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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A Quest for Balance

L&R window 5413castleKindleMorgana designs dollrootbeer fizzies up the nosemocha kit

cube & plotnew dollsAcceptanceSpontaneous

cat and dollC S Julie & GenieBurnout 1IMG_0747artistMChin

Clark 0303spot for artclothDoll made for Hoffman fabric challenge '90sartistZittel 1artistZittel 2artistZittel 3

20s figureface studiesGiacometti

yellow sprayThere was this nice list of links of sites and blogs I dig but couldn’t get everything to load correctly.   Hope I will have that figured out pretty darn soon!  I fear I’ve let too much time go by without a blog post, even if that’s only important to me.  Dust accumulates around the house as experiences roll by and then I feel overwhelmed.  And I wanted to learn to link and add a blog roll; I’m still learning blogging etiquette and technique.  In future, I hope to post twice a month.  Short ones.  With pictures.

This weekend, grandson and his little sister stayed with me.  It could have all gone terribly wrong, as I tend to get a bit stressed and anal, or I could hope to plan the time in such a way so that we would all be pleasantly occupied.  Eleven year old Castle is into Nat Geo, his Kindle Fire, and movies.  Morgana, age 6, is very pink-centric, curious, and energetic.  They have different fathers.

My home is filled with mementos handed down plus all my books, dolls, artwork and supplies; it’s only natural that a little girl would want to touch and know about these treasures.  And what a glorious way to get my dusting done!  Even when Morgana chided me on how thick the dust was, I didn’t mind.  Side by side we “swiffer’d” the whole house as I told her histories of my things.  Castle cooked for us and enjoyed his down time.

A highlight this spring was “Cousin-Sister” Julie’s visit.  When we’re not cracking ourselves up we are discussing serious subjects and marvel that other folks might disagree with our opinions.  Since I couldn’t take time off from my part-time job, Cousin-Sister finished painting my kitchen the mocha shade, and put a lovely light grey paint on my guest room walls.  We power washed my siding and freshened up the golden-orange shutters outside.  She delved into my newest books on decor, and we shopped for new fabric for kitchen window curtains she will make for her townhouse in VA.  Oh!  What a glorious time we had!

Two years ago I almost lost this beloved cottage.  I treasure my 3rd generation White Rock/East Dallas roots.  Julie and I always go visit the family at Grove Hill Cemetery when she’s here. We catch them up on current events and ask for guidance.  This year we felt Nannie was most assuredly there for us. I introduced them to my Cube; they must have been surprised to see I’d finally let go of my little red Chevy.

Change is so hard but often necessary, don’t you agree?

I Only Procrastinate on the Good Stuff

There was so much going on since my last post, I didn’t think I had produced any artwork.  So glad I was wrong.  Lost track of time, too, as I transitioned in my job to a new and much better schedule; finally got approval on a mortgage modification, connected with former co-workers, old school friends, and family I had lost track of; mourned the loss of two of them to cancer and another to a ripe old age, a grand patriarch celebrated by his loved ones.  My son’s illness hangs on, and there is nothing I can do about it (after many years of trying).

Hello to Mary Korfanty, the strongest and bravest woman I know!  To Helaina Meara’s spirit: do you know I think of you often with fond memories?  Hey cousin Vickie!  I hope I really do get to visit you and Bill in Germany before you move back stateside.  So cool to discover you are a talented stained glass artist!   Jim G from BA, I consider emailing you and lose my nerve.

When Cousin-Sister Julie comes to visit, I am looking forward to taking her on a jaunt in my new Nissan Cube.  Almost waited too long to replace my old beloved Chevy.  I am looking forward to rendezvouz with my artsy friends here in Dallas, and online, and with precious grandson, Castle, and to the autumn and winter season.   I am looking forward to getting Medicare.  I am looking forward.

The Sketchbook Project 2012 World Tour for Brooklyn Art Library

click on my Gallery page to view some of my latest work

I’ve got too much to say, since I waited so long to finalize this post.  So today, I won’t say much.  Just that I’ve been paying attention to world events, the circus that is the Republican primary (could Rick Perry possibly embarrass us Texans any more?!  Bad enough he won the last gubernatorial race); concentrating on my job and polishing my CSR skills;  hanging out with artist and friends, even if some of it occurs via the internet.  Sometimes Castle, my 10 year old grandson comes to visit.  He’s so cool (of course).  I finally got a kitty cat for my dog Ziggy; a sweet little adult Calico from the SPCA.

But mostly I’ve been growing my hair and changing my style, ‘cuz I am intent on looking more like the old hippie artist that I used to be and am circling around to becoming again.  Recently trying to eat more organically and cutting wheat and gluten out of my diet.  I feel much better already.

A big focus has been completing my entry for The Sketchbook Project 2012 World Tour for the Art House and Brooklyn Art Library.   Monday I’ll mail my book on to New York City, and it will be a little like sending a piece of me out into the world, knowing it will be happy in the company of thousands of others, off to tour the world beginning in April.  Bon voyage, little drawings!  I’ll miss you! Have fun, and don’t forget to write!

For more info, visit http://www.thesketchbookproject.com.

 

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.

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.

I wish we could bring almost all of our troops home and turn ’em loose to rebuild our broken parts.

I had added The Hurt Locker to my DVD queue again and received it just in time to savor over this weekend, after having spent lots of time watching the TV coverage of our astonishing kill of Bin Laden.  You might not think an old hippie like me (“peace, ‘yall”) would go in for that sort of thing, but I am quite happy about the event and super-proud of our brave troops.  And I stay mesmerized by the movie, The Hurt Locker, because it reaches me on different levels: the mom, the daughter, the survivor of fallout from the Viet Nam war at the hands of a broken Vet; the peace-nik, the blood thirsty revenge wanting citizen who will never forget where she was on the morning of September 11, 2001; the war-weary voter who wanted change.

I worry about how our men and women will be able to adjust to life back in the States, and I thought, since we have so much devastation and poverty and unemployment and drugs and homelessness and crime, can we create opportunities for our returning warriors, and ourselves by rebuilding all our broken parts right here in America?

In the meantime, I had been trying to catch the fleeting, tender, pitiful and brave, little grin on Eldridge’s face in Hurt Locker, as he struggled to clean blood from  “the dead guy” off the ammo with his spit, as James patiently, reassuringly, coaxed him along.  It broke my heart.  I’ll probably watch the movie another 2-3 times before I ship it back in favor of some lighter entertainment….

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.