Sudden Insights, This and That

Hi Everyone!

I wrote the Sudden Insights part of this post a couple of week ago but for some reason it only showed up on my Facebook page.  I’m adding to it this week.  My apologies for the wonkyness.

May 26, 2017: Sudden Insights

Who else is living through monsoon season? We had tornados yesterday in three counties including where my family lives and where we live. We are all safe and unscathed, but there were places with extensive damage. I have not heard of any injuries, but I would be not  be surprised if there were some. Most bad weather you have some time to prepare, but tornadoes are not so kind. I once had a tree go through my bedroom. I still get edgy during a storm thirty years later.

Thanks to a combination of monsoon weather (no gardening can be done in this relentless rain), a holiday week (before the long Memorial Day weekend) and one of my major suppliers moving their location (closed all week) I have had some extra time on my hands. Nope, as tempting as it is, I have not been napping. I have been painting and drawing.

After last week’s post about working on portraits I found myself very stressed and frustrated with the progress on those. In the wee hours of the night (my usual insomnia) I asked myself, “What do you REALLY like to do?”.  I looked at my past work and my Pinterest boards where I save artwork by other people that I like and am inspired by. 

Here is what I discovered:

I definitely do not like doing landscapes. I couldn’t find a single FINISHED landscape in all my past piles of work. Sketches, yes. Started paintings, yes. Other artists’ landscapes, yes. Finished work of my own? No. I have done buildings and house portraits but landscapes of sweeping vistas. No.  Clearly I need to just let that one go unless somewhere in the future I get struck with some sudden change in direction. I will just enjoy the views I see and the beautiful work by other people. 

Portraits of people cause me a great deal of stress.  Commissions especially, but even painting my own kids was stressful. Human faces are so subtle in their detail. A slight deviation of an eyebrow or curve of a lip changes a person into someone else.  It is especially hard to work from photos. So much detail is lost with bad lighting. Kudos to portrait painters who can do a true likeness from photos alone. If I were a portrait artist I would have to require in person sittings at least during part of the process.  The fact that my portraits have all been children or pets compounds the problem. It is a waste of time to try and get either to sit still!  All of my work has had to be with photographs, thus the stress to get it right. 

I won’t say that I will stop doing portraits because they make me dig deep to see, test and hone my skills and work on my patience level, but I think I will limit what I take on knowing how much stress they cause.  There have been times when I have had several right before Christmas and that was not fun.  

So what the heck do I like? THINGS! Seems I might be a still life painter.  Looking at past work and picking out the ones I got the most joy out of were things. Things in nature to be exact. Seashells, gourds, deer skulls, etc.  I like animals too and odd manmade things, particularly with rust involved.  I knew I had hit on something when my brain started popping out ideas like popcorn.  

I guess that all these years I never stopped to analyze what I really enjoyed. My time with pencils or paint was so limited I just jumped at the chance to do SOMETHING.  If you do creative stuff, you know there is such a joy to the process that you crave the time to spend doing it. Music, art, sewing, pottery, etc. is all an encompassing process that takes you out of normal life and into some other realm.  Now that I have some insight I can work accordingly. I can’t say plan accordingly because I rarely plan what my next project will be.  They seem to choose themselves! 

Here are a couple of things I have been working on this rainy week. My first horse painting is finished! Trust me, that is a big leap. 

I need to get back to the easel. Next week the weather clears up and we will probably have to use machetes to weed the garden. There will also be new additions to the farm this coming week that I will introduce you to. Wouldn’t it be horrible to get bored?! Not going to happen around here anytime soon!


June 9, 2017:  This and That

This week is one of those weeks that is hard to describe.  We have enjoyed several lovely evenings outside watching crazy chicken antics, various and assorted wildlife and birds and fun visits with the neighbors.  On the other hand it has involved either learning of the passing of friends’ parents or knowing that several are friends are in the final days or hours with a parent. Days of alternating joy and sadness.

My son is in his second week of his Iceland trip and currently offline in the wilderness there.  My daughter finished her last year of teaching and is transitioning to a new career. Danny and I will celebrate our 1st anniversary.  The ebb and flow of life.

I sought the comfort of my pencils this week with this fish drawing.  After the intensity of my Bob painting last week I needed the meditative process of drawing to ponder life’s changes. 

My thoughts and prayers are with my friends and children as they navigate endings and new beginnings. My thoughts and prayers are with any of you going through the same turbulent waters.

Peace be with you this 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

Holiday Haze

Hi Everyone,

There are no deep and thoughtful thoughts today.  I am surrounded by Christmas chaos and a to do list depressingly long.   Winter has set in and my normally cheerful disposition sinks along with the temperatures.

Cold and gloomy, but trying to put on a festive face.

D. and I have been working long hours at his business.  I will have to admit to looking forward to the end of deer season in another month.  Next year he will be retired and hopefully the late night hours will not be so often.

I am pretty sure Amazon loves me this year and the UPS guy hates me.  There have been deliveries every day this week because I have neither the time or inclination to fight my way through stores for Christmas presents.  So far I have not had to step foot inside a single store and only plan for one quick stop to get gift cards this weekend.  That should be the end of the shopping!

I did get this guy finished this week. He doesn’t look terribly festive either.

Decorations have been pretty minimal too.  I got greenery up outside Thanksgiving weekend as well as the Christmas tree.  We have an artificial tree and over the years my son, along with my daughter, were chief tree builders.  I had to do it this year and realized just what a frustrating job it is.

Biggest accomplishment so far has been getting the Christmas tree up and sort of decorated.

Cooking is not happening at the moment either.  No time with all the hours at the shop.  Meals are generally soup and crackers.  Christmas goodies probably are not going to happen at all.  I hope to get our weekly pizza made tonight.  That may be this week’s highlight for food.

Next year I think I will put a note in my calendar to get the Christmas shopping done in July and cook plenty of meals to freeze well before the beginning of deer season.  Right now I feel like a squirrel who can’t find her nuts the day before a blizzard!

I have included a few of this week’s photos to break up this downer of a post.  Hopefully by next week’s post I will have wrangled in the chaos and will be in more cheerful spirits.

We are very thankful for finally get rain after two long months of drought. This was the sky after the rain left. Beautiful rain and beautiful sky.

We did wake up this morning, look out the kitchen window and find Bob the Houdini Horse staring in at us, wanting his breakfast.  Wish I had managed a photo of that!  Leave it to the crazy horse to give us a much needed laugh for the day.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful, organized week!

Christmas came early

Window

I’m sitting here watching it rain buckets, but the town’s “Blinkie” lights and the Moravian stars are keeping my mood festive.  I am not a big celebrator of holidays.  That probably comes from the whole commercialization aspect that has taken hold of our celebrations.  I hate shopping and dislike the obligatory gift giving.  I would much rather buy a gift for someone at a random moment that would actually be special than having to figure out what they might want or need at the end of every year.  And who doesn’t like an unexpected gift? That is much more fun for the giver and the getter than the Christmas gift gluttony.

Having been the Grinch/Scrooge many times over the years I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment.  I quit beating myself up for not having a budget for extravagant gifts.  I discovered Etsy and Amazon (no affiliates here folks) thus ending the need to fight through crowds.  I simplified the decorations to what I really liked and took little time to put up.  I stopped trying to cook ridiculous amounts of goodies that none of us needed.  Instead I perfected my Chex party mix recipe and live off of it for one month, once a year.  I quit trying to win Most Beautiful Package of the Year with my gift wrapping. Now I don’t even put on bows. They just get squished.  Most importantly, I quit looking for Christmas “cheer”.  The expectation that all was wonderful and bright about the season.  Ok that sounds pretty Grinchy but let’s be real.  It’s stressful not cheerful most of the holiday season.

All these changes had the effect I wanted.  I’m rarely stressed now at the holidays. Instead, I get to appreciate what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year should be about in my opinion.  If you thrive off the hustle and bustle, go for it and celebrate on!  I’m a low-key, introvert, borderline hermit.

Yesterday my Christmas came early. Not the gift giving, but the Christmas spirit.  We celebrated the life of my uncle Chester who passed on Saturday.  I know that sounds strange, but bear with me a few more minutes.  First, Chester was 88 years old.  Most of those 88 years he was the life of every party and a prankster extraordinaire. For about the past year he had been confined to life with a feeding tube. I don’t think any of us wanted him to continue on that way for much longer.

His funeral was more laughter filled than tear filled as just a drop of his many antics were shared. The Christmas spirit part for me was the time I got to spend with family and old friends.  I rarely get to spend more than a couple of hours Christmas day with my aunt, uncles, cousins frantically trying to catch up on each other’s lives.  Many have stopped coming to the family gathering as their own families have grown and new traditions are made.

The funeral was held at my home church in the community where I grew up.  Thanks to Facebook I manage to keep up with some people there but so many others I don’t.  Though very brief, the hugs and conversations were wonderful.  I even discovered a couple of them read this blog.  Thank you, my highly patient and tolerant friends and cousins! I left the funeral with those all too rare warm and fuzzy feelings that come from tears, laughter and love.  I think uncle Chester was enjoying it immensely too.

Have a wonderful hug filled week!

‘Tis the season

Snowman Christmas tree

Have you recovered from your Thanksgiving food coma?  Maybe next year I will try to abstain from gluttony and put my money where my mouth is and do more giving instead of more eating.  Even though they roll around the same time every year, the holidays always sneak up on me.  One minute it is August and the next it is November.

A lovely, wonderful thing has happened this year. On December 1st (when I am writing this) I have all my Christmas shopping DONE!  DONE. DONE. DONE!  That has not happened since my now grown kids were toddlers.  My daughter and son-in-law will not be here this year :-(, but with his family so I had to get at least their gifts taken care of in time for their Thanksgiving visit.  I’m cheap and don’t want to pay shipping or stand in line at the post office.  So, once I got started throwing my money around it didn’t take long to beat down that gift list.  Oh, happy day Cyber-Monday as I made that last purchase on Etsy.

Oh, yeah, my decorating is done as well!  How the heck did I do that?  Ahhhh, no kids at home anymore.  That is the downside.  There is always a price to pay.

So, what am I going to do with all this time on my hands?  Well, I have some gifts I am making for seven little munchkins.  Next year they will officially be on my gift giving list, but for one more year I consider it helping out my fiancé. Here is a sneak peek.  Will post the finished ones after Christmas along with a commissioned piece that I finished back in October but can’t show yet.

Monster eyes4

The not so fun stuff is the computer backups, upgrades, filing and reports to get ready for taxes. YUCK!  I can’t use the Christmas season as an excuse to procrastinate this year.  If I’m really, really good, my plan is to hunker down this weekend and beat most of it into submission.

I do have a large design piece to start on that has a first quarter deadline, AND I’m challenging myself to a drawing a day in 2016 to freshen up some skills.  Do you think I should do a few as fillers on those days that just get away from me?  Yep, I think so too.  I will post some of those as I go along (keep me accountable please).

In 2015 I had a rough idea for a series that I wanted to work on.  Things fell apart and nothing more than a few sketches happened.  I still like the ideas and have added to the list, so my big goal for 2016 is to begin again.  This year has been lots of experimenting in different mediums, refining skills  and finding direction.  Hopefully focusing on one idea will give me some boundaries to work within.  I have too much creative ADD to live without boundaries! It has been a willy nilly year around here in 2015.

I apologize if this post has bored you to tears. Writing down some goals keeps me on track.  Guilt can be a wonderful thing.

If you have made it this far, I hope you have peace, health, laughter, joy and fun in the coming days instead of the usual holiday insanity.

 

Overwhelmed

I’m wondering if writing a blog is like Facebook.  Is it supposed to be all “perfect world” posts?  The fact that I have started this at 4:45 am might be a clue that this one will not be one of those posts.

You don’t have to stop reading.  I promise not to be Debbie Downer, but if I’m going to write this every week I have to be honest that every week is not sunshine and roses.

For several mornings in a row I have been wide awake at 4 am.  Historically that means my poor brain is trying to cope with some overload and the fact that I get up and start work means I manage to accomplish something before exhaustion sets in around noon.  I figured out about a decade ago that tossing and turning in bed for hours accomplishes nothing and I’m still exhausted by noon.

So what exactly is going on?  1) I have some big changes on the horizon and I’m working through that transition.  2) I’m having some time management problems.  3) I’m just dealing with general life aggravations like we all do.

I’m going to work through these backwards.  If you have suggestions, I am happy to hear them.

money jar

#3 – Life aggravations.  It’s the end of October.  The holidays are looming.  It’s pathetic, but I do not enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas insanity.  I do not enjoy shopping. I don’t really enjoy cooking either.  So here I am at the end of the year with my gift lists and my budget and never the twain shall meet.  I just bought new tires for my car two weeks ago which was a hit to the saving but not dreadful.  My son calls yesterday and his truck (my truck actually) needs over $800 in repairs.  If you noticed an odd repeated “thud, thud, thud” sound yesterday, that was me banging my head on the wall.

This is NOT my desk! All my unfiled papers are neatly stacked inside two large boxes.
This is NOT my desk! All my unfiled papers are neatly stacked inside two large boxes.

#2 – Time management. Overall I am decent with my time management skills, but I have a couple of problem areas.  First, I have a tendency to be a workaholic IF I have work I enjoy.  Give me a project that excites me and I will work through meals, meetings, date nights, etc. You caught that right?  My kids will tell you as will my fiancé that if I’m into something I have no clue what is going on around me.  The dogs will be banging their water bowls and I don’t hear a thing.  I resent being interrupted and they all resent being ignored.  It’s a problem.

On the other end of the spectrum, if there is something I hate to do, I become the Queen of Procrastination.  Three months of filing that needs to be done?  Darn, there is something I need to go research on Pinterest right now!  My patient readers, please pray that I will find the intestinal fortitude to face the two large boxes full of filing that must be done so that I do not have to spend a week of sleepless nights doing taxes this year.  Have I mentioned that my accounting is about two months behind as well?

This is not my stuff, but it's an accurate depiction of my stuff.
This is not my stuff, but it’s an accurate depiction of my stuff.

#1- Life changes.  I believe the saying goes “There are only two things you can count on in life, death and taxes.”  I would add “change” to that list.  This coming Spring I am getting married.  That is a big, YEAH!  But, I have been a divorced, single parent for 13 years living in a suburban area.  Come summer I will be a married, empty nester living in a very rural area.  I’m beginning to believe that adjusting to being married will be the easy part. The logistics of moving my storage unit and all my stuff, beginning to remodel his house, finding my way around a new area, having a 25 minute drive to the nearest grocery store, merging two of EVERYTHING and deciding what stays and goes, adjusting to an hour commute to work from an 8 minute commute, and making my business fit all this without losing customers is making me lose some sleep.

It’s just life.  Messy, inconvenient, overwhelming.  I’m not complaining. These are normal, even good things.  I just need to feel a little more in CONTROL.  That is what it usually comes down to, right?  We need to feel we have some control over what is happening in life.  My conclusion is that we don’t have much control over anything, but what we do have we need to embrace.  I’m going to go make my coffee and breakfast, set the timer and tackle some of that filing and accounting before I start back on my recent fun project which I will show you next week.

Have a wonderful week!

 

 

messy desk photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31437555@N00/1950409800″>World’s Messiest Office Cubicle Discovered in Colorado</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

money jar photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7027604401″>Money</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

moving photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/97321205@N00/2885703454″>Moving (2)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;