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!

Disappointed

Hello Everyone! Hope life is good for you as we ramp up speed for 2017. Today I have something on my mind that we all have to deal with and it just isn’t fun.  Disappointment.  There is a good chance that if it hasn’t happened to you yet this early in 2017, then it is lurking just around the corner.

Today I am disappointed and, dang, it’s just a little thing, but it is really eating at me and I can’t figure out why.   Back in December I signed up for a “sew along” event online to a) add some new, much needed items to my pitiful wardrobe and b) to keep my mind and hands busy during the winter.  With the sew along event you get a discount on the patterns that are going to be featured.  Well, come to find out this morning, I did not receive the one main pattern discount code that I wanted.  Evidently, it went out the end of December and the deadline to order was January 1.  Somehow, even though I was registered, the email did not get sent to me.

When I emailed the coordinator of the event she apologized, but said there was nothing she could do until the next coupon codes go out in February or March. MARCH!!  This is for a sweater!  By the time I get it made I won’t be able to wear it because it will be SPRING here!!

Honestly, this is just a minor disappointment…supposedly. Or it should be.  But it has pissed me off all morning, like eating at me.  Why?  Maybe because I have made a commitment this year to look after myself better.  Part of that commitment includes getting rid of the ratty clothes in my closet and adding some nice, very specific pieces back in.  I was looking so forward to making this sweater this month to have to wear for the rest of the winter.  I actually planned for two in two different colors.

sewingmachinedo6lc_sb2eg-theotime-gueneau

I think the other reason is that I gave myself a specific budget on the clothes and now this throws off my budget if I buy the pattern at full price or pick another pattern to make as a substitute while I wait for the new code.  Maybe I’m just disappointed that I’m not going to have that new sweater to wear when I want it.

Yuck, that is probably the root of disappointment. Not getting something you want WHEN you want it and EXPECTING a certain outcome that doesn’t happen.   This past weekend I had a conversation that I EXPECTED to be a fun conversation.  Somewhere along the line it took a turn and I was disappointed in how it all ended.  After half a century of walking and living on this earth, I would think by now I would know how to avoid setting myself up for disappointment.

Should we have EXPECTATIONS? It seems like we should. But why?  Looking back over the past few years there was a time when I let go of expectations and was rarely disappointed.  The downside of that time is it was a very dark chapter in my life and I had experienced one life blow after another to the point that I was frankly afraid to expect anything positive.  Now, life is good and I have let myself fall into looking for certain outcomes evidently.  How do you keep a positive attitude, but without expectations???  Someone more enlightened than me needs to jump into this conversation.  I have had several disappointments recently.  None of them huge or life changing disappointments, but they have caused reactions in me that I did not like so it seems to be a ME problem or one of those times when the universe thinks I need to learn a lesson.  Don’t you just hate those?!

Feel free to add your insights. I’m pretty sure this is a universal problem not just mine, even though it is feeling like it right now.

Have a fabulous week…but don’t EXPECT a fabulous week. 😉

 

Photo credit Théotime Guéneau

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!

Clearing out and passing along

As 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 holds some big changes for me, I am ramping up the never ending clearing out and downsizing that is now in its fourth year.  Who knew this would take so very, very long.

This week I unearthed several half finished knitting and crochet projects along with a pile of yarn and a box full of fabric that has lived with me too long.  What the heck to do with all of it? Most of the projects were started originally to use up all the yarn.  Where the heck did all that yarn come from anyway?  I swear there are inanimate objects that reproduce in my house!

knitting

I have three small blankets very close to being done.  I have piles of bits and pieces of random yarn and the fabric is home décor fabric not suitable for clothing or quilts.  After doing some thinking and research I believe I have a plan. My plan is to finish everything and donate them where they can truly be of some use.  If any of you have similar stashes taking up valuable real estate, I am sharing the links below.

As long as I can remember I have hated wasting anything.  I’m not sure if it was how I was raised or just something I was born with, but along with serving me well during tough times it has also driven me nuts. I am not a hoarder.  If anything, my inclination is toward minimalism, but I will hang on to things I don’t need until I can find a useful end to it. I cannot bring myself to throw something away just because I don’t need it or can’t use it anymore.  Goodwill knows me by name.  It is a rare month that I don’t make a drop off of things I have cleaned out.

So, here I am once again trying to find a creative solution to my yarn/fabric problem. Since this seems to be an ongoing thing for me I have started a Pinterest board called “In need”.  If you want to follow it for ideas of where you can contribute search for “Christel Williams” or “In need” and you should be able to find the board.  If you don’t want to go to that much trouble or are not a Pinterest addict like myself, here are a few links.

The blankets are going to either Project Linus or one of the local hospitals/shelters/churches depending on the size and softness of the yarn.  The random bits of yarn are going to be made into scarves for the local homeless shelters and the fabric will be made into a sleeping bag(s) (see the Sleeping Bag Project below. I love it for its emphasis on recycling).

Knit for Kids

The Sleeping Bag Project

Project Linus

Care Wear

Snuggles Project (for our furry friends)

I have not donated to these organizations before, but am making the links available for you to check out.  There are ALWAYS shelters, churches, groups in your local area that are in need of items.  It does not take much work to find them and they are very appreciative.

Wishing you a generous, productive, healthy, safe, peaceful week!

Christel

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!

 

Drilling down…

I am running late this week.  The past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy.  The work load has picked up as it usually does in the Fall, we have been trying to finish several outside projects at the farm before the weather gets cold (and hunting season kicks into high gear) and we are having our second annual chicken stew on Saturday which takes some prep work as well.  So while I have a few minutes left…

The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.
The new fire pit is one of our recent projects in prep for the annual chicken stew.

I have decided that it is time I got serious about a few things.  If you have read any of this blog you should be getting the idea that I’m serious maybe 20% of the time.  It is not that I don’t take things seriously. I do. But something happens in my brain and often what went in seriously comes out with a warped and amused twist when it exits my brain and oozes down to my fingers or springs from my mouth. Serious stuff has happened over the years and that tends to make me selective about what really is serious.  Did that make ANY sense at all??

Back to where I was going with this.  I can do lots of things.  That is not tooting my own horn, it is just my reality.  I have had to learn how to do lots of things.  Artsy stuff you know about, but I can also do minor car repairs, use power tools and do some basic carpentry, grow my own food, run a business, raise kids safely to adulthood (any parent will tell you that is HUGE), and a ton of other things.  I bet you can as well.

The problem is that I am a jack-of-all-trades but the master of none. Most of what I know I had to learn quickly and “git ‘er done” on the fly.  Even the subjects I wanted to explore and learn more about I have not had time to.  Then there is that Creative Attention Deficit Disorder.  Surely I am not alone in this.  You are starting a new creative venture and loving it.  About half way in you are doing some research and come across some new cool thing and BAM, you drop the first or thirtieth project and dive into the new one. This is actually how studios and storage units are acquired.

So now that life no longer includes sitting beside a soccer field for days on end or attending numerous networking meetings per week, I THINK I have time to begin drilling down on some skill set improvement.  Number One – I need to do some concentrated drawing and painting again.  You use it or lose it.  Number Two – Improve my sewing.  Actually I have been doing pretty good on this one.  I have made myself several pieces of clothing lately.  I will do a post on those soon.  Number Three – I can’t just sit and watch TV or a movie. I have to do something. That something is usually knitting or crochet, but I have never challenged myself with much more than simple scarves, prayer shawls and the occasional fingerless gloves.  Now I want to tackle socks.  Why socks you ask?  Because I need them and because sock yarn comes in luscious colors so I will have a reason to buy it.  Number Four – I will soon become mama to three horses. I don’t know squat about horses.  Guess it is time to get some horse sense.

So those of you who patiently read this rambling of mine each week, please keep me accountable.  Heck, join me and let me know what you are working on and we can help each other.  I’m going to need help badly.  In the Spring I am getting married (yeah!) and that means ANOTHER move, plus we are remodeling his house extensively starting NOW (that should give me plenty of blog posts and new DIY skills).

Wishing you a wonderful week!

My new baby

Meet my new baby, Georgina. I have no idea why I named her Georgina.  It just popped into my head and I like it.

sewing machine 2

My old sewing machine, had I named it, would have been Dinosaur, reached the point of no repair recently.  I never figured out how to use the 25 or so stitches it supposedly could do and he (yes, it was a “he”) was down to only a straight stitch when his parts became un-replaceable. If you know about sewing machines, they generally last for decades before you can’t get parts for them anymore.  Dinosaur was used when I got him, so I’m estimating his age to be around 30ish.

In the past I have been a sporadic seamstress.  As a child I got extensive training on a sewing machine from my Mom, a sewing class she signed me up for and in Home Economics (yes, I am that old).  Thanks to a very complicated dress that I made in Home Ec. I burned out on clothing at an early age and limited my sewing to home décor.  Straight lines as much as possible.

Recently there must have been a planetary shift. Just as my Dinosaur was reaching the end of his life, I began to want to sew again. Clothes, for heavens sake! Then, another strange occurrence happened. A friend rescued piles and piles of upholstery fabric samples from her neighbor’s trash heap.  Perfectly good fabric! Going to the dump! She offered it to all her crafty sewing friends.  By the time I reached the pile several folks had picked over it and there were only four, WAIST HIGH, piles left.  I got a few armloads into my car and headed home.  Before I got half way there, I heard that voice.  You know, the one that you know you are going to listen to, but will live to regret listening to? “Take it all” it said. “Four WAIST HIGH piles of upholstery fabric?” I asked. “You know I live in a two bedroom townhouse, right?” I told it.  “Ah, but you have a storage unit you just cleared your daughter’s stuff out of.” it reminded me.  Well, darn, who can argue with that!

So, I drag my boyfriend and his Ford 350 truck to my friends house and loaded up the fabric and refilled my storage unit. Now I have to make stuff. Lots of stuff!

As for my suddenly wanting to make clothes, I have a secret.  I primarily work from home (I really need to write a post explaining my work life), but regularly need to go see my clients.  After six years of working from home I have discovered that my brain functions better when I am in my pajamas.  This should be scientifically studied.  I have talked to other work-at-home folks and listened to many podcasts & interviews with work-at-home folks. I am not alone in this.  Thousands, maybe millions of us are cranking out some major productivity in our PJs every single day! Now, my secret is…that I want my professional clothes to be as comfortable as my pajamas, but still be socially acceptable in a business office.

“Impossible!” you say? Ah, I have to argue that point. Now, granted, the typical banker’s business suit will never work, but I am a creative person in a creative business.  People cut you some serious slack for that.  We can get away with outfits that most people can’t.  After many hours of Pinterest research (you have no idea how good I am at that) I think I have put together a versatile wardrobe of super comfy clothes that can go from my living room sofa to an attorney’s office without a single cocked eyebrow. Unfortunately, these clothes only come as sewing patterns in my budget.

And that, my friends, is where Georgina will work her magic! Oh, and a few million yards of upholstery fabric that she has to deal with.  I promise to post pictures of the process and the finished products.  In my happy place, all this goes very smoothly…..