Fiddling Around With Projects to Get Through Hard Times and Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making with Humble and Recycled Materials

Over the holidays I obsessed over Santos cage dolls, finding lots of inspiration on Pinterest. My interest comes from my love of art dolls, so my interpretation of a Santos is probably stretching the concept. I began with sketches and then assembled some favorite materials to make her:
* cardboard
* brown paper
* leaves
* strips of photo paper left over from trimmed prints
* masking tape
* black duct tape
* burlap
* gouache paints
* alphabet stamps
* twine

santos sketch 1
Santos sketch 1
santos sketch2
Santos sketch2
santos pieces
Santos pieces
santos assembly
Santos assembly
santos back
Santos back
Isabelle kitty helps paint doll
Isabelle kitty helps paint doll
finished doll full view
finished doll full view
finished santos head and torso
finished Santos head and torso
portrait closeup
portrait closeup

At the same time, a cloth doll I made 20 years ago called to me for repair and resurrection. With her head now firmly secured by adding a ruff and collar of cotton trim and lace, and her old mohair long locks cut off and replaced with dark brown curly yarn, she now reminds me of Lady Cora Grantham on Downton Abbey, albeit dressed more like a 19th century servant than a 20th century aristocrat. Always the kind and hopeful lady of the house.

Lady Cora cloth doll
Lady Cora cloth doll

Another project is my first collage in many years. As leaves fell from my tropical plant, I painted the backs with leftover black house paint. I tore strips from one of many copies of Mom’s poetry and pasted them onto a black painted canvas board; they overpowered so I tore most off; added the leaves, burlap and fabric, masking tape; wrapped with twine and sealed all with gloss medium. The twine doubles as hangers.

painting leaves
painting leaves
horizontal hang
horizontal hang
vertical display
vertical display

Finally, a little cardboard plaque with one of my scanned sketchbook drawings of a still life with owl pasted on, little patches of burlap, and hung by attaching a wire to top. I enjoy ripping off the brown paper on the cardboard to expose the corrugated ridged bits.

still life on corrugated cardboard
still life on corrugated cardboard

Neighborhood Artists’ Studio Tours

Mural by Dawn Cleaves of Artisan Finishes in Dallas, TX
Mural by Dawn Cleaves of Artisan Finishes in Dallas, TX
Dawn holds her stenciled painted dress
Dawn holds her stenciled painted dress
Wincorn woodwork studio view
A view of Richard’s woodworking studio
Wincorn in studio
Artisan Richard Wincorn
corner Wincorn studio
ladder, windows and doors in Wincorn studio
artisanfinishes4
painted fabric, mural, and red pepper in Artisan Finishes studio
artisanfinishes2
Linda and I both enjoyed visiting with Gardiner as the kids played during the tour
Linda good vibes WincornTable
Mrs. Goodwin reacts to the good vibes from Wincorn’s work and the light
Wincorn wLinda
We get autographed copies of Scouting The Best of Local Dallas, Texas
Wincorn studio foyer
Foyer in Wincorn Studio
ArtisanFinishes studio shelves
Yummy supplies at Artisan Finishes
artisanfinishes studio3
Corner in Dawn’s studio
Wincorn studio view
Studio view in Wincorn’s workshop
Wincorn pieces
A sample of Wincorn’s pieces
WincornStudio porch
His woodworking shop/studio boasts a lovely porch cover by Richard Wincorn
JulietCube gets snow
A freezing Dallas winter view from my front porch

Last weekend my artist buddy Linda Garten Goodwin and I went on our neighborhood’s Cayuga Plaza Open Studio tour.  It sits just east of White Rock Lake, on the other side of the railroad track from my house.  We love our train.  When it rains, and the conductor blows that train whistle, there is no better sound.

Visit the websites of these talented artists, and visit their custom work studios.  Call Dawn for an appointment to see her Artisan Finishes studio at 214-500-2063.  And check out Richard Wincorn’s beautiful spread in Scouting The Best of Local Dallas Vol. 3 City Guide. 

http://artisanfinishes.net/

http://www.richardwincornstudio.com

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.

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
lampshade momPoetry
I used part of a page of Mom’s poetry for the lampshade
couch goingWrong
Then I stopped working on it because I thought it sucked.
LittleFkrs
Stuff going wrong all around the house.
PinkCloudGroup
A big doodle became a group of people in need of a “Pink Cloud”
PinkSofa
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:

latesunLR
When my Dutch friends in The Hague remodeled their home, they sent me this enchanted pic
snow&bluehs
Yes, it does snow in Dallas. My backyard
OldTowne Alexandria bookshop
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

rumi
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

wrl studio tour 14 006

wrl studio tour 14 008

Paintings by Richard Ray
Paintings by Richard Ray

wrl studio tour 14 012

wrl studio tour 14 013

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

wrl studio tour 14 022

OMG  A Frida dishwasher!
OMG A Frida dishwasher!

wrl studio tour 14 028

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.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Before & After & During

As one thing leads to another, I can’t help sort of drifting from one project to another.  The behind the scenes stuff is too irritating to mention.

cardboard &burlap

NewGuy came together from assorted body parts,  pants made from linen napkin, Tshirt knit remnant & a hat recently rejected from Nikol's doll.
NewGuy came together from assorted body parts, pants made from linen napkin, Tshirt knit remnant & a hat recently rejected from Nikol’s doll.

 

early springmore remnant rollsArtyology Spoonflower fabrc

silky remnants
silky remnants

 

summer curtainImageImageImageImageImageImage

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