New Adventures in Art Making. Life in a Retirement Community. New Lease on Life, and Letting Go.

I created some new pages here on the blog which you can link into and find pics for miles. The pages are listed at the top of the blog.  Check out the ones featuring friends’ inspiring homes (hey there, Mary Korfanty, Barbara Gold, Dwight West, Linda Goodwin, and Dr. Ladenberger).

(This is a new blog format/theme and I am having a hell of a time getting the fonts right.  Apologies if it comes out wonky.  It is very very late at night.)

After a year on the wait list for an apartment at the Juliette Fowler retirement community, the move happened all of a sudden at Christmas.  Around that time we BA ’66 grads lost one of ou icons, one of our beloveds, to cancer.  I was so glad to have spent a little time with Bobby Bassett over the last few years; mainly at art venues and then later in hospice.  I sure hope I see you in the afterlife.

Bobby is on the left. Middle: Brent; right: BryanLots of artwork in various media going on here in my new home.  It’s only 600 sq. ft. and I’m pretty used to living small, but I do have to have my art supplies, artwork and treasures!  I’m comfortable here and the 2 big windows with expansive views plus high ceilings, keep me from feeling closed in.   I’ve joined the artists’ group here, and have committed to the water aerobics class by purchasing a new swim dress.  I was without Wifi for awhile, so couldn’t post.  Today and evening I got caught up on blog posts by creatives I follow.  That was cool.

Meantime, here are pics from The Lakewood Library 54th Annual Artists’ show on view all of May.  I am thrilled to have 2 pieces in it; cardboard and fabric doll, and acrylic painting using the techniques I learned from Lynn Whipple during her online class, The Essence of Still Life.  I will never paint the same old way again!

Vessels Spring 2018

Ms Dignity’s Red Shoes at the Lakewood Library 54th annual artists’ show

Here is work by a new artist friend Jacqui during our weekly art workshop here at JFCA:

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Isabel kitty is happy here!  Thanks for visiting!

 

 

Downsizing, Change, Reunions, and new Sketches plus Fiber Art

Months ago, I downsized from a 3 bedroom house to 1 bedroom apartment.  Oh GOD.  Don’t let me use large boxes ever again!  I’m too old for this.  But even so, YES, I will be moving again next year…..to an even smaller apartment in a modest retirement community in Old East Dallas on the edge of Lakewood.  Love that.  Plus, it will be much cheaper, and that’s the whole point of all this Damn Downsizing.

I let go of almost half of what I owned before the move.  Painful at times, yet freeing.  Cousin Julie, who had also just downsized, sent me her copy of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo.  A revelation.  If the item doesn’t “spark joy” when you touch it, let it go to a new owner who might love it. (or just throw it away).  Serious magic, indeed.  Important to follow the order she prescribes, as your confidence and clarity grows throughout the process.  The only thing I couldn’t do was fold all my blouses/tops for storage in drawers.  I prefer hangers and I’m NOT a young petite person like Ms. Kondo.  You get the idea.

New apartment, “Before”…..

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Where the hell did all this stuff come from?  I am so overwhelmed, it takes me months to get unpacked and re-designed.

So now we come to the “After” pics:

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These books all pertain to art making.  LOVE my new vertical metal “spine” bookshelves.  Cloth dolls and paintings by me.
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Painting by Las Vegas artist Jenn Main circa 2000.  I made a “gallery wall” by the bed using mostly family photos.  I still don’t like the bedroom.  I miss the 2 windows with leafy green views that were in my bedroom in my house.   I also miss the pink bedroom walls my son had painted for me there.
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I used to have 3 tables.  This old beat up vintage one was a gift in the ’70’s from a beloved aunt.  I just can’t part with it.  See the metal cart on wheels?  A recent steal from Tuesday Morning.  It holds the supplies I use the most.  I rounded up all the old photos accumulated pre-smart phone days and stored them in the round turquoise boxes that had been languishing mostly unused, due to their inconvenient roundness.  They are happy now.  I repurposed a canvas art supply tote to hold household tools.
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I repurposed the linen cabinet for art supply storage.  The bottom drawer holds mostly muslin/calico.  It took me months to decide how I wanted to organize everything.  I am unable to just stash things away in order to hide them, which irritated a minimalist numbers-loving friend who tried to help me…in vain.  I had to undo everything she tried to do!  Who says artists aren’t organized?  It just takes me longer to get there.
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This $15 plastic shelf from Lowe’s is perfect for a tiny corner.   Oil painting by my late mom, D.J. Geer, circa 1965.  I covered the front of an old couch pillow with a leopard print remnant.  Origami cranes by grandson Castle Keathley.
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Castle Keathley (the greatest grandson of all time) comes over to hang out.  It feels like home now!
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Another new metal spine bookshelf for my Decor library.  Castle assembled them for me.  I found them via Amazon.  Design Within Reach carries them as well.  A must-have for small spaces.  Artwork and dolls by yours truly.

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See the tall, narrow coffee cups?  With the Dutch canal houses on them?  A serendipitous gift from friends and newlyweds Jennifer and Marcel.  He’s Dutch, she’s a Dallas gal and now she lives in my favorite country, Holland, with Marcel and his two darling daughters.  The coffee cups are from Amsterdam.  They replace my favorite cup which somehow got left behind during my move and for which I grieved, silly as that sounds….my son Eric made the wood plaque for me when we lived in The Lehigh Valley for a few years.  I still miss the snow and the scenic views.

Reunions……

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Jennifer and Marcel with Elise and Melanie.  It was the girls’ first trip to the USA!
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Teenage friends Genie and Barbara reunite at her book launch…that’s Barbara Gold on the right.  She grew up to have a successful private practice as a family therapist and now author!  Loving Courageously:  First Me, Then You, Now Us is available on Amazon.  An easy, entertaining read full of pearls of wisdom and references to pop culture.  Have your highlighter ready.

And my 50th high school reunion was so cool, that none of us got as many photos of each other as we wanted.  I could only stop talking long enough to take a few.

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Linda, Barbara, Ronnie, Anita, and Joel

This formatting is about to kill me.  I can’t figure it out.  Something changed.

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Is this me….or Hillary?  Just after the Election
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I was trying to depict my new Marie Antoinette couch pillow cover

During all this life readjustment, I had cataract surgeries on both eyes.  Long process.  These sketches were all done during that time, and around the presidential election, which was also a cause for my watery, blurry eyes.  And general depression.

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Mom’s antique secretary.  Before she died, she spent many happy hours at it, painting little exquisite pastel landscapes.
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I was playing around with a felt tip calligraphy pen.  These people, in this style, keep showing up.
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Playing around with gouache.  Now I think he reminds me of Pres Obama. 
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“Pink” Decor
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Another stitch project .  Free form cloth hand sewn figure
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Pastel and Micron pen in AquaBee sketchbook
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New Fav magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fabric remnants gifted by designer Jennifer Mayer
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Multitasking.  Reading Barbara Gold’s Loving Courageously and playing paper dolls.
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I survived downsizing!  With a LOT of help from my friends and family.  And am always happy on an art-day outing!

 

 

Women Artists in Dallas Rock the Galleries

This is a thrill, indeed for this Dallas gal-artist!  I’ve got 5 cloth dolls and one portrait oil painting in the show!  For a sneak peak, visit:

the Small Gallery

 

Here on my blog, I’ve updated some pages, As well as the page that features pics of various artisans’ work in my private collection::

In the Gallery

Dolls

In My Collection – Work by Other Artists

I’m inspired to make my own little stitch works by fiber artists in the blogesphere and learning so much from Jude Hill.  I updated my page, here:

Fiber Art and Stitch

Visit my “Blogs I Follow” l to see where I get my inspiration from!

 

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Genie Geer has 6 pieces in the show

 

 

 

 

 

Frida Kahlo-Inspired Gallery Exhibit at The Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake

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A collection of photos follows from the recent curated exhibit at The Bath House Cultural Center on White Rock Lake in Dallas.  Although I tried to capture each piece of the installation, I offer my sincere apologies to any artist I may have missed, or photo quality isn’t the best.

I’m so honored that my Frida cloth art doll was included with the talented artists who made the eclectic works there!

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Veranda view at Bath House Cultural Center and Gallery

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In Order to Execute One Task, I Drift Off Into Another In Search of the Elusive Muse

Evolving Studio Reorganization
A few weeks ago, before launching into some new projects, I decided my living room/studio required another sort and rearrange.  Besides gaining some wiggle room I found an old sketchbook with drawings from my foray into the Sketching in the Gallery events at Dallas Museum of Art in 2001.  I thought I had lost them.  My graphite drawings reminded me how much I used to love using charcoal.  Now I get a thrill knowing I can seal these babies with my new spray fixatives (matte or semi-gloss).

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My tonal drawing of a painting while at Dallas Museum of Art’s Sketching in the Galleries

Before and After

Before and at the Point of Overwhelment:

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And After, At Last:

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Mom painted that Venice scene in 1965.  We hated the bottom half.  I’m collaging on that part.  Mom’s passed on, but I like to think she visits me.

 

Trying New Supplies and Techniques
In response to a call for entries for artworks inspired by the iconic Frida Kahlo at an upcoming curated gallery exhibit at The Bath House at White Rock Lake, I had an idea for a cloth doll posing with some of her (the doll’s, not Frida’s), self portrait sketches (done by yours truly). I wanted to experiment with some of my new art supplies, but it was also important to me that I use fabric, trims, and doll hair already on hand.  And the DOLL selects the materials she wants.

I like to shop online.  I HATE shopping in person.  My vertigo kicks in and I always get a tummy ache.  In a store, decision-making eludes me.  I have been known to leave a store empty-handed.  If I could order groceries online for cheap, I would.  Anyway…..

The drawings are done on four different papers, approx. 5” x 7”, using a variety of tools including chisel tip pens, markers Pigma pen, pastels, acrylic, charcoal.  Why had I been afraid to try new techniques?  That’s an interesting line of thought, I think..  I found I love the soft pastels, especially on this new Yupo ‘paper’.  So slick and smooth!  Spray with fixative and you’re done.

I was uncomfortable using the calligraphy pens and lost control of my marking a few times.  So much so that I cut out the boo-boo and pasted on a new piece of paper, and drew over that.  Ouch. The damn chisel tips bleed when dampened by a dot of Elmer’s.  That would never do with a wash.  I’ll stick with my trusty Micron Pigma Pens.  In the end, none of my sketches remotely resemble Frida, but why quibble over details?   In any case, I changed my mind about using them with my Frida doll entry.  They will turn up in a future project, probably.

Recent sketchbook drawings with new supplies:

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The dreaminess of soft pastel on the slick Yupo paper blew me away

 

Inspiring Studio of Artist/Writer Linda Garten Goodwin
Is it any wonder I like to hang out in my friend’s carefully collected and curated studio space?

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Linda’s self portrait.  The red shoes are just there for eye candy.

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My Frida Sketches

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Charcoal interior in new 12 x 9 Super Deluxe Bee Paper sketchbook

In Order to Execute One Task, I Drift Off Into Another In Search of the Elusive Muse
I was also playing around with piecing small scraps of fabric.  Maybe use some on cloth dolls.  Maybe just see what becomes.  I was stuck in the select-and-pin phase; the thing was getting too big and pissing me off,  when I happened to take a Pinterest break.  A Pinterest “break” usually becomes a BINGE.

Luckily my Textiles-Fiber Arts Pinterest board includes work by Jude Hill and I happened to swoop into her Spirit Cloth blog   .    Serendipity!  She was just starting a new online sharing project and soon I had segued into beginning my first cloth sampler.  I’ll try a nine-patch soon, but it scares me because I have a hard time with measurements and squaring things up.  Don’t know how much of that fear is due to mental block or mental handicap.  **humphf**  But for this first project, I want intuitive design, imperfection, and simple hand stitch.  I love that Jude uses just a few simple but perfect, tiny embroidery stitches.  The folk art feel appealed to me, but with the hope of producing something that is somehow primitive and modern all at once.

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Piecing out of control

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It started off random but now reminds me of a town

 

Meanwhile, My Doll Making Muse Butts In
So OF COURSE this stitch-play led to the dubious decision to stitch my Frida doll BY HAND.  Which I loved doing, but it really slowed me down and I was only 97% finished with her in time to meet a contest photo-entry deadline, so I had to tack her clothes in place, pose and snap the photo, and wait until later to give her rings and embroidered shoes.   I used my new pastels along with pen, fabric paint and spray fixative on her face.  I’m pleased with her hair.  It’s mohair + synthetic doll hair.  She wears new earrings from Kalachandji’s Indian gift shop. She doesn’t look like the real Frida, but she FEELS like her to me.  I enjoyed researching the real Frida Kahlo in any case, and remembered I want to add the movie to my collection someday.

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A trip to Joann for embroidery floss for Frida’s slippers also yielded remnants which I immediately hand stitched onto sofa pillows I was sick of.  Frida doll approves.

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This was my photo entry of my piece for the upcoming curated gallery exhibit at The Bath House
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Frida doll contemplates her image in this moody light-play vignette
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And we are off for delivery to the art gallery!

Color Play
Adult Coloring Books have become so popular, and friend Linda Garten Goodwin and I spent an afternoon at the Bath House at White Rock Lake indulging in a coloring event with folks from the East Dallas Creative Arts Center.  I hope to take a class there someday.  Anyway, while I enjoyed the outing, my colored page SUCKED.  A four year old could have done better.  I was duly humbled.  Linda didn’t like hers either, but I thought she did pretty good considering her advanced age (ha!).  She complained that her hand was cramping up.  Excuses, excuses….

Speaking of child play……So the kids who graduated high school the year before me were in town for their 50th reunion.  Lesley Ivy stayed with Linda and Mr. G, (who live just a couple blocks from me in the White Rock area), and I was lucky to get a play date with her and Linda before Lesley returned to her home in Taos.  (I know, right? Taos.  *sigh*)

We had a sublime lunch at East Dallas’ Kalachandji’s Indian restaurant/gift shop/temple, where you eat outside in a lovely courtyard.  I bought Frida-doll’s earrings there.  Beautiful afternoon with beautiful ladies!

Check out Lesley’s colorful and distinctive murals, mosaics, painted furniture and more, here  Colorwork  I’ll take one of each, please!

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Coloring at The Bath House
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Linda got Colorers’ Cramp
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Courtyard dining
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Stained glass Peacock at the Indian restaurant
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Old High School Friends Lesley Ivy and Linda Garten Goodwin
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Little Ganesh came home with me.  He removes obstacles in our paths.  Seems to be working pretty well.  Nice.

 

Hope Returns and Sharing Maker Inspiration

I continue to rework some older cloth dolls as the mood strikes me.  I am still incubating ideas for new pieces.  Often, before I fall asleep, I rehearse a technique and assemble all the parts completely in my head.  I might even paint a picture (also in my head).  Too bad all the inspired work going on in my head doesn’t actually come to fruition.  Is this normal behavior?

Artists/Makers/Teachers whose work has influenced me lately are:

Claudine Hellmuth – collage

Claudine Hellmuth

Lynne Perrella – collage, mixed media

Lynne Perrella

Thread and Thrift – textile artist, printmaker

Thread and Thrift

The Pale Rook – cloth doll art

The Pale Rook

Paper doll project courtesy The Pale Rook. Lynne Perrella's awesome book Beyond Paper Dolls inspires.
Paper doll project courtesy The Pale Rook. Lynne Perrella’s awesome book Beyond Paper Dolls inspires.
I pasted notes by The Pale Rook on back. I dressed the doll with cut outs from a fashion magazine
I pasted notes by The Pale Rook on back. I dressed the doll with cut outs from a fashion magazine
The Pale Rook paper doll joins other
The Pale Rook paper doll joins other “store-bought” dolls in my very girlie bedroom
Framed Original collage circa 2004 by Claudine Hellmuth
Framed Original collage circa 2004 by Claudine Hellmuth
Phoebe gets a makeover + paperclip
Phoebe gets a makeover + paperclip
clothes are raw-edge and embellished with crude embroidery. And she
clothes are raw-edge and embellished with crude embroidery. And she “borrowed” another doll’s purse.
Back view highlights back of skirt
Back view highlights back of skirt
Marianne's original face circa 1997
Marianne’s original face circa 1997
Makeover includes a chin lift underway (see needle, no, it doesn't hurt)
Makeover includes a chin lift underway (see needle, no, it doesn’t hurt)
I'd forgotten that I had even recycled a failed head, proving women do in fact have eyes in the back of their heads.
I’d forgotten that I had even recycled a failed head, proving women do in fact have eyes in the back of their heads.
“New” Marianne still loves her old dress and boots.
New chin, makeup, hair...
New chin, makeup, hair…

My mom, D.J. Geer, who passed sixteen years ago, would have turned 90 this past July.  She was an artist and especially loved any sort of textile art.  We were playmates.  She loved birds.  When she died, I took her favorite ceramic purchase, a fat budgie. This is my watercolor of it.

Mom's little budgie
Mom’s little budgie

Hey, New York: Hipsters thrive in Texas too!

Jake at Half Price Books in Dallas, TX
Jake at Half Price Books in Dallas, TX

Over the last few months, I have been fortunate to supplement my social security income by typing, and helping edit, a dear friend’s memoir.  It is turning into therapy for us both (besides the obvious learning experience).  In addition, we are working on an art project together; I am scanning and mounting her drawings.  Here’s a little sketch I made of her after a memoir session at my kitchen table:

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April to present was filled with difficulties related to family issues and there were times I couldn’t make much art, or even read blogs; it was a struggle to open my email and Facebook.  Just wanted to sleep round the clock.  My memoir-writing friend has lent me her Inspector Gamache and The Walk novels, as I confessed to only reading my collection of “research” material related to Art or Decor or Fashion.

I needed an escape, and boy do I love Louise Penny’s and Richard Paul Evans’ work now!  I’m an addictive personality and can barely put them down long enough to return to Blogs and Art.  I expect to learn some things about Life and People, and maybe….maybe that will lead to some new Artwork, as well.  Hope returns.

My cottage as viewed thru' neighbor's rose bush
My cottage as viewed thru’ neighbor’s rose bush
More paper doll fun
More paper doll fun

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.

Artists, design & decor junkies; spiritual, global awareness seekers: apply within!

I have a plan.  I want to gather it all to me.  Goal setting has come late to me in my life, but it’s coming together, and I needed to get on social media to really begin to understand the powerful potential of our internet.  How we can, collectively, harness its power to reach out to one another, find some common ground, share our talents and dreams and find freedom of self-expression!

So I will be talking about, and linking to, other artists, lifestyle and photo blogs I’ve discovered,  my journey-in-progress and  my art; public figures I admire, writers and bloggers and ….you know how we are….

Shout out! to Loretta of The Art Motel of the Finger Lakes,  Jennifer of JMayerDesign, Beth of caprichostudio1.com, and Linda of LoveGarten.com.  Just as soon as I know what I’m doing, I’ll give y’all a link!