in with the smell of freshly brewed espresso.  I papered the walls with my inspiration images, put up my cork boards and white board, set up my Bernina and connected all things electrical.  I'm good to go.

There are likely to be some distractions outside, such as things like the Goodyear blimp.  I was thinking, "That is the loudest, slowest plane in the universe!" when I stepped outside the garage and saw this visitor passing by...

In any event, not a day goes by that I don't appreciate all that is good in life.  I'm only 12 years younger than my mother was when she passed away and remind myself every day that she dreamed a lot, but didn't DO.  I want to do.  OK, I know that's bad grammar, but it's true.  I had a great day this last week dodging the phone, computer and television and look forward to another day like that tomorrow.  Time to work on a holiday project.  Woohoo!

November 9, 2011

Studio Time Turned Errand Time

I had good intentions.  First, I find NO paper in the house for the printer.  Four people use the paper and printer and not one goober could wave the flag to tell me that they'd taken the last of it, so errand #1 was to get paper.  Then my distractible self saw Cost Plus and I just KNEW there was something I intended to pick up there, but couldn't remember what so I wandered through the store, growing increasingly stressed at the sight of all of the Christmas goodies and the long mental list of things I need to do to get ready for Christmas, so I ran out with empty hands.  Then there was the trip to the grocery store for specific items for a wonderful dinner.  During the grocery trip, my husband called while on a break from stressful board meetings to say that he wants to go out for dinner tonight and reminded me that the daughter for whom I planned this particular dinner has grad school classes tonight.  Duh.  I should have remembered.  Of course it's just as well since the majority of ingredients I needed were either unavailable or inedible.  I ask myself, how can I live in CA and not be able to find a single avocado in the store that I can eat in the next two days?  They're like rocks!  Grrr.  Oh, and I was reminded that yes, there ARE shirts to pick up at the cleaners.  I feel like the maid.

Everyone is on notice.  Tomorrow I will not answer the phone or check in on Facebook.  I am plotting a couple of art projects that are just for the family, so there's no pressure to produce a marketable anything.  I am going to take the great advice I've been offered in the last day and just make something, be creative and have fun.  THEN I'll go to another store and try to find a stupid avocado.

November 8, 2011

Another Brain Freeze

What is wrong with me?  I have the urge to be creative, but sit here with my brain permanently in "park" mode and unable to move ahead.  I started thinking about making holiday gifts, but then I wonder what I could make that someone would actually want to receive.  I think friends and family like my quilts, but it's November (reminder: start making quilts in January!), so that's not a real option.  I look at all the magazines and "how to" books that I've got that cover every medium known to mankind, but the first thing I think is, "What would someone do with this???"

Yesterday I read a blog written by someone that reminded me of myself.  She loves being artsy and craftsy and is drawn to publications about creativity, in awe of the super talents and prolific work of so many others.  Yet, like me, she feared looking too closely or spending too much time exploring others' work for fear that her own ideas and art would be influenced by the work of another artist.  Then there's the part of me that is like a deer in headlights.  I'm surrounded by artistic materials and, more often than not, have the time to be creative but do nothing.  It's depressing.

Today I will at least explore some resources for artistic prompts.  I'm wasting time, wasting opportunity and need a nudge.  OK, I need a really big kick and a shove.

November 7, 2011

A Dream or a Plan?

While I rarely watch bad daytime television, I had the TV on while folding laundry (so much for making art) the other day, unable to find the remote control to change the channel.  I was about to turn it off when I heard Dr. Phil ask someone if they had a dream or a plan, and said that the difference between the two was that a plan has a timeline. A plan means setting dates and deadlines and then checking in to see if progress is being made.  I'm grateful for my most artsy friend Debbie, whom I can fuss about the frustration and who always has kind and positive words to get me back on track.

What can I do to turn my dreams into a plan?  I guess it's time to work on that timeline, or at least on establishing the next single step in that timeline in the hope of creating a real artsy life and (hopefully) business.  Deadlines and I have never gotten along in the sandbox, but it's time to try.  If at first we don't succeed, it's a bad idea to keep doing the same thing over and over again that failed!

November 2, 2011

Published! Sort of....

Last year (or was it the year before?) a friend sent me a link with a video featuring the sketchbook project by the Art House Co-op in Brooklyn.  While visiting their site, I discovered an upcoming project, a project about which I agonized (because that's what I do best) with respect to participating.  I butched up, signed up and participated.  Now after a long, long, LOOONGGG wait, the book for the project has arrived.

Every participant was given three words for which they were to produce a visual definition.  The words were submitted by the general public, and were selected randomly.  One of the three canvases of each participant was to be reproduced in a booklet containing these digital images.  They chose my canvas illustrating the word "atmosphere."  I think there's a picture in the way-back-pages of my blog.  Anyway, the book arrived today and I'm so excited.  It's silly given that all I had to do was participate to be published, but I don't care!  It's a book and it has my name in it, so I'm have a celebratory glass of chardonnay.  Like I needed an excuse ;-)

October 30, 2011

To Etsy or Not To Etsy?

When I left my full time job at the hospital a whopping three and a half years ago, many of my co-workers expressed concern for my sanity. They know that I'm a social beast and inquired about how I would occupy my time and fulfill my need to interact with real people. My expectation, as silly as it seems now, was that I would create art during the hours my son was in school and be super mom and carpool queen when he was home. I had discovered and wanted to open a shop within six months of having left the job, sure I could do that with nothing but time on my hands. That is NOT what happened.

What did happen was that I discovered that as a family, we have way too much stuff. That stuff is constantly being left where it doesn't belong, or it's dirty and needs cleaning, or that it needs to be repaired, returned, or replaced. I live the life of an around-the-clock personal assistant to the clan and spend too little time making art.

Yesterday was my birthday. My husband asked me now that I had reached the age of (choke) 51, had I any grand words of wisdom to share about what I felt about life, what I had learned, or some other silly thing. Actually, I had been thinking about it. My mother died at age 63, my younger sister just days before turning 47, my paternal grandmother in her late 60's, along with a few others that have rattled my emotional cage. I've spent too much of the little time we get in life planning or thinking about what I wanted to do, but not really doing much. It's time to revisit plans for the future.

With the success of the sale of the rocking chair and quilt, I thought again about the possibility of opening an etsy shop. It's incredibly inexpensive, the site is so well known that marketing isn't an issue (for the site as a whole, not for an individual shop), and I wouldn't have to be wed to a single type of art. I haven't made up my mind yet, but I have given it serious thought and spent a ton of time looking at prospective "competition." What I see are thousands of people who did more than talk about it and who are enjoying creating and selling their creations.

Here's hoping for just a pinch more courage.

October 21, 2011

The Jacked Studio

I'm sharing space that is too small to actually share. The studio has been jacked by my daughter. I'm still trying to figure out the source of the sand on the desk given that we live 30 miles from the beach. Sigh.

This week has been chaotic trying to juggle the Mom stuff and the artist stuff. On the mom side, my son's German teacher organizes and chaperones a trip to Germany every year during Spring Break, taking high school students from two schools. The parent meeting was not permitted on the school campus this year (new laws regarding not being able to discuss money that isn't an official school fund raiser, blah blah blah, and it's not an official school trip), so, of course, we volunteered our home. That was before we were notified that the electric company would be shutting off power for the day. It wouldn't have been such a big problem had the electric company not run into complications, extending the "power back up" time from 4 p.m. to a predicted 8 p.m. This with about 20 parents expected at 6:30 and the curbs on both sides of the entire block coned off and marked "No Parking." Oh, and having no lights. Ack! Thank goodness the power was restored an hour before the meeting. I had just enough time to bake cookies (yeah for frozen dough blobs from a school fundraiser!) and entertain the parents while we waited for the habitually-late teacher. He did not disappoint, showing up about 1/2 hour late. What a day.

This was topped with the chaos (an increasingly frequent condition at home) of getting my son and his friend registered for Blizzcon and get the name on my ticket changed to that of his friend. Moms who hear screams of, "For the Horde!" and other World of Warcraft of StarCraft blabberings from their teens know what I mean. I was surrounded by gaming geeks and nerds for hours. It was most amusing. But it's done, they're gaming their brains out and I have the sandy studio desk to myself for a while. To top it off, all these geeks get to enjoy a closing concert by the Foo Fighters. OK, NOW I'm jealous!

On the art side, I have to admit that I'm suddenly obsessive about the idea of generating more quilts. I'm exploring techniques for incorporating images and/or paint and other medium in an art quilt, plus looking at just fun modern quilts. I always wonder, what do the more prolific artists and craft-persons do with everything they make??? I'm still working (slooowwwly) on my art journal that I'm going to swap with my sister for completion and return. We know what we're doing with those. But what do people do with their art journals when they make dozens of them? Or paintings to numerous for the limited numbers of walls in the house? I picture the most colourful episode EVER of Hoarders. It's funny, I haven't seen a single episode that included the home of an artist or crafty mama. Hmmm. We must keep the studios well hidden. ;-)

Time to make a mess and enjoy a little solitude!

October 17, 2011

We should all be so colourful!

I found this video on Rice (I can't figure out how to type the "e" with the umlaut over it) Freeman-Zachary's blog and will assume that the option of embedding the video allows for sharing it along with credit for the source! What inspiration for creativity!

SUE KREITZMAN - Artist Profile - Short Documentary from Pat Grimm on Vimeo.

What do I do now?

On the artists side: I'm finished.  The quilt is finished, the rocking chair is finished and all that's left is a lot of mess for me to clean up, paints to put away, and a dining room to return to its original purpose.  The house is quiet and there is nothing to do but clean.  Oh joy.

Finishing art projects can come with as big an emotional let down as finishing a fantastic book.  I feel a sense of  melancholy at the conclusion of a big project or deadline that makes me grumble under my breath and resist starting a new project (or a new book, for that matter).  Is it just me?  At least it's only mid-October and I have time to plot holiday projects for a change instead of waiting until Thanksgiving and freaking out about how there just isn't enough TIME to plan and execute any handmade gifts.  Shame on me for feeling grumpy about having the luxury of time with no hectic schedule. 

On the mom side:  My teenage son has an official girlfriend, as in he introduces her by name, followed by, "My girlfriend."  I am seeing less of him, more of her (and she is quite the cutie whom I've know for a couple of years, so I'm just find with that), and more of his peck pecking at the tiny keyboard on his cell phone when he's in his room.  Now we begin the battle of getting him to turn off all entertainment devices during homework and study time which should last longer than the entertainment time.  I won't hold my breath.

In addition, my adult daughter has semi-moved back home and occupies the studio when residing here.  We are so delighted to have her around more and happy to be available to help her during a difficult transition in life, but it does make for real challenges in being creative.  What the heck, I went years and years without a formal studio.  The real challenge is in figuring out how to get to my art supplies without stepping on her calculator or on the cell phone charging on the floor, in addition to figuring out what the heck the sand on the desk is all about.  As I said, I've got time to clean.  Sigh.

This would be a good time to take a cup of tea out on the deck, grab a few magazines,  and maybe plot a few holiday gift projects before I get out the vacuum cleaner and shovel.  Yup, I think I'll need a shovel.

October 12, 2011

One Down, One to Go...

The quilt is finished and turned over to the Boys & Girls Club for the auction.  The boss lady happened to be there when I turned it in and she loved the front.  Then she flipped it over and exclaimed, unfiltered, "Ooh, I don't like the background fabric.  Not my style." and flipped it back to the front.  I laughed and told her no worries, just don't bid on it!  I was pleased with myself for blowing off a negative comment and was completely unaffected by it.  That's a huge step for me!  What the heck, it wasn't my design, so I just didn't take it personally.  The workmanship was FAB if I do say so myself ;-)

Now the rocking chair is all I have to finish.  It's actually coming along and I think I'll be finished within an hour.

What am I going to do with myself with the projects complete?  Time to return to the art journal.  Next!

October 2, 2011

Learning On The Job

On the art side: Trying to improve on basic skills is fine, but waiting until I'm in the middle of a project that will be donated for the auction wasn't my best plan ever.  I found a book with the simplest tip ever for improving the appearance of the back side of the quilt (doing the free motion quilting for the first time - eeek), but unfortunately I found that tip after I finished the quilting.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

The chair is what is giving me nightmares right now.  Once again, I struggle with the expectations of those who will receive the chair versus my own preferred style of painting.  I think I'm going to just stick with my own style and, again, encourage my girlfriend to tell me it sold for a bundle ;-)

In the meantime, I'm about to take a bunch of paint and just start whacking away at the chair, knowing I can wipe quickly or cover over it if I feel the need.  We'll see what it looks like at 5 p.m.  This is Phase II so far, on pause for a while since I used a glazing medium and it needs to dry before I paint more.  Let's just hope I can keep the dopey cat off of it!  Where is my air horn?

On the mom side: At least I have the house to myself today.  My charming son planned an outing for his high school German Club, but didn't plan well enough.  They arrived at the museum to see the Tim Burton exhibit, not taking into account that it's October and the show closes at the end of the month.  The parking lots are full, and they can't get in to see the exhibit for more than two hours.  Imagine a bunch of high school kids cruising the fine arts museum to kill time.  I've chaperoned these trips in the past.  I've never seen so many boys giggling about all manner of anatomy in various forms of art.  It's most amusing.

With my daughter living in my studio a few days a week, I'm back to having art supplies from one end of the house to another, working wherever I find space.  Yesterday I was sewing at the kitchen table (which is agonizingly high for sewing).  Today I'm painting on the dining room table.  With my buzzer phobia, painting outdoors is just not an option for me.  I spend more time screaming and running around and looking like a lunatic, getting very little painting accomplished.  How embarrassing that all the neighbors know when I paint outside just from the girly screams coming from my deck.  Dumb buzzers.

September 18, 2011

Brain Freeze

Not the kind you get when you eat something really cold (which I've never actually experienced myself), but the kind of brain freeze one gets mid-project that brings the work to a grinding halt.  Am I fussing again?  About the same issue? The suggestion of "whimsical" and mention of fairies has still got me thrown for a loop and thinking I'm headed the wrong direction.  I actually started cruising the internet for images of stupid fairies that would prompt my imagination, and my husband stopped behind me and said, "No, no, no!  Do what you were going to do!"  Clearly, thick skin continues to elude me and I am too easily and thoroughly influenced by the comments of others with respect to my art.

This is the dumbest thing ever.  Maybe it's time to just get the sketchbook and doodle with nothing particular in mind.  That, or go harass my son until I'm thoroughly amused and distracted from this task.

Right now the chair is coloured with the safest paint choices for a traditionally girlie chair.  I may break out in hives.  This project is feeling too far off from what I would normally produce.  Tomorrow I'll have the house to myself.  I'll crank my music (emphasis on "my") and get to work doing it my way!

Perhaps I should put down the glass of wine before I get started on Phase II.

We'll see what happens.

September 13, 2011

Guerilla Art

An article on guerilla art appeared in one of my artsy craftsy magazines a while ago, encouraging readers to create their own and share their story about what they created and where they left the art.  It might be a little challenging for me to leave an art doll lying around to be discovered without being noticed :-)

I was on a plane recently, flipping through the magazine of silly, overpriced items for sale that is in the pocket of every seat on the plane.  Well into the magazine, I stumbled on my first ever bit of "guerilla art," a funky sketch of some kind of beastie.  Passengers were encouraged to take the catalog, but I only took this one page and had to share.  I really like it and had to share.

September 4, 2011

The Mind Wanders

Today I took my husband to see the Tim Burton exhibit in Los Angeles.  This is a photo of a banner featuring "Stainboy" on the posts outside the museum.  I saw the exhibit earlier in the summer, but enjoyed it again just as much as the first time.  The sheer volume of his sketches and doodles are enough to make me think about how much better my art would be and how many more ideas I'd remember if I sketched and doodled every day.  Clearly I need to follow through on the notion of carrying a small sketch pad in my purse.

The skies have suddenly and unexpectedly turned gloomy and grey, making it too dark for me to work on painting the rocking chair.  Instead, I turned to blog surfing.  Once again, my mind zips from one thought to another, inspired by the mass of prolific bloggers willing to share what they do, with the sheer volume of work produced filling my head with ideas about new things I want to try.  I'm back at having too many ideas in my head, my brain wandering so much that I get nothing accomplished.  Time to drag out the sketch book, jot down the ideas, doodle some visual reminders of new ideas and actually move ahead with making art.

In the meantime, our charming adult daughter has some new challenges in life that will have my studio functioning as a guest room a few days a week for quite a while.  Planning my work time is going to become even more crucial now that I will be sharing the space.  The trade off is worth it; I will have more time with my daughter.  Our little family is back to four in the house these few days a week, and we're enjoying having fun family dinners at the actual dinner table in the actual dining room instead of the usual three of us lumping around the coffee table in front of a television during dinner.  Silver linings abound.

Time to doodle.

September 3, 2011

I Stink at Math!

This quilt project has turned into the biggest headache ever, either because I just can't do math or because my cutting and measuring skills simply blow.  I'm donating this quilt, buying materials while paying enormous graduate school tuition for my daughter.  The fabric is relatively expensive ($10/yd at most suppliers), so I decided to reduce the size of the squares, reducing the total size of a quilt to that of a lap quilt vs. one for a bed.  I thought I did a good job of the math, and even ran it past my math whiz of a husband and all seemed well and good.

It took quite a while to map out all of the cuts of the dozen different fabrics.  I sketched out a plan, double checked the numbers, triple checked the measurements and newly re-sized pieces, then started cutting and assembling.  As I started to square up each assembled piece, I discovered to my horror that they just didn't add up.  The "squares" aren't all squares, and the amount some of them are off is just inexplicable.  Each strip is the right size, the seams are the right size, I used a walking foot and marked the foot plate so that I wouldn't forget and slip to a standard sewing seam allowance (having spent more years making garments than anything else).  I measured carefully, cut carefully with my quilting rules and fresh rotary cutter.  What in the world did I do wrong?!?  Arghhhh!  I've made other quilts that required so much more precision (the first one ever was one of those kaleidoscope whack-and-stacks and it turned out beautiful!), and this one is just a bunch of stupid rectangles.  Seriously, what an epic failure of a job.

This big pile of lemon squares has got to become lemonade.  If I cut the squares smaller, the finished quilt will have a more modern and asymmetrical look and I think it'll work really well.  This is what the quilt was supposed to look like before I messed with the pattern.  This is NOT what it will look like when I'm finished tweaking the "squares."  I may be too humiliated to post the finished project.  I'm glad the folks at the auction will never know what it was originally to look like.  What the heck, I've never been a fan of symmetry.  It might come out even more fun.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Note to self:  Just spend the money and make the full sized quilt until math skills improve!

August 28, 2011

What a Pain

I need an ergonomic everything.  Everything aches.  My brain is cramped after trying to figure out how to resize a quilt pattern and still have it come out, then cut all those evil strips.  The pillow I stuffed behind my back keeps wiggling out the back of the chair.  It's time for some duct tape!  It's nice to still be in the studio after 4:30 p.m.  Progress!

Aside from spending time at the studio desk, I have also spent an enormous amount of time filling out forms for school for my son.  I can't imagine why, why, why we are required to fill in 87 copies of the same form on 87 different colours of paper.  I want to take a Sharpie and write, "See forms from last year.  Please just write 2011 on every page and consider me finished."  I don't know how that would fly.  Something tells me my picture would end up on the office door with a red circle and hash mark through it.

Time for a pool break followed by chardonnay and a bendy straw.

August 27, 2011

Fibbing Can be Good!

I was happily plotting the design for the rocking chair I'm painting when my friend made a comment about painting fairies or something similarly girlie.  I don't paint fairies.  In fact, I really stink at figurative painting.  If I tried, I'm sure the auction attendees would wonder who thought a troll would be a good design on a little girl's rocking chair. 

Pawing through old magazines and children's books, I searched for inspiration for a fairy or some other super girly image to get my creative juices flowing that direction, but I just can't do it.  Maybe there's a way to make polka dots look like fairies.  Ha.

What's the worst that could happen?  I bought this unfinished chair at least ten years ago and it's just been sitting in the garage gathering dust.  There's a huge stash of paint in the studio, so there's been no big investment in materials.  I just got through posting about this being one of those projects that was stress-free for me, and now I'm stressing.  Time to let it go, paint what I want and pass it along, hoping the chair finds a home with a little girl that likes it as much as I do.  So there.  That, and I won't be at the auction to stress more.  I'll imagine everyone loves it and tell my friend to make up a ridiculously huge, big fat fib of a sale price just to make me feel better.  That' works!

August 26, 2011

I'll Never Be Donna Reed.

I'm having a really good time plotting the design for the little rocking chair I'm painting and love checking the mail and finding more fabric for the quilt has arrived.  I feel like I should sport a string of pearls and kitten heels or an apron.  Just call me Betty Crocker.

Starting a new art project has often been a real challenge for me.  How often have I fussed about that dilemma?  Sitting in a studio surrounded by a million different art supplies isn't motivating and often results in time spent less productively than if I were just roaming the house and doing chores.  I have to keep in mind when I'm cursing in frustration near the studio window that there are little kids next door.  Oops.

This evening I'll have my favorite six-year-old visiting for a bit while her mom works late.  She always wants to play in the studio which gets me thinking about new and simpler ways to use the art stuff I have on hand.  Of course, then there's the challenge of trying to get through the evening without the little smarty pants calling me a bird killer.  Two times she's come over and those are the days the kamikaze finches do their thing.  She's under the impression that I must have a hand in the death of the birds because there's just always a dead twirper near the bird feeder.  Her first words are always, "So, any dead birds?" at which point she stomps over to the bird feeder and gives me a look of total surprise when she DOESN'T find one.  Well, I started off thinking it would be a fun evening.  Now I feel like I need a lawyer.  Ugh.

August 21, 2011

Nothing to do with art or mothering

An article appeared in a recent issue of one of my favourite magazines on the topic of hair removers.  As a 50-year-old woman, this is serious business.  Our husbands lose their hair as they age; we become feminine versions of wooly mammoths.  It's revolting.  So of course, I read all of the little blurbs hoping for news of a pain-free modern miracle and quick, permanent fix.  I see the item that the author describes as the "best at-home wax," the description for which reads, "Yes, the pain is on par with that of pro waxing, but so are the results."  My first thought is that a pro would not stop mid-yank while screaming.  I tried waxing my legs once.  Once.  I remember that frantic point where I yanked and screamed at such a high pitch that I set off car alarms and neighborhood dogs started howling.  I then freaked out about HOW I was going to get this instrument of pain and horror off because I SURE as heck wasn't going to complete the yank.  There's the blow dryer, a heating pad to melt the goo, begging the husband to yank and promising not to kick him in the head (he heard the scream and was worried)  Never, ever again.  I'd rather be mistaken for Sasquatch.

Then there was the gizmo touted as the "Best Investment," the Tria hair removal laser.  It reads, "Aim the beam onto the skin to halt hair growth, just like at a dermatologist's office."  A tester reported that "it stings" but after twice-monthly sessions for six months, she happily reported "no more stubble or shaving."  Really?  Six months?  Am I willing to zap myself once, feel the sting, and then keep doing it?  For six months?  I think not.  Anyway, my first thought on this little toy was that it would be a great Plan B for waking up the teen.  The alarm goes off, he doesn't get up, so I zap him.  "Really, Officer, he had a stray chin hair and I was just trying to help."  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I think it would be as effective as the air horn, but not hurt MY ears (or chin).

Some things are just not good for those inclined to do-it-yourself. 

August 18, 2011

I Had an "Out"

My friend Deb asks me every year for donations of my artwork for the Boys & Girls Club holiday auction.  She called me this morning to double check - was I still willing to make a quilt and paint a child's rocking chair for the auction?  I said yes.  OMG, it's due in a month!  There's nothing like a deadline to reinforce the need to schedule studio time.  I had the chance to say no, but I just couldn't.  Frankly, there's a part of me that loves the fact that someone other than my husband will buy my work this year.  Ha. Now all I have to do is find someone to stand behind me with an air horn every time I appear distracted, blogging or flipping through a magazine instead of working.

I joke about having an "out," but the commitment really is not a bad thing.  These are the two projects I can pull off without stress.  Sewing and painting furniture are so relaxing for me, so my only pressure is having an actual deadline.  We talked about the design of the rocking chair and whether she should list it as for a boy or a girl.  I told her that unless I painted dump trucks or footballs on it, it's perceived as being for a girl.  When my son was an infant and toddler, I struggled with finding clothes and decor for his room that didn't have sports junk on it.  Golf clubs for a six-month-old?  Really?  What a pain in the neck.  Since a few of the board members have new baby girls in the family, that made it easy - it'll be a rocking chair for a little girl ;-)  I start working on everything on Saturday.

Apropos of nothing, I broke the rules last weekend and took just one photo at the Laguna Arts Festival.  I regret that I can't provide the identity and proper credit for the artist (I ran away after the camera clicked!), but I can report that this is the product of a school-aged artist.  There is always a section with art created by students in kindergarten through grade 12.  This piece was in the area exhibiting older students' work.  This dragon is made of plastic utensils and was amazing!  To the artist, I'm really sorry but I just had to share.  You rock.

August 17, 2011

Shopping for Art

Traffic was beastly, but the trek to the Laguna Arts Festival was worth the struggle.  It didn't hurt that we had to park so far away (at least a mile) on a day that I didn't have time to work out.

The best part of the show was meeting April Raber, the artist that created the beautiful "Mandala" painting that we just hung in the living room.  What a wonderful treat!  Even nicer was the flood of wonderful, warm and heartfelt praise of April from every single artist with whom we spoke about our most recent purchase. 

Coming home without artwork is pretty much impossible for us ;-)  We met so many incredible artists whose work I would love to have in my home (self-taught painter Paul Bond, ceramic artist Carol Tripp Martens), many of whom were happy to talk about their art.  We bought a small piece from Stephanie Cunningham, an artist that creates "duets" with Betty Haight.  Stephanie paints beautiful landscapes and Betty creates lovely figurative work, both of them incorporating other media.  The two canvases are joined and a story is created, written on a tag and tucked into the backside of the work.  The notion of collaborative work is fascinating to me.  I asked Stephanie who wins when they disagree on which pieces should be joined.  She smiled and reported that she wins because it's her husband that joins the pieces.  LOL.  I told her that I'd often thought of putting an ad in the local paper soliciting artsy friends.  It would be fun to have a partner in creativity! 

For now, I'm happily plodding along with the collaborative art journal project with my sister Lisa.  She's continues to be much more productive than I am.  The inspiration of the art festival came at the right time and offered a gentle kick in the caboose to get moving on my end of the project.  My son will be back in school in a little over a week, and I'm making a mid-year resolution to schedule studio time as if it were a job starting on Monday.  We'll see how much I accomplish!

A friend took me to lunch this last week and we spent a few hours catching up with each other.  I shared with her the challenge of a recent dinner at the university where my husband works.  My table mates were a former congressman/now senior administrator, two college/university presidents, and faculty.  Everyone at the table but me had a Ph.D. or was in the process of completing one.  I think the thought most often occupying my mind was, "Duh."  Seriously.  I was unable to participate in any conversation (something anyone that knows me well would claim to be impossible ;-)  My girlfriend asked me why I didn't share that I was an artist, and I about choked on my iced tea.  She gave me a stern look, told me that I was incredibly talented, a true artist, and then suggested quite seriously that I might need electroshock therapy to snap me out of my lack of confidence.  That was a good laugh!  It was also a good reminder to relax, and remember that there may be a lot of folks with a Ph.D. that don't know how to pronounce "giclee" and probably think gesso is some kind of frozen dessert.  Bahaha.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it to make me feel better.  ;-) 

August 9, 2011


After a lengthy and unplanned break from art, I have made my way back into the studio.  Earlier this week I delved into the art journal project.  I tore down watercolor paper, folded and stitched it and have a lovely and stark white blank art journal.  My sister had a fun idea of each of us doing the artwork on our respective journals, then swapping them for the other to do the writing, and finally returning them so that we each have a shared project.  I love the idea!  Tomorrow I start on painting the pages.

Sewing is always my fall-back stress reliever, great when I feel panic from deadlines or just cranky from having a teenager.  Ha.  Today I worked on a quilt until my back screamed from bad posture.  Regardless of the discomfort, I continue to find time at the machine or pinning or just cutting to be so relaxing.

The best artsy moment of the day came with the delivery of a wonderful painting.  Last year, my husband and I enjoyed a wonderful day at the Laguna Arts Festival in Laguna Beach.  As I turned a corner, moving from one artist's work to another, I was stopped in my tracks at the sight of a large painting.  I was quite literally and inexplicably moved to tears.  It took a moment to place the subject, the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier.  I have only been to the pier twice and can't figure out why it moved me so but for the sheer beauty of the piece.  Alas, the painting was unaffordable for us at the time and, sadly, we had to walk away from it.  Here we are one year later, and my husband surprised me with the news that he hunted down the artist, called her, and found that the painting was unsold and sitting wrapped up in storage.  The painting was delivered today.  I have a lovely addition to artwork in my home, all of which I'm so happy to look at every day.  Every piece of art in my home has deep meaning to me, beyond just the pleasure of the visual.  I am proud to call some of the artists represented my friends, and I am grateful to be surrounded by inspiration to be creative.

Today, I am the proud owner of April Raber's painting entitled "Mandala."

July 3, 2011

Hungry and Grumpy...

What a couple of days!  The "big" school year-end pool party we throw every year turned out pretty small.  The last two years, cool weather caused some kids to hold back in the belief that it might rain.  This time we moved our party to a nice, hot weekend, but I think the fact that it was on a holiday weekend hurt us.  Of the 35 kids invited, only two had the manners to call and RSVP as the invitation required.  My charming son insisted that at least 19 told him they were coming, but only about ten showed.  Those ten included two that told me personally they were not going to be able to make it.  Has the world lost its collective mind and forgotten the purpose of RSVP'ing?  We had soooo many hamburgers, hot dogs and unopened bags of chips in the house.  It won't go to waste with two teens coming to visit for a week, but it's not a good thing for a hungry woman on Weight Watchers to have to face.  Ack!

My weigh-in this morning was not happy.  I'm up a little over a pound.  I thought I'd been so good, then remembered last weekend and the trip to a restaurant without thinking enough about all I ate and drank.  Whoops.

Add to my hunger the not-so-fun and sometimes daily grind of being the mother to attitude-on-legs.  Sometimes I can blow it off, and other days I find myself wanting to whack that boy upside the head, but of course I don't.  I shouldn't say of course.  I really, really wanted to at least whip out the air horn and just blast it until I felt better and his ears were ringing.  Everyone says this ungrateful, eyeball rolling, gasping and wheezing attitude on his part is normal, but it doesn't make me any less cranky.  Fuss, fuss, fuss.  I'm going to get it out of my system and then let it go.

I grump, then delete, grump, then backspace...I think it's time to put away the keyboard and snap out of it.

One more harrumph for the road.  ;-)

July 1, 2011

Drawing Blind

Well THIS has been an amusing exercise!  So I've been doing the daily exercises in my drawing lab book, one of which was the blind contour drawing of a giraffe.  Guffaw.  That's no giraffe!  Next I tried the same technique drawing a cow.  It's as goofy as the "giraffe."  Looking for some sign of hope that this could improve, I immediately go to my expert Debbie who, in her always wonderfully cheerful and glass overflowing attitude, encourages me to keep at it and have fun.  Time to whip out the pen and sketchbook.

June 28, 2011

Stress and Journaling

I was very excited about the prospect of starting an art journal, inspired by Teesha Moore's videos.  I told my sister about it, and she's already gotten started!  I didn't have all of the materials I needed, so of course I'm behind.  I found a web site from which I can order individual panpastels, the recommended watercolour paper, and I found the Sharpie paint pens at Michaels this last week.  I'm always planning, but not so much making.  Today I'm going to at least go through my paper stash and old magazines, pulling pictures that have good colour and texture to use.

The topic for my art journal is going to be really easy.  I'm stressed liked a maniac right now.  Facebook has been a good place to share a little with friends about the stress of considering moving, but those friends just don't get it.  Well, most of them don't.  They are thinking of the fun of decorating a new place and the fun of exploring a new neighborhood.  That would have been the case before I had kids.  But Kevin is 16 and about the start the last two years of high school.  We weren't seriously considering moving once he hit high school.  That was just the deal.  I was ALWAYS the new kid, growing up in an always-moving military family and moving several times in high school.  My husband moved after his first year of high school and was devastated, leaving the idyllic beauty of Sonoma, CA behind for a rough and unfriendly community for his final three years of school.

The dilemma we face is timing.  Not having planned to sell our current home any time soon, we are aware of major issues that would have to be addressed before putting it on the market - the exterior walls in the back have visible damage (it's just an old house), paint on the sunny side is peeling and in desperate need of a new paint job, the rain gutters were removed the last time it was painted and not replaced, and we've got termites.  There's more, but those are the biggies.  There's no dancing around those issues in the hope that a prospective buyer won't notice.  We're getting ready for house guests, followed by a lengthy vacation.  Even were the housing market fabulous, it can't be sold before school starts.  I WON'T move him after the school year starts.  It seems an easy decision.  Drop the notion of moving.  But my husband is exhausted from an hour-long commute twice a day for years and years, finally having the opportunity to buy in a neighborhood near his work that was previously way, way, way out of our price range.

Here's hoping that art can soothe my rattled nerves today.  And tomorrow.  Because heaven knows that stupid Crystal Light margarita isn't doing it for me!  :-)  I'm also going through drawing exercises in a book I just bought to help loosen me up in that arena (my artsy friends know just how much I blow at drawing), enjoying the silly outcome and the practice of it instead of worrying about the quality.  That, too, I think is good for the artsy soul.  Time to sketch!

June 19, 2011

Renewed Sense of Direction

I've spent the last two days in the studio doing a lot on the computer.  I've sorted photos, cleaned off the full camera memory chip (only after a panicky double back-up on CD of ever photo on it, just in case) and watched a zillion videos by Teesha Moore while I worked and my feet turned blue from lack of movement.

I think one of the big reasons for my getting so little art done is that I flounder about exactly what to do.  As I've fussed over and over about, there are so many areas in which I wish I were skilled, but I always let those too-many ideas block me from making progress.  As my good friend has advised, narrow it down!  I love working with fabric and paint.  That's probably what I enjoy most about my figurative work/art dolls so much.  They give me the opportunity to make a single piece that incorporates painting and sewing, with a little bit of playing with clay.  But sometimes the stress of the sculpting part takes the fun out of it (I know, I induce the stress myself which is totally dumb and a waste of time), but I've been looking at book after book about projects that include both the fabric and paint and just hadn't found anything that excited me.

Yesterday I was looking at an old copy of Artful Blogging and a very colourful spread caught my eye.  I went to the artist's blog and looked around until I hit the jackpot.  It wasn't until I saw Teesha Moore's videos on art journals that I got really, really excited about a new project.  The journals include everything I love doing, from using the bright fabrics and hand quilting bits to make journal covers, to the collage techniques in the individual pages.  I thought of other things I'd add, including personal images on fabric and interesting embellishments, and am so eager to start.  I have journaled since I was 12 and this is a great time to incorporate the journaling with art.  I really can't wait!  I can try the sketching ideas that my friend Debbie has helped with, and talk with my sister about ideas for painting cloth...the ideas are swimming in my head in a GOOD way for a change!  How fun to dip into the stash for something new and different.

Today is an especially good day.

June 18, 2011

The dust has settled

It's so nice to sit in the studio, even if it is just to upload photos from the camera to the computer, then the computer to the web.  I played a little with Corel and my Bamboo tablet for a little artsy fun too.  It's been too long!

My first big time commitment was having my "old" friend Julie visit for a week from Georgia.  We had not seen each other since we were in Middle School in 1974!  I was nervous, hoping we'd still like each other.  What a terrific and pleasant surprise.  I'm sure I blabbered her ears off (I'm so shy ;-) because she was remarkably easy to talk with and laugh!  We laughed a lot and it was so much fun.  We enjoyed a lot of wine on the deck in the evenings and got to know each other again.  I only wish I'd had a little makeup handy before I said, "Cheese!"  Hahaha.

Next came getting the house ready for my charming husband's birthday celebration.  Why, oh why, do I decide to make major improvements right before a party?  This is going to sound so shallow, but I was nervous about his Orange County co-workers coming to our little (old) house for the first time and seeing peeling plaster around the front door, the unfinished bathroom in the laundry room that I was sure would be used.  I made myself bonkers, but the house sure looks great.  We had a wonderful gathering of friends and enjoyed a fantastic backyard barbecue, catered so that we could really enjoy our friends.  It was just the best.

My sister and her children will be visiting from MN in early July, but they are the easiest and most relaxing house guests in the world.  It will be nice to enjoy time with family, especially since Lisa is an artist and inspires me so much.  We are plotting projects or swaps that we can do together, motivating me to get back into the swing of things.  I look at my friend Debbie's work and re-read her advice often, encouraging me to do something every day.  Now I can again.  Time to work on that balance between being a mom and making art.

June 5, 2011


I still can't seem to find the time to make anything.  I've had a busy time with a long-time friend whom I haven't seen since 1974 visiting for a while, in addition to making home repairs, getting ready for a big party this next week (H's birthday), family visiting soon after that, then vacation.  Whoohoo!  We were quite serious about our New Year's resolution of returning to entertaining.  Seems there's a trade off that I hadn't thought about.

Today I received a survey request from an online source for inspiration as well as art supplies.  The survey asked the usual questions about age, etc.  Then there was a looong list of activities to tick off in terms of activities I'd done in the last year.  There were a lot of choices, but I didn't have many boxes to tick.  Oops.  The list was a reminder of all the things I COULD be doing, but haven't.  I was able to check off that I've sewn something, quilted something, purchased a bound book, made an ATC (along with something else that's skipping around in the back of my head that I can't recall...) and more that I wish I'd tried.  Another goal for the year!

As busy as this week is sure to be, I'm going to try to set aside just a pinch of art time.   What to do with so little time and so many choices?!?  Maybe just a few short sketches a la Debbie's suggested method, maybe an ATC.  In any event, I'll get a little something done.  Then it's party time!

May 2, 2011

When WILL I find time?

The "When I Find Time" of my blog title is so spot on these days.  After the PC was assulated by a wicked, wicked trojan that has kept me working on restoring it's life for DAYS, I've had little time to think about art.  Except for yesterday evening.

Long-time friends know that I come from one heck of a wonky family.  My parents were bonkers, and my relationship with my sisters was challenging because of that wonkiness.  In the past year, I've had the absolute joy and pleasure to get to know my older sister in a way that is completely new and foreign to me.  As she said when we talked yesterday (for more than two hours!), we are now friends.  For some people, I'm sure that this is a bizarre notion, NOT feeling friendly or close with siblings.  But we had a very challenging upbringing, a good sized age gap, and she was gone and on her own on the opposite coast by the time I was 13 years old.  That's a big bridge to gap.  We grew up with nothing in common but the same parents and siblings.  Quite literally.

How things have changed.

Lisa is a terrific person, happy and cheerful, positive and knows how to roll with the punches.  She's also a terrific artist.  She calls with ideas about things we can both do, with me in California and her in Minnesota, bridging the gap with the phone and computer.  I'm determined to find more of that artistic time so that we can share in creating together.  I've gotten great advice my my cyber-buddy Debbie to help steer the course and expect to make good on that adventure.

Life is good.

April 20, 2011

Collage Lab

While I went to the fabric store to pick up some buttons, I decided to check out the overpriced craft books.  Haven't I sworn off the books?  Oops.

I found the book Collage Lab by Bee Shay.  I've always enjoyed looking at good collage work, but have never attempted it myself and find it intimidating.  It's easy to just glue junk to a surface, but hard to make it look thoughtfully composed.  In the introduction, the author notes that she found herself fighting her long-time original skill sets in a struggle to learn new ways to express her artistic self.  Heck, I'd take just having a good long-time skill set!  The book is filled with labs that can be done in any order and encourages exploring and experimenting with materials and techniques and "is about getting your hands moving and getting your head out of the way."  Just what I need!  As I've expressed many times before, I find it frustrating to sit in a studio surrounded by so many art-making materials with a blank brain and an empty hand.  I needed a teeny, tiny nudge that meant getting my hands dirty and just playing with a single baby step to get me moving ahead and try to develop a new set of skills without an end project in mind.

The first step involved creating a basic  gesso surface on watercolor paper, tinting the gesso just a bit with a pale acrylic so I could see what I was doing.  I didn't create any masterpiece, but that was the fun in this play day.  No pressure!  I did appreciate having prompts to follow and asking myself the questions about what worked, what didn't work, what happens when multiple layers of gesso are applied, what tools/items can be used to manipulate the was very relaxing. 

This is what I ended up with.  I used a rubber stamp in the yellow one, the end of the paintbrush handle in the pink one, and a shim that had been nicked on the edges for texture.  I was inspired enough to just goof off with the extra piece of watercolor paper I had left and play with watercolor pencils and liquid acrylics.  

While I have a few errands to run tomorrow, I should be able to find the time for another one of the gesso labs.

April 18, 2011

No Art? What Am I Thinking?!?

My husband was in China for over a week, so I had the perfect opportunity to work in the studio without pressure.  Not that he adds pressure, but I pressure myself to spend time doing things like mopping up coffee spills from the kitchen floor or grocery shopping before I make art which never seems to happen these days.  I was so worried and so stressed for so much of the time that I just froze.  No more!  I'm going to get on the ball and, to quote Lisa Vollrath, just make something!  It may not be a big or major something, but I need to get into the practice of making art every day.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my husband's tales of his big adventure.   As an Air Force brat, I have traveled a lot, including a three year tour of duty in the Philippines.  This trip to China was his first to Asia.  He brought me a most magnificent black pearl and diamond pendant along with a couple of gorgeous fans, newspapers (my funny reqeust) and the mandatory refrigerator magnets (a regular addition to our collection for any trip we make, whether as a family or solo).   

I'm glad I was able to help him prepare for the trip, including making sure he got the appropriate injections and medications (the "just in case" kind).  He had a magnificent trip.  We were up until 2:30 a.m. with him sharing photos and stories.  I can't wait until he retires and we can make these trips together.  He's a terrific and really funny travel buddy.  We ARE the Simpsons!

Tomorrow the focus returns to art.  I've goofed around and allowed myself to be distracted, but I'm going to get back to business.  I'll have to post whatever I do.  There's some pressure!  :-)

March 28, 2011

In The Garden

I love pulling weeds just as it's starting to rain.  The brisk breeze and refreshing drizzle is invigorating.  There isn't often time to get much done before it hits hard, but I try.  This week, the dying basil had to come out.  I have no idea what was ailing the plants because I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing out there.  Posting photos of the few miracles that occur in my garden might lead someone to think I have a lovely garden.  This, for example, is one of the blooms on the chive plant that I believe would survive a nuclear bomb (thus I will be planting more).

But then there's the truth of the matter.  It's a good thing that my herb garden is in the back yard where there are fewer witnesses.  This is what the raised bed garden that I had built last year looks like today.  That's one huge Italian flat leaf parsley plant, just beyond the spot where I pulled out the basil.  Just beyond that are a couple of newer herbs - tarragon and rosemary - and the anemic pepper plants barely visible at the far end.  I laugh every time I go outside and look at them.  In any event, I enjoy digging in the dirt and making believe that I can garden.  The other herb garden has a crazy mass of oregano and thyme.  For the garden challenged, plant those if you want to feel successful outdoors.

On the art front, I've been messing around and re-working one of my figurative pieces.  I can't say it looks much better, but I'm trying to just play, see what happens, and enjoy the solitude in the studio.  My creative juices are a bit muddled and syrupy instead of free-flowing.  I'll go poke some dirt for a while, then head to the studio and goof off.  Maybe I never finish this one and just experiment with wires, fibers and whatever else I can lay my hands on.  We'll see what comes of the effort today.

March 23, 2011

Rough Seas

What a day.  I made what probably wasn't the best decision today, to skip working out (again) in lieu of studio time.  I'll cut back on the chardonnay tonight to make up for it!  :-)

I'm trying to address that artistic atrophy, blank brain thing I've had going on.  As I fussed about to my FB friends, I have been frustrated with the fact that my most recent piece of reminiscent of Muammar Gaddafi in an ugly and depressing wedding dress.  Convinced it was just wrong, wrong, wrong, I removed the fabric and started messing with wire salvaged from the ongoing garage renovation.  After some cursing, bleeding and rummaging through every tool in my bucket to wrestle wire out of it's rubbery coffin, I started to play.  The problem is that it still looks wrong.

I went back to my favourite spot for words of encouragement, our little roundtable, to re-read and really take in words of wisdom from my best cyber-buddies - let it go.  Just play without worrying, let it happen naturally, see what happens next and listen to the piece.  Boy, that's hard to do when I don't practice often enough!  Today, I'm doing my best.  The piece still looks a bit like Gaddafi, but I can play with that later.  Time to relax and see what happens.

March 22, 2011

Working Without a Plan

I picked up the figurative piece that I started a couple of months ago and just put down because I didn't know what to do next.  Unfortunately, I've been tweaking at it today with "Say Yes to the Dress" playing in the background (it's that, or I have lengthy talks with the cats so I don't feel the solitude) and the stitching I've been doing looks like unfortunate "pick ups" that are popular on wedding dresses.  Yikes!  It's one of the projects that I just pick at, poke at and mess with, all without a plan.  I fear it's looking like there was no plan.  The exercise is, however, therapeutic.

This week I had the greatest fortune to find two former teachers from my first year living in the Philippines when I was ten years old.  One of the two taught art, the only art class I've ever taken.  I found her web site and blog and spent a lot of time reading it this morning, marveling in her beautiful work and creative spirit.  She made a comment that really smacked me upside the head, today in particular.  My friend Debbie has made the point as well, and I'm really trying to model the notion today.  Forgive my clumsy paraphrasing!  When we copy and copy, our own creative skills atrophy.  That word - atrophy - was what made me stop in my tracks.  As I've blabbered about before, I find myself spending much more time looking for ideas and prompts in books, magazines and film than I do making art.  The one thing that I do that is 100% mine is the figurative work that I started making about fifteen years ago.  So this morning, after reading Ms. Carrasco's words and re-reading Debbie's, I marched into the studio and got to work.  Ok, first I hemmed a pair of new jeans (two sizes smaller - whoohoo!!!), but then I shoved everything aside and picked up the piece that'd been resting all this time.  It's still a bit of a hot mess, but I've really enjoyed the time surrounded by my hot mess, needles and thread.

Thank you Debbie.  Thank you Ms. Carrasco.  Thank you Ms. Braden for telling me that you are still in touch with Ms. Carrasco so that I could find her web site.  Thank you for encouraging me without even knowing that you have done so.

March 21, 2011

Debris as Inspiration

It's funny what inspires me to get back to making art.  I've spent the last week freaked out about keeping the house tidy.  It's dumb, but I've had a constant parade of electricians and contractors from our garage renovation tromping through the house (the access to our attic is via a drop-down ladder in the hallway) and I just can't stand the notion of anyone seeing it messy.  Back pain or not, I'm determined to keep the place decent and focused more on folding laundry and vacuuming (sorry, doctor, it had to be done) than smooshing clay or sewing. 

At the end of each of their work day here, I head out to the garage to check on the renovation progress.  The first day, I noticed the end cuts of the lumber used to frame the roof and immediately thought of using them as bases for my figurative work or for slicing to make wood ATC's or carve for stamping/printing.  The next day I was throwing out the trash and appreciating that the crew clean up after themselves every day, but I spotted all the copper wire they threw out and did my own version of dumpster diving.  Who knows what I'll find this afternoon?!?  I can find inspiration in a hardware store :-)  Finding ways to include odds and ends into an art piece is almost more fun than the clay work or painting.

The sketch book is back out and I'm drafting ideas for the next piece.  For additional fun, I've decided to paint a toddler-sized rocking chair for the next benefit auction.  I like having two projects going so I can switch between the two when one is giving me a hard time or I hit a creative block on the other.  Oh, happy day.

March 18, 2011

Play time

I couldn't resist a second post.  Having to stay home and forced to have time to play, I goofed off quite a bit with the Bamboo tablet thingy and Photoshop Elements.  It's amazing how much a simple line drawing can be tweaked with the tap of a finger!  I did a quick wiggly image just to play with, trying to figure out code like, "Dodge" and "linear burn."  Confident I would flunk a test on the topic, I still had a blast playing.  This is fun stuff!

Room with a View

This week I've tried to get some time in the studio while I deal with home issues, but it's been a challenge.  The biggest and most time consuming project we have ongoing is the renovation of our raggedy old garage.  Our house was built in 1955, so the bazillion-ton nasty garage door is years past its prime.  We decided to replace the garage door and get an opener other than the 2x4 piece of lumber we've been using to prop it open.  It's a miracle that no one has been killed!

To install a garage door, we have to actually have a ceiling, not just the flimsy criss-cross of junk wood to which the former homeowner precariously attached a non-functioning garage door opener.  The boys of the house have been talking about remodeling the garage and putting in a train table for years.  The time has come.

Right now, everything we had in the garage is on the deck.  Worse, the place best suited to protect all of the precious holiday decorations and my power tools is the portion of the deck that is the first thing a visitor sees when they walk in my house.  We look like we're waiting for the film crew for the tv show "Hoarders" to arrive.  I have to explain to everyone coming in that we do not save everything we've ever received.  It just looks like it.  This will be my living room view for the next four to five weeks, all the more reason to hide out in the studio as frequently as possible.

Today I have to sit in the living room with my laptop, playing with my Bamboo graphics tablet with my back to this mess and available for the electrician when he has questions.  I can live with a little chaos.

March 7, 2011

Studio Laughs

After a bit of a stretch without being creative, I decided that today was the day to get back in here and get something done.  I was actually inspired by a page in the Pottery Barn catalog that had a lot of artwork on a single wall in a living room, a look I like more than just that one painting floating on each wall around the house.

So I thought it would be fun to really play with the Bamboo graphics tablet that my son gave me for my birthday.  The first go with the tutorial was constantly interrupted, so I really needed to just play with it and figure out how the beast works.  The laughs I got this afternoon were priceless.  I mentioned previously the notion of getting even with my son when he's a beast by posting photos of him that he might not appreciate.  This is the best one of all!  Look what I can do!!!

Bahahahaha!  I'm going to take it down after 48 hours, but I couldn't resist sharing with the few friends I have that visit my blog.  If you can't really see it, the "skirt" is a mass of butterfly stamps (he has always been "startled" by butterflies) and the heart reads, "Mom."  He heard me laughing and interrupted his studies to see what was so funny and even he laughed.  He muttered, "Not nice," then turned his face away and tried to hide that he was cracking up.   I'm glad he has a sense of humour.

Just playing in here today has reawakened the "I need to make art!" in me.  It's been hibernating.  At some point I have to cook dinner (ugh), but will put it off and play in here for as long as I can get away with it.

February 23, 2011

Working Out vs. Making Art

The last few months I've felt pulled too many directions and feel unfocused.  I want to make art, but I'm struggling so much with this stupid weight battle.  Since my wonderful husband joined Weight Watchers with me, I am actually making progress like I have never been able to manage in the past.  Working out is something I really hate doing.  My rosacea flares so I look like the tomato dude from Veggie Tales for hours, it takes up SO much time.  However, there is no choice right now.  It's either shed these extra pounds, or risk the very serious health problems that plague my family.

I vow to schedule a bit of studio time every day, starting with just 30 minutes (and running longer as time permits), treating that booked time as an important appointment.  I'm going to review advice from my mentor and get back to daily exercises to get my brain back on the creative track.  And my caboose will take up much less space on the studio chair at the end of it all!  Ha.

February 21, 2011

P.S. "Next Blog" results

With zillions of blogs on the world wide web, I thought it might be fun to look at new blogs just to see what people are doing.  For some reason, the blogs that popped up when I ticked on the "Next Blog" button were all very religious in nature, one after another.  It's not that I have anything against religious themed blogs, but  I worry about lightening strikes.  I drink wine, I might curse when the Lakers are playing and the refs make lousy calls, and I go to Weight Watchers on Sunday mornings, yelling out, "OK, we're heading to church now!" in case a neighbor is out as I get in the car with my coffee.  I think a few are suspicious.

Anway, I wondered what steers the path of the "Next Blog" button, and Googled for an answer. 

What I found was appalling.  Someone had a blog post about this issue.  There is a place where blog surfers can fill in the blank, "I hate the Next Blog button because...." and some savage actually wrote "It only gives me "crafts" blogs by American housewives (I hate crafts blogs)."  Ack!  Is my blog a craft blog?  I'm an American housewife.  I'm feeling thicker skin, though, because I got a good chuckle.

The clouds are rolling in.  I'm waiting for the lightening.  ;-)

Garbage Day Sunsets

The pattern took a while to notice.  Garbage day always brings the prettiest sunsets.  Looking through my file of sunset photos, there are the ever-present trash cans at the curb.  Lovely.  Perhaps I should spend a little more time familiarizing myself with the clone tool in Photoshop and reading the articles on how to remove unwanted images from a photo, but my eyes cross when the language turns technical!  In the meantime, I can still appreciate the view and just had to share.

February 19, 2011

For the Birds

The porker in the rear clearly can't read the bag which is distinctly marked as finch food.  It is not a finch.  It annoys me to no end that is parks its huge caboose in the middle of the bird food, intimidating many of the little twirpers I am trying to attract.  My yelling, "You are NOT a FINCH!" scares them off for a while (along with the finches, alas), but the porkers are back an hour later.  Wicked, wicked birds.

With the frequent extremes in weather changes, I've found myself spending whatever sunny time we get in the garden instead of the studio.  I maintain my rule as Queen Killer Thumb, evidently the worst gardener in the city limits.  The raised bed garden I had constructed last year has yielded a huge basil plant which is quickly being taken over by some sort of basil-killing disease or jungle rot or something.  The tarragon has about three pathetic leaves remaining, and the jalapeno pepper plant has a few anemic peppers and another three or four leaves.  Oh, the clover is growing like mad!  Sigh.  Two avocado trees sprouted in the middle of my irises in the other planting bed.  Good grief.  The raccoons are better gardeners.  Not one to give up entirely, I purchased a few packets of seeds to sow - purple tomatillas, cilantro, leeks and radishes.  If I can't grow radishes, I'm chopping up the frame of the garden for firewood!  Well, I'll at least say a few bad words and then hide the evidence of my likely failure.   I think I'm better off in the studio.

My poor husband is home, sick as can be.  Tomorrow will be a good day to spray him with disinfectant, run and hole up in the studio to whoop up some art.