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!

 

 

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.

 

Fiddling Around With Projects to Get Through Hard Times and Good

In light of current events, how can my need for creative expression possibly matter, given the frightening state of affairs in the world?  Is that shallow of me?  I am petrified of the term “shallow”.  It has been used to describe me during my most rebellious periods and haunts me.  I curse myself for my vast amount of shallowness in previous decades and wonder how much remains?  Gawd.  Sadness and Fear drifted in these last couple months more than expected, but also some great joy in family coming together.

Urgent family business requiring three stressful and relatively unpleasant trips Downtown and much paperwork prep, coupled with the sudden and unexpected death by cancer of my beloved cousin Ronald, laid me low a few days.   I started mixing up house paint because my pale blue bedroom was on my nerves.  There were 3 false starts until I finally mixed a pinky-peachy-beige and wanted it up on the wall NOW.   But I stalled out!  I just couldn’t get it done.

Meantime, I’m helping a friend type and edit her memoir which is a fascinating project and we have a lively monthly meeting at my kitchen table.  Soon after Ronnie’s funeral, along comes a wonderful family celebration in Ennis, and I am rejuvenated by reconnecting and meeting some special new people, although cousin Ronald was dearly missed.

All during these difficult 2 months it felt like all my attempts at art making sucked, so I just fiddled around with ideas and snapped pics of the process.  I cheered myself up with a purchase from Etsy artist Monnie Bean Folkart and took pics of him hanging around the house.  He’s paperclay, and upon arrival on my doorstep, told me his name was “Trevor”.

I was so excited that artist, book author,  and blogger Seth Apter included a photo I sent him of one of my artwork displays at home in the Living With Art section of his blog!  ( I am having trouble making “insert link” work, so am inserting this the hard way)

http://thealteredpage.blogspot.com/     Look for Week 12 of Living With Art, artists’ homes on his homepage.

Then Mother’s Day arrived and my son gave me a wonderful gift: He finished painting my bedroom for me!  It’s a much more soothing room now and all the more so because of his hard work.

Click on any of the mis-mash of my images below to enlarge them.

Trevor (paperclay doll by Monnie Bean Folkart) supervises furniture painting
Trevor (paperclay doll by Monnie Bean Folkart) supervises furniture painting
Paint colors test
Paint colors test
My soon-to-be-pink table was on West End Salvage.  My impression of Don....
West End Salvage TV show featured a little vintage Duncan Phyfe table like mine…which I am painting pink.
Project sketches
Project sketches
Trevor ondesk
On my desk: David and Trevor
New loot by Pam Carriker & Seth Apter + cat = good lounging
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My front yard. It’s spring!
Trevor drawing gone wrong
Trevor drawing gone wrong
desk chaos 1
desk chaos 1
desk chaos2
Desk tidy up
Spring studio view
Spring studio view
Vintage teapot + notes on new doll project
Vintage teapot + notes on new doll project
Cloth doll in process of a re-do
Cloth doll in process of a re-do
Playing with mixed media.
Playing with mixed media.
redhead instead
The cloth doll goes in a whole new direction
Experiment gone wrong: Caran D'Ache watercolor pastels + gouach paint on Lokti paper
Experiment gone wrong: Caran D’Ache watercolor pastels + gouach paint on Lokti paper
Mother's Day Gift: pinky paint job
Mother’s Day Gift: pinky paint job
Planning the bedroom paint job
Planning the bedroom paint job

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

 

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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

 

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!