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?

Letting Go and Moving On in Retirement. May It Lead to New Artwork, at Least.

It happened to me, what was unthinkable…..running out of money and resources in retirement; this Boomer who never planned for the future and was blind-sided by job losses and home equity losses, et al, blah blah blah.  Now made the tough decision to sell my cottage on a tree-lined street near my beloved White Rock Lake, and – ohmygod, will rent an apartment for awhile.  Perhaps a long while.  After ten years of ownership, my equity is non-existent due to the housing crash, and this old cottage now needs upkeep and repair I cannot make.  I dreamed of hanging on long enough to get a nice reverse mortgage, but the bathroom floor will have long caved in before that ever happens.

To my chagrin, I find that I qualify for subsidized housing for a one bedroom apartment.  So that’s what I have to do.  The For Sale sign went up in my yard today, and there have been three showings already.

My grandson will move back home with his mom and sisters and her boyfriend, and my son will have to find someone else besides me to stay with.  I’ve done all I can do, and now it is time to let go and move on.  I can’t help but think about everyone who rails against entitlements for the poor and ashamed to admit that in my callous youth, I was a snob.  I wasn’t priviledged,  just ignorant and naive.   I wasn’t smart with money, and I gave most of my inheritance away or made bad investments during the recession.  But I always worked and supported us, and paid my taxes.  Now it’s my turn to hold out my hand for help from the government.  There you have it.

So I made this little sampler cloth that had a horizontal piece up top, and it looked sort of like a pagoda, or perhaps an irregular cross.  I had another piece of brown and cream toile by Laura Ashley and I cut a section out that had a female profile with an outstretched arm on it.  After that, I drew a larger profile beside the printed toile one.  She wanted boots for walking, so a periwinkle pair were stitched and stuffed, trapunto-style.  Hands outstretched, she is garnering the courage to journey forward.

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Paintings by Claudia McGill

Here are photos of little paintings by Claudia McGill, whom I discovered by linking into blogs here on WordPress.  I adore her work!  She is very generous, and had a giveaway on her blog.  In exchange, I sent her a sampling of my work and am tickled to learn that she’s keeping them together like a little art journal.  So cool.

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Claudia McGill original acrylic paintings on canvas panels. displayed temporarily along a kitchen backsplash ledge

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Reception and Gallery Walk at theSmall Gallery and Slant Gallery in Midtown

I took photos of every piece of artwork (well, I think I got it all) that was on display at theSmall Gallery and Slant Gallery recently and will share them with you.  To start, here I am at the Reception attempting a selfie against my cloth head-ladies dolls.

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That wraps up the Midtown gallery tours for April.  If you made it this far into my blog post today, I hope you enjoyed it!

I am musing now…..does it matter where I live as long as I am surrounded by art that sustains me?  I still have friends, family, and a host of folks to admire in social media and the blogesphere.  But….Hopefully a view of leafy green or at least a flowering hanging basket from apartment windows.  Pride, pride go away….give up the dream of home ownership.  If it is a burden, then it is too much for me to handle.  Been there, done that, as we say.  Time to move on.

 

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
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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

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
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A view of Richard’s woodworking studio
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Artisan Richard Wincorn
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ladder, windows and doors in Wincorn studio
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painted fabric, mural, and red pepper in Artisan Finishes studio
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Linda and I both enjoyed visiting with Gardiner as the kids played during the tour
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Mrs. Goodwin reacts to the good vibes from Wincorn’s work and the light
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We get autographed copies of Scouting The Best of Local Dallas, Texas
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Foyer in Wincorn Studio
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Yummy supplies at Artisan Finishes
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Corner in Dawn’s studio
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Studio view in Wincorn’s workshop
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A sample of Wincorn’s pieces
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His woodworking shop/studio boasts a lovely porch cover by Richard Wincorn
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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

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