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!

 

 

Online Artists’ Challenges Spark Exploring Techniques and New Avenues of Expression

Online challenges are a new passion of mine, having stumbled upon a free one a few months ago….maybe via Instagram?  Somebody’s blog?  I am losing track of how I found – and keep finding, such great talent on the web to learn from, maybe emulate, and share with.  Then of course, you get chummy with the other artists involved in that challenge or class.  You’re hooked.

I found more artists whose work I wanted to see more of, via a big clean-out of my many art books and periodicals.   I will be downsizing even further in the next few months, and I needed the cash, so off to HalfPrice Books I went with a load.  Before letting a good book go, I found it necessary to peruse it thoroughly; keepers were set aside and some pages torn out of various Stampington publications before trashing the rest of the magazine.  Even so, there were plenty of pristine issues intact left to sell.  You can find  ’em at the HPB store on Northwest Highway.

Now I have roughly half the art and decor books I moved in with; which gave me the courage to toss a big trash bag full of fabric scraps.  I’m not done ferreting around in my stash;  I’m determined to be tough.  I’ve had this stuff for many years.  I used to enjoy popping in to the fabric store for the odd remnant but haven’t had that pleasure for a long time, ’cause I just didn’t want to add to my piles.

Last week I let my favorite doll that I made go; and it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would!  “Beth” is with her new mom now up in Glen Ellyn, IL.   I listed her on Etsy and she wasn’t there for long, so I am encouraged to keep going with dolls and other artwork for sale.  And selling at lower prices than I offered before; I am trying to find that sweet spot between what’s affordable for a buyer and gives me some profit, too.  It’s the sharing of my work, and the recognition, and joy the buyer experiences that mean the most to me now.

I love Instagram for its ability to satisfy my need for instant gratification.  I follow close to 200 artists world-wide now, and have some followers of my own.  It keeps me on the creativity path.  The online challenges have you upload your “homework” onto Instagram, and all the artists in the challenge view and comment on everyone’s work.

Shout out to Tara Leaver, a young abstract painter in Cornwall for her Art Notes news and encouragement!  She has online classes in addition to an occasional free challenge.

Tara Leaver Freedom Through Art

Now for photos of my artwork since last May.

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Playing with Linda Goodwin’s oil pastels

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Black gesso smudge, white charcoal and oil on small canvas paper. I didn’t plan it, I just pulled the imagery out of the black smudge.
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White and Black charcoal
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Still loving learning painting with soft pastels via Gail Sibley’s blog, How To Pastel

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I fell in love with a business card featuring a photo of A Little Company stoneware/porcelain sculpture of these delightful characters
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I wanted to see what would happen if I held two different tip size pens and made a quick sketch of a still life.

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“Beth” doll is ready for mailing to her new mom in IL. I made her wrapping paper out of paper napkins stitched together.
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Little fabric collage, or samplers. Using up favorite scraps, and loving the zen relaxation of making them. Just instinctive; no plan. Addictive. Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth got me onto this.

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Pamela Hastings Book and the little figure I made from one of her patterns
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I wonder if I should quit while I’m a-head?

Time to Try New Things! New Worlds Open Up…..

Discovering the joy of Instagram

Wherein I begin to post all my new (and older) artwork and find a variety of artists and creatives and makers from all over the world, who post their expressions…..and you can communicate with them in real time!  I need more real time!

Genie Geer’s Instagram account

Creatives I am currently following on Instagram

A couple photos of what I’ve been working on.   Or click on the link above to my Instagram account.

I am still a little challenged on uploading photos from my Flickr page to my blog via downloading them first to this Windows PC…..I find Flickr difficult to use and Instagram is my new crush.  I can upload photos from my iPhone to Instagram in a snap, and tell it to share with Facebook and Flickr.  Done and Done.  I haven’t attempted to upload my phone data to this computer yet.  I hope I learn that soon.

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Final version of pastel, “The Dollmaker and Her Doll”
Imaginary Sam
Final Version, “Imaginary Sam”

On the Bookshelf

I’m always reading / studying several publications at a time.   Sometimes it takes me a few months to finish any one of them.  Who am I kidding.  Sometimes over a year.   As is the case of Proust’s tomes; I love them for their descriptive prose, it’s like looking at a series of beautiful paintings.  I’m a slow reader, maybe because I visualize every little thing.

Louise Penny “The Brutal Telling”, #5 in the Chief Inspector Gamache novels.  I love her characters and the Quebec backdrop.

Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun “Memoirs of Madame Vigee-Lebrun, Illustrated Edition”.  This is the autobiography of the prolific French artist whose many clients spanning many decades, included Marie Antionette.  She traveled and worked all over Europe until her death in 1842.  Wow!

Barbara Gold’s “Loving Courageously…First Me, Then You, Now Us”.

https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Courageously

She has a YouTube interview, here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPuEHCeNlNw

Barbara draws on over 35 years of psychotherapy practice to help readers develop a self to love and take good care of as we re-write the script we’ve learned.  Knowing me well, and some of the issues I struggle with, she recommended I read:

“When Food Is Love”, Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy”, by Geneen Roth (also on Amazon).  I’m only in the second chapter, but I can tell you that silent tears streamed down my cheeks all through Chapter 1.  Many years ago I had to give up booze and cigarettes and looking for love in all the wrong places.  My son grew up to have serious dependency problems of his own.  No dad around.  Now, I can’t live without artmaking.  And comfort food, primarily Blue Bell Ice Cream.  I wonder if I will cry during chapter 2 of Roth’s book?

Carole Katchen’s “Express Yourself! with Pastel”.  The Art of Carole Katchen

I glommed on to this artist through one of my favorite blogs,  “How To Pastel” by Gail Sibley.   I’m using what I’m learning through Carole and Gail’s techniques to create my own pastel paintings over the last few weeks.  Here’s the link to her blog:

Gail Sibley, pastelist

Pastel Journal, http://www.pasteljournal.com.  The only magazine I subscribe to these days.

And then through all these great learning sources, I can’t forget YouTube, because many generous artists of all genre share their expertise online.  There aren’t enough hours in the day!  Yipee for retirement!  A friend of mine was shocked when she found out how many hours a day I devote to social media plus my artwork.  One wonders how I even have time for ice cream.

Katherine Dunn’s “Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed Media Artists”.  I found this gem at HalfPrice Books.  I first saw her work in one of Cat Bennett’s books.  There is a whimsy and similarity in their styles, I think.

Katherine Dunn

Cat Bennett

Lastly, two “In Easy Steps” how-to reference books on Windows 10 and Word 2013 because I had to retire my old and small, MacBook.   Because I sometimes get to work with a couple of friends involving using a computer, and they use Windows, and mainly because I could not afford to upgrade my Apple OS, I made the decision to purchase a used, refurbished Toshiba laptop.   And this sucker is big, for ease of use.  This  post is ‘Shiba’s virgin foray into the blogesphere  of Artyology and friends.  I am also using Google Chrome for the first time.  Having a little challenge with curser control.

Stitch with Friends

It was a fun evening at Kelly’s with our friend Linda, and Kelly’s darling dogs, Gypsy and Elsa.   I was really rusty since no actual fiber arts have been accomplished over here lately, just lots of looking at various textile artists’ blogs.  I want to start some more dollmaking with simple patterns, smallish in size, and with some drawing on the fabric plus little “samplers” stitched onto their simple clothes….

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That’s all for now.  I’ve got a buncha blogs to read!

 

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
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My front yard. It’s spring!
Trevor drawing gone wrong
Trevor drawing gone wrong
desk chaos 1
desk chaos 1
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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.
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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

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.

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

 

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.

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.

Artists, design & decor junkies; spiritual, global awareness seekers: apply within!

I have a plan.  I want to gather it all to me.  Goal setting has come late to me in my life, but it’s coming together, and I needed to get on social media to really begin to understand the powerful potential of our internet.  How we can, collectively, harness its power to reach out to one another, find some common ground, share our talents and dreams and find freedom of self-expression!

So I will be talking about, and linking to, other artists, lifestyle and photo blogs I’ve discovered,  my journey-in-progress and  my art; public figures I admire, writers and bloggers and ….you know how we are….

Shout out! to Loretta of The Art Motel of the Finger Lakes,  Jennifer of JMayerDesign, Beth of caprichostudio1.com, and Linda of LoveGarten.com.  Just as soon as I know what I’m doing, I’ll give y’all a link!