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”…..
So now we come to the “After” pics:
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.
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.
This formatting is about to kill me. I can’t figure it out. Something changed.
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.
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!
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).
Before and After –
Before and at the Point of Overwhelment:
And After, At Last:
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:
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?
My Frida Sketches
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.
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.
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!
Well, that’s a bit of an overstatement about my irritations today, but I’m still in a twit over it and needing to just get over myself. Nothing’s so irritating as knowing just enough about computers and blogs and social media sites and online shops and digital photos and scans ET AL….to just irritate yourself silly.
I was tweaking my blog you see, and sorta crashed my PC. I still have my MacBook which needs a new OS (since it is going on 8 years old) so I’m plugging away on it right now. I do love it, bless its tiny screen, but I also love my BIG monitor PC. OK.
Poking around in my photo files, I found some pics that illustrated what I thought were Projects Gone Terribly Wrong. I’m wondering if I can rescue a couple of them because in retrospect, they don’t appear as horrid to me know as they did back then. I can crop and digitally correct some scans, and I can paint all around and over the oil. Unless I just decide to start on Something Else Entirely.
But Oh Boy! Here’s some Things I REALLY Like; pics from friends, the neighborhood, famous artists, and my own scribbles as well:
I’m really getting in the mood to make some simple cloth dolls. I had forgotten about this little drawing, and maybe she has surfaced at just the right time. Yes, most definitely.
Since retiring from office work I’ve made it my bizness to jump full into art making. Who knew it was so much work? Social media has certainly upped the ante in the game. Not complaining; just sayin’. I am grateful to have all these avenues. So, I joined Dallas Area Fiber Artists (DAFA) organization as well as Texas Association of Visual Artists (TVAA), both here in Dallas.
Friend and fellow artist Linda Goodwin and I visited TVAA’s “Black & White” curated exhibit at the Plaza of the Americas in downtown Dallas’ Arts District. Understand that Linda and I are both Dallas natives, have been downtown a gazillion times (albeit separately); both have smart phones, and Linda has a gps, but we still got lost, as per usual. So as the Gallery was closing, we show up! frazzeled! excited! and are dazzled by the talent displayed. Check ’em out: http://www.tvaa.org
In September, we went to the Lakewood Summer Arts Faire where I bought a bag of little hand dyed silk scraps from Val Guignon, Linda came away with a hand dyed silk top from her and amazingly dazzling pendant lights made from gourds by Le Gourd on Blue. I had a heartwarming chat with Cynthia Brannum, Art Program Director at The Stewpot, a downtown Dallas ministry; I own a painting by one of her students there, Mr. Cornelius Brackens, Jr. Check ’em out: http://www.thestewpot.org
Another exciting event was when I learned that artist Jane Cather, whom I so greatly admire, was blogging again after a four-year hiatus! check her out here: http://janecather.wordpress.com/
I bought the cutest little embroidered pincushion from my Dutch friend; it’s the orange bicycle cross-stitch on natural linen; check her out here: http://www.nellyslittlegifts.nl or search Etsy for nellyslittlegifts
My friend Susan recently ordered an assemblage item for her granddaughter from me. So I made this little character – no, it made itself! using a plastic bottle that contained an Ensure-like beverage, silk fabric strips, wire, wall anchors, cool paper clips, beads, muslin, embroidery thread, and price tags, which I labeled each with an aspect of personality or desire. Head lifts out and Katie can write something she wants to change or happen on a note, and drop it inside the body. I also fixed up a kit for her to make one for someone else.
And then, I opened my Etsy shop. I have more items to add to the 13 currently listed, but am in the process of cutting, glueing, and photographing/staging them. What a lot of work! But so gratifying. Here’s a peak at a couple things listed:
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 found 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.
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.
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…….
Seems like April was jammin’ after I recovered from a nasty case of poison ivy in March, and I was practically manic with gifts from the Universe: everything just seemed to flow. You know how that is. I’d been reading my usual stack of books on spirituality and creativity and my energy level was higher than usual. I painted my kitchen Ben Moore Jade Green and tricked it out with an old pink plastic chandelier I’d stashed in a drawer years ago; finally painted that ugly subfloor in the adjoining den a glossy white. Met up with friends at their show & sale at the Dallas Bath House Cultural Center Art Mart; got sage advice from friend Loretta in upstate NY about blogging & marketing. Kept applying for jobs, hoping to land one before UI benefits run out. Started my blog and scanned all my current journal-sketches.
Got an abscessed gum and crashed. Got that fixed. There went all “discretionary funds” for awhile. Ouch. So this week has been a total bust except for the sublime weekend spent with my darling 9 year old grandson, Castle. Still, I felt totally slammed and wondered why.
I really prefer the times when I feel that I’m in that state of allowing Source to flow in and through me and I’m sort of skipping around with multiple tools and expressions of my and others’ limitless creativity just exploding around us! Silly woman. It’s just not indefinitely sustainable, and the upsides of ennui are 1) it’s so freakin’ dramatic, and 2) it’s not indefinitely sustainable either.