I’m doing it! 

Hi Everyone!

Lots of To Do’s have been done around here this week. We finished a shelf for the bathroom, more work on the barn, garden and yard, ordered new tires for my car (yuck) and today we will be getting up hay (double yuck).  Life as usual. So how are things in your world going?

I won’t blather on this week, but I am patting myself on the back a little.  Now that I have some time back to call my own and knowing next week will be a slow work week thanks to Memorial Day weekend and one of my printing suppliers being closed, I jumped into the BIG scary stuff. 

Over the years I have drawn many portraits in pencil and charcoal, but if I painted portraits it was back when I used crayons. Even during college I don’t remember any of my art classes requiring painted portraits. Lots of drawings of people, but no paintings. 

After completing the grandpup paintings I have been feeling a little more confident as my skills with acrylic paints have started to return. In case you are wondering, I do not use oil paints. I don’t like dealing with the solvents and I have no patience with all the drying time involved. I appreciate them and love the blend-ability, but that is where my love for them ends. I may try them again one day and change my mind, but I’m not there yet. 

So, this week I drug out some photos of my kids in the early years and have jumped into portrait painting.  These are still works in progress and there have been several moments of total frustration. I realized today that my easel was turned the wrong way. Once I situated it where the natural light was on the painting life got much better.  Don’t you hate those slap yourself moments? 

Honestly, it is freaking terrifying! I think painting my own kids was a bad decision. I know their faces so well and the events and emotions tied up in these that it makes them harder to paint than someone I don’t know. My next attempts will be of strangers. Do not be surprised if I ditch these and redo them in the future. Overall though I’m getting the feel for this process and I’m not hating these paintings. Practice, practice, practice!


Have a great week and go do something terrifying!

Do not open that door yet!

Why does it seem to be the “simple” things that turn out so difficult?  Monday gave me a false sense of mastery I guess. I managed to get our taxes done without too much pain and agony even with all the life changes this year.

Then Tuesday I decided to upgrade this website to a new and improved version with a new theme and bells and whistles. Let’s see, five and a half hours later I gave up and requested a refund for the upgrades I paid for. Yes, I over estimated my technology skills!

If you have been a reader you may have noticed I did make some changes (and more to come), but nothing major.  Just a slightly different theme.

What I did realize a few days later was that I wasn’t ready for any major changes here yet.  I got ahead of myself.  I had been on a roll with artwork and then putting some work in a consignment shop, then making changes to my Etsy shop.  There hasn’t been enough time for those improvements to kick in yet.

Am I the only one that rushes into things?  I get an idea and run with it before I have thought the process out.  Tuesday was one of those times when the door stayed shut for a reason.  Eventually I would have had to cancel the upgrades because I don’t have the income to support them yet and I’m not sure I would have been able to come back to this free version at that point.

At least I learned how to backup this site so I don’t lose all this valuable (ha, ha) content in case I do something stupid in the future.  One baby step at a time!

I did get in a chicken drawing this week though!  Yes, I’m using my skill with a pen to pacify my bruised ego right now. I think after Tuesday’s debacle I will go draw the rooster too.

hen-drawing

Have a great week and don’t go through any doors you aren’t ready to have slammed behind you!

 

 

 

 

Door photo credit – Adam Birkett

For your viewing pleasure 

Hi Everyone!

I just want to start off by saying how very grateful I am that the election is behind us. I’m not getting into a political statement, but am hoping the worst of the ugliness is behind us. I miss the days when politics and religion were considered inappropriate subjects for conversation and were limited to discussion among family only. Everyone seems to want kindness and understanding and yet dissolve into name calling and tirades. It is just a sad state of affairs.

Moving on to more pleasant things, I thought after last week’s complaining about my painting skills I would do some research. If you haven’t read some of my earlier posts, I should warn you that I am a huge YouTube fan. Actually, I use YouTube as my general TV watching. 

In case you want some instruction to build your skills I am giving you some of my favorite YouTube channels to check out.

Painting, drawing, good advice: I have been following Lachri Fine Art for a while now. I watched and re-watched several of her videos this week. 

Other art sites: I just found these two. Jason Morgan-Wildlife Art and Christopher Lovell. Christopher’s art is very dark and generally not what I am into, but his drawing skills are amazing. Since I tend to love the details I enjoy watching him work. Jason does lovely wildlife paintings, offers reference photos, reviews products and give instruction.  Check out Colour In Your Life for interviews with artists in Australia and New Zealand. 

Here are some of my other non-art related favorite channels (links not included because I’m running out of time this morning): Yoga with Adriene, FitnessBlender, Don The Fat Bee Man and FernDog Training. Trust me, there are many more but my time is limited and I need to save some for later posts.

Here is what is on the drawing board this week. I thought using orange paper was a good idea when I started but WHAT WAS I THINKING? It has been a challenge.


We are experiencing a very dry Fall here. Enjoy the view, but do a rain dance for us please. Our mountains are on fire as I write this. Prayers for the folks having to evacuate their homes would be welcome as well.


Have a lovely week!

Young at brain

I started this post early last week then got caught up in several projects we have going on around here and totally and completely forgot to finish it. Ironic considering the title.

When I am NOT forgetting things, I have been TRYING to keep my brain young. This doesn’t mean taking Ginko supplements (though maybe I should!) or doing Suduko (even my best young brain couldn’t do that).  It means I have been trying very hard to not catch myself saying things like, “when I was young we had more sense than that”, or “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” (Just how old IS that saying? Who even knows what a hand basket is anymore).

I remember hating to hear old(er) people rant and rave about the younger generation as if the young uns just invented stupid. Stupid has been around a long time and is not limited to a post baby boomer age group.

night-skyphoto-1473376701383-7ad74b5611e1

So, I have been trying to look at the world through younger eyes and see what is going on out there. I listen to my kids and other young adults I run across to get a perspective that I do not generally glimpse in my everyday life.

In many ways I think the 20 somethings will be smarter in the long run than my generation. They recently watched their parents navigate the Great Recession and are more careful with their money.  At least my kids have realized that McMansions are not the great investment the Baby Boomers thought they were. They are also much more aware of the environmental impact we are wreaking on earth. They live in a global world. My generation at best had a national world or regional world. Our perspective on life in another country may have come from a pen pal you wrote once a month or saw a little of on the nightly news.  I now keep up with numerous people daily all over our amazing dot via Instagram. How freaking cool is that!

I listen to friends complain about how bad, lazy, uninformed, etc. young people are.  First, I remember how utterly boring the news was until I reached the age of tax paying! Second, I have the amazing pleasure of spending one week each year with high school and college age young adults. In that week they repair around seven homes for people who do not have the financial and/or physical ability to make their homes safe, warm and dry. This is done in 90 degree heat and usually involves mud and bugs as well. And unlike many adults they do not complain!  Five straight days of sleeping in a gym, enduring subpar showers, generally not eating as much as they like and NO COMPUTERS. All this is handled with good humor and patience.

From my perspective, if these amazing young people don’t catch the “we have alway done it this way” disease from us, we have hope for the future. They despise our political system and well they should. Our Constitution has been whittled away at by both parties. Hopefully these bright and compassionate up and comers will clean up the mess.  I don’t believe they are as influenced by money and power.  They have seen what it does to society.

Not only do I want to stay young at heart as the years continue to pile up, but I want to stay young at brain.  I don’t want to shut down fresh ideas or not listen to and consider the views of our younger generations. They have such a different world than the one I came into.  I think it is going to fall on their shoulders to save the human race if the current powers that be don’t destroy it first.

Photo by Tyson Dudley

Curiosity

Dorothy parker quote

I saw this quote on my cousin’s Facebook feed this morning and thought about how true this is.  Curiosity is a blessing and a curse all wrapped up together with the fact that as far as we know, we only get one lifetime.  Personally, I do not have enough time to go down every rabbit hole my curiosity wants to take, but by golly I’m going to try!

A friend asked me recently how I do everything I do.  The answer is “I do lots of things, but not necessarily lots of things well”. That is also a blessing and a curse.

I would love to excel in a couple of areas, but to really do that I would have to give up soooo many other things that I want to do, try, learn, places to visit and explore.  BUT I will admit, quite happily, that I NEVER GET BORED!  Boredom is a waste of your precious life.  Whether it is one passion or a thousand, curiosity is what makes you dig deeper, study more, practice more, give more, smile more and get out of bed with leap instead of a moan.

Another conversation recently was about a wealthy family a loved one spent some time with.  He said, “they have so much money and all they can find to do is sit around and drink every evening, all evening.”  That, my friends, is a waste of a life.  Good heavens, spend some of that money and go travel or see if you can make someone else’s life better with it.  Don’t drink it!

How do you break out of the boredom routine? Let me see if I can give some suggestions if you need help.

  1.  Pick one little subject that you have a speck of interest in and start doing some research.  Not boring classroom research, but real life research. Example:  I started out growing herbs to cook with.  During my Pinterest time I would pin articles about growing herbs and read about them.  Those articles often described the healing properties of herbs and plants.  To make a long story short, I now have started making my own herbal remedies to use and discovering that most of what we call weeds are beneficial plants. This summer I have wandered around learning plant names and properties that I have looked at all my life and knew nothing about.
  2. Take something that you perceive as a need and find a solution.  Example (sorry, I’m using me for all these, but I can’t speak for how other folks find their rabbit holes) – I needed honey. I had always gotten my raw honey from my Dad, but when my sister and brother-in-law started expanding his honey business the honey was often sold out before I could restock my supply.  I realized that now that I live out in the country again I could have bees and have my own honey supply.  Sounds easy enough until you have to research how to keep 60,000 bees alive.  Guess what! Bees are fascinating little creatures. I am now officially a bee fanatic.
  3.  Take a new road. Example – see my post about finding my way around my new part of the world.  I am seriously racking up new ideas for drawings and painting by just turning down a road that I haven’t been down before.  The views here are amazing.  In more populated areas (we don’t have a grocery store here if that explains anything) you could run across a music store where you could learn to play an instrument, a plant nursery where you could get herb plants, a school that would love to have volunteers to help students read.  It is endless.
  4.  This may be the most important one. Do not be afraid to fail at something!  I repeat – DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!  With the possible exception of certain extreme risk taking passions, most endeavors are not life threating and not un-repairable. Yes, one more Example from the home front – Floor tiling.  We decided to tile our floors ourselves.  Since I am the detail person that primarily means ME.  No, I had never stuck the first tile to a floor EVER when I started. That is what YouTube is for.  I am 85% finished with the floor and am pretty darn pleased with the way it has turned out. A professional tile guy could find my mistakes, but I bet you couldn’t.  Even if I had messed the floor up, we had saved enough money by doing it ourselves that we could have hired the tile guy to come fix my mess. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!

My cousin, who posted the above quote, and my sister are both smitten with the curiosity curse as well.  Enter ballroom dancing, photography, welding, raising llamas…maybe it’s a genetic curse.

Curse or blessing, Curiosity just makes life FUN.  If you want a break from the depressing news and elections go find a rabbit hole to fall into.  Your TV will get dusty, Facebook friends will send out a search party and your budget may or may not (curiosity does not have to be expensive) take a beating, but life will get very interesting and colorful and exciting.

Why are you still here?  Go!

 

Impatience and Disappointment

I forgot.  No excuses.  I just forgot to write a post last week.  I remembered on Saturday evening.  It was even on my To Do list and I still forgot.  I will try not to let that happen again…at least not soon.

At my age you would think that I had learned to be patient in how long things take.  Every time I think I have learned that lesson something else comes along to prove otherwise.

Right now I am aggravated in how long it is taking me to get my work space set up and workable.  I make progress, then something needs to be fixed in the house and here comes all the furniture, appliances, boxes, etc. piled back into my office and it clutters my mind as well as the space.

Last week we finally resolved some car issues that took about a month longer than I would have liked.  It all turned out fine, but my impatience stresses me out for no good reason.

I think there is a serious conversation going on here.
I think there is a serious conversation going on here.

I have been “helping” D. train our horse, Bob.  My helping means I hold the rope and pet the horse when he (Bob) gets stressed. I am trying to learn from D’s patience.  It is one TINY step at a time teaching a horse his ground manners and to accept a rider.  Today consisted of just showing Bob the blanket and putting on and taking it off his back, then trying the same thing with the saddle.  Bob was not thrilled with the saddle.  D. would let him smell it, touch it to his side, then walk away with the saddle.  I have no idea how long this process will last until Bob will calmly accept the saddle on his back.  Three weeks ago Bob wasn’t happy about a bit in his mouth either, but now hardly notices it.

So, I’m trying to keep in mind that life is more of a slow, one step forward, two steps back process.  Eventually you get where you want to go, but it is rarely in our perceived timeframe.

This week’s other life challenge is dealing with disappointment.  Disappointment mainly in people.  I have had two incidents where people I have a high regard for have let me down.  I know things happen and I know business decisions are rarely easy, but the customer service has been highly disappointing.  In my business things go wrong also, but I do my best to make amends and resolve the issue that makes the customer, if not ecstatic, at least satisfied that I did my best to help them.  One of these situations will result in me not using the business again, the other I am waiting to see how it plays out.  I hate feeling this way.  I am a peace, love, give a hug person who despises conflict.  Unfortunately, in our flawed humanity conflict is often more the norm.

A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!
A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!

On a brighter note, I have found a tiny bit of space to work on drawing and painting again.  I even managed to dig out the sewing machine and make a cushion cover for a chair that the dogs were beginning to cause damage to with their nails.

Oh, and salsa!  We are making salsa and canning it this week.  That just makes me happy.  Fresh tomatoes turned into salsa that I can eat in February and have a taste of summer all over again.  As Martha says, “it’s a good thing.”

I have a salsa addiction.
I have a salsa addiction.

 

And a little more education

Happy Halfway Through February!  If you read last week’s post you know that I do not like the month of February.  By now I am getting cabin fever and needing Spring badly.

I’m running behind today so this might be short depending on how my morning goes.  Last week I talked about how I seem to be using YouTube often to learn new things.  No tuition required!  That has been continuing into this week as well.  I have been studying how to install tile.  I will let you know how that goes in a few weeks. Prayers requested.

Here is a little watercolor painting I did last week. It is actually a jungle illustration.  I can show you the finished product in March.

Jungle background 2

What else have I done this week? Oh, I fixed one FABULOUS dinner with a honey sriracha sauce.

I IMG_2762have been leery of taking on Asian cooking since a seriously botched Chinese dish about a decade ago that my children still laugh about.  It was so bad that we actually ate grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

Something that has been increasingly on my mind is the state of our planet Earth.  I have no desire to get into the politics of the environment, and I am not a member of any environmental group, but my intuition is ringing loud and clear that we are very likely on the tipping point of saving or destroying ourselves.  I believe the Earth will recover from our selfishness and arrogance, but we probably will not.

My kids have called me their “hippy momma” forever because I have always been the recycling, vegetarian, food-growing kind of gal.  It just seems to be in my DNA to make my lifestyle as earth friendly as I reasonably can.  Not to say I can’t do better.  I am always looking for little tweaks to improve.  So, starting next week I am just going to add to my posts ways to make small lifestyle adjustments or pass along some information that might be a light bulb moment for someone to take action toward healing our home.

We can pass laws and clamor for corporations and governments to do something to stop ruining our earth, water and air, but it will still come down to human beings taking responsibility for their actions each and every day to stop the destruction of ourselves.  No more ignoring the signs of things to come.  Poverty and suffering are only going to get worse if we don’t clean up the water, air and dirt. I have no control over wars starting or ending and am not even sure that the vote I cast in an election counts, but each little effort I undertake at least makes my tiny minuscule drop in the ocean one better drop.

Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine today? Oh, go out and hug a tree.  You will both feel better.

Have a wonderful week!

 

My YouTube University

Hello and welcome!

It is a cold February day here in North Carolina.  For a month that is the shortest it always seems the longest of the year to me.  I endure February.

Currently I am up to my eyeballs in a project that tests and improves my skills every year.  I design the logos for the shows at our local community theatre.  The deadline is very tight for four detailed illustrations and I have to have them finished by this coming Monday! I will show you the finished products after they are announced the end of this month.

I accomplished one longtime goal this past week.  For years (literally) I have wanted to learn surface design for fabric, wallpaper, scrapbook paper, etc.  I just never have had the opportunity/time.  I discovered Spoonflower and their weekly contests a couple of years ago and this year resolved to design a pattern and enter a contest.  Here is my design and voting starts today.  Feel free to cast your vote for it (hint, hint).

Dotty Spots

So how does an old dog with no time learn new skills these days?  youtubeYouTube!  It has become my on call classroom. Here are some of the things I have learned over the past few years (in no particular order) via YouTube:

  • How to change a car battery (saved me $100).
  • How to fix a garbage disposal
  • How to can food from the garden
  • Dog training
  • Organic gardening
  • Photoshop and Illustrator software skills
  • Various and assorted home repair issues
  • Painting and drawing instruction

This week has been a series of YouTube crash courses:

  • Seamless pattern designs in Illustrator and Photoshop for my Spoonflower entry.
  • How to create a neon sign effect in Photoshop
  • More dog training instruction (Odie needs some remedial work on his anxiety problems)
  • Beekeeping 101 (my next endeavor that is coming up fast)
  • Watercolor and acrylic techniques for my logo illustrations

Whew! Yes, my brain is suffering from overload.

Just in case you are interested in any of these, here are some of the subscriptions I have on YouTube.

  • Don The Fat Bee Man (You’re not likely to forget it are you?) – beekeeping
  • Graeme Steveson (Colour in Your Life) – interviews and instructions from artists in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Kikopup – dog training
  • Teela Cunningham – graphic design
  • Spoonflower – pattern design and custom fabric
  • Kristin Crestejo – more dog training (we have issues here that need lots of work)
  • Kelly Eddington Watercolors – painting instruction
  • Katrinah – Website setup and design

There are several more dog trainers and designers, but half the fun of YouTube is discovering all the crazy stuff out there.

I have to get back to work because I have a deadline breathing down my neck and you need to go learn something new, cool and fun!

Have a wonderful week!

Learning to ride and other failures

There are times when I think my life would make a good sitcom.  Have you noticed that what makes us watch TV sitcoms are the things that go wrong in spite of a character’s best attempt at something? Yeah, I have had a few of those moments recently.

If you read my “drilling down” post you know that I am trying to improve my skills in several areas.  So for an update and your amusement, here is how it is going.

Sewing: I thought I was on a roll and got cocky.  My recent attempt at making some stuffed monsters has met with some issues. Minky fabric is NOT my friend and the combination of knit fabric and fabric glue with a sewing machine will make you say bad words.  Check out these eyeballs.  Sad. Just sad.

Monster eyes 2

Painting: I’m not even going to show you my attempts at this yet.  There was a time (about 30 years ago to be exact) when I was fairly proficient with acrylic paint. Colors blended together effortlessly. Light landed where it was supposed to go. Currently I have two paintings that are about to be, to put it kindly, wiped off the face of the earth and recreated again.

Knitting: I’m halfway into ONE sock.  How am I ever going to work up to a sweater if it takes me a month to do half a sock?!

Horseback riding: The upside to the fact that DH never actually carries his phone is that there is no video of the following event.

Bob

We have had some beautiful Fall weather in my part of NC and I was itching to practice my horseback riding skills.  Our resident pasture ornaments include Christy (eldest, most experienced with all skill level riders and most ill natured), KC (former endurance competition horse, laid back personality), and Bob (the teenager, untrained, mischievous, escape artist).

Since Bob isn’t trained yet he was exempt from this excursion and continued to make the pasture look good with his pretty boy self.  DH decided that since KC was “bomb proof” from all his years as an endurance horse that I would be safest on him.  Christy has expressed some “attitude” at times so DH rode her.

The trip started out well enough.  Up the dirt road to the main road.  No one seemed to be having any problems with the cars going by.  Let me stop here and explain that the horses have not been ridden regularly for several years.  They were out of practice as much as I am. As we were cutting through the neighbor’s field I noticed that KC was more interested in eating than hauling my butt around.  It took some effort on my part to keep him moving.

As we continued on KC seemed to be remembering that he enjoyed getting out and picked up his step…to the point that it took some effort on my part to slow him down.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  I have only had the most rudimentary of riding lessons.  Rein right to go right, left to go left, back to stop. That’s it.  On average I ride once every ten years.  No one has ever explained leg pressure or body weight shifts have meaning to a horse. My horseback riding skill is STAYING ON THE HORSE. Period.

KC and DH competed for years in endurance races of 50 to 100 miles.  DH doesn’t even have to use reins for KC to know what he is supposed to do.  And then I come along.  As we rode through the field we passed a small pond surrounded by beautiful Fall color adorned trees and approached a small hill. DH stopped and explained that we were going to work on my riding skill a little by going up the hill and that KC would go uphill a LITTLE faster than a walk so be prepared.  Right. Got it.

After that, it’s all a blur.  I remember shifting in the saddle at the bottom of the hill to brace myself and suddenly KC took off at a full gallop with me hanging on for dear life, screaming as we flew through high grass and trees and headed for the woods.  As we reached the top of the hill I was able to level out enough to pull back on the reins and scream a series of WHOA, WHOA WHOOOOOAAAA’s before we went into the woods and I got taken out by a tree branch (ask me how I know about that)! Finally he stopped.

Without going into all the remaining details I will tell you this much.  I rode Christy back and she tested me in oncoming traffic. Yes, cars, coming by at a high rate of speed.  KC maybe wasn’t trying to abuse me as much as he just hadn’t gotten to stretch his legs in a while and was enjoying some fun.  DH had to do some work to keep KC from letting loose with him, though by unknowingly shifting my weight and loosening the reins, I probably told KC to fly up that hill.

We all made it safely home and my one skill of STAYING ON THE HORSE is still intact! It has been decided that I will be in the riding ring on Christy learning the other skills of horseback riding until I am safe to leave the pasture.  I think there will be a riding helmet involved also, just in case my one current skill leaves me.

I hope my stories of utter failure help you along in any endeavor you may be attempting. Learning and improving is not for the faint of heart!