The Big Leap ~ or, How to Change Your Life just short of having a nervous breakdown

Apparently, I like change as evidenced by recent events.  Of course it is hard, but worth the challenges and serendipitous happenings.  Last year I was stuck trying to rearrange my studio; but when my son moved in 6 months ago, my studio space (almost effortlessly) moved to the living room area which is a much better location anyway!

Last November, I had the honor of participating as a vendor in the winter Art Mart Underground at Bath House Cultural Center on White Rock Lake here in Dallas.  The weather was unexpectedly frigid with ice storms causing hundreds of shoppers to stay home.  But a thrilling experience nevertheless.

After 3 straight years (no paid time off) at a fast paced high pressure low wage customer service call center, where constant policy and data changes and criticism was the norm, I recently no winfound it necessary to bail out.  Family and friends are encouraging me to press on with my Aryology project.  So, I’m opening an Etsy store soon.

almost overwhelmed

almost overwhelmed

a hot mess in the studio

a hot mess in the studio

New reads

New reads

this studio reorganization works

this studio reorganization works

I painted the hallway orange

I painted the hallway orange

We customize Linda's cloth doll

We customize Linda’s cloth doll

Mixing it up with sketch, stitch, and paint

Commissioned work scares the hell out of me.  And not because I am afraid the piece won’t turn out well, but because some of the magic of spontaneity may not find its way in, that even one limitation to the work’s intuitive process (some specific requirement as requested by the commissioner) will limit me in such a way that I become very uncomfortable.  Never mind that the buyer’s ideas may make my artwork even better, perish the thought!  Clearly, I have control and ego issues.

But I love it when someone likes a finished piece so much he/she must have it, and when this occurs, nothing could be sweeter.  You feel as if you have truly communicated your intention as told to you by the artwork itself.

The photos show recent sketches and a couple of cloth dolls – I’m calling them BodyParts Dolls, as I continue to assemble, or in some cases, disassemble dolls; changing hair, making new clothing bits, faces, hats…..

I continue to draw and paint, usually drifting from one project to another.  That’s a great benefit of having let my “studio” space be the very same as my “living area”.   Can’t separate them.

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truck6

Before & After & During

As one thing leads to another, I can’t help sort of drifting from one project to another.  The behind the scenes stuff is too irritating to mention.

cardboard &burlap

NewGuy came together from assorted body parts,  pants made from linen napkin, Tshirt knit remnant & a hat recently rejected from Nikol's doll.

NewGuy came together from assorted body parts, pants made from linen napkin, Tshirt knit remnant & a hat recently rejected from Nikol’s doll.

 

early springmore remnant rollsArtyology Spoonflower fabrc

silky remnants

silky remnants

 

summer curtainImageImageImageImageImageImage

Before and After: My Art & Craft Studio-Workplace

I “work” for months in my head, sketching, planning, making notes about how I think I want to re-organize my whole in-home art studio before anything actually gets done.   Lucky to have an open floor plan so that I can play at all sorts of things all at once.  This is key: I must have access to my tiny TV even if I am not actually watching it.  And CDs.  

So the process of setting up my work space in it’s current configuration has taken a few months.  Which recently included sorting, washing, and rolling into remnant bundles, my little fabric stash.  I ruthlessly tossed anything I don’t adore.  Purging of fabric scraps is necessary and freeing.  Of course, there is more to do: always.  Especially in my office area.  I hate paperwork but if you are alive, you are probably drowning in it.

So here is the record of the Great Before And After Project…….ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

  

Agatha1

A Quest for Balance

L&R window 5413castleKindleMorgana designs dollrootbeer fizzies up the nosemocha kit

cube & plotnew dollsAcceptanceSpontaneous

cat and dollC S Julie & GenieBurnout 1IMG_0747artistMChin

Clark 0303spot for artclothDoll made for Hoffman fabric challenge '90sartistZittel 1artistZittel 2artistZittel 3

20s figureface studiesGiacometti

yellow sprayThere was this nice list of links of sites and blogs I dig but couldn’t get everything to load correctly.   Hope I will have that figured out pretty darn soon!  I fear I’ve let too much time go by without a blog post, even if that’s only important to me.  Dust accumulates around the house as experiences roll by and then I feel overwhelmed.  And I wanted to learn to link and add a blog roll; I’m still learning blogging etiquette and technique.  In future, I hope to post twice a month.  Short ones.  With pictures.

This weekend, grandson and his little sister stayed with me.  It could have all gone terribly wrong, as I tend to get a bit stressed and anal, or I could hope to plan the time in such a way so that we would all be pleasantly occupied.  Eleven year old Castle is into Nat Geo, his Kindle Fire, and movies.  Morgana, age 6, is very pink-centric, curious, and energetic.  They have different fathers.

My home is filled with mementos handed down plus all my books, dolls, artwork and supplies; it’s only natural that a little girl would want to touch and know about these treasures.  And what a glorious way to get my dusting done!  Even when Morgana chided me on how thick the dust was, I didn’t mind.  Side by side we “swiffer’d” the whole house as I told her histories of my things.  Castle cooked for us and enjoyed his down time.

A highlight this spring was “Cousin-Sister” Julie’s visit.  When we’re not cracking ourselves up we are discussing serious subjects and marvel that other folks might disagree with our opinions.  Since I couldn’t take time off from my part-time job, Cousin-Sister finished painting my kitchen the mocha shade, and put a lovely light grey paint on my guest room walls.  We power washed my siding and freshened up the golden-orange shutters outside.  She delved into my newest books on decor, and we shopped for new fabric for kitchen window curtains she will make for her townhouse in VA.  Oh!  What a glorious time we had!

Two years ago I almost lost this beloved cottage.  I treasure my 3rd generation White Rock/East Dallas roots.  Julie and I always go visit the family at Grove Hill Cemetery when she’s here. We catch them up on current events and ask for guidance.  This year we felt Nannie was most assuredly there for us. I introduced them to my Cube; they must have been surprised to see I’d finally let go of my little red Chevy.

Change is so hard but often necessary, don’t you agree?

I’m not creatively stuck, I’m just incubating.

I like the idealism of the Green Party candidates

Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa

"Turn the Page.." artdoll by Jan Byron

“Turn the Page..” artdoll by Jan Byron

Castle, proud owner of Argent Park print by Brad W. Foster

Castle, proud owner of Argent Park print by Brad W. Foster

My background music tonight is:  Joe Bonamassa Live from New York Beacon Theatre

Recently my focus has shifted somewhat from sketch journaling to obsessively feasting my hungry eye on images from my collection of books and periodicals related to mixed media.  All art forms inform one another in my opinion.  I’m still sketching, but not on a daily basis.  So it happens recently that a weekend with grandson Castle coincides with an Art Mart event at White Rock Lake.  And off we go.

While there I found an irresistible art doll by Jan Byron; she and I discussed the dilemma between the urge to keep our inner well-spring of creativity “pure” by avoiding looking at other artists’ work, and the desire to see what they are up to.

I believe that even if we find ourselves strongly influenced by the art around us, a point of view, a technique; nevertheless, we should dive right in to savoring all the inspiration and information available to us (if that is our choice) and not fear being criticized as being unoriginal or derivative in our approach.

But copying someone’s art and claiming it as your own design is not just copyright infringement but unethical as well; not to mention completely unsatisfying.  Anyway that discussion was had all over the web years ago, and everyone understands it.

What is different, and allowed, is interpreting a piece in your own way while giving credit to the other artist for your inspiration.  And anyway, our own style, taste, skill level and emotions and even the angle at which we hold a pen belong solely to us and no matter how hard we might try, we simply cannot make an artdoll look exactly like one made by anyone else.

And I was thrilled to see that Jan had wisely kept her pricing more in line with what a great piece deserves to sell for, rather than lowering them into a level that is competitive with a retail chain store gift department just because of the economy.    Good art of any genre is worth the price, pride and delight the buyer feels while gasping, “I own this!  OMG I just bought a OOAK (one of a kind) artwork!  I deserve this for (insert any rationalization here)” “ Happy Birthday Me!”

So, I treated my grandson Castle to an awesome print by Brad W. Foster, whose work we fell hard for that day.  As for me, I went home with art doll “Turn the Page…” by Jan Byron.  I plan on making myself an art doll for my birthday coming up.  I wonder what it will look like?

Check out Brad’s and Jan’s sites:

www.jabberwockygraphix.com

www.artbroad.com

I Only Procrastinate on the Good Stuff

There was so much going on since my last post, I didn’t think I had produced any artwork.  So glad I was wrong.  Lost track of time, too, as I transitioned in my job to a new and much better schedule; finally got approval on a mortgage modification, connected with former co-workers, old school friends, and family I had lost track of; mourned the loss of two of them to cancer and another to a ripe old age, a grand patriarch celebrated by his loved ones.  My son’s illness hangs on, and there is nothing I can do about it (after many years of trying).

Hello to Mary Korfanty, the strongest and bravest woman I know!  To Helaina Meara’s spirit: do you know I think of you often with fond memories?  Hey cousin Vickie!  I hope I really do get to visit you and Bill in Germany before you move back stateside.  So cool to discover you are a talented stained glass artist!   Jim G from BA, I consider emailing you and lose my nerve.

When Cousin-Sister Julie comes to visit, I am looking forward to taking her on a jaunt in my new Nissan Cube.  Almost waited too long to replace my old beloved Chevy.  I am looking forward to rendezvouz with my artsy friends here in Dallas, and online, and with precious grandson, Castle, and to the autumn and winter season.   I am looking forward to getting Medicare.  I am looking forward.

The Sketchbook Project 2012 World Tour for Brooklyn Art Library

            Bon Voyage, little sketchbook

click on my Gallery page to view some of my latest work

I’ve got too much to say, since I waited so long to finalize this post.  So today, I won’t say much.  Just that I’ve been paying attention to world events, the circus that is the Republican primary (could Rick Perry possibly embarrass us Texans any more?!  Bad enough he won the last gubernatorial race); concentrating on my job and polishing my CSR skills;  hanging out with artist and friends, even if some of it occurs via the internet.  Sometimes Castle, my 10 year old grandson comes to visit.  He’s so cool (of course).  I finally got a kitty cat for my dog Ziggy; a sweet little adult Calico from the SPCA.

But mostly I’ve been growing my hair and changing my style, ‘cuz I am intent on looking more like the old hippie artist that I used to be and am circling around to becoming again.  Recently trying to eat more organically and cutting wheat and gluten out of my diet.  I feel much better already.

A big focus has been completing my entry for The Sketchbook Project 2012 World Tour for the Art House and Brooklyn Art Library.   Monday I’ll mail my book on to New York City, and it will be a little like sending a piece of me out into the world, knowing it will be happy in the company of thousands of others, off to tour the world beginning in April.  Bon voyage, little drawings!  I’ll miss you! Have fun, and don’t forget to write!

For more info, visit http://www.thesketchbookproject.com.

 

A Metaphor For Life: “You Just Have To Fool With It”

Disclaimer:  Today’s blog is very ego-centric.  As I watched devastating events unfold this summer related to natural – and unnatural – disasters around the world, I felt more and more powerless.  I can’t control any of that.  But I can control some things about me.

This summer I was so fortunate to rejoin America’s work force, albeit at the least rate of pay since what I earned as a secretary in the ‘70s, and I remain astounded that this is the case for so many of us in this economy.  Misery loves company and yes, I am happy that we are in this boat together, and grateful for my new job.  And I wonder, are we “the underemployed”?  Financials aside, in my case, No!

The skills I have acquired over the last couple of years as a customer service representative along with learning even more complex duties associated with customer care in my current position, are far more challenging and rewarding than any tasks I ever performed as a secretary or assistant years ago.  Now that I am older, my work ethic and attitude have improved; I take nothing for granted.  As I navigate what for me is a steep learning curve in my current position, I find it is helpful to follow the advice of Karon, my supervisor, “You just have to fool with it”.

In July I crashed and burned over a combination of let-downs:  I had suddenly stopped working daily in my sketch journal, I was overwhelmed with adjusting to my new schedule, and dealing head-on with some financial challenges; plus anxiety and excitement over my 45th high school reunion just about did me in.  The post-reunion depression stunned me.  Let’s face it: I was expecting the 18 year old me to walk into a room full of 18 year old classmates.  I didn’t recognize most of them; hell, I don’t even recognize me.   I couldn’t hear, my legs ached from standing, and I felt very out-of-body.  And it gets worse from there!  I proceed to measure my success by theirs; OMG, I’m a blimp and a failure!  Loser!

And here’s the kicker: if it really isn’t what’s on the outside that counts, but what lies within, I am screwed!  I’m not even that nice!  Despite my girth I am vain, egotistical, temperamental.  I’m selfish and self-centered and jealously guard my solitude.  I don’t always play well with others.   So, I am an artist, at last.  I pass the personality test.

I have an “Ah-ha!” moment watching Stacy & Clinton on What Not To Wear describe the shape of an outfit making a plus size gal “look like an ice cream cone”.  Time to rethink my wardrobe.  Acknowledging that I swoon over the floaty, printed, femme shapes of some of today’s fashions helps me make a shift inside and out.  A sense of excitement and anticipation stirs me.  I recall that these bespoke elements have never gone out of style, and I have always felt my best when sashaying around in them.   I dressed that way a lot in the 70’s (when I was an artist) and in the 90’s (when I was an artist) and now that I’ve discovered my art again, it’s time to change my look.  Indeed, you just have to fool with it.