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.

 

Hope Returns and Sharing Maker Inspiration

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

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

Claudine Hellmuth – collage

Claudine Hellmuth

Lynne Perrella – collage, mixed media

Lynne Perrella

Thread and Thrift – textile artist, printmaker

Thread and Thrift

The Pale Rook – cloth doll art

The Pale Rook

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

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

Mom's little budgie
Mom’s little budgie

Hey, New York: Hipsters thrive in Texas too!

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

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

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

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

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

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
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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
Wincorn woodwork studio view
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

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
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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.

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