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!

Enough already

Ever get tired of listening to yourself? I have been spending hours driving around lately and if I can’t find a distraction on the radio, I’m stuck listening to myself talk inside my head. I’m kinda sick of my own mental ramblings so this week I will spare you as much as I can as well.

Originally I started this blog to document my artistic endeavors, progress and failures. I have more paperwork and supplies piled up to bury me in my studio so this seemed a good way to journal without needing more supplies. If readers happened to join in, the more the merrier and bless those of you who subject yourself to whatever shows up here each week.

Since 2016 has been full of major life changes, the artwork has been, uh, sparse. As in, little of it has been happening here, thus all the ramblings that have been posted.  Accomplishing anything in life seems to be about 90 percent just showing up consistently. So, that is what I have been trying to do. Consistently show up here each week and write something. Good, bad, whatever. I enjoy the writing process even if that is not my main goal. It seems to clear my brain and make room for more and fresh stuff in there.

I am starting to get back to making and creating again. This week I will give you a glimpse into the mess in my studio instead of the mess in my head.

First, I am drowning in fabric. About a year ago I wound up with stacks and stacks of upholstery fabric samples. I am still working on ways to use those. I also HATE to waste things, especially useable fabric that MIGHT be part of an unusable old garment. Picture, boxes of old soccer t-shirts, holey jeans, torn flannel shirts, etc.  If it is still good enough for someone else to use then I happily donate it, but all the others get cut up and either go into my fabric stash or rag bag. So, here is a glimpse of some products soon to be in my Etsy shop as I make new things from old. Not a full disclosure yet because I still need to wash and press them before their debut, but I’m liking the way they are turning out. img_3378

The beginnings of a mixed media series is taking form. I have never had the time to really delve into a series and focus on one subject. This one has been sitting in my head for a very long time patiently waiting for me to get to it.  All I can tell you at the moment is it is exploring learning differences. It comes from watching my kids struggle with dyslexia and the research I did for years trying to find ways to help them.

img_3377Last is my current struggle with painting. I don’t know what happened, but in high school I could make acrylic paint do pretty much whatever I wanted it to do. Here is a sample of a painting I did way back then.

img_3380

Now, I am all over the place and I am really not liking any of them very much.  I think I should be honest and show the good, bad and the ugly here.  Hopefully this is just growing pains, but it has been painful enough that I have considered chucking all the paints! It is an ongoing struggle between hating the process yet being compelled to paint for some reason. Why do we want what we don’t have? I can draw all day long with ease, but I get bored with drawing and discount its importance because it comes fairly easy to me.

So there you have the current situation. The hubs and I will be escaping to the mountains next week for a trip that our kids gave us as a wedding present. If all goes well I will have a post scheduled for you ahead of time. If one doesn’t show up in your feed then life got crazy. We have more big stuff (big to us anyway) on the horizon that I will fill you in on in the next week or two. Hopefully it will improve my creative output. Hint: my current workspace is just not working for me and hopefully a remedy is in the works.

Have a great week!

Some of my favorite podcasts

Monkey w ear buds

I had a request a while back to post some of my favorite websites, blogs, etc.  I am finally getting around to it.  My apologies for taking so long.  I’m sure I will forget something, but that will give me another blog post in the future.  Today I am focusing on podcasts. I spend more time listening to podcasts than I do reading blogs or visiting websites (Pinterest being the exception and that merits a blog post all its own).

For years I was fed up with paying for cable tv because I rarely watched anything regularly other than HGTV. When my last kid left for college I almost immediately dropped the cable (and saved $50 a month!) and got a Roku to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime (neither of which I watch very often either and will probably drop one of those eventually).  What I discovered instead were podcasts.  I LOVE podcasts because I can work, knit, paint, sew and still keep up with what is going on in the world or learn something or just hear a great story. Here are some of my favorites:

Craft Sanityhttp://craftsanity.com/

This is actually my most recent find and obsession.  I discovered Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood’s podcast just a couple of months ago and have been binge listening to her ever since.  I just this week listened to the most recent episode.  She has been podcasting for years now.  I don’t know how I possibly missed finding her until now.  If you  like crafts of any kind there will be something for you to enjoy.  She talks to a wide variety of crafts people at all stages of life and craft.  I think what I have enjoyed the most is realizing that my people are out there in the world, I just need to connect with them.  I am not the only person who jumps from one form of making to another, sees the world differently, can’t function well in a “normal” job, etc.  I am not as alien as I have often felt!

I also follow Craftsanity on Instagram.

Etsy Conversationshttp://convome.com/

As an Etsy seller, and still a novice one at that, I have learned so much from listening to Ijeoma Eleazu and her guest Etsy shop owners. If you have an Etsy shop or are considering starting one you need to listen to this podcast.  I have actually taken notes at times for things that I need to do, improve on, try, etc. I also follow her on Instagram.

Ijeoma, thank you for putting in the time on the podcast!

The Savvy Painterhttp://savvypainter.com/podcast/

Antrese Wood hosts this podcast. Focusing on fine art painters, she interviews artists about their life, work and process.  Even though I have been painting and drawing for years and years now, I have been out of the fine art scene since I left college.  Eventually I would like to get my act together and start showing my artwork.  I consider this podcast as my classroom.

Good Life Projecthttp://www.goodlifeproject.com/radio/

Jonathan Fields offers up an alternative to the negativity of the media.  Through thoughtful interviews with people from all walks of life who are making things better out there in the world, Jonathan opens up a window of light and encourages us to make a better life for ourselves and others with whatever abilities we have.  It beats the heck out of watching the mainstream news!

This American Lifehttp://www.thisamericanlife.org/podcast

If you just want to get lost in another place start listening to This American Life.  I get so caught up in the stories that I forget that I’m knitting or cooking or driving (not necessarily a good thing).  I never thought I would be mesmerized by the process of selling cars, but one episode had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see if the salesmen made their monthly quota.  Lovely storytelling.

There are some other podcasts I check on occasionally and I would love to get some recommendations from you.  Let me know what you are listening to.

I will have a list of websites, blogs and books coming up soon.  Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit – photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42329213@N00/1216468104″>Ipodular Monkey</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

A typical day in the life of…

wheat3If you have been reading my blog at all, I’m sure you might be wondering what the heck this crazy woman does for a living.  She is all over the place and none of it seems to be connected. Let me try and explain it.

For thirty years I have been a graphic designer.  That has taken many forms.  I worked for a newspaper as a designer/illustrator, an art director at an ad agency, production artist at a printing company, a freelancer, co-owned a printing company, did sales and some design at another printing company and now am a self-employed designer and print broker.  Whew!

But wait! That’s not all!  I have also often worked a second job in retail and currently as the office manager at my local community theatre part-time and am also an artist/maker (which is what you get to read about here).  I usually sell a few pieces of art each year and get a commissioned piece or two in that time frame.  I have an Etsy shop that is slowly growing and bringing in more income.  What may be on there when you visit is a changing assortment of my creations.  I seem to like to work in everything! I try to narrow it down, but I have creative ADD.  I paint, draw, work with glass & metal, fabric, etc.  Maybe one day I will limit myself to just three things.  I don’t think I can do less than that.

I listen to several podcasts about creativity, art, etc. (I will list those for you soon) and happened to hear one artist explaining how so many of us creative folks survive.  She called it “cobbling together” a career.  That’s about as good as I can visualize.  Maybe the game Tetris would evoke a good visual of that as well.  We piece together some crazy mixture of things that suit us and that brings in enough income to allow us to continue along our merry way.

There also seems to be a fierce independence that we are born with that makes it very difficult to work in a corporate world or even just for someone else.  It’s not that we are bad employees.  Often we are extremely hardworking people.  We just work vastly better on our own.  It seems we work when others are asleep, either early morning or late at night.  We require strange breaks to do odd mundane errands that often give us those “AH HA” moments of insight to solve a problem. We need constant novelty for inspiration so we will be found delving into some new obsession until we have it firmly encased in our brain, only to have it come out as some new version of our art.

It is not an easy way to live.  People don’t get it.  Especially those people who raise us.  They don’t understand why we don’t go to a normal office job with health insurance and retirement plans.  We don’t necessarily like living on the edge of disaster where one illness or accident could wipe us out.  Those of us who are single are especially vulnerable with only one household income.  But eventually, it is either “cobble together” a way of life that gives us a life or slowly disentigrate into depression and illness.

In my strange assortment of jobs over the years I was able to fulfill one very important goal that I do not regret.  I was able to be with my kids as they grew up.  I’m not sure they were thrilled to have to sit through business meetings at the Chamber of Commerce or help put together dance program books at our printing company for hours on end, but I knew where they were, what they were doing and who they were with.  As I sit here now with both of them having recently flown from the nest, I don’t have one second of regret that my choices were not always the most monetarily lucrative.  The years passed in minutes and I look at the people they have become and know I did the right thing. I am very proud of those two who have set out to make the world better.

I tried for many, many years to fit into “normal”, but inevitiably I would be miserable which would turn me from an optimistic, cheerful person into a resentful, depressed and short-tempered shrew.  Evidently, God got tired of listening to me complain and five years ago, pretty much pried my fingers off the railing of the Safe Ship and threw me into the raging ocean.  It was scary, especially with two teenagers to feed, but He also threw me a couple of life savers to keep me afloat until I gained some swimming strength.  Since then, I have been the happiest I have ever been.

My cobbled life fits me.  It’s not safe, but in this world “normal” isn’t safe anymore either.  My life ebbs and flows like the seasons.  I have the ability to shift with the winds when necessary. Actually much easier than if I had a “normal” job.  Success is not measured in dollars in the bank in my world.  It is measured in the satisfaction of knowing I have poured out my talents to the best of my ability every day and that I have not neglected people in exchange for money.

Summer crazy

Isn’t summer supposed to be when life slows down a little? If so, I need to rethink my scheduling. I have a commissioned piece going (I can’t show you that one until after Christmas), my two everyday jobs, a donation piece in the works (more about that below), a HUGE pile of stuff I want to finish and get on my Etsy shop before the holiday shopping season starts and I’m trying to visit my kids one more time before their schools start up again. I’m running out of time!!

August garden

Top off that list with all the garden harvest that has to be canned (all those peas have to be shelled first) and I’m wondering when I will sleep in the next couple of weeks. I DO NOT look forward to winter, but am looking forward to eating all this food instead of growing it, hoeing it, picking and canning it.

Now, more about this…

Old Chair
Lovely isn’t it? Well, it probably was 35-40 years ago, but it has seen some life since then. I wish I had a photo of it before I painted it. Yes, I painted it. It was frayed and didn’t match anything I owned. It was a hand-me-down piece to begin with. It is solid and sturdy. In my mind, too good to get rid of but I didn’t have it in the budget to upholster it or even slip cover it. If only I had had my new sewing machine back then I might not have taken a paint brush to it.

So, why am I showing you my pitiful chair? Because now I am going to turn it into a beautiful art chair (I hope) to be auctioned off at a fundraiser for our local women’s shelter. I will keep you updated. Wish me luck!

Things are getting out of hand

It has been a busy few weeks around here. My design business (btsprintanddesign.com) has been strangely busy for this time of year.  Usually I’m cleaning out files and organizing for the Fall rush.  This year I have had steady work that looks like it will carry thru July.  Yeah!!

Now, add to the strange pile of work, my ongoing artwork for my Etsy store  and now a new venture with my son, Arden, you have a big mess in a small space.

fishLR

Arden and I are opening a new Etsy store combining both of our art on t-shirts. By the time you read this we should have the store open and have a few shirts for sale.  Below is a sample of Arden’s work.  He is a crazy surfer and he has always had a unique artistic style.  He and I also work well together so I thought this might be a good little business to start.  He can also help run it even when he is at college (at the beach of course).  Check on us occasionally and see how we are coming along with it.

 

Anyway, back to my point of things getting messy.  Do you know any creative people who are neat?  Personally I  don’t and I’m not.  Neither is Arden.  Right now I have work piled up on every available spot in my small townhouse.  I don’t want to spend the money to rent space because in August Arden will be back at school and I will get my office back (one side of his room) and MAYBE some of my other tables too.  In the meantime I guess we will just live with the mess.  It’s hard to find room for a bunch of t-shirts to dry around here though.  We already have a custom order of 30-40 shirts that have to be done by August 1st.  I will have to post pictures of that upcoming craziness!

If you have any advice on how to organize creativity in action, please let me know!

Have a wonderful day.

 

2014… It’s gonna be a doozy.

Happy New Year!!

As often happens, I may have bitten off more than I can chew this year, but what the heck. It’s better than not having anything to do. To keep me focused I have taken on the Zero to Hero Challenge with the Daily Post here on WordPress. Today’s assignment is to introduce myself and even though I have had this blog going for a while, it’s probably the perfect time for me to update who I am and what I’m doing.

I often start with the title of “Mom”, but this Fall my two baby birds left the nest (more or less) and I have found that my twenty year, primary life focus isn’t as primary anymore. Now what? Well, like many empty nesters, I have gone deep into the archives and dusted off an old dream. To be honest, it’s wasn’t buried very deep, nor is it an old dream. It has lived just barely under the surface of everything else I have done for the past 25 years. What is this dream?

My dream is to finally have the time to focus on my artwork again. Since the time I could hold a crayon I could get lost for hours drawing my world and sometimes other worlds. Back before college I would draw almost daily. I got extra assignments in high school art class because that was “my thing” and I was good at it. I won art contests and doodled constantly in class (my art teacher was the only one who appreciated this). Then college rolled around and I was advised to “do something practical”. I conceded and focused on graphic design thinking this would be close to being an “artist”. Boy was I wrong! Fast forward through twenty-five years of design jobs, kids, marriage, divorce, self-employment, more jobs and only occasionally did I find time to do my creative work. Halloween costumes only partially count!

Now it’s 2014. Do I have less demands on my time? I have less demands by my kids, but I still run a design/printing business, have a home to keep up, a good man in my life, a part-time job with a community theatre, and parents who are starting to need help (though they haven’t admitted it yet). Next week my Mom has shoulder surgery, the following week my boyfriend has shoulder surgery also and I am in the middle of helping my daughter plan her May 2014 wedding. There is no good time. It’s now or never.

Since July I have finished one piece of art per month, which is way more than I have in a long time. Some have been personal projects, some business and some are very delayed pieces for friends. I hope to continue with basically that time frame. As a designer I was trained to work on deadline so that works for me. I have also opened an Etsy shop (search for BloomtownStudio) and hope to get a link on here soon. My business cards are done and I have many, many sketchbooks full of ideas I have been hoarding for a long time now. From here on I plan to start posting my work and whatever crazy stories are swirling around it and in my life.

Please forgive me any ranting and raving I do while my Mom and Boyfriend recover from their surgeries. I do not have a calling for the nursing field. This will test the patience of all involved. The wedding planning may have similar side effects. It’s going to be an interesting year.

Wishing you all a wonderful, wacky, fun and exciting 2014!
Christel