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!

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!

Happy March!

Some of my winter blues have subsided. It helped when I got these…

tulips 2and that the weather is going to do this… Spring weather

next week!  Spring is almost here.  It hasn’t been a terrible winter, but I don’t handle cold of any kind very well.  I am ready for those 70 degree days.

The flowers inspired me to start this…

tulips

 

It is still a work in progress but it was all I had time to work into the schedule this week.

Today I got the call that we have 40 boxes of tile to pick up so I have to hurry up and finish painting the room I have been working on…IMG_2802

and learn how to lay tile!

I sort of rushed through last week’s post since I was running late.  Ok, so I’m late again this week but not AS late.


 

For the moment I am going to call my little environmental section Healing Home.  I need to call it something so until I or you have a better idea that’s what I’m going with.  Did you read last week’s post?

At the beginning of each season I go through all my clothes and see what needs to go. With Spring almost here I think Spring cleaning is in order.  Today I will start with clothes.

I’m pretty sure most of us at this point probably donate our out grown or out of style clothes, but what do you do with the ones that are stained, torn or threadbare?

Here is some information about just how bad the problem has become with our textile waste.

Before you throw out the worn out clothes, stop and see if they can find a new purpose such as napkins, swiffers or un-paper towels.

Better yet, consider less clothing.  The uniform look has been a “thing” lately or you could try Project 333.  I have sort of blended both.  I am down to about 40 items of clothing (she doesn’t count underwear, socks or work out clothes in Project 333) and most of my clothes are solid colors that mix and match easily.  It is rare that I part with more than four items now in my seasonal purge.

If you are just finding my blog, this section is new and is my small way of simply making us all aware of how badly we need to clean up after ourselves.  You know, that Mom thing just never goes away even after the kids leave home!

Have a great week.  I have to go help D. load up 40 boxes of tile now!

 

 

The Devil is in the details

I believe last week I said that one of my resolutions was to limit my limitless interests so I can focus in on just a couple and give them the attention they require.  One of my other resolutions is to follow the K.I.S.S rule.  KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!  If I ever get a real office/studio I am going to paint this on the wall in large letters.

Are you familiar with the saying “the Devil is in the details”? That phrase has been running through my mind all week.  I decided to look it up and see if my personal use is correct and where the saying comes from.  Here is what I found:

The idiom the devil is in the details means that mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. Usually it is a caution to pay attention to avoid failure.

An older, and slightly more common, phrase God is in the detail means that attention paid to small things has big rewards, or that details are important.

The devil version of the idiom is a variation on the God phrase, though the exact origin of both is uncertain.”  Reference link

My personal definition of “the devil is in the details” means that I get so caught up in the details of a project that I can lose sight of what I am supposed to be trying to achieve.

A few recent examples would be:

  • While working on a logo and researching what the company does I find myself in a rabbit hole of interesting information that wanders far away from my project.
  • In the current phase of house remodeling I need to be focusing on the main priority, big ticket fixes.  What do I notice?  The small chunks of dented wood on the quarter round molding in the smallest bathroom that needs the least amount of work.  Now I see it every time I go in there and eventually I will have to fix it before something else so I will quit obsessing over it.
  • While working on this drawing of a seashell my goal was to loosen up my drawing and focus more on the mood than the technical details.  As always, I got so caught up in the tiniest of details I finally just had to put it away.  shell drawing

I agree totally with the above definitions of good and evil in the details. Many times I have seen projects derailed because someone did not take into account the details of a project.  I also know that my attention to detail in remodeling a house will make all the difference in the finished product.  My biggest issue is getting caught up in details that are not important at that moment and trying to tear myself away from them to focus on what is important.

There is this little voice in my head (oh, we won’t even get into that problem) reminding me of my tendency to procrastinate on things that overwhelm me or scare me or just flat out bore me.  Maybe the Devil has been wearing a different costume this week.

 

While I am gone…

As promised, here are some of the things I have been working on in my new creative space. Many of these are from an Instagram art challenge I have been taking part in with other artists and creative people from around the world.  It started on June 1st and ended on June 21st.

Charcoal clouds floral sketch Graditude sketch irises Laundry sketch mixed media 1 shack

Looking at this, I am all over the place, but after years of very sporadic periods of drawing and painting, I need the practice.  Like anything else, it takes practice to improve skills.  Before I went to college my drawing skills were much better than they are now because I had a fairly regular sketching schedule.  You would think as an art major I would have continued that, but a concentration in design did not include drawing and painting.  Then a full time job, then a family and boom, twenty-five years have gone by.

Some of these sketches I plan to refine into finished pieces.  I liked where they were going and want to spend some more time on them.

I am hoping to get some sketching in while I am on vacation.  If I manage to, I will post those when I get back.  Also, when I get back I have committed to a large charity event project that should be tons of fun and I will post the process of that undertaking.

Have a wonderful summer and Happy 4th of July for my U.S. readers.

The rest of the story…

To continue from where I left off last week (I hope by the time this has posted it has only been one week, not three months), over the winter I was trying to accomplish a great deal of creative stuff on a tiny kitchen table.  I managed, but my attitude suffered and so did a couple of people who put up with me on a regular basis.  Here are a few more things I created on my eating/laundry/art table.

IMG_1572 IMG_1626 IMG_1630

Yes, style wise I am all over the place.  I have always had that problem. I like too many things so I am squirrel-like in my creating.  One day I hope all this work will gel into a maximum of two, maybe three styles instead of the ten I have going now.

There are still more little projects coming in my next couple of posts.  We will see how I’m progressing.

Back again!

I have been woefully (I like the word “woefully”. Very expressive.) neglectful of my blog.  Once again I plan to be more disciplined in my writing.  I say that when I am three weeks from my vacation and will be completely out of the loop for a week and possibly off grid for most of it. The last few months I have actually been very busy with creative endeavors, but have been in an aggravated and frustrated state with it all.  Maybe others of you have been through the same thing or are going through the same thing and I probably should have written about it.  First, I just didn’t have the motivation and second, I’m not sure you would have wanted to hear about it while I was in that mind frame.  It was pretty negative.

So, what was going on with me? After the holidays I had the long winter months to work on projects and had a spurt of creative juices that had me pacing like a tiger in a cage.  I don’t work on just one project, I work on three or four projects when I’m in that state.  Actually, I work on three or four project most of the time in whatever state I am in. The aggravation point was a lack of creative space.  Up until the last two years I have had a reasonable amount of room (one being a converted walk-in closet) to spread out and leave my projects so I could come back to them.  Currently, I am living in a small two bedroom townhouse.  The second bedroom belonged to my son, and even though he was away at college it primarily contained all his stuff.  One wall was commandeered by me for my office desk (my room barely fits a bed much less a desk) and in one tiny corner I had set up my easel so I could paint while he was at    school.  Any other artsy projects had to be produced on my tiny kitchen table and then be moved or packed up when it was time to eat or fold clothes. Try to imagine working on jewelry one day, mosaics the next day, a painting the next day and having to find space to move the projects around, but still keep them accessible.  Add in the fact I have two dogs who think pretty much ANYTHING is potential food.  At one point, my little powder room was barely usable. I stacked my projects on the sink and in the floor and there was just enough room to still use the toilet.  Can you see where this was giving me a bad attitude? Anyway, during all this frustrating time away I did manage to do quite a bit of experimenting and playing.

Below are some of the pieces I made even through the frustration.  Not great art, but regaining and improving long neglected skills.  Practice does make perfect and if not perfect at least much better.  It has been decades instead of years that I have been unable to have a regular practice and it takes some work to get the rust off.  I am feeling much better now and will post more about that next time.

IMG_1635 IMG_1636 IMG_1506 IMG_1503

In the near future…

I thought I would give some insight into some upcoming projects.  It’s really an accountability factor if I throw out into the world my plans.  It pretty much forces me to not procrastinate.  I’m a stickler for follow through when I make a commitment and have years of deadline anxiety embedded in my DNA.

Project(s) #1 – this will be a ongoing, long-term series of projects.  Why? Because I have committed to using up my HUGE pile of supplies in my quest of downsizing and simplifying.  This will not just be drawings and paintings. I have piles of yarn, scraps of fabric, inks, markers, specialty paper, antique books, junk drawers, etc.  There are a couple of baby blankets planned, glass/mosaic projects and some mixed media artwork on the horizon.

I have been schleping a few pieces of slate around for about 20 years.  I did manage to use a few of them, but I have three remaining and intend to make them into finished pieces to sell at my Etsy shop.  This will be my first project (ongoing with the baby blankets) to get completed before Christmas.  Hopefully by the time you read this post I will have finished them.

slate

Project #2 – Ahhh, this one is rumbling around in my head and will be my biggest project/commitment yet.  I don’t have all the details fleshed out yet, but what I’m thinking will involve twelve (one a month) largeish paintings to be put up for sale on Ebay.  Hopefully in my next post I will have most of the details worked out and explain why I’m taking this on.

Completed!

Anyone who uses their creative streak (we all have one, but some use it more than others) know the frustration of the process and how often it makes you want to bang your head against the wall to get something you need out of it.

Every single piece of artwork I do, whether it’s a drawing, painting or design, has a phase of frustration.  I’m stuck and don’t know what needs to be done next. I wrote about my sunflower painting here and this is where I got stuck…for months.

IMG_1280

I have learned a few things over the years.  One being that if something is in plain view it will eventually aggravate me until I clean it, pay it or fix it.  So I left this on the easel right where I had to look at it every single day.

A couple of weeks ago I had a rare free Saturday and the beginnings of a new list of projects that will require my easel back so I forced myself to put paint on canvas again.  It was still aggravating and to begin with I was hating it, but kept working on one small section at a time until I got it where I wanted it.

Ta-Dah!! Done!

IMG_1442

 

Of course, like any artist, writer, crafts person, etc. I can tell you every single flaw I see in it, but hopefully you don’t notice it or think it’s a flaw.  I just eventually have to call it “done” and “satisfactory” or I will wind up in a special jacket.

It is cheerful, bright and absolutely does not go in the room that I started it for. Oh, well, art takes on a life of its own.

 

A Questioning of Purpose

My retreat from the world.
My retreat from the world.

I have been on an unintentional self-imposed break from my blogging in the past few weeks. My usual excuse is that I just got too busy with work and life.  This time was different.  This time my break came from world event overload.  On more than one occasion I have been described as “overly sensitive”.  At this point in my life I guess I should agree, but I don’t think that my reaction to horrific brutality should be considered “overly sensitive”.

What the soul sickening events have produced is a questioning of purpose. With all the millions of blogs out in the world and all the much smarter people doing much more to counter act the evil, disease and injustice with their words, does my time spent on this keyboard amount to anything more than a waste of my time?  To my readers, I apologize if I have wasted your time.

In my lifetime of considering myself an artist, I have often questioned the substance of what I do. Am I just making pretty things?  Does my work say anything of importance?  Am I just contributing to the materialism that eats away at our environment and financial security?  Ok, so I am also an over thinker, but maybe something that takes up a huge portion of your limited lifespan and thought needs to be examined occasionally.  If you also read my design & print blog at btsprintanddesign.com you will see a similar post.  When I rethink one thing it leads to all the rest.

What I hope to accomplish with my artwork is to give you a sense of peace and gratitude. I am drawn to the little details around us that we often take for granted.  It is doubtful you will find expansive landscapes here though it could happen.  I appreciate the rusted and worn for the value it has given.  I can’t bring myself to make something disturbing in the name of “art”, though that also could happen if my soul is disturbed enough that it cannot be contained.

As one tiny entity on this planet, I recognize that most world problems are infinitely complicated and I do not have the knowledge to accurately spout my opinions. Most of my opinions are gut reactions to what I hear through often slanted media and the limitations of my own culture.  To the best of my abilities I will keep my opinions to myself.

I will not keep my time, talents and money to myself.   As much as possible I will use them to improve life on this planet if only in my tiny corner of the world.  I doubt I can do anything to stop the horrible things humans do to each other, the creatures that live with us or the planet we live on, but maybe I can, in some small way, improve the life of another human or animal and clean up a patch of earth.

I will not plaster words on this site just to have content. In the past I have tried to follow a schedule of posting that eventually results in a rush to put something on my blogs that has very little substance.  From now on I will take my time and do my best to put words worth reading on here.  There will not be a set schedule.  Life is too short to read or write meaningless words.

If you have made it to this point in this blog, thank you for your patience. I would love to hear from you if you also struggle with everything we are bombarded with and how you deal with it in your life and work.

Wishing for you, blessings and peace.

Christel