Death, taxes and CHANGE

Hi Everyone,

Yes, it happened again. My post day got away from me last week. I did start it, but before I could finish the day was gone and we were well into a busy weekend.

We are slowly settling into new routines all around.  Mine seems to be the biggest struggle right now because of the overwhelming amount of paperwork and appointments I have to make in the process of settling J’s estate and getting Miss L’s benefits and other life stuff in place. Yesterday was an entire day of driving to different meetings only to arrive home late in the evening feeling like I only made two tiny drops of progress in a ocean of red tape.  

Danny and Miss L have worked out a complex schedule for who gets to sit in the King Chair (the recliner with the best view…outside to watch horses for Danny, the TV for Miss L) what day. I just stay out of that whole thing. They seem to enjoy the debate process!

The food buying and meal planning is also under adjustment. Our health nut food ways are not completely pleasing Miss L. She has the family genetics for an amazing metabolism and she does not waver on her likes and dislikes. I am compromising on allowing some junk food and she is attempting to try new food. I will admit that I have missed Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese. 

Sweetie Pie, the cat, had been stuck in confinement while awaiting her spaying surgery. Unfortunately that was not sitting very well with her and she jumped at the chance for escape while Miss L and Danny were cleaning her crate. The surgery appointment got cancelled and we are hoping that the now invisible Sweetie Pie does not appear in the future with a crate load of kittens. 

Princess Dinah, the dog, it adjusting very well and we are slowing introducing her to my pups. She will be getting her surgery next month and if the budget allows, a professional haircut. Her Princess title isn’t matching her wild child look at the moment. 


The chickens have had to give up the free range life as the Thing In The Thicket has increased its chicken consumption. We lost two of our little girls in the past two weeks. There will be an upgraded chicken coop in the Fall. 

Our oldest horse, Christy, carried her last rider this week when she gave Miss L her first riding lesson. Christy’s hip is causing her lots of pain so Danny decided to let her enjoy a rider free retirement. Now Bob is in major training to take over Christy’s job. 

I believe the quote about death and taxes needs to be changed to, “the only thing you can count on in life is death, taxes and CHANGE.”  Lots of change sometime. None of it bad here, just different and all of the elements of the quote are in play with our changes. A death brought about the changes and those darn taxes will be paid at the end of all the paperwork!

I have gotten a good start on a commission piece and hope to show at least some of it next week if not the finished piece.

Embrace the changes this week!

Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!

What a week!

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well.  I/we have had a crazy week here in the wilds, thus the delayed posting this week.  I started writing on Friday and evidently while I was waiting for a few pictures to go from my phone to my computer, I got sidetracked.  Two days worth of sidetracked!

Why does it seem like when you commit to a project the fates do their best to stop you?  Last weekend started with a bad case of Spring allergies.  I haven’t had Spring allergies in years!  They usually hit in the Fall.  So, trying to work and function have been a struggle for days now.  Somehow I carried on to some degree.

I finished painting the guest bathroom just barely on schedule.  I have to finish the room currently called “the office” this month so we can move my son’s bed in after his graduation in May.  On Monday, what I can only describe as banking hell, started.  Without going into all the gory details, thanks to a new bank buying out our old bank our bills have been paid numerous times this week.  Can you make two or more mortgage payments in a month??  Neither can we.  Needless to say, I have spent WAY, WAY too may hours dealing with this situation which ended Friday by my closing the account.

Insomnia kicked in again as well and last night was my first good night sleep in several days.  Somehow I prevailed and got my work done, most of the necessary housework done, deliveries made, D’s retirement paperwork and insurance dealt with along with all the nasty bank stuff AND managed to get four 100 days paintings done to this point.  I will not claim they are great pieces of art, but they got done.  Perseverance, my friends. That is my one true talent that has gotten me through a lifetime of ordeals.  Dogged perseverance.

So here are my first three drawings/paintings of things I am grateful for:  A New Day, Clean Water and Sleep (wonder why that is in there?).


 

Yesterday (Saturday) I missed making any art for The 100 Day Project.  I am having to rethink this 100 drawings/paintings thing. I am still going to do it, but trying to do something different each day is causing me a ridiculous amount of stress.  I take deadlines deathly serious and uh, this is not my job, just a thing. So from here on out my plan is to start a piece and take it as far as I feel necessary but doing what work I can on it each day.  There are some skills and experiments I am trying to achieve with this project and trying to do a different project each day isn’t really accomplishing that.  So, hopefully this week I can make more stress free progress.

Gotta go sketch my daughter and son-in-law’s other dog…for the SIL’s birthday present.

Have a great week. Persevere.

Back Story – Fulfilling a Promise. Part Two

Heavens! I am freezing right now.  Did anyone else have another visit of winter this week?  I hope this is the last of it.  Before I could start writing I had to run water out to the chickens.  Theirs keeps freezing overnight and we bring it in to thaw in the morning then take it back out to them.  There may be a water warmer involved next winter!

If you just dropped in this week and need to catch up on my story, check out Part One.

So, here I find myself, 50 something, empty nest, new husband, new home, new community and down to only one job for the first time in at least a decade.  I have truly been a little bit lost for the past nine months with all the extra time on my hands.  You would think it would be an easy transition, but it has been a shock to my system.

Here is the real kicker.  After all these years of yearning for creative time, now that I have it, I feel guilty for indulging in it.  What the heck??  I no longer have kids here to put first for their survival, my husband is fine with my art time especially since he also now has time to enjoy his horses and other interests. I take care of all my design/print clients first every morning and we have adequate income.  Why do I feel guilty for taking the time to do what I have always wanted to do?  If you have answers, please fill me in.  I want this whole guilt thing GONE!

Are there other roadblocks to fulfilling a promise to myself?  Yes, indeedy.  Procrastination, that I’m pretty sure is another word for fear is one.  Right now I am fighting the urge to throw myself into two un-art related projects.  Those two projects did not show up until I committed to a big ‘ole, heavy duty art project (more on this below) this week.  Life in general also pretty regularly stops my artwork with family obligations and home/farm maintenance.  There is a reason that artists and writers and musicians run off to cabins in the woods with no phone or wifi.  Sometimes that is the only way the good work can get out. Constant starting and stopping interrupts necessary concentration and the work gets watered down from the original inspiration.

One more big hurdle to fulfilling my promise to myself is the simple fact that I don’t give myself the priority required.  It feels very selfish to put my own WANT (I would argue NEED) before so many of the other things listed above.  More than once I have said that girls of my generation were raised to be TOO NICE.  There I said it.  We were raised to put everyone and everything above ourselves.  It is ingrained throughout our cells and extremely difficult to erase or even temporarily lock away.  Hummm, I think this is related to that darn guilt thing.

Soooo, what have I been doing and/or going to do to fulfill my promise?  I started this process almost four years ago.  When my son (my youngest) pulled out of the driveway for his first year of college, I literally took over his room.  Yes, it seems cruel.  Yes, he reminds me of it occasionally, but I did it and he doesn’t seem too much the worst for it.  I set up three big tables and had my computer/work stuff on one, art supplies on another and sewing machine on the third.  For the past four years I have let myself play.  Not consistently, not with serious intent, but I have played.  I have tried out all sorts of creative endeavors in my attempt to find what I really like best and my “voice”.  I have made lots of messes, bad art, bad craft, some good art and good craft.

Now I feel like it is time to drill down.  Recently I read or heard (can’t give you the source because I don’t remember it) that it takes about ten years for an artist to find their “voice”, that thing that makes their work unique to them.  My sporadic art making over the last several decades should count as about one year total and add the past four years of playing around, I figure I’m five years in.  Now, I’m not getting any younger here and I have no guarantee that I could pull off a Grandma Moses by making it to 80 years old.  My butt needs to get to work.

I had been playing around with doing an extended daily project when I ran across The 100 Day Project. By now I know myself pretty well and I suspect that just left to my own devices, I would start out pretty strong on a personal project, but without some accountability, I would soon find excuses to skip days here and there and there and here until it fell apart.

Yep, you guessed it.  I have signed up for The 100 Day Project.  This is totally out of my comfort zone.  I have done a thirty day project, but the work was very small and thirty days is NOT 100 DAYS.  The project itself asks you to post on Instagram your daily project.  My plan is to do a daily 8 x 10 painting or drawing and also post on my Facebook page and offer the work for sale.

What do I expect out of this?  First, it takes what? Thirty days to ingrain a habit?  For me, one hundred days would be more likely.  I will have to follow through with this during THE busiest time of the year for us.  It starts April 4th, which is right after I finish Bee School (Did I mention Bee School?  I will come back to that in a later post.) on April 1st.  The garden starts going in mid-April and my bees arrive then as well.  My son graduates the first weekend in May.  Before he graduates and sends all his stuff home, I have to get the bedroom that I use as an office painted and rearranged to fit his furniture.  We will be out of town for his graduation so I have to figure out how to paint or draw while in the midst of family and celebration.  The 100 days does not end until mid-July.  Who knows what else will test my determination in that timeframe.

Second, the whole “voice” thing.  My unique style and interests cannot evolve without consistency.  I have not had consistency.  I have had stops and starts.  I am hoping to hone my skills, discover that uniqueness and what I want my art to say.  Big order!

Third, income.  Here is the honest truth to this art thing.  I HAVE to make stuff.  It is in my genes.  Unfortunately, I cannot pay for endless supplies or store all the stuff I make.  To support my habit/addiction I have to make some money to buy more supplies AND I would really like people to enjoy what I create.  I have given away many, many pieces of my work over the years and I like to do that, but it is not a self-sustaining process.  Art supplies are expensive and we are not wealthy people.  Animals have to eat around here as well as ourselves.  So, what I make on this project will be for sale and I am going to ramp it up a little with some advertising investment to see what happens.  My goal this year is to replace my income from my last PART-TIME position.  You got that, right?  Not outrageous expectations, but bigger than anything I have ever asked of myself before.

I think I have given you enough to read this week.  You have the link above if you would like to join The 100 Day Project.  I am not going to bombard this blog with my work every week during the project, but will let you know how it’s going.  I will post links to my Instagram and Facebook pages for you to check out.

If you want to go ahead and start following those here are the links.  I will be updating information on them in the next couple of weeks as I prepare for all this.

Instagram  and Facebook

I am off to prime canvas.  Have an awesome week!

 

Back Story – Fulfilling a promise. Part One.

I don’t make promises lightly.  I take them very seriously, put a great deal of thought into them before I commit and at this point in my life I only know of one promise I have been unable to fulfill due to events beyond my control.  A promise may take longer to fulfill than anticipated, but it is always in the back of my mind and will nag at me until I can follow through.

Starting this week I thought I would give you some back stories about why I write this blog, why I do some of the things I do and what is behind some of my artwork.  What goes on here often feels random to me so I imagine it does to you too if you take the time to read this craziness, but there is a constant thread running throughout.

From my earliest memories I only remember wanting to do one thing consistently and that was to make art is some form or fashion.  The smell of crayons still invoke memories of mark making by my tiniest self.  There were complaints from my family members when I would ask them not to move while I drew them watching TV in the evening.  I spent hours hiding under a tree making tiny stick villages and stories about the people in the village.

It was always in my head that this is what I would do all my life.  Keep in mind that I grew up in a rural community and art was not accessible except in books, so where this ability or notion came from had to have been genetically installed somehow.  I did not have artistic family members to learn from.  As my Mom has said of me, “she was born with a pencil in her hand”.

I am not one of those people who will say that they had supportive people surrounding them.  Quite frankly, I had very little support.  I had a couple of teachers that encouraged my work, but otherwise I was expected to shoot for a practical career, so for a compromise I got my art degree, but with a concentration in graphic design instead of the studio art I would have preferred.

After college, life kicked in full force.  I got a job as a designer/illustrator with a newspaper and eventually was an art director at a small ad agency.  There came marriage, kids, a printing company we owned and eventually a divorce and a life reboot.  All this time I squeezed in drawing, painting, making of some sort wherever I could.  A couple of large sketchbooks full of future paintings were often my only art. It was not unusual for me to sell a piece of work here and there or get a commission on a fairly regular basis if once a year is regular.  Trying to keep two kids in food, clothing and shelter often required me to work two jobs and I was too darn tired to pick up a paint brush.

Try as I may, I could not find any regular time to do what I loved to do the most.  I can’t tell you how many times I almost threw away all my art supplies because I found it so depressing to see them and not use them.  At some point when my kids were young and busy, busy, busy I realized that I had to quit beating myself up for not being able to create lovely artwork while sitting in a minivan at an hour of soccer practice five days a week.  Trust me, I TRIED!

I couldn’t tell you the date, but somewhere in that era of time I made myself a promise.  I promised my exhausted, stressed, often depressed, over worked self that I would do everything in my power to raise these two lovely humans I gave birth to, into good, kind, productive members of the human race and THEN, God willing, I would let myself have the time to draw, paint, make, whatever my heart desired.

And that, my friends, is where I find myself now.  I would love to tell you that it is easy and perfect fulfilling this promise to myself, but I am finding that a promise to myself may be the hardest promise I have ever had to fulfill.

I will leave off here to continue next week for Part Two of the story.

Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit

 

Do not open that door yet!

Why does it seem to be the “simple” things that turn out so difficult?  Monday gave me a false sense of mastery I guess. I managed to get our taxes done without too much pain and agony even with all the life changes this year.

Then Tuesday I decided to upgrade this website to a new and improved version with a new theme and bells and whistles. Let’s see, five and a half hours later I gave up and requested a refund for the upgrades I paid for. Yes, I over estimated my technology skills!

If you have been a reader you may have noticed I did make some changes (and more to come), but nothing major.  Just a slightly different theme.

What I did realize a few days later was that I wasn’t ready for any major changes here yet.  I got ahead of myself.  I had been on a roll with artwork and then putting some work in a consignment shop, then making changes to my Etsy shop.  There hasn’t been enough time for those improvements to kick in yet.

Am I the only one that rushes into things?  I get an idea and run with it before I have thought the process out.  Tuesday was one of those times when the door stayed shut for a reason.  Eventually I would have had to cancel the upgrades because I don’t have the income to support them yet and I’m not sure I would have been able to come back to this free version at that point.

At least I learned how to backup this site so I don’t lose all this valuable (ha, ha) content in case I do something stupid in the future.  One baby step at a time!

I did get in a chicken drawing this week though!  Yes, I’m using my skill with a pen to pacify my bruised ego right now. I think after Tuesday’s debacle I will go draw the rooster too.

hen-drawing

Have a great week and don’t go through any doors you aren’t ready to have slammed behind you!

 

 

 

 

Door photo credit – Adam Birkett

Find your people

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are having a smashing week.  By the time you read this I will have taken a road trip to Charleston, SC to see my daughter and celebrate her 24th birthday.  It is hard to believe 24 years have passed so fast.

Yesterday (I am a week ahead of myself so there is a slight time warp here) I had one of those lovely visits that reminds me that I need to see my people more often and we hermit like creative folk need to go out in the world more occasionally.

In my continuing cleaning out of stuff I decided to part with a box full of scrap paper that I have been trying to do something with for years.  Evidently I have not had any luck with that since it was all still there.  My friend Juanita has a kids craft time at her church so I have started donating my unused supplies to her.  I decided to drop off the box yesterday and caught her at home.

We have very similar work and personalities. Both work from home in creative jobs and run our own creative businesses.  We are both serious introverts who happily work away in our own little worlds.  BUT get us together and we can talk for hours about just about anything. By the time I left her house my brain was bouncing with ideas for a problem I had been trying to sort out about my Etsy shop and hopefully I left her with some ideas as well.

It is hard to find those people who make up your tribe when you work solo, but we need to.  They add so much to our lives when we make the time to catch up, sort out, problem solve and laugh together.

If you get a chance, check out Juanita’s Etsy shop and tell her hello.  Now, go find your people and make a visit.

 

Photo credit

 

 

February. Fun or Funk?

Hi Everyone!

How is your February going?  At the moment ours has been fairly mild weatherwise.  Usually February here is our coldest month and longest and dreariest. For a 28 day month it always seems to me it is at least 60 days long.  I’m writing this on February 2nd so we will see how I’m doing by the 28th.

I did work in a little fun this week when my BFFs invited me to join them on a ski trip.  Get this…yours truly went skiing in 10 degree temperatures (wind chills around -10)!  Yes indeedy.  Here we are.  Four layers on top, three layers on bottom, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, face mask, toboggan and goggles made this a fairly comfortable endeavor. Fresh snow, great friends and no lift lines made it awesome!

Do we look warm enough?
Do we look warm enough?

I have managed to cram a full schedule into the February.  I’m going to visit my daughter in Charleston, SC next week.  It would be lovely to have about 75 degrees while I’m there.  The next weekend I start Bee School and that will last five weekends.  Of course it is time to start on the dreaded taxes. Yuck.  I am working on the bathroom remodeling and need to get new bee hives to put together and paint before bees arrive in April.  I have a list of sewing I want to do and last, but not least, I am working, working, working on new artwork.  Hopefully all this will get me through winter without going into my usual funk.

Many of you who read this blog are creative people with blogs of your own, artwork, writing, etc.  I would love to have your help and advice as I throw myself into my artwork and try to get it out into the world.

I am in the process of writing an Artist Statement.  When I read these at show openings I often find them dry and academic.  In other words…boring.  I suspect that is because they are just darn hard to write.  How do you write about yourself without sounding either conceited or weird?  I would like mine to explain why I create stuff and what it’s about without being boring, conceited or weird.  The challenge at the moment is just to figure out why I create stuff and what it’s about!  I am open to suggestions and would love to read yours or someone’s you think did a good job with theirs.

Do you sell work online?  If so, pointers on Titles, Descriptions and Tags would also be appreciated.  Creating art is not nearly as hard as writing all these things.  I am currently on Etsy, Fine Art America and now Red Bubble and Art Pal (still working on this one in case you don’t find much).  If you want to take the time to check these out and send me a critique, I will be happy to listen.

I am not sure what to do with my Etsy shop.  In my attempts to minimalize my life and stuff I am finding that keeping inventory is a royal pain, not to mention shipping.  The print-on-demand stores are very convenient and after the time involved in shipping, probably gives about the same return on investment.  Oh well, it’s there with stuff in it for the moment and I will ponder the future of it as I go along.

Please join in the conversation.  I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it’s lonely out here.  It is time that I heard from more of you.

Stay warm and in case I don’t get a Valentine’s Day post on here, give someone special a hug and/or kiss.  You don’t have to wait until the 14th.  Go ahead. Do it now!

Unsocial Media

Hi Everyone!

If you read last week’s post you know I am now a week behind myself.  So let’s catch up on life.  How are you?  Hope all is well in your world and that you have things under control better than I do.

fbdfmmzzi3rmg-william-iven

I have been taking a Facebook sabbatical.  Has anyone else run screaming away from the social media mess?  I had hoped after the election that people would calm down and return to the lovely people I used to know BUT it hasn’t happened.  There is still all this ranting and raving and ugliness being thrown at people who don’t agree with them.  These are supposed to be FRIENDS! At least on Instagram most of the people I follow are not actually FRIENDS and I can let them rave on without it piercing my tender heart.  So far, the only thing I am missing about Facebook are the cute animal videos.

What have I been doing with my time now?  Let’s see… 1) reading REAL books from a REAL library  2) I have made myself two new tops for my wardrobe 3) I have been putting in some serious time on drawing and painting 4) starting to paint our guest bathroom and second guest bedroom 5) herbal medicine studies and 6) more cleaning out of stuff.  I have been accomplishing a lot more now that I’m not reading posts by out of control people and watching cute animal videos.

I plan to go back to Facebook in a week or two, but I really did need to take some time and get away from the crazy.  My plan is to go in and hide the posts from the worst offenders.  Most of these are people I have respected and liked over the years, though a few of them are very young people just getting involved in our politics.  If I were their parents I would be giving them some advice on how to express political opinions in a more civil way.  As for the older folks…they will be hidden until they can act their age.

Am I wrong for wanting us to just be mannerly and civil again?  I have no problem with opposing views.  Some of my dearest friends and I do not share political sides, but we have managed to love and care for each other through many, many administration changes over the years.  Are people not teaching kids basic manners anymore?  Would they really say some of the things to the face of a friend and expect to stay friends?  Maybe I’m just showing my age, but I’m thinking our social structure is beginning to crumble.  How can a society thrive when we can’t even get along online??

I do not want a political discussion on here and quite frankly, will not approve comments of a political nature, but I would like to hear your opinion of how things are on social media and how do you think we can improve this enormous way of communicating with each other if you would like to express them.

Have a socially safe week out there!

 

Photo credit

Stepping up

Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a lovely week.  Here in North Carolina we are alternating between Winter, Monsoon Season and Spring.  In other words, every day is a weather adventure. nc-weatherI just logged in to write a new post and realized that this one did not go out last week.  I am so sorry! Darn it, I was even ahead of myself for once.  So, here is what you were supposed to have last week and I will now go and write this week’s post for next week.  So much for the best laid plans.

This past week became a big decision week for me.  I have been sort of lost as to what direction I need to go in career wise for the past six months.  Usually I have my design business plus a side job for backup.  I lost my office manager job when I got married and moved to the hills and have been wandering around somewhat aimlessly since then during the hours I would normally be working there.

As D.s retirement is upon us the end of next month we have been going through the budget with a fine tooth comb and checking it twice. There are not many part time employment opportunities locally and we both still need to work (even if we didn’t financially then for our sanity).  So, I’m going to do what I have always wanted to do and that is to see if I can make a decent income from what I create.  I’m making this art/craft/maker/designer gig full time now.

I have started on a new work schedule.  Those of you who work from home probably know, it is easy to lose focus when the laundry/dishes/yard all need attention. I have to write it down and look at it several times a day until it becomes a routine.

There have been hours of research the past couple of days.  Thanks to a nasty head cold and guilt for being sick, research has been conducted from a prone position on the sofa, but surprisingly productive considering.  I have a long list of sites to sell my work, boat loads of info on SEO, hashtags and social media strategies.  You will probably see a new website and blog layout here soon.

I realized that I have stacks and stacks of work already that with a little more attention could be good work to put out there in the world.  As most artists/creators are, I’m very critical of my own work and often get frustrated and shove it in a drawer before it is either finished or given a fair evaluation. Here is an example of a piece I started last week and sort of like, but then again…

Along with the career decision, I have started, once again, to clean out and organize all our stuff.  I say ours, but most of it is mine.  There is a box of paper scraps getting donated to a friend who works with kids at her church and old magazines and reference photos going away, dried up paint and markers have been cleaned out.  Here are some of the harder things to let go of…   

And now that deer season is over it is time to get back to house remodeling, garden planning, barn, chicken coop and dog fence building.  Nope, BOREDOM is never mentioned here!

Join me and go do something this week you have always wanted to do, but scares the heck out of you!

 

Photo credits…I have no idea about the NC weather, but all others are from yours truly.