Back Story – Fulfilling a Promise. Part Two

Heavens! I am freezing right now.  Did anyone else have another visit of winter this week?  I hope this is the last of it.  Before I could start writing I had to run water out to the chickens.  Theirs keeps freezing overnight and we bring it in to thaw in the morning then take it back out to them.  There may be a water warmer involved next winter!

If you just dropped in this week and need to catch up on my story, check out Part One.

So, here I find myself, 50 something, empty nest, new husband, new home, new community and down to only one job for the first time in at least a decade.  I have truly been a little bit lost for the past nine months with all the extra time on my hands.  You would think it would be an easy transition, but it has been a shock to my system.

Here is the real kicker.  After all these years of yearning for creative time, now that I have it, I feel guilty for indulging in it.  What the heck??  I no longer have kids here to put first for their survival, my husband is fine with my art time especially since he also now has time to enjoy his horses and other interests. I take care of all my design/print clients first every morning and we have adequate income.  Why do I feel guilty for taking the time to do what I have always wanted to do?  If you have answers, please fill me in.  I want this whole guilt thing GONE!

Are there other roadblocks to fulfilling a promise to myself?  Yes, indeedy.  Procrastination, that I’m pretty sure is another word for fear is one.  Right now I am fighting the urge to throw myself into two un-art related projects.  Those two projects did not show up until I committed to a big ‘ole, heavy duty art project (more on this below) this week.  Life in general also pretty regularly stops my artwork with family obligations and home/farm maintenance.  There is a reason that artists and writers and musicians run off to cabins in the woods with no phone or wifi.  Sometimes that is the only way the good work can get out. Constant starting and stopping interrupts necessary concentration and the work gets watered down from the original inspiration.

One more big hurdle to fulfilling my promise to myself is the simple fact that I don’t give myself the priority required.  It feels very selfish to put my own WANT (I would argue NEED) before so many of the other things listed above.  More than once I have said that girls of my generation were raised to be TOO NICE.  There I said it.  We were raised to put everyone and everything above ourselves.  It is ingrained throughout our cells and extremely difficult to erase or even temporarily lock away.  Hummm, I think this is related to that darn guilt thing.

Soooo, what have I been doing and/or going to do to fulfill my promise?  I started this process almost four years ago.  When my son (my youngest) pulled out of the driveway for his first year of college, I literally took over his room.  Yes, it seems cruel.  Yes, he reminds me of it occasionally, but I did it and he doesn’t seem too much the worst for it.  I set up three big tables and had my computer/work stuff on one, art supplies on another and sewing machine on the third.  For the past four years I have let myself play.  Not consistently, not with serious intent, but I have played.  I have tried out all sorts of creative endeavors in my attempt to find what I really like best and my “voice”.  I have made lots of messes, bad art, bad craft, some good art and good craft.

Now I feel like it is time to drill down.  Recently I read or heard (can’t give you the source because I don’t remember it) that it takes about ten years for an artist to find their “voice”, that thing that makes their work unique to them.  My sporadic art making over the last several decades should count as about one year total and add the past four years of playing around, I figure I’m five years in.  Now, I’m not getting any younger here and I have no guarantee that I could pull off a Grandma Moses by making it to 80 years old.  My butt needs to get to work.

I had been playing around with doing an extended daily project when I ran across The 100 Day Project. By now I know myself pretty well and I suspect that just left to my own devices, I would start out pretty strong on a personal project, but without some accountability, I would soon find excuses to skip days here and there and there and here until it fell apart.

Yep, you guessed it.  I have signed up for The 100 Day Project.  This is totally out of my comfort zone.  I have done a thirty day project, but the work was very small and thirty days is NOT 100 DAYS.  The project itself asks you to post on Instagram your daily project.  My plan is to do a daily 8 x 10 painting or drawing and also post on my Facebook page and offer the work for sale.

What do I expect out of this?  First, it takes what? Thirty days to ingrain a habit?  For me, one hundred days would be more likely.  I will have to follow through with this during THE busiest time of the year for us.  It starts April 4th, which is right after I finish Bee School (Did I mention Bee School?  I will come back to that in a later post.) on April 1st.  The garden starts going in mid-April and my bees arrive then as well.  My son graduates the first weekend in May.  Before he graduates and sends all his stuff home, I have to get the bedroom that I use as an office painted and rearranged to fit his furniture.  We will be out of town for his graduation so I have to figure out how to paint or draw while in the midst of family and celebration.  The 100 days does not end until mid-July.  Who knows what else will test my determination in that timeframe.

Second, the whole “voice” thing.  My unique style and interests cannot evolve without consistency.  I have not had consistency.  I have had stops and starts.  I am hoping to hone my skills, discover that uniqueness and what I want my art to say.  Big order!

Third, income.  Here is the honest truth to this art thing.  I HAVE to make stuff.  It is in my genes.  Unfortunately, I cannot pay for endless supplies or store all the stuff I make.  To support my habit/addiction I have to make some money to buy more supplies AND I would really like people to enjoy what I create.  I have given away many, many pieces of my work over the years and I like to do that, but it is not a self-sustaining process.  Art supplies are expensive and we are not wealthy people.  Animals have to eat around here as well as ourselves.  So, what I make on this project will be for sale and I am going to ramp it up a little with some advertising investment to see what happens.  My goal this year is to replace my income from my last PART-TIME position.  You got that, right?  Not outrageous expectations, but bigger than anything I have ever asked of myself before.

I think I have given you enough to read this week.  You have the link above if you would like to join The 100 Day Project.  I am not going to bombard this blog with my work every week during the project, but will let you know how it’s going.  I will post links to my Instagram and Facebook pages for you to check out.

If you want to go ahead and start following those here are the links.  I will be updating information on them in the next couple of weeks as I prepare for all this.

Instagram  and Facebook

I am off to prime canvas.  Have an awesome week!

 

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

new-year-ian-schneider

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

Photo credit

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.

 

2016 here we come!

2016 plannerI hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Sorry, but the fun and games are over now and it’s time to get back to the routines of life. I have my new 2016 Chihuly planner ready to go and suspect this is going to be an intense sort of year.

Do you make New Year resolutions?  I do and have for as long as I can remember.  I like the feeling of a fresh start.  I am one of those weird people who like change. Boredom sets in easily with me so I like to shake things up. I usually start in November looking at what has worked and what has not in the year then adjust accordingly.

This year includes my wedding and a move so the first half of the year is going to be hectic.  The wedding is very simple, but the house remodeling before the move is not.  Bear with me. The plan is to keep getting my posts done each week, but we all know how those best laid plans go.

Work/art (They are one in the same by now.) is getting simplified in 2016.  I was all over the place in 2015 and felt very scattered. It was fun to experiment with many different things, but I couldn’t get focused.  It also hurt the bottom line of my business a little.  So this year the artwork gets back to the basics of drawing and painting.  The drawing also feeds back into my design work as I focus more on the illustration/design again where there is more profit than just the printed products.  I have recently started to have more sales of my clipart in my Etsy shop and would like to add to those items.

Here are a few quick pieces I have worked on since mid-December.  Over the past, uh, couple of decades (where does the time go?) I have had very limited time/space for painting and my skills have suffered.  I am feeling the need to paint again and am happy to report that some of my past skill level is returning.  It just took a few hours of concentrated focus to get back in the swing of wielding a paintbrush.

I am working small right now.  That cuts down on the intimidation factor of a big white canvas and gives me a sense of accomplishment to finish a painting instead of having a large one lurking in the corner mocking me when I am piled high with work or life events dominating my time.  Hopefully some of these paintings will land in my Etsy shop or in my extremely neglected Fine Art America shop.

The usual “need to get more exercise” and “keep up with all the filing” are still on the resolution list.  I REALLY need help with the filing.  It’s not in the budget yet for help so if anyone has any suggestion on how to stay on top of filing I would love to hear it.  Since I am in the printing business I have a paper heavy filing pile all the time.  I do as much digital filing as I can though I could do better with that as well.  My email runneth over!

I will continue to post projects and let you see what is going on around here.  Maybe I should post a weekly photo of my desk to force myself to FILE.  Desperate times require desperate measures!

Best of luck with your resolutions.  Let’s see if we can make it into February with them!

Have a great week!

Thanksgiving

 

We are celebrating our day of Thanksgiving in the United States.  Here are a few photos of a typical Thanksgiving day and a blessing for the day.

 

football15294277764_2369ff4302

Wishing you all peace, safety, health, comfort, love and laughter.

O God of all Creation: You have cared for the earth, and have filled it with your riches. Abundance flows in your steppes, through the pastures and wilderness. You provide for our land, softening it with showers, bathing it in light, and blessing it with growth.

The hills sing with joy; the meadows are covered with flocks; the fields deck themselves with wheat; and together they glorify your name!

On this occasion of our Thanksgiving, we as a nation take rest from our labors to consider your many blessings. We thank you for our freedoms, and for the opportunity to contribute our skills, our attributes and our values toward the good of society.

We thank you for the mixture of our cultures, blending us into one people under God. Help us to be a light unto other nations, and to further the cause of freedom and justice all over the world.

We remember those who are less fortunate than we. We lift up in prayer the victims of poverty and racism, and all those who suffer from forms of political and economic oppression. Let the word that goes forth from our mouths speak of your peace, and let us proclaim our hope in Christ as Savior of all humankind.

We pray that you will bless all those who gather here, as we have come to experience your presence among us. Give us your guidance, O God, and empower us for your work. For we claim nothing for ourselves, but return all honor and glory unto you, and offer our thanks and praise. Amen.

From “Prayers for God’s People”
Thomas P. Roberts, editor

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Football photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/70806177@N00/15294277764″>Happy Thanksgiving from Levi’s Stadium</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Parade photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/22463037@N00/3162773680″>Trumpet</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Pie photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28928375@N07/4147801863″>mmmm&#8230;.pie</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Family photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/47264866@N00/5215359628″>Give Thanks to Family</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

My hideaway

Generally I am a creature of habit like most human beings. Most of my days have a rhythm that I don’t think much about and the day to day chores get done on a regular basis. I have a crazy quilt way of making a living that even has a schedule I can predict most days (more about that in another post). Lately though I have noticed a shift in how certain things are getting done.

Maybe it’s my age (I’m not telling! Well, maybe later.) and I’m needing more quiet to concentrate.  Maybe I have been running on warp speed for too many years and the engines are wearing down.  Maybe I am craving my country roots after almost 20 years of suburbia.  Whatever it is, I have found that I have been escaping my suburban townhome more often to do my thinking.

I happily work in my newly converted (from post-teenage boy room) studio space at my townhome when I need to get the actual work done, but for the thinking, new ideas, planning, zoning out parts of life/work I have begun to head to The Farm.

morning

Later on I will give you more information about it, but just know that when I escape it is a 45 minute drive from where I live to a rural area with a different culture from my town. At The Farm I tend the garden with my boyfriend. My goofy city dogs come with me and pretend they are cool country dogs though I don’t dare let them off their leashes.  They have no “forest smarts” as opposed to “street smarts” which they don’t have either.  I would rather they not end up as coyote food!  We have three horses at The Farm as well, though we don’t get to spend as much time with them as we would like.  Not that the horses are complaining.  They get their daily food and hay and get to spend their leisurely days in the cool woods with a lovely spring running through it, without having to earn their keep by toting a couple of humans around.

Bob

I am writing this post at The Farm now. I should really give it a more creative name. Maybe in the future it will get a proper title.  The Farm is down a dirt road with only two neighbors so there is no traffic noise.  The rare, unknown car makes all animals and humans alike run to see who is stirring up the dust.  Occasionally a rooster crows and there is a strange anomaly where we can hear a distant neighbor’s radio fairly clear on certain days. A dog bark. Birds, lots of birds. Crickets and tree frogs. What is missing? Traffic noise, neighbors talking, someone else’s TV or music set too loud.

I did not realize just how much constant sound surrounds me until I started spending time at The Farm.  It took some getting used to. At first I was stir crazy and didn’t know what to do with myself.  Now, I swear my blood pressure drops when I get here.  I take my time weeding my flowers and herb garden that migrated here over the past three years. The garden is constant work this time of year, but there is something grounding about tying up tomato plants and hoeing weeds. The horses seem to enjoy my visits with them and don’t mind my picking their daisies.

garden

Yes, I drag my ever present smart phone and    computer with me to The Farm, but I use them differently.  I’m much more focused here.  I don’t have six browser windows open at once, jumping back and forth between them.  I open one for some research and the software I need for a job. I don’t check social media constantly here.  Why I do it at home, I don’t know.  All I do know is that what I accomplish here is much more fulfilling and concentrated.  Most of us don’t realize how much our environment affects how and what we do.

Bee

To wrap this post up, I would like to let you know that I just took the dogs out for their night business.  Lightening bugs. I have missed lightening bugs.  You don’t see them much where I live.  Bats.  I have not missed bats!

 

 

Overwhelmed

I’m itching to finish the drawing I’m working on, but I am surrounded by piles and piles of boxes and can’t think!  Both kids are moving out this week, but for a few more days I am drowning in BOXES!

First apartment, here she comes!
First apartment, here she comes!

This is just a small part of what has taken over my home.  There are boxes all down the hall, in the living room, EVERYWHERE.  Tomorrow the majority will be gone when we move my daughter into her first apartment.  By the end of the week it will all be gone and it will be just me and the dog.  I’m not sure how either of us will handle all the peace, quiet and open spaces!

 

 

Here is a little detail of what I’m working on and ready to finish.  It’s soooo close to being done.

Gwen's Lilies
Gwen’s Lilies

Next week there will be a MAJOR CLEANING so my brain can focus again.