Back Story – Just Bob

Hi Everyone!

Hope you had a great week.  I think last week’s post did not get published. Must have been a tech issue because I wrote it and hit the publish button. My apologies. Guess you will be seeing that next week.

We finally got all the garden planted and can now relax a little until the veggies start coming in.  We also added new members to the farm this past week.  Here are the new little future egg layers.  Danny didn’t think 2-3 eggs a day was enough for us.  We do eat plenty of eggs, but most days we are fine.  On heavy cooking days or when the kids come home to visit, well, we almost have to make a grocery store run for eggs.  The new girls are supposed to be heavy layers, so now we will probably be selling eggs when production sets in.


Last week I showed you a couple of paintings I had finished.  I thought I would give you Bob’s back story today.  I have mentioned him often on this blog because he is Mr. Personality and Mr. Mischief combined.

My husband, Danny, has worked with, trained, owned horses most of his life.  Several years ago there was an elderly neighbor that had reached the point where he was struggling to take care of his horses and asked Danny if he would come help him.  Of course Danny said yes.

When Danny got there he was helping feed and clean up the barn.  I don’t have a clear visual of exactly where Danny found Bob, but somewhere on the property this small yearling had gotten into a place that the elderly gentleman could not reach and was literally down to skin and bones when Danny discovered him.  Realizing that the horse needed immediate attention and not wanting to hurt the gentleman’s dignity, Danny asked if it would be ok to take Bob back to his farm and look after him there and the gentleman could come get him or visit him any time he wanted.  The elderly man told Danny that the horse had been purchased by his wife, who had passed, because Bob was from very good western quarter horse bloodlines. Of course the gentleman never asked for Bob back and passed away a couple of years later.

Danny has been trying to get Bob trained now for at least five years, but life keeps getting in the way.  We are pretty sure that if he ever gets trained he will be an awesome trail horse.  Obviously by this painting, Bob is no longer underweight.  He is a big guy with a big personality and too smart for his own good. Full of curiosity, Bob has become a Houdini horse and somehow gets his big butt out of the fence without breaking it (though he has a history of running through them) and we usually can’t find where he escaped from.

Bob will carry off your tools when you are working in the barn or pasture.  He has chewed paint off the side of my stepson’s truck.  He figured out how to open the pasture gate and let the other horses loose twice in 24 hours before we realized how they were getting out.  Then we wired the gate shut and Bob stood there and loosened the bolts on the other side of the gate with his lips!!  He has knocked the lid off my beehive in his attempt to see what was inside and froze my bees.  Lately, he has found joy in taking his big head and bulldozing through the chickens to watch them run.  I swear you can see him grin when he does it!

Did I mention he is my favorite of the horses here?  Don’t tell the others please.  Yes, he is a royal pain in the rear and I have called him several other names besides “Bob”, but he always has that big ‘ole head stuck out wanting a scratch or rub.  He is the one that always comes up to you as you walk in the pasture and will often walk with you to see where you are going.  As Danny says, ” there isn’t a mean bone in that horse’s body.”

Bob makes me laugh and he makes me cuss, but on the couple of days that I struggled this past year in adjusting to my new life in the country, it was Bob that provided some horse therapy and let me lean on his big side, hug his neck and nibbled on my hand and did that mysterious thing that horses do when they somehow make things better by just being, Just Bob.  And that my friends, is the title of this painting of my friend Bob. Just Bob.

Ok, now I have gotten all choked up.  There will be more paintings of Bob because he likes to model and he needs a job.

Have a great week!

 

All photographs and artwork property and copyright of Christel Huttar.

I’m doing it! 

Hi Everyone!

Lots of To Do’s have been done around here this week. We finished a shelf for the bathroom, more work on the barn, garden and yard, ordered new tires for my car (yuck) and today we will be getting up hay (double yuck).  Life as usual. So how are things in your world going?

I won’t blather on this week, but I am patting myself on the back a little.  Now that I have some time back to call my own and knowing next week will be a slow work week thanks to Memorial Day weekend and one of my printing suppliers being closed, I jumped into the BIG scary stuff. 

Over the years I have drawn many portraits in pencil and charcoal, but if I painted portraits it was back when I used crayons. Even during college I don’t remember any of my art classes requiring painted portraits. Lots of drawings of people, but no paintings. 

After completing the grandpup paintings I have been feeling a little more confident as my skills with acrylic paints have started to return. In case you are wondering, I do not use oil paints. I don’t like dealing with the solvents and I have no patience with all the drying time involved. I appreciate them and love the blend-ability, but that is where my love for them ends. I may try them again one day and change my mind, but I’m not there yet. 

So, this week I drug out some photos of my kids in the early years and have jumped into portrait painting.  These are still works in progress and there have been several moments of total frustration. I realized today that my easel was turned the wrong way. Once I situated it where the natural light was on the painting life got much better.  Don’t you hate those slap yourself moments? 

Honestly, it is freaking terrifying! I think painting my own kids was a bad decision. I know their faces so well and the events and emotions tied up in these that it makes them harder to paint than someone I don’t know. My next attempts will be of strangers. Do not be surprised if I ditch these and redo them in the future. Overall though I’m getting the feel for this process and I’m not hating these paintings. Practice, practice, practice!


Have a great week and go do something terrifying!

Rain and Roses

Spring is exploding all over the place and so is the To Do list here. It has been one big, busy week! We had a few days of good solid rain. Almost too much. Rivers were flooding. Luckily it stopped before things got bad. Now the grass needs mowing again. Why do we have grass?  There are better things to do with a piece of land than grow grass just to mow it down.

The bees are good so far. I am checking this weekend to see if I will need to add another box to their living space soon. 


Here is the state of my office/studio right now.  Soon to be the office/studio/guest room. I have five days to finish painting and rearranging this room. Wish me luck! 

I did finish the portraits of the grandpups and am pleased with how they turned out. It was only a few weeks ago that I was going to throw away my paint because I could not make them do what I wanted. Hopefully I have turned a corner on that.


It seems more people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic and trash in our world and we are on that journey as well as my daughter and son-in-law. She asked for some beeswax wraps so I figured out how to render some of the old beeswax and have this blob and some fabric to attempt making them. I will let you know how it goes.


And last but not least I will leave you with my roses that are starting to bloom. I LOVE SPRING!!


Next week my son graduates from college so we will be traveling and celebrating with him. I will try to get a post done, but if I don’t, you know why.

Go out and wallow in some fresh air and sunshine this week!

Signs of improvement

Hi Everyone,

Is it better that I am writing at 4:24 am this week than at 3:15 last week? Slightly.  I actually got a full 8 hours sleep night before last and felt great yesterday. The husband is slowly regaining energy zapped out of him by the flu. Yesterday we killed it in our attempt to catch up on the farm projects. 

I am almost finished with the dog portraits and will post them soon. Here is a sneak preview of their noses.


Along with the weed eating and cleaning, mowing and barn roofing yesterday, I got my new bees and installed them in the hives. 


Spring is full on and life is insanely busy for the next few weeks so my posts will be short for awhile. Thanks for hanging in here with me.  Today is major house cleaning day and we have friends coming this afternoon to pick up a load of horse manure for their garden. Guess I should try to get a little more sleep before the dog alarms go off.

Have a great week!

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!

 

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.

Happy New Year!

I am writing this in the wee hours of December 30 and hope to finish it before the end of the day.  My whole week has been this way. Yesterday almost the entire day was spent on the road making deliveries to clients and running errands though I did get lunch in with my son before he left town to finish his Senior year and some visiting with long time friends who are going through a rough patch.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and holiday season. Ours was good. Lots of cooking, visiting and dogs. Lots of dogs.

This is the week I usually do my new year planning. Luckily, I started early this year because there has not been much time this week for reflection and planning. Here is the list I’m starting out with as 2017 rolls in.

1) Review business expenses. The past two years my business expenses have increased rather drastically and I now need to see where changes need to be made. There is going to have to be a price increase for my clients unfortunately, but to limit that, I think some expenses can be cut or reduced. Not a fun project but necessary if I am going to stay in business.

2) Regular exercise. Ha, this one is on my list every year. I stop and start all year long.

3) Way(s) to improve income. Somewhat related to #1. As D. is about to retire we are looking at EVERYTHING and know that 2017 is going to be an adjustment, but until the the first retirement check comes in we won’t know exactly how much of one. We need flexibility at this point in life. I’m working on some ideas that I will share as they take shape.

4) Focus. This year has been all about adjusting to my new life. Included in that adjustment has been lots of artistic experimenting. Things are finally beginning to gel (I hope) and a path is appearing.  Keep checking in this coming year to see if I’m making progress.

I left you hanging on my last post about a book I was reading. Sorry, but I am going to leave you hanging for one or possibly two more weeks. It is going to take more time and thought than I have right now and I am considering an out of the box New Year’s day event for me and will want to let you know about it if I pull it off.

We are winding down at D.’s shop as deer season comes to an end. We are both very tired from all the extra hours of work and the brain just isn’t firing as well as I would like. A few much needed naps are required I think to get more quality thoughts out of my head.

new-year-ian-schneider

I wish you a wonderful New Year. Thank you for visiting and reading the wanderings in my head. This year has been a bad case of “winging it” and now I hope to improve what I put here for you in 2017.  I would love to hear your plans and goals for this new year.  Let’s see how we do and what fun we have for the next 365 days!

Photo credit

Wanting what you don’t have

Hello everyone! Yes, last week was a doozy and I did not get to write a post amid the scrambling to get everything done before the family chicken stew. Which, by the way, did not happen…the getting everything done, that is.  As often happens, at least with me, the list is unreasonably long.

Most of the family made it including some that live a good distance away and hadn’t seen the others in several years. I had planned to share a few pictures, but got so caught up with visiting, fixing food and chasing grand babies that I forgot to take any. I did get this one. No, this is not our mess. We had everything cleaned up when we went to bed but forgot to take the trash out of the can. Our ever rowdy raccoons evidently had their own party. image

Switching subjects now. How do you like that subtle segway??  Here are a few wins and failures that have happened recently. Knowing that I can’t possibly be the only creative person that has as many, if not more, bombs than winners, I like to reassure my readers that they aren’t alone. If I AM the only one that bombs projects- please don’t tell me. I like my little fantasy world.

So, for the bombs first (I like to end on a high note). I so very, very much want to be able to paint luscious, loose, moody oil paintings (only with acrylics because I don’t like the oil solvents). I try so very, very hard, but this is what I get. Not what I am going for at all. The brown bottles below are more what I want to achieve, but I did that one first so it sort of feels like a fluke. ☹️ 

After I did my deer skull drawing it began to dawn on me that maybe I’m better off sticking to what I do best. It’s like having lovely straight hair, but always wanting curls. You want what you don’t have. I am in my element with pencils and charcoal in my hand, but want to paint.

These drawings are virtually effortless for me. I occasionally have a bombed drawing, but with painting I have many more failures than successes.  The problem is that I don’t always want so much detail in my work. I am not trying for photo realism. That’s what photography is for. BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO STOP MYSELF once I get started on a drawing. It’s truly frustrating.


Any suggestions would be appreciated or jump in and let me know if you deal with a similar problem.

Gotta go get horse feed. Have a great week!!

Deer skulls and chicken stews

Yesterday I realized we are only a week and a half from our annual family chicken stew.  Until recently I thought everyone, at least everyone in the South, had chicken stews.  After a recent news article, I discovered that chicken stews are very regional events.  Without involving recipes (a point of contention at times), a chicken stew is held in the Fall.  Chicken is usually cooked in a large cast iron pot (another point of contention at times) into a stew, obviously.  It requires a large gathering of people bringing large quantities of food to accompany the chicken stew.  Weather permitting, it is best held outside and involves a bonfire or fire in a fire pit. Alcohol is often involved, though we tend to skip that part here.

So, I am now in panic mode to get all the cleaning, organizing and yard work done before next weekend.  I am a firm believer that a party should be held at your home at least once a year.  Not that I am big entertaining sort of person, but for the top to bottom cleaning that gets done. After this coming week my Fall cleaning will be done and I can go into Winter content until Spring. I will be exhausted, but content.

This week I sat down and took on a drawing project that I have been wanting to do for a couple of years now.  I have also been procrastinating for a couple of years because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

I found a deer skull in the woods. Not an unusual event here.  We find all kinds of animal skeletons laying around.  Maybe the skull is kind of creepy, but it had so many interesting nooks and cracks and shadows begging to be drawn. Finally I forced myself to focus and see if I could still draw the way I could way back in high school.  Here is the finished piece.

deer-skull-drawing

I have been doing a little happy dance.  This may be my best drawing ever.  It took constant self discipline to slow down and not rush the process. I have had to rush most of the work I have done in the past 25 years.  Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines breathe down my neck constantly.  You expect that with graphic design, but even with commissioned artwork most of the time there is a deadline.  The client has come up with the idea, usually, almost TOO close to the time they need it. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.

It was an absolute pleasure to know I could take as long as I needed to do this drawing.  I did not want to put it away and come back to it though.  That is how things find themselves in the permanent Unfinished Projects file.  I have a draw full of those already.  Estimated time for this was probably around ten hours over three days. While it made me very happy, that much focus has worn me out. There will be at least a week and a half break before I take on another big project. Ha, just in time to do that chicken stew cleaning!

Have a wonderful week.  If by chance, you don’t see a post from me next week, you will know that I am scrubbing, dusting, washing or organizing something.

 

Happy as a pig in mud

Hi Everyone!

All my hurricane refugees are safely back in their homes at the coast now.  Life is back to whatever normal is.  I don’t ever wish for a hurricane, but they do bring my kids home for a visit and we got some MUCH needed rain here.  North Carolina and South Carolina still have several areas dealing with severe flooding from Hurricane Matthew.  Our prayers are with them as they deal with cleanup and rebuilding.

Now for an update on my new “studio” situation.  If you are new to this crazy blog go HERE to see what I am talking about.

I do believe that each human being has gifts or talents that they are supposed to use during their time on earth.  And I guess we are supposed to be grateful for those gifts/talents because in most cases they are what brings us a sense of peace and joy even during total chaos.  I will admit that I wish I had gotten at least some skill in math and science or even a half way decent singing voice. But that is neither here nor there so I will continue on my creative way.

From the time I could hold a crayon until high school graduation I could find time to just sit, draw, paint, etc. and improve my skills.  As an art student concentrating in graphic design I began a downward spiral.  Instead of improving on my skills, I lost ground as there was less and less time to do the painting and drawing. Design does not require artist skill in the classic sense.  Enter a design career, marriage, kids, house, yard, dog, a printing company, a divorce, two jobs and teenagers and twenty-five years were gone.

In that twenty-five years I attempted to carve out time to draw and paint and sporadically managed a few paintings here and there.  I even sold work occasionally, but the time needed to seriously work and drill down and find my artistic “voice” never happened.  What I now have piled up in my storage unit are half baked pieces.  There was a good start of an idea, but never the time to really do the work right.  They were rushed to finish most of the time and lack the skill and thoughtfulness necessary to really make the good finished pieces.

Enter empty nest, a streamlined design business, a slower country style pace of life and a meat processing business with extra space and required attendance. Life, God, the Fates, have put their foot down and demanded that I get to work NOW.  And you know, it’s working!

Right now, business is slow so I have eight hours a day, three to four days a week in a building with no wifi, no tv, not even a good radio.  I have hauled most of my supplies (especially as the hurricane refugees were making their way here) over there.  And I am working and thinking and making messes and just having a blast.

Two small painting finished yesterday. The landscape one is a work in progress. Yes, that is a mouse hole on the wall and yes, it stuck it's head out to say hello this morning.
Two small painting finished yesterday. The landscape one is a work in progress. Yes, that is a mouse hole on the wall and yes, it stuck it’s head out to say hello this morning.

In my attempt at procrastination and avoidance of the cruel voices in my head (you know the ones – “you can’t do that”, “that’s just weird”, “that looks like crap”) I started out sewing stuff, but the call of paint and pencil became too strong.  The paints opened up yesterday and here is where I am today.  Basically, I am having to relearn all the stuff I used to do effortlessly in high school.  It makes me mad, but at the same time, to do what I want to do, it has to be done.

Yes, I may have one of the weirdest studios in history.  Ugly, yes, but it has good natural light during the day and I’m stuck there with myself.  So, I will carry on and see where it takes me.  God works in mysterious ways.  Who would have thunk!!?

My work area. I even have to clean up after myself every day because, well, people come in here.
My work area. I even have to clean up after myself every day because, well, people come in here.

Gotta go do some laundry and make some dinner before I head out to my evening shift at WSE (Weirdest Studio Ever).

Have a lovely week!