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!

 

 

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.

 

Sometimes It Just All Goes Terribly Wrong. Until You Work Through It.

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.

Neighbor let this tree die.
I LOVED this tree in the neighbor’s yard. Then she let it DIE.
Obsessed with PINK couches; tried to paint one + adding collage
Obsessed with PINK couches; tried to paint one + adding collage
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I used part of a page of Mom’s poetry for the lampshade
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Then I stopped working on it because I thought it sucked.
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Stuff going wrong all around the house.
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A big doodle became a group of people in need of a “Pink Cloud”
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The weird pink couch obsession, again.

But Oh Boy! Here’s some Things I REALLY Like; pics from friends, the neighborhood, famous artists, and my own scribbles as well:

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When my Dutch friends in The Hague remodeled their home, they sent me this enchanted pic
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Yes, it does snow in Dallas. My backyard
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When visiting my cousin in Alexandria, VA – the coolest bookshop in Old Towne
A favorite artist, Pierre Lesieur
A favorite artist, Pierre Lesieur

p liesure violet couch

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As I imagined Rumi

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. mostBasicForm

Feelin’ better already.  Funny how that works.

White Rock Lake Artists’ Studio Tour + Etsy Shop

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.

At DAFA last month, I made a spirit doll in the workshop taught by Valery Guignon.  Check ’em out: http://www.dallasfiberartists.org

Fabric wrapped wire Spirit Doll
Doll made at DAFA workshop

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/

My big guy, son Eric Keathley, built this computer for me, turned 41 years of age, and started up his Reverb Nation website.  He rocks! check him out here:  http://www.reverbnation.com/musician/erickeathley

His little guy, Castle turned 13!

Castle is 13!
Castle is 13!

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.

a mixed media art doll
a mixed media art doll
Her first name was "Aspects"
Her first name was “Aspects”

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:

Ethnic girl
Ethnic girl
black and white stripe
Portrait of redhead + chandelier

find me here;  https://www.etsy.com/shop/ARTYOLOGYbyGenieGeer

Finally, here are images from the White Rock Lake 22nd Studio Tour:

pottery by Marty Ray
pottery by Marty Ray
more pieces by Marty Ray
more pieces by Marty Ray

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Paintings by Richard Ray
Paintings by Richard Ray

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Corner of Susan Giller studio
Corner of Susan Giller studio
Painting/collage by Susan Giller apprx 66" x 42"
Painting/collage by Susan Giller apprx 66″ x 42″
Pottery by Susan Giller
Pottery by Susan Giller
Encaustic paintings by Silvia S. Thornton
Encaustic paintings by Silvia S. Thornton

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OMG  A Frida dishwasher!
OMG A Frida dishwasher!

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American Contempory Artist, Silvia S. Thornton in her studio
American Contemporary Artist, Silvia S. Thornton
in her studio
Studio of Kathy Boortz
Studio of Kathy Boortz
A working studio
A working studio
What a cool workspace
What a cool workspace
Works by Kathy Boortz
Works by Kathy Boortz
Carved wood piece by Kathy Boortz
Carved wood piece by Kathy Boortz
There's a pond and fountain back there
There’s a pond and fountain back there
Fuchsia pink flamingos!
Fuchsia pink flamingos!
Mixed media art by Angie Bolling
Mixed media art by Angie Bolling
Angie Bolling in her studio
Angie Bolling in her studio
A delightful place!
A delightful place!
Susan Giller Orange Rabbit Woman print comes home to my studio
Susan Giller Orange Rabbit Woman print comes home to my studio
Bird by Marty Ray, wood block by Chris Lyons and pinch-pot by Nancy Cole
Bird by Marty Ray, wood block by Chris Lyons and pinch-pot by Nancy Cole
My artsy friends Julia, Linda, and Emily.  Kelly was probably still in somebody's studio!
My artsy friends Julia, Linda, and Emily. Kelly was probably still in somebody’s studio!
Isabelle naps as I work
Isabelle naps as I 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

Mixing it up with sketch, stitch, and paint

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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

 

Have I become bipolar or just slammed by a killer case of ennui?

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.