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

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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

The joys of winter

Hi Everyone!

Hello to the new readers. Welcome. How is everyone doing? In my part of the world winter has arrived in force. We were snowed in over the weekend and expecting more snow and ice tonight. Hopefully not much this time. I am very tired of slipping and sliding my way to the goat shed every morning.

Our temps are not supposed to reach above freezing all day. Yuck. The wood stove is working hard! Even both of my kids who live at different parts of the East Coast are expecting significate icing tonight. One is having to spend the night at the hospital where she works and I’m sure my firefighter son will be busy with wrecks and possibly space heater fires.

I have been trying my best to use my winter confinement wisely. We won’t discuss the cookie baking and biscuits and gravy that have been happening! I finished the blouse I had started last week. The original plan was for long sleeves, but I did not have enough fabric so it became a summer blouse. I am happy with the pattern (the fabric was a beast and I will avoid such slipperness in the future) and am planning a dress in the future from it. If anyone is interested, it is the Rhapsody Blouse & Dress from Love Notions pattern company.

I am still working on DH’s sweater and am playing a serious game of yarn chicken. There are going to be some creative sleeves on this baby if the beige yarn runs out too early. Sewing and knitting have their share of drama! I am using the Flax pattern from Tin Can Knits, but not doing the garter panel on the sleeves.

For a long time I have been wanting to learn stranded colorwork, but have been intimidated. I have enough trouble controlling one ball of yarn much less multiple. But the time has come. I am joining a Knit Along in February to see if I can master it. I have visions of Fair Isle sweaters in my closet, but I’m starting with a hat. I will let you know how it goes.

Artwork is limited because it’s just too darn cold in my attic studio. I am still slowly working on a drawing. If I get this post done soon enough I am going to work on it today. The puppy is down for her nap and I have a heck of a time accomplishing any detailed projects when she is awake. We see glimmers of hope that she will eventually become a big, squishy puddle of pit bull lazy in the future, but we aren’t gonna be there for months yet. She is losing her baby teeth and that has been exciting. I haven’t had a puncture wound for almost a week now!

That’s about it from the frozen wasteland of North Carolina. We won’t discuss the mud levels either when the ground thaws. Double yuck.

Stay safe and warm out there!

Faith, Hope, Love and Peace,

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

And winter returned!

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I’m late this week. I’m going to blame it on the weather. What the heck? Another late season frost similar to last year. I spent time covering up little plants, bringing potted plants inside and cutting flowers to enjoy as long as possible. I’m glad I hadn’t gotten around to packing up the hats and gloves yet. They were needed on the past few late night / early morning walks with the dog. Like 2:30 am or 4:00 am walks. I think his seizure meds are messing things up. Thanks to these walks I have also been groggy and slower than usual.

I had to bring them ALL in!

I forgot to mention that I have new bees too. My brother-in-law very kindly gave me one of the splits he made from one of his hives and also a nuc he made from a swarm I believe. I don’t have the second one here yet, but am going tomorrow to meet the queen. She will probably be moving here in about a week. So I may have spent more than the usual amount of time watching the new girls and keeping them fed with sugar water. I don’t know how things are at your house, but here, 75% of my time is spent feeding things…humans, creatures and plants. There should be a tax write off somewhere in there.

A note to our neighbors…our lawn mower is being repaired. It’s going to take 3-4 weeks to get it back. Yes, the yard will be bad. Don’t panic if you see horses loose in the yard. They might as well earn their keep and mow some grass.

Today has been rainy and cold. Perfect attic construction weather. I spent several hours painting the walls that are up and DH is still up there putting up more drywall. There are some seriously wonky corners, dips and angles. Not easy on 50+ year old backs and shoulders. Some things will have to wait until lumber prices come down. We were going to frame out the window, but one small board to make the window sill was going to be $14! It can wait. DH estimates 2 more months of work. That would be about my birthday. I would be quite happy to have a finished studio for my birthday.

Slowly but surely.

Yesterday morning I helped with a yard sale and by the time I got home the allergies were full on. I got what had to be done taken care of then decided to take some time to do a little painting while my head recovered. It has been about 3 weeks since I have worked in any drawing or painting. It may not help my allergies, but it sure helps my mental health. I am hoping this coming week to clean up the corner of the attic that is 95% done and maybe move a table and easel in where I can start working. Fingers crossed. Next weekend we have one of the grandkids so I know we will not get much accomplished while she’s here.

This week’s sketch.

Have a great week. I hope your weather is warm. Some of you have storms heading your way I think. Be safe out there and I hope to be back on Thursday.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

The Unknowns

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, are you as excited as I am that SPRING will offically be here this weekend? The next couple of nights will not feel very Springy, but next week is looking much better.

Normally I plan to get my posts out on Thursdays, but give myself some grace to ooze into Friday when necessary. It has been a thing for the past few weeks. This week we had our oldest granddaughter with us Wednesday – Thursday while she is on Spring Break. Nothing terribly productive is going to happen when one or more of the kids or the grands are here. If all goes well (crossing my fingers), our schools are supposed to open back up to in person learning after Easter!! I’m not sure who is more excited, me or DN. She is so ready to have a social life again and I am so ready to have my schedule back again. DH is also now working 5 days a week again which he hasn’t been able to do since July. It is virtually impossible to really get the creative juices going with constant interruptions and as much as I love them, DH & DN find a way to interrupt my plans numerous times when they are home.

An update on my Queen Bee situation is in order after last week’s crazy. After providing Her Majesty with a cozy, new home, food, and brood for new workers SHE UP AND LEAVES! Absconding it’s called in the bee world. She took her tiny entourage and left to parts unknown. Dang it! There are theories and speculation as to why absconding happens, but no one really knows. I do know that it was a terrible time to leave and the likelihood that she and her attendants survived this week is very low. I guess all works out in the end. As disappointed as I was to lose her, I don’t think I really want a queen with that little good sense.

While I was driving back from soccer dropoff the other day I got to pondering the whole unknown thing. Have you ever thought about just how much “unknown” we live with every day? It’s unknown why queen bees leave a perfectly good hive. A year ago we all faced a whopping big unknown about this pandemic. It’s unknown every day what the weather will really do (sorry meteorologists, but you aren’t always terribly accurate). It’s unknown how our health will hold up, if our jobs will hold up, if our relationships will hold up. I find it ironic that human beings as a whole can be so arrogant when we know so little.

Hopefully the older we get and the more life “unknowns” we live through, the more we appreciate the here and now. I know that more and more I appreciate the simplest things because of where I’ve been. I seriously appreciate my family and friends because I have lost so many already. As I hear about more and more people losing their jobs I remember when I was laid off during the Great Recession with two kids to support and a mortage to pay. I appreciate our income and don’t waste it. Even with achy joints I appreciate my health because I’ve faced some scary health unknowns in the past. Just imagine how horrible human beings would be if we didn’t live with constant unknowns. The unknowns are here to humble us, I guess.

The honeybees and the artwork keep me humble always. I found a couple of hours to work on this drawing. In my head it looks different from the way it’s turning out. Really and truly, when I start a piece of artwork, I have no idea how it’s actually going to turn out. Simultainously, it’s amazing and frustrating. Sometimes I’m amazed it turns out ok (there is always the “this is awful” stage) and more times than not, it’s frustrating that it won’t work the way I want it to. Oh well, that’s life.

I have to go take care of a few things before it’s time to put on the Taxi Driver light for soccer practice. Have an awesome week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

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

Wrapping it up

Hi Everyone!

One week until Christmas and I have been wrapping up 2020 literally and figuratively. It is not going to be a big presents under the tree sort of year, but we have a few for the younger crowd. The adults have decided a little Dirty Santa, food and time together will be plenty.

The last of these three drawings got finished up about a week ago. (I purposely made not so great photos of these because of the rampant image theft online). In my mind they are called the Pandemic Flowers. I desperately need better names. I started the first one in February when I was dealing with a kidney stone and the incoming Covid. Like many of you, I have a brain that never shuts up and I needed to focus on something other than pain and anxiety. These drawings were my refuge. This much detail takes getting into that flow where you lose track of time and thought. Whenever the 2020 crazy started to get to me, I worked on these and got my equilibrium back.

What got you through the year? Hopefully not alcohol or drugs, but I have heard their usage was way up this year. I have seen posts and had conversations that included quilting, bread making, wood working, gardening, uncluttering, home remodeling and decorating. Have you noticed that creative endeavors have been our saving grace? I have always declared creativity / art as therapy. Guess we proved that point this year without having to pay for a government research study! Let me know what cool stuff got you through 2020. Post pictures!

I am leaving 2020 behind with a great deal of gratitude. I am grateful that overall (we had a couple of scares this year) everyone in the family has been healthy. I am grateful that my son and his girlfriend completed their epic adventure bicycling across the country during all this, safely and with awesome stories to share. I am grateful for our home and all the projects that kept us busy during the lockdown. I am grateful for the family, friends and neighbors that we have. I am grateful for the three new, healthy grandbabies born into the family this year. I am grateful for the abundant crop of butternut squash. About the only thing that grew well this year… 50 butternuts from 4 seeds! We will eat Butternut everything this winter.

My heart hurts for the overwhelming number of people who have lost their jobs and businesses and are probably facing evictions from their homes soon, for the people struggling to pay the bills and find enough food. For the families who have loved ones in the hospital or facilities and can’t be with them, for the families who have lost loved ones to Covid and anything else and could not be there in the final hours. My heart hurts for all of us on planet Earth right now. We are facing, have been facing, and will continue to face daunting challenges. If you haven’t heard of The Fourth Turning go look it up. We are there and it’s going to take a while to get through it. It’s not all bad, but I believe it will be a tough adjustment.

On December 31st I will fill you in on 2021. Faith, Hope, Love and Grace are in my plans. Be safe out there.

Christel

Gifts Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Light through the fog

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the weekend! I hope your week has been great. Next week I am going to skip posting here. Almost every day has an appointment for someone that requires me as driver and we are going to Charleston to spend Easter with my daughter and her family. Yes, more grandbaby snuggling. So Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate and I’m wishing all of you a great week!

I started this drawing the beginning of last week and I have been stuck studying it since last Thursday I believe.  In case you can’t tell, it’s a drawing of sunlight beginning to burn through the fog in a forest. It’s a pretty good visualization of how my week has been and maybe my mind frame is what has me stuck on how to finish it. 


Last Thursday night I picked up my son at the airport where he flew in from the Virgin Islands. On Sunday my daughter, son-in-law and grandson drove up from Charleston and we all got together for a visit and for my son, sister, brother-in-law and my parents to meet the newest family member. Those hours were the sun shining through the fog. Laughter, hugs, baby snuggles, good food and time together. 


Monday the fog began to roll back in as we went to a meeting with my Dad’s oncologist to discuss his upcoming treatment. It was a difficult meeting and I was emotionally fried by the time I got home. Tuesday my daughter and her family headed back south and I drove my son back down to catch his flight. It takes me at least two days to work through the sadness of their leaving each and every time. Add to this the fact that my nine year old, goofy mutt suddenly began losing use of one of his back legs and a trip to the vet revealed a spinal issue that doesn’t sound reversable and probably progressive. Right now there is way more fog than sunlight. 

I really don’t want to be Debbie Downer right now, but life kinda sucks at the moment and I’m struggling to stay positive so my apologies for the gloom. Prayers and good thoughts would definitely be appreciated. Dad starts treatment on the 25th, every day for five and a half weeks, both chemo and radiation. It’s going to take lots of time and energy for all of us to get through this so I’m not sure if I will be posting regularly for a while. I will do the best I can. Those of you who regularly show up here, thanks for reading and sending comments and encouragement. 

Hoping that life is being good to you, but if not, I will have you in my thoughts and prayers as well! Peace be with you and I will be back as soon as I possibly can.