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:

Jacqui

 

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!

 

 

Letting Go and Moving On in Retirement. May It Lead to New Artwork, at Least.

It happened to me, what was unthinkable…..running out of money and resources in retirement; this Boomer who never planned for the future and was blind-sided by job losses and home equity losses, et al, blah blah blah.  Now made the tough decision to sell my cottage on a tree-lined street near my beloved White Rock Lake, and – ohmygod, will rent an apartment for awhile.  Perhaps a long while.  After ten years of ownership, my equity is non-existent due to the housing crash, and this old cottage now needs upkeep and repair I cannot make.  I dreamed of hanging on long enough to get a nice reverse mortgage, but the bathroom floor will have long caved in before that ever happens.

To my chagrin, I find that I qualify for subsidized housing for a one bedroom apartment.  So that’s what I have to do.  The For Sale sign went up in my yard today, and there have been three showings already.

My grandson will move back home with his mom and sisters and her boyfriend, and my son will have to find someone else besides me to stay with.  I’ve done all I can do, and now it is time to let go and move on.  I can’t help but think about everyone who rails against entitlements for the poor and ashamed to admit that in my callous youth, I was a snob.  I wasn’t priviledged,  just ignorant and naive.   I wasn’t smart with money, and I gave most of my inheritance away or made bad investments during the recession.  But I always worked and supported us, and paid my taxes.  Now it’s my turn to hold out my hand for help from the government.  There you have it.

So I made this little sampler cloth that had a horizontal piece up top, and it looked sort of like a pagoda, or perhaps an irregular cross.  I had another piece of brown and cream toile by Laura Ashley and I cut a section out that had a female profile with an outstretched arm on it.  After that, I drew a larger profile beside the printed toile one.  She wanted boots for walking, so a periwinkle pair were stitched and stuffed, trapunto-style.  Hands outstretched, she is garnering the courage to journey forward.

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Paintings by Claudia McGill

Here are photos of little paintings by Claudia McGill, whom I discovered by linking into blogs here on WordPress.  I adore her work!  She is very generous, and had a giveaway on her blog.  In exchange, I sent her a sampling of my work and am tickled to learn that she’s keeping them together like a little art journal.  So cool.

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Claudia McGill original acrylic paintings on canvas panels. displayed temporarily along a kitchen backsplash ledge

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Reception and Gallery Walk at theSmall Gallery and Slant Gallery in Midtown

I took photos of every piece of artwork (well, I think I got it all) that was on display at theSmall Gallery and Slant Gallery recently and will share them with you.  To start, here I am at the Reception attempting a selfie against my cloth head-ladies dolls.

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That wraps up the Midtown gallery tours for April.  If you made it this far into my blog post today, I hope you enjoyed it!

I am musing now…..does it matter where I live as long as I am surrounded by art that sustains me?  I still have friends, family, and a host of folks to admire in social media and the blogesphere.  But….Hopefully a view of leafy green or at least a flowering hanging basket from apartment windows.  Pride, pride go away….give up the dream of home ownership.  If it is a burden, then it is too much for me to handle.  Been there, done that, as we say.  Time to move on.

 

The Boomer Digital Learning Curve + Self-Doubt = Just One More Challenge

Hip hip hurrah!  During Thanksgiving week, a woman in New York purchased one of my paintings from my new Etsy site!  My God, I was so proud and pleased (still am) because this was validation that my art mattered, it spoke to someone besides me, it gave someone so much pleasure to see that they were compelled to buy it.  I’m like a proud parent sending a cherished child into the world.

Even so, a big funk recently overtook me (for days and days), and I began to doubt my ability, my path, and worse:  I felt I didn’t deserve anything good, much less recognition and validation.  Who did I think I was, anyway?  And my gawd, look how old I am!  A retired Boomer, washed-up old hag…..blah blah blah.

In my very long experience with this issue there were too many times I got close to my goal, backed away, gave up.  Pouted and indulged in despair (and things that weren’t very good for my health).  So OK, this time I did dig in to the Blue Bell ice cream a whole lot, but I remembered to turn to my collection of books on creativity for help.  One is Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way Trilogy’, and since I do believe we are guided, closed my eyes and let it fall open…..and the page it fell open to featured the section on ‘Creative U-Turns’.  Damn!  Magic, yet again.

And then there’s the what I call The Boomer Digital Learning Curve.  I have been in computer hell for a few days, figuring out  how to make a watermark to apply on my pics of my artwork ‘cuz copyright infringement is a hot topic and maybe, just maybe, some idiot would download one of my pieces and slap it in a frame, bypassing actually purchasing it from me.  I don’t think so!  This means I have been notating all my digital work, uploading new photos to my Etsy shop, and taking some off my Pinterest site, finally realizing Pinterest is not really the best place to post your own work anyway; and on it goes.

Here is my mixed media painting that was my first sale on Etsy:

Ethnic Girl collage in acrylic & tissue paper
Ethnic Girl collage in acrylic & tissue paper

One of the gifties I sent to Cousin Julie in Virginia, is this print of my sketch, “Tablet Guy”.  Julie says her iPad is her ‘constant companion’.  This coming from a lady who, not too long ago, was not eager to tackle the Boomer Digital Learning Curve and now she could probably teach a class on it.

Cousin Julie displays one of her Christmas gifts from me:  a print of my sketch, "Tablet Guy"
Cousin Julie displays one of her Christmas gifts from me: a print of my sketch, “Tablet Guy”

To make my life easier and less angst-full I think I will blog more regularly instead of saving up too much chatter in my head.  I can release it into the blogosphere, thereby freeing more space in the brain for creative thoughts.

Sketchbook drawing of a  cloth doll I made for myself expressing relief that the antidepressant meds had begun to work.
Sketchbook drawing of a cloth doll I made for myself expressing relief that the antidepressant meds had begun to work.

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

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

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.