Sliding into 2023

Hi Everyone!

I am doing a quick check in before 2022 gets away from me. Several times I considered getting a post done here before Christmas, but those of you who know, know I would have only whined the whole time about how much I don’t like Christmas. Folks, I try. I try so hard every year that now it’s beginning to cause me some pretty serious anxiety. It’s Monday morning, December 26th and I already have half my decorations down. I am so over all the extra stuff in my house, the sugar overload (and the extra 5 lbs that goes with it) and the relative that has given away, thrown away, donated or returned every gift I have ever given them. Pretty sure I could give them the winning Power Ball ticket and it still wouldn’t be right. Anyone else have one of those?

Ok, I still slid into whining. Sorry about that. I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful one. I certainly don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer for the whole world. I also hope those of you who have been in the Siberian Polar Vortex path are beginning to thaw out and get to your family gatherings now.

I already have my 2023 planner filled out and ready to go. Even though January and February are bleak, I can at least start getting some seeds planted, the days are getting lighter and I have 6-8 months before I have to start dreading Christmas again.

We have plans to take our niece to see a college she is considering and that will give us a road trip to the mountains. I need to plan a visit to see my daughter and her family AND we have a wedding in the family this year. Ooops, we have two weddings this year. Happy things.

I am planning on finishing the studio, getting an online store going and lots of painting this year. Currently, I have three landscapes in the works. I don’t generally do landscapes, but am trying to work on some new skills. Below is a work in progress. Yes, it’s a little bleak looking too, just like the mud photo at the top. Gray and muddy is the state of being most of the winter here. Snow is rare.

Gotta go. Unfortunately I have to brave the after Christmas shopping crowds so the kid can finish her shopping and spend some of her Christmas money. Prayers would be appreciated. I will check back in next year!

Stay warm and safe,

Christel

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Rainy days

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. We are having a cold, rainy day here. My least favorite weather. The upside to a rainy day is that I can’t get outside to work and can escape into my attic studio.

My current projects include trying to finish some unfinished paintings and work on this website. DH pointed out the other day that I don’t have any of my commissioned work on here. Over the years I have had little time to pursue shows or galleries because it has been hard to build a body of work to use. I have been able to consistently take commissions though. They have been my bread & butter artwork.

It is still a work in progress, but if you look under the MENU tab above you will see my Commissions page now. These are samples of work I have done in the past few years. Somewhere I have more photos of more work, but they seem to be MIA. Does anyone else need a better system of filing your photos? If you have a good system, PLEASE tell me how.

I have a table full of unfinshed work and some canvases I’m getting ready to start on. It has been an absolute pleasure to finally have some consistent time (did I mention that our niece got her license so my taxi business has retired) to paint. My minimum daily time is about 2 hours most days. Today I have been holed up here for almost 4 hours. Other than a lack of heat up here, it has been wonderful.

Trying to improve my website has proven just how scattered and fragmented my art time has been over the years. I have reference photos everywhere – digital and hard copy, photos of finished work stuck in weird places and finished work in equally weird spots. Finally I have one place for all my supplies, files, work, etc. Slowly I am cleaning out dried up paint, art that should be burned, craft supplies I will never use again and crazy stuff I wonder why I kept. Now if I can just get my studio construction finished, it might not be as cold and would certainly look better!

Well, folks I need to wrap this up, go thaw out my feet and put some soup on for dinner. In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, I am on Instagram and Facebook under Bloomtown Studio. Usually I post the same stuff in both places so just pick one to visit. Also, check back here when you can. I am determined to get my act together (stop laughing, it could happen) and get this website in better shape.

Have a wonderful week!!

Christel

Getting back to it

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. Today is Election Day in the U.S. DH and I went out early this morning to vote. I’m old school and prefer to vote on Election Day instead of early voting. I always think of my Dad during elections. One of his favorite things was helping at the polls and he did it for as long as he could. When I went to vote for the first time at the age of 18, he almost followed me into the voting booth while he was instructing me on how to vote. You would have to have known my Dad and his side of the family. They loved to argue politics and they did it loudly at every family gathering. Guess what. They never got mad at opposing views and never stopped being a family. I always told my kids that they should appreciate the peaceful transfer of power in our country. My prayer today is that this country continues to uphold that process and that families don’t stop being a family over politics.

Moving on to artsy things and to start catching you up on our current crazy…

My studio is still under construction, but I am able to work fairly comfortably in here now. With all the other projects that have to be done, we are only working in the studio on rainy Saturdays. We haven’t had many of those in the past few months. While I am working away up here I do have to occasionally move around furniture and storage as we work on baseboards and painting. MOST of the boxes have been unpacked and I have purchased some shelves. I have a color scheme picked out for when I finally get to the pretty stuff, but I have decided that the wood floors need to be painted. They are hardwood, but they have lived a hard life and it’s not worth the time and money to try and refinish them. I also need more light up here and think a glossy white paint should reflect what light I have around more. Do I even need to mention that oil and acrylic paint has a strange way of escaping a paint brush and throwing itself around everywhere? White gloss paint covers a lot of ugly and messes.

The main photo above is a current work in progress. Lately I have been slightly obsessed with clouds or things that make me look up and have many photos for reference. I’m working small right now just to get back in the swing of oil painting. Maybe I’m the only one, but switching between acrylic paint and oils requires a major flip in my process.

Our niece got her license back during the summer and though that is a double edged sword for a parent, it has finally given me a little more time back in my life and my goal is to get in a minimum of 2 hours studio time each day. That does not seem like much, but when it has been more like 2 hours a week or even a MONTH, it’s a huge improvement. My attitude about life reflects the change. I am so much better mentally when I get my art time in. Hopefully I will have some art work finished by the end of the year and can update my website and add a little store onto it. Life goals.

You all have a great week, stay safe (it’s crazy out there) and do something creative.

Christel

Anyone still out there?

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I have been MIA for a very long time. There are several reasons for my absence. Primarily it has been an extended creative block. I have been doing some artwork, but was struggling to get into it. I decided to pull out the sewing machine and start making myself some much needed clothes. Maybe something about switching up my focus started getting the creative juices flowing again. I think it may take a different turn, but I will start sharing what’s happening and give an update on my studio construction (hint: it’s not done yet).

I have closed my Etsy shop. Maybe I will explain that decision later. Many folks have been disgruntled with Etsy and I was one of them. I am looking into just adding a shop here on my website if I can afford it. I am also considering starting a newsletter. It would only be sent out when I have a major update or important information. If you would like to be added to the newsletter email list please email me at bloomtownstudio@gmail.com and tell me you would like to be added.

That’s my update for today. The handsome pup is a recent commission that I finished.

Have a great week and I should be back posting soon.

Christel

Makers gotta make

Hi Everyone!

I am trying to sneak this post in quietly while the puppy is sleeping. Honestly it is just like having a two year old running around again. I can’t take my eyes off of her while she is awake because she will get into something and I try to cram all my work into her two hour morning nap. It’s exhausting.

So 2022 is here and I am juggling lots of things at once. How is your January going? Things are supposed to slow down in the winter, but I really don’t think that ever happens in my life. I am trying to do more cozy activities. The Scandinavians know how to do winter so I am embracing as many of their traditions as possible to get to Spring without diving into my usual Winter depression. Currently three pairs of socks on my feet, wood stove going, candles at night, more books to read and forcing myself out into the cold for some walks.

We are still working on the studio, but I now have three tables up there full of creative endeavors. Yours truly is spending at least an hour a day in her UNHEATED studio. I have one space heater and will probably move another up there soon. Yesterday I had my three pairs of socks on, a hat, fingerless gloves and three layers of clothing while just happily working away on three different projects. When it’s your thing you just do it!

The 2022 plan is to revamp my pitiful Etsy shop and hopefully my website. I am thinking in April I will have a one or two day sale of original paintings and drawings. I am also trying to post current work on Instagram and my Facebook page a few times a week (search for Bloomtown Studio both places) so you can see what I am actually doing in my attic hideaway. Currently I have two drawings in the works and a couple of unfinished paintings I need to get to. With it being so cold I don’t think the paint works as well as it should so I have been concentrating on my drawings. Here is a video of the beginning of one. Yes, to many people this probably seems pretty boring, but I’m processing what I want to do with this piece and pondering life.

I am also working on a knitted sweater for DH and sewing myself some much needed clothes. Yes, I know there are stores that have these things. First, I extremely dislike shopping (hate seems too harsh). Second, I “inherited” boxes and boxes of both yarn and fabric from DH’s Mom and Grandmother. Both ladies were talented makers and left behind very nice fabric and yarn. I kinda feel like it should be used and not wasted. Grandbabies have been getting blankets, DN is learning to crochet with some of it and I am using all of it that I can. There are also several quilt tops and quilt pieces that I am planning to finish.

I suspect many of you that read this crazy blog know exactly what I’m talking about. Makers gotta make. It’s our thing. It’s our sanity. It’s our duty to use our talents. Yes, those folks who don’t have this blessing/curse don’t understand why we will spend hours and hours making something. Something that may or may not be actually good or usable in the end. Something that may not be appreciated when it is received as a gift. I quit worrying about it and you should too. Don’t try to explain it and don’t get your heart hurt when a gift isn’t appreciated. Hopefully they will realize that if you put so much time into something it was given with EXTREME love. We don’t give people these things if we don’t love them! We can go to the mall for a gift for those people.

The grandbabies are wrapped in blankets made by my hands from yarn that belonged to their great-grandmother. DH will get to wear a sweater from yarn that his Mom bought probably hoping to make him one herself (the colors screamed DH). I get to wear clothing I made, that I like (can we admit that some of the styles out there are yucky and the quality is awful) from quality fabric and if it falls apart I can only blame myself. Making things is therapeutic, frustrating and satisfying. What’s not to like? You are going to spend that time doing something. I would rather be making than watching TV and not accomplishing anything.

Gotta get going. The puppy will be waking up soon.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace, Peace,

Christel

Things that make you go Hummmmm

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and life is grand in your part of the world. Unfortunately with the state of the world right now many people cannot say that. The rest of us need to do our best to comfort and support them when we can. I have two dear friends right now who are dealing with big family issues. After reading the details in our group text, all I could really say is “the plates we have to spin at this age sure do get heavier and heavier”. DH and I had a similar discussion with DN about personal responsibility and how adulting is tough, but it is not wise to expect others to solve your problems. We can’t solve each other’s problems, but we can support each other through them.

Things here have been fairly uneventful and I’m always grateful for uneventful. No animal drama and not too much teenage drama (parents of girls, you know what I mean). I got to enjoy a funny Facetime with my daughter in SC and my wide open 2 year old grandson. We have a granddaughter turning one tomorrow and will be celebrating with a big birthday bash on Saturday. All practices for DN have been cancelled today so I don’t have to run the taxi service at all. It’s the little things I appreciate more and more.

I have been working on some artwork, but not anything I can share right now. DN starts back to school full time, in person after Spring Break so I am trying to get back to my original 2021 plan of putting in 20 hours a week of actual revenue producing work again. If I can figure out some new software (I have been figuring out new software since 1985!) I will share what I’m trying to do. Work on the attic has been slow but steady. DH added more joint compound to the drywall and I have been sanding and painting. We hope to get the last of the drywall bought in the next week and pick up the pace.

During this week I have noticed several conversations we have had about weird coincidences happening in the world and a “could this happen” question about mobile banking, etc. Sort of random things like the fact that I have seen many, many new sheds/barns going down the road this week. A lot of stimulus checks must have gone toward new sheds.

While I was working on the whole new software learning ordeal, I wound up going down the NFT (Non-fungible Tokens) rabbit hole. Have you seen where people are selling this artwork on blockchains for millions of dollars? Don’t think for a moment that I understand this stuff or plan on selling any artwork that way, but it put my poor little brain in frizzle mode. Millions of dollars for artwork that only exists in digital form? You don’t print it out and put it on your wall? It just sits on a computer or the blockchain (don’t ask me to explain blockchain technology. I am not capable.), but you can resell it if you purchase it and actually make royalties from it. I will watch from the sidelines and see what happens with this technology. Maybe it will be a big thing for a while or it may be a big bust or scheme. Maybe some people just have more money than good sense. Raise your hand if you would be willing to help them out with all that money and put it towards something more tangible!

If any of you want to chime in on the whole NFT thing please feel free. I would like to understand it better because I’m a closet geek about these things. What things make you go “hummmmmm” when you hear about them? It keeps life interesting.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Lesson 1

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I kinda sorta delayed this post because of three beautiful sixty degree days. It’s still February and I needed to be outside to soak up Vitamin D. Today is back to cold, gray and rainy. I will mention that I did not sleep well last night so this might be a struggle. Call me out if something I put in here makes no sense.

Last week I mentioned that I will do a drawing tutorial for anyone interested. Once again, I do not consider myself a teacher. I am the constant student if anything. This is meant to be a means of creativity and stress relief. Listening to a podcast this week I heard of the ever rising incidents of suicide happening. We have to find ways of looking after ourselves especially mentally with all the continuing crazy. So, if you are so inclinded take these lessons and spend about 15-30 minutes a day practicing this week. I will add more lessons to give you more skills. Don’t stress or go perfectionist on me. These are supposed to be fun, not great works of art.

Materials needed: paper (nothing fancy – copy/printer paper, etc.), a pencil (#2, mechanical, whatever you have), an eraser (a good one on the end of the pencil is fine).

Here is our reference picture. I tried to find something simple, but challenging.

  1. LIGHTLY sketch the basic shapes. Notice that my sketch is loose.

2. Now, the trick is to look and really SEE the lines and shapes. Tell your brain to shut up, because it will tell you what it thinks the gravy boat should look like, not what it really looks like. Take your time and see where lines connect. Begin refining the shapes.

3. Keep working on the shapes and lines. Don’t think about what the object is. Right now it is simply lines and shapes that connect. Notice where I erased and moved things a bit. It is good to put your drawing away at the point you are beginning to feel frustrated. Take some time away and then come back with fresh eyes to make corrections. Just some time away will allow you to see the places you need to adjust. Every drawing and every painting I do comes with the frustration stage. It’s normal. You just have to deal with it and work through it.

4. Here is your homework. Yes, homework. Go around your house and find objects to draw. Don’t overthink this. I do suggest keeping it simple to begin with. Now, every day spend 15-30 minutes drawing one of those objects. Anyone and everyone who has taken a beginning art class will tell you that this is standard operating proceedure. Over the years I have filled many, many sketch books with crappy, daily sketches. You know what happens? Just like playing endless scales on a musical instrument, you slowly get better and better at seeing shapes and shadows (we will get to those). Your hand starts working with your eyes instead of your brain and you get into that lovely FLOW phase where the world drops away while you intensely focus on what you are doing.

I am working on pulling together some reference materials you can check out if you decide you want to delve a little deeper and learn from better teachers.

Have a lovely week. Don’t watch too much news. It is truly bad for you.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Surviving February

Hi Everyone!

If you are in the U.S. right now then there is a very good chance that you have had enough of February. Most of the country is either under snow, flooded with rain and/or experiencing sub artic conditions. Power outages are not helping. We are expecting a major ice storm when you are probably reading this. I’m trying to get it posted in case we lose power. Supposedly we will have sunlight on Friday. I’m not sure my eyes can handle it after weeks of gloom.

I never do well in February. It’s only a marketing ploy that the calendar says it has 28 days. In reality it is 90 days long. We did slosh our way to South Carolina over the weekend to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and hang out with my favorite almost 2 year old. The weather there was just as dreadful, but staying in your pj’s and playing with Legos, PlayDoh and crayons with a toddler takes your mind off it somewhat. We had a great visit and DD and SIL got to go out to dinner for her birthday without the kid for a change.

The rain and gray yesterday almost did me in. Cabin fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder are real and I battle them every February. I was restless, cranky, sleepy, unmotivated and stir crazy. I really couldn’t find much to help. All my go to’s, knitting, artwork, baking, candles, reading, sewing, were letting me down. I finally resorted to watching YouTube videos in tropical places. Ugh, not exactly productive.

Last year when the lockdowns started I was so thankful that it was March and we were having an early Spring so I could be outside. Though we aren’t in a complete lockdown right now, the state of the world is pretty gloomy along with the weather and from what I’m reading and hearing, I’m far from alone in this mental mud. I have been pondering if there is anything I can do to help. Over and over I see where creativity has been the saving grace for so many people during this pandemic and I understand why. Focusing intently on a problem (creativity is problem solving) takes your mind off everything around you. Flow it’s called. Shutting out the world. When I am in the flow a tornado could hit and I would be oblivous until things started flying.

I think I am going to try and post a few drawing tutorials here and see if there is any interest. I do not consider myself a teacher even though years ago I taught a few classes to adults and children. As an artist it is always a good idea to revisit the basics every now and then so it would be good for me too. Drawing, like writing, has been proven to be excellent therapy. Drawing doesn’t require any special or expensive materials. A #4 pencil and some copy paper work just fine. I may make some suggestions for other materials, but even now I will sketch something on any scrap of paper that is laying around.

Now, I don’t want to hear the “I can’t even draw a stick figure” excuse. Yes, I was born with the ability to “see” how objects actually look and draw or paint them. You might have been born with the ability to understand advanced mathmatics. Trust me, that is just as a mysterious ability to me as drawing might be to you, but even I was able to learn enough algebra to pass the class. I think I even used algebra ONCE outside of a classroom. You might need to draw something one day that will help you in a crisis. You are in a foreign country possibly, don’t speak the language and need to find a bathroom! Toliets are not hard to draw.

Right now I’m planning for Lesson 1 next week. If you have hung out here with me for any amount of time, you know that life is very fluid in my world, but if I set a goal I usually am stubborn enough to make it happen. Let’s see how I do with a few lessons and if you happen to know people who are having a tough time right now with life and think a distraction might be good for them, please send them my way. If it helps someone have a break from all the stress swirling around out there then it will be well worth my time.

Let’s all try to keep our heads above water (or snow, or ice) for a few more weeks and hopefully the sunshine will break through soon.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo of ice on plants by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

‘Tis the season

Hi Everyone,

Hope you have been well. I’m sure you have been probably busy.  It’s that time of year.  Since we have minimized the gifting this year my time has been less stressed over the whole Christmas chaos. I even had the mental capacity to face driving down one of the most congested streets in a nearby city to get to the even more congested Costco.  Normally I avoid that area at all costs until mid-January when everyone has returned all the gifts they didn’t like.

I am going to go ahead and wish you all a very Happy Holidays (whichever ones you celebrate) and a Happy New Year.  I need to take a sabbatical for awhile.  Writing this blog has been difficult this year and all the losses and changes have taken a toll.  Even though the art supplies are out and ready to go, I can’t seem to focus enough to make anything right now.  I’m pretty darn bummed about that to be honest.  My brain needs to focus and my heart needs some mending time.

So, until I can regroup, my plan is to bake some cookies, paint the walls in the house, unpack more boxes, love on the people and creatures in my little world.  Hopefully I will be back with some renewed spirit after the first of the year, but I’m going to give myself what time I need.  I have a very bad habit of pushing myself to meet unrealistic, self-imposed deadlines and projects.  If you do that too…stop it, stop it now…it’s not good for you.

Happy Holidays!  Wishing all of us a new and improved 2020!!

Christel

Everyday creative

Hi Everyone!

I hope life is treating you well. My apologies for missing last week. My husband had a close friend pass last week so my schedule had to be rearranged so I could go with him to the funeral. I also helped host a baby shower for my daughter over the weekend and every minute was full of preparations. It was a hectic week. After everyone was safely home on Saturday, I didn’t mind having an ice storm too much. It was a good excuse to stay home and recover. Event planning seriously stresses me out. 

I thought I would show you the arrangement on Fred’s casket because not only was it unusual it was beautifully done. Fred worked with D., but was also an excellent horseman and taught D. a great deal about horses and training them. Fred had been sick for several years and unable to ride anymore so he had been selling most of his equipment including all his saddles. The family asked D. if they could borrow one of his saddles for the funeral. The photo isn’t great and doesn’t do it justice, but kudos to the florist, the arrangement was stunning. 


Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes. I had no time last week to draw or paint, but I can tell you that my Mom, my sister and myself put some creativity into the shower prep! We each made at least one party dish that we had never tried before and just prayed they were good. My daughter wanted a woodland theme. Well she probably wanted a jungle theme, but I changed it to a woodland theme because jungle decor is far and few between in our part of the world and our time of year. I also wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on a one time use of decorations. My very patient husband did some creative wood cutting of a downed tree on our farm for me and I went out and cut pine and cedar branches for the greenery. Many of the serving dishes and other decor were pottery pieces my sister or I made and we used some carved wood birds that my Dad made years ago. There was my daughter’s old teddy bear standing watch at the gift table. The wood pieces and greenery were such a hit that they actually went home with one my daughter’s friends to use at her little boy’s first birthday party! They would have been firewood if they came home with me.

Miss L. and I barely got on the road home from the shower when the freezing rain began. We were lucky and did not lose power but enjoyed a cozy, lazy, Sunday. I got started on knitting a sweater with my new funky interchangeable circular knitting needles. I need a minimum of an hour to work on artwork, but knitting I can do for just a few minutes at a time or a marathon session when I’m waiting for someone at an appointment. Knitting is my therapy. I’m not good enough at it to consider it creative because I just follow someone else’s creative pattern, but it keeps my hands busy and burns off stress or the fidgets. 


This week I’m working on house selling and building paperwork, appointments for Miss L. (More knitting) and more decluttering. Week one I needed to clear out 21 items, but managed 50. Last week I needed to clear out 70 items but only got 38. This week I need to declutter 119! So the fact I’m only in a deficit of -3 so far isn’t too bad. Tomorrow I will go get another car load of boxes out of the storage unit and see if I can stay on track. 

Have a great week and work some creativity into every day!