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!

 

 

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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Hope Returns and Sharing Maker Inspiration

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

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

Claudine Hellmuth – collage

Claudine Hellmuth

Lynne Perrella – collage, mixed media

Lynne Perrella

Thread and Thrift – textile artist, printmaker

Thread and Thrift

The Pale Rook – cloth doll art

The Pale Rook

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

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

Mom's little budgie
Mom’s little budgie

Hey, New York: Hipsters thrive in Texas too!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gentle multitasking: sketching while watching Link TV

One of the budget tightening measures I took last year was to shrink my cable TV programming from mid-level to bare bones service and I’m so glad I did.  Saves me lots of money and time, and yet introduced me to a station I’m watching more and more of: LinkTV.  It’s global, it has TED segments, and I’ve yet to explore all it has to offer, just as I am spending more time on the internet exploring blogs and collecting inspiration.

As I watch LinkTV, I’m finding that I like to have a sketchbook handy (actually, I have 3: a small, medium, and large version) and as I start off a nonsensical, rhythmic line of drawing, I can look up at the TV and maybe incorporate my impressions of the segment into my piece.  It’s a very gentle form of multitasking that I actually like.

One night recently, I shut down my computer, unplugged TV, and gathered my “valuables” as I waiting out a terrifying storm and tornado watch.  I thought about all the recent victims of disaster and wondered at the utter randomness of life, and yet I want to believe in some order, some magic we help create.  Does sketching while sheltering from the storm count as multitasking?

How this artist regains hope and inspiration

Notes about my cherished books and climbing out of the abyss.

If I were a good student and steward of all the literature I’ve been devouring over the last few years related to opening up to spirituality and creativity and Source, I would trust that a few simple and gentle steps could help me climb out of the abyss I fell into a few weeks ago.  I did get jolted out of it when I was rightly guided, – no coincidence – and that’s kinda why I started this illustrated blog.

So, one day recently when I was sick of my malaise but still mired in it, I started to reach for one of my fav magazines or books about decor/design but “something” directed my hand back to a volume I hadn’t finished working in: Julia Cameron’s The Complete Artist’s Way trilogy including The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World, and Finding Water.  I had left off reading a few months ago at Week 6 in Finding Water.

Amazed at first to discover that these chapters dealt with navigating through those inexplicable periods of depression that steal over many of us, then more excited as I read on because the strong urge to pick up this particular book, picking it up where I’d left off at the precise place where I meet myself now, is exactly what I needed  (and exactly the confirmation (not coincidence, mind you) that the Universe sends you when you can’t seem to muster up some faith and trust that you will get through this, whatever “this” you are going through.

Last night I was thinking about the people along the Mississippi River, and others recently who have lost everything due to Mother Nature’s recent devastation on them, and what would I grab if I had some warning to evacuate my home?  This works like counting sheep to get to sleep because I ticked off virtually all my belongings plus dog Ziggy before I drifted off.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of my favorite reading material (and eye candy) that I just couldn’t leave behind:

▪ Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd

▪ The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women; Gail McMeekin

▪ Writing Down the Bones; Natalie Goldberg

▪ A New Earth, and The Power of Now; Eckhart Tolle

▪ The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukov

▪ The Law of Attraction and other books by Abraham-Hicks

▪ The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama

▪ The Complete Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

▪ The Confident Creative; Cat Bennett

▪ All of Danny Gregory’s books about sketchbooks: Creative Matters, Creative License, and An Illustrated Life

▪ Living the Creative Life and Creative Time & Space, both by Rice (say “Ree-sa”) Freeman-Zachary

…..& a couple dozen exquisite tomes by today’s popular designers, stylists, photographers and bloggers of lifestyle & fashion: (I eliminated first names cuz this list is getting really long)  Chalmers & Hanan, Bauwers & Campbell, Bartolucci & Kurzaj; Lemieux, Becker, Copestick & Treloar; Gillingham-Ryan, Williams, Line, Sorrell; Bird, Tryde & Newdick; plus those little Taschen books…and Selby, Rodic, Schuman, Larocca & Chessum. *whew*

…..and of course, books about my fav artists and oh, a few books on actual art-making plus a slew of magazines (beloved Domino mags and House & Garden have their very own stacks).  And oh, yeah, binders of tear sheets, a couple devoted to decor and a couple just for art-making inspiration.

I am never, ever, bored.  A little down in the dumps from time to time, but never bored.  That reminds me: I miss artist Jane Cather’s website and blog, where has she gone?  Her work always inspires me.  It’s a blessed thing to be inspired.

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.