Friday, January 30, 2009

Lots done this evening. I didn't plan on doing anything. I planned to sit on the couch and watch Monk and Psych. But I got restless and decided to follow up on that idea I had a while back to knit some wrist warmers. I found another another pattern I liked - this one - from A Friend To Knit With. They're beyond simple, which is what I like about them. There was another pattern on her site for warmers with thumb holes but I liked that these could be slid up and down for different levels of warm. And I figured I'd have something in my yarn stash that would work. But it could never be as simple as that for me - have an idea, do it. Nope. Not in my play book.

With a couple minutes before Monk was about to begin, I skipped off to the studio to find a nice color yarn and the requested size 7 double pointed needles. Or something close to size 7 at least. I have a whole ton of DPN's, I always pick up needles at the thrift shop whenever I see them. (Still, it never fails the pattern I decide on requires the ONE size I don't have in that particular type of needle- circular, straight, double pointed).

Well, yes, I do have an awful lot of knitting needles. The straight and circular ones are all sticking out of a big old pitcher on the shelf, like a colorful bouquet of slim alien flowers. But unbeknownst to me, my DPN's were..... someplace else.

I spent almost two hours in the studio (fortunately I have a small television in there so I didn't miss my shows - whew!), looking for the elusive someplace else. When the obvious someplaces didn't turn up anything small and pointy, I started in on the stack of still unsorted crap and figured I might as well sort it while I was digging through it.

I didn't find the needles but I got a lot of things sorted. If I look for my needles long enough, I might manage to clean my entire studio. And then, of course, go to the store to buy the #7 double pointed needles.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Never ending photo ops wandering through the "folk art" - or it it just bizarre art - or is it art at all - at a place called Thunder Mountain far out in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere (aka Nevada). I had a lot of fun taking these (and many many other) photos last fall. I'll let you judge for yourself.

(I really have to change this blog template to a more photo friendly format. For now, click on the horizontal photos and they'll pop up without the right edge cut off.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dang! I got sidetracked with writing over on Beach Treasure and then one of my favorite old movies came on the telly, and now I can't remember what I was gonna say here! Something witty and wise, surely. But now it's gone.

I can't keep up with the OWOH participants - they're breeding faster than rabbits! But that's not to say I'm not trying. I'm finding so many NEW bloggers this year, blogs full of inspiration and ideas and laughter and insightful perspectives. I'm having to make hard decisions about how much time I have to visit, but I'm still adding a lot of new names to my Bloglines list. I really should get more of my favorite blogs listed here on my sidebar so you can visit them too, but it's so easy to use the feeds over on Bloglines, I'm spoiled. I've also gotta figure out how to add one of those Blogger's Followers widgets to my sidebar. My Settings tab doesn't give me the right options. One more thing I've got to get to. Eventually. After I get around to six zillion must-do's. Taxes. Erg. I don't even want to type that much less do them. Do all the prep work for our sewer pipe to be fixed. It's cold outside! I want someone else to do it - WAH!

I lost most of the weekend to a migraine but I finally picked myself up, dusted myself off, and tested my eyeballs on sunshine today. It didn't attack me. Knock on wood. (Is this how vampires feel - always scurrying around worried a little ray of light is gonna make their head explode?) So I went back to working in the studio tonight. The problem with making surprises there is that, well, they have to stay surprises. For awhile. So, no photos. Instead, I'll share this one, from my garden: (click to enlarge it)

I don't know why, but I really love this photo. It's almost a sepia straight from nature. What about that little stick poking in horizontally? I'm not sure if that adds to the photo or distracts from it. It would make a nice background for.... something. Not sure what yet. I saw some really great monotone works on..... dang, I wish I could keep track of the blogs I visited tonight. I won't remember 'til I get back to visiting them again. But hey, what are you doing still hanging out here. You can go visiting yourself - just click on the OWOH button in the sidebar.

Me, I'm not gonna make it to the end of the movie. Yawwwwn. Good thing I know whodunit. But I'm still gonna have the music in my head for days. Here's a sample of it with some great visuals:

And if you're still crushing on the new man in office, check out this Obama, Louisiana style!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Several bloggers I visit regularly, as well as many others I do not have the pleasure (or time, sigh) to read, are participating in an online book club that revolves around working through the questions and challenges presented in this book - 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women. I'm not participating because I'm trying to stay with my gut feeling that to be successful, this is a year to keep my focus on private goals and not allow myself to take on more as a way of not completing the projects and tasks I've got queued up in my life already.

Last week I was digging through my Flickr photos trying to find something to fit that week's theme for a Flickr challenge group I participate in - Shades of Inspiration - when I stumbled upon this image.

It's a photo from a portion of the Lammas altar below the stage at last year's Faerieworlds. I thought it fit the theme of "Fire and Ice" because the faery in the card looked sort of icy in color, as did the background cloth with it's pale sparkles, so it was one of several cards that I shared. Afterwards I kept stumbling upon references to the the oracle cards that I knew this card came from, because I own them - The Faeries' Oracle by Brian Froud and Jessica MacBeth. (Here's a great review of the cards.) After the third or fourth stumble.... okay, okay! I know when I'm being sent a message! I took my cards and book off the shelf and looked up the meaning.

She is card #36, Spirit Dancer. You can see an online page of her reading here, but I'll quote the short reading quip from the site and from the book below:

Starter Reading: Now is the time to focus and really concentrate on a project or process, especially one involving the creative arts. Spontaneity balanced by self-discipline will help us achieve our goals. Strive for elegance and simplicity. This is a time to bring out and share qualities that we have nurtured in private.

I also liked this wee bit from the longer description in my book:

"She also is very enthusiastic about helping us to learn to dance well with the faeries, if we don't already know how. And if we do know how, she would still be delighted to dance with us just for the fun of it. Step out boldly!"

I thought that the card's message, or rather, this particular faery's message, was spot on. It explained the overwhelming desire I've had to dance about the house recently. Like a small child who wants your attention, it feels like tiny hands pulling my cheeks around and making me look again at the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year, the goals I've already found myself straying from. And it reminded me a lot of the sort of messages bloggers who were participating in the 12 Women/Book Club were posting. And just like that I knew what I wanted to do. Instead of using that book to help guide me (although I have ordered it at the library to read), I'm going to put the faeries in charge this year.

I'll consider this card my first reading and work on the suggestions set forth in it. Instead of going at a weekly pace (the book club is doing a chapter per week), I think it's more realistic to try to absorb and work with each of my messages for about a month. I'll aim for one card reading per month although I'll follow my intuition as to when it's time for a new card, so it might be a little faster or a little slower, depending on what the faeries have to say to me.

If anyone else wants to "play" - with me, and with the faeries, I'd love to follow along on each person's journey. If I get even a couple of you who are interested, I'll make us up a little button for our sidebars and keep track of your links in mine so we can all visit each other. If you own the cards, or buy them, great! But you can play even if you don't have your own copies, as the starter readings (and of course your own intuition) are available online here.

And now, to point out the triad of key points from what Spirit Dancer had to say - spontaneity, self discipline (I love the idea that these two things can play together instead of being in opposition to each other) and "to bring out and share" - means I will be off to my studio to create.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm not in the studio the last few days because I've spent most of the last couple of days bopping around the blogiverse visiting folks who are participating in the One World - One Heart Blogger's Open House. (See the post below or click on the button in the sidebar) Lots of fun but very time consuming. I was expecting to know a lot of the bloggers and while I do know some, I'm surprised at how many new bloggers (or new to me bloggers) I am meeting. I'm doing more than zipping in and out, I'm trying to get a feel for those blogs that look interesting, so I'm traveling very slowly. This could make it hard for me to get anything done in "the real world" for the next couple of weeks!

It's been rainy and gray lately. I went out to the library today and noticed the snow level was only about 50 - 100 feet up the hillsides, real close. I'm glad it's rain and not snow on the valley floor though. I'm digging it. It's hot tea, warm cuddly sweater, good book weather.

But I did brave the wet for a few minutes today. I'm fascinated with the sparkling raindrops clinging to branches outside my window. I think I needed to go in search of better choices to get any truly amazing images, but I did like the ones I shot. Check this one above out in a larger size (click on it). See the branches in the background duplicated in their entirety and upside down in the left rain drop? Talk about catching lines in a photo!

Here's another one - an entire branch encased in a single drop on a single needle.

This raindrop doesn't hold anything identifiable but I liked the photo because the branch tip reminds me of a paw holding a bubble of water. A tree paw.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


It's time for One World - One Heart again! I had so much fun visiting everyone last year. I'm off to a late start, a couple days behind the bulk of the crowd, but that's okay, I'll be spending lots of time catching up with my visiting after I get my posts up tonight. For those of you unfamiliar with this lovely blogging tradition, for several years now Lisa Oceandreamer has hosted a blogging "Open House" where you can go around and meet and greet blogging friends new and old. And just to make the trip even more exciting, at each stop each participant is hosting a give-away. So, click on the Button above (or the one in my sidebar) to start your trip around the blogisphere.

But wait, don't leave yet! Take a look at what I have to give-away here at the studio. The main prize is this hodge podge of craft supplies for your creative pleasure. You can click on the photo to enlarge it and get a better look.

Here's a close up of the wee things in the box you see in the bottom right corner above.

I'll also pull two more names and and each will receive one of these celtic design window clings.

All you need to do to win is leave a comment on THIS post. Make sure your name links back to you or that I have some way to reach you by internet. The drawing will be February 12 and I'll reach you by e-mail or by leaving a comment on your blog.

I'm also participating over on Beach Treasure. Go check out who you can win by commenting there. (Who? Yes, Who!)

And most importantly, after the whirlwind of visiting everyone, I hope you'll return for a more leisurely visit so we can get to know each other better. It helps to bookmark or sub to my main blog URL.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The good (if slightly unbelievable) news:

I was working in the studio all evening. Not on cleaning the studio but on an actual project in the studio. Yah me!

The bad (well, not bad as much as frustrating) news:

I'm working on one of the Yule gifts that I didn't find time to make before Yule so I can't show you anything until it's finished, mailed, and opened.

Argh. I guess the only thing I can do is hurry up and get it done. And remember to take photos before I send it off. I hate when I forget. Do you ever do that?

So instead I'll share something else. I took this photo at this bizarre cool place in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Nevada desert this last autumn. I never got around to sharing that story. Hmmm. But this photo caught my eye today because it reminded me of the photos I shared a couple posts ago about lines.

This image is chock full (where did that saying come from?) of texture but taking center stage is the "negative lines" in white on the black burned wood. More lines in the broken up grasses and tumbleweeds. I like the little iron "T" too. And the way the thin "striped" grill and the length of old chain balance each other out on opposite top corners. It would be better if you could see this image in a larger format but for some reason my flickr account won't let me upload these in a "click to enlarge" version.

Anyone take any "line" photos to share yet?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The other day I wrote about "envy" and how I tended to turn it inward and feel a sense of unworthiness, a "why bother" attitude. Lately I've been dwelling in my head, in my imagination walking the streets of Paris and wishing I was tucked away there in a high studio, or a corner table of some friendly cafe, using this dark cold January to write words of wisdom or sketch street scenes. Of course a tiny muse by the name of Practical, forced to live in a dusty attic of my brain, still has enough strength to holler down the steps that I could be writing those words or sketching those street scenes here, where I am now. Other parts of me - Procrastination, Doubt, Distraction, Envy - they're all gathered together round the table in the main dining room and they're making shooshing sounds and waving Practical's suggestions away. "It just isn't the same" they moan and go back to drinking their tea and wistfully wishing they were someplace else.

I was going through Paris photos today to put up on Beach Treasure and I opened this one. She's a beautiful angel pouring holy water into a fountain. She lives in a small church just across a park corner from the entry to the Abbesses metro station. Eventually I'll be craving some color but right now I'm pondering the peacefulness of this grey month, and so being in the right frame of mind, this peaceful stone being decided to speak to me.

Doesn't she look peaceful at her task? Doesn't she look as if she's been doing this same task for thousands of years and perfectly willing to continue doing so for thousands of years more? Maybe it's because I know she's tucked away in a quiet corner of Montmartre, home of so many artists and muses, that I see her as a muse in disguise, forever pouring fresh, pure creativity into the basin of life, free for everyone's use.

Think of all those artists and writers and poets who gathered together and dipped into this source in their lifetime. Did they look at each other and suspect that the others were taking more than their share? Did they compare their work? Did Manet say or think "Why bother!" when he say what Monet or Degas had already done? Did they see their work as the same or did they think of themselves as creating different visions? Did they inspire and encourage each other? We look backwards in time now and gather them all together as under "Impressionists" but at the time it was happening, did it feel new? Did it feel like a free for all? Did it feel like the same ol' stuff or did it feel like stepping off the edge? They didn't have the hindsight yet to know that their work would launch a new era of art. They could only paint blind to what the future would say about their work, if it said anything at all.

I'm rambling a bit here (a bit!? Shuddup!) but to wrap it all together I look at that angel and she says to me - "Look, there's nothing to worry about. The water is here. It's always here. It's here now or it's here later. It's here for you and it's here for anyone. It can't run dry no matter how many people dip into it. All those noises, all those distractions are nothing. They are outside thick, brick walls. They are outside of you. I reside inside - inside this church, inside this well, inside this dream, this forest, this moment - where it is always cool and quiet and waiting for you to fill with your own creations."

More Paris photos on Beach Treasure today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I've been trying to walk regularly now that the ice and snow is 99% melted away. I always bring my camera. I haven't found a lot that's caught my eye to photograph yet but y'know the ol' Boy Scout's motto - Always Be Prepared.

When the sun shines it's easy to forget it's still deep winter. But looking over the bridge railing down into the river, the reflection in the water is definitely wintry and cold. When the sun sets, any warmth in the air disappears immediately.

Winter is a time of living "close to the bone" in more ways than one. It pares nature down to her bones. By late winter I miss the green of summer with a physical ache. But I'm not there yet. I'm still enjoying the beauty of the skeletal trees against our big western skies. It makes me think of pen and ink drawings. How different techniques create a different mood.

Here delicate lacy downward strokes are beautiful but appear fragile, wistful and sad.

Bold, dark strokes slashing upward steal the scene with their confident, in-your-face attitude. I think these branches look like a trio of punk serpents with wild mohawks. What do you see?

And some lines surprise. The dark geometric pattern should be the first thing we notice but for me, instead, I notice the whimsical scribbling of the vine against the sky. Second, I notice the constrast between the curves and the straight lined grid.

I'd love to see what sort of "bare bones" you can find where you live. I have an assignment for folks. Grab a jacket, go out into the cold (or not, depending on where you live) and take some photos, sketch a scene, capture some moment. Maybe even turn it into something in your studio space. Then put it up on your blog and let me know. I'll stop by and see.

More winter pics up at Beach Treasure today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I've been tagged by Sarah of Circles of Rain for a six question meme.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you (as I did above).
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell 6 things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 other bloggers by linking to them.
5. Go to each person's blog and leave them a comment to let them know they've been tagged.

I'm glad to play, at least in part. In part? Well, I'll explain that at the end. But first, six things about myself. Should I make them artsy things?

1. I had to learn to like the color purple (hmmm, the color purple - GREAT book). I think I had an aversion to it because I thought of it as a frou frou color - the way some folks have an aversion to pink for the same reason. Oddly, I've never disliked pink. I dislike dressing little girls in nothing BUT pink but that's a different thing altogether. In moderation, now and again, I like pink a lot, bring it on from pale shell to hot flamingo! Purple, not so much. Lavender, periwinkle (is that a blue or a purple?) were fine. Just not dark purples. I think I also associated them with crazy, flamboyant old ladies. Maybe something that stuck in my head from the 60's or maybe from that wonderful poem "When I am An Old Woman" - which to my mind has been misused now that all those Red Hat ladies are wearing it to be the SAME instead of DIFFERENT - misses the point entirely to my mind - but I digress. I learned to like it when I started quilting. And I learned to like it in the garden, especially when combined with orange. And then I started to notice it as a wonderful addition to an autumn palette. Ripe purple grapes are just as symbolic of the turning of the wheel as colorful leaves.

2. I idolized my eccentric bohemian artist of an aunt when I was little. She encouraged me in my artistic pursuits. I remember her taking me and my efforts far more serious than my parents did (which is probably true of a lot of adults who aren't yet parents themselves - they interact with children in a different and intriguing way) and her cluttered book filled house seemed exotic and sophisticated to me. Sadly like many bohemians, she fell victim to the darker side of the lifestyle - instability, mental illness, drugs. I don't really know her entire story but, as I grew older, she fell off the pedestal I'd placed her on more and more frequently. I felt bitter and angry and betrayed by her refusal to stay up there. These many years later I have a greater understanding of her struggle for balance and acceptance in a more judgemental and restrictive generation and a bittersweet affection for her influence on me. I wish her muse had won out over her monsters. I believe her son went on to live an artistic but more balanced life. We've lost touch. Last time I saw him was decades ago. I should try to find and contact him.

3. I do my best thinking for writing when I'm driving. Of course the problem with that is I can't watch the road, hold the steering wheel, talk on my cell phone, hold my Starbucks, AND type on my laptop all at the same time. Okay, I'm being silly. It is hard to hold on to exact wording but it's still a great time and place for plot and character development.

4. In my twenties I landed a job as a graphic artist for a paper company. I don't remember exactly what products they made but I think it was newsletters, stationary, business cards, etc. In hindsight, it would have been a foot in the door for a career in that direction. It wasn't to be however as I quit after a week because the "art department" was only a partitioned off area in the printing warehouse and I just couldn't handle the high noise level from the machines.

5. When I was in.... oh, fourth grade through seventh maybe?... I used to draw horses ALL THE TIME. Any stance, any breed, any size. I was really good at it. I tried to draw one recently and a lot of the technique came back to me automatically but still, it wasn't as easy as I rmember it being. I guess that just proves that practice really does make a difference. Well, duh. But I think we forget that sometimes.

6. When I was a teenager my mom let me paint an mural in my sister's bedroom that filled one entire wall and wrapped around a second. It was a forest scene with trees, a deer, bunnies.... don't remember what else. My mom has a picture or two of it in a box somewhere. It's long gone now. Probably painted over shortly after my mom sold the house.

Now the part that I don't play. I don't tag forward as I never know who would love to play and who would groan at the idea. But if you'd like to be tagged and play, just let me know and I'll add a link to you here on the bottom of this post and then come see what six things you come up with about yourself - it's harder than you think!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This is a sign in our uptown. Well, two HALF signs. It always makes me chuckle because even though there's only part of each sign left, it's still easy for my brain to read. Is it easy for everyone's brain? Or just a crazy artistic type brain? It reminds me of an Exquisite Corpse.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I kept meaning to show you one homemade gift I managed to finish in time for the holidays. Well, I finished it by the time Joli showed up for New Year's and opened her Yule gifts. It's an old fashioned felt board. Do you guys remember those? And the smaller version of the same play idea - those plastic cling sets about the size of a board game you could buy in a box? I loved those things when I was a kid. I particularly remember I had a Wendy the Weather Girl one.

I covered a bulletin board with felt (which ended up being a lot easier than I thought it was gonna be - whew) and then started cutting out shapes and figures. The only felt I could find in town (remember we were snowed in) was a brand made out of recycled plastic. Not very natural but cool in an ecological way. My main concern was, were the shapes gonna stick to each other like the felt I remember from my childhood?

As you can see, they did stick! And Joli really liked it. She got distracted from her other gifts for quite a long while to play with it until Lisa, who wanted her to finish up so she could open some of her own gifts, encouraged her to get back to unwrapping things.

Here's another photo that shows a few of the more complex shapes I made. There were more but they were in a little box. I couldn't resist making the mushroom and the snowman, although I wondered if Joli would be able to resist picking the white dots off the mushroom (like she picked the white dot marshmallows off her birthday "mushroom" cupcakes) or the black "coal" off the snowman. She couldn't resist, but it didn't really matter as the glue hadn't worked well anyway and they were falling off on their own. Lisa made them disappear until she's a wee bit older.

Lisa is going to hang it on the wall of her bedroom (or maybe her little craft area in the living room?) I hope it continues to hold her attention at home. If so, I'll make her some more figures for it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Speaking of unique personal style, I love this photo I took of my granddaughter Nonny last week. She might appear to be sitting on a bench in a small town pizza restaurant but clearly she's visiting royalty or a glamorous star who just happens to be gracing all us yokels with her presence.

You may recall that some time last year, so long ago that I can no longer recall exactly when, but I think it was midsummerish, I joined a blogging community called Wardrobe Refashion Challenge. The challenge - one would not buy new clothing for a period of two, four, or six months, depending on your personal commitment. I jumped in with a six month pledge and a lot of doubt that I'd manage to make it through the first week.

Well, I did. I made it through the first week, the first month, the entire six months - or whatever it's been. I think longer than that because I just checked back in with the website and find sign ups have come and gone for the next round several times.

I did have one slip. I bought a new $5 tee at Target out of their annual Halloween prints. I knew it was unique and that I'd wear it a lot. I forgot to put up my "Get Out of Jail Free" card here acknowledging my purchase, but that's okay. I got one card for every two months I pledged and I only ever needed it that one time. AWESOME ME.

Actually, the longer I went, the easier it became not to buy anything. I'm not a crazy wild woman shopper or anything, but I am armed with disposable income and in the past I tended to come away from any shopping trip with a bag or two on my arm. Probably the only thing that stopped me from being one of those crazy women shoppers is that most shopping opportunities are geographically so far away that it's a lot of trouble to get to a store - except the local Walmart, and how exciting can that be.

Not only did it become easier to resist, it felt good not to buy anything. I was surprised that there were only a handful of times I was ever seriously tempted and each time I walked away without a purchase and was glad of it later. Not buying clothes also made it easier to restrain myself with other impulse buying. I made a personal commitment not to add to my fabric stash as well. I didn't do as well on that pledge - I bought a few fat quarters a couple of times - but I did resist 90% of the time. In fact I bought a lot less of everything and anything and find life not only still goes on, it's wonderful not to have new clutter and bags to deal with all the time. I missed the deadline to sign up again for the Refashion Pledge, but I'm still pledging to myself to make most of my future shopping of the window shopping variety.

The rest of the Refashion Pledge story, one pledged not to buy new clothing, but also to buy used or use what was in your wardrobe and refashion into something new. I do love thrift shop shopping - it's like treasure hunting - although I've even found myself reluctant to bring home more wardrobe in this way. I'm too lazy to even hem a pair of pants or replace a button on a cardigan so I didn't do much refashioning, except for my faery garb.

Creating my faery outfits turned out to be a lot of fun though and I think the new year will find me experimenting with refashioning some clothes for unique everyday wear. Everyday but not ordinary - that's what I'm thinking. I'm too worried about ruining something perfectly wearable in my wardrobe so I'll probably have to do some thrifting to find something I wouldn't wear as is to safely refashion - or destroy. We'll see.

Surfing for refashioning hits on the net, I came across this interesting blog.

And speaking of free thinking fashion, I stole this pic from my daughter-in-law's blog. It's Joli. A sad Joli, for what reason I know not. Probably because she couldn't have a cupcake or go bye-bye or some other two year old tragedy. But look at her outfit - footie pajamas, not one but TWO tutus, and fairy wings. Now that's personal style.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life

I went to the bookstore yesterday to find a new family appointment calendar. They didn't have anything left but really fancy, expensive ones. Every year I always spend a lot of effort finding a calendar with photos we really like and then we flip the pages over and never look at the photos. So I decided to be practical this year. After not finding anything with enough space to write the schedules of three people in, I went to Walmart and bought a cheap one with no photos for four dollars.

But, not to waste a trip to the bookstore, I browsed through the store, digging in sections I don't normally frequent, and found a few new/used books, including the one above - Writing Past Dark by Bonnie Friedman. It's a little book. Although it's about writing, the words could apply equally to any artistic endeavors.

I've read the first chapter already and it's about Envy. I kept reading it thinking "Well, I don't get envious. This chapter doesn't apply to me." And to a certain degree, that's true. I've learned through the years that I don't tend to get as jealous or envious of other people's success as I notice other people can be. I don't think this is because I'm a better person in some way except perhaps in getting to the age where I have a larger perspective on things.

If someone else has artistic success than I have to be honest and realize that usually it's because they did the work and I didn't. By that I mean the hard work behind the success. The hours. The sacrifices. The selling themselves. The drudgery and focus that comes before the published book or gallery showing. I have a number of very successful (in different ways) friends, almost all of them are very Type A. I know I will NEVER be that driven. I can't envy the success if I don't also desire the intensity at which they choose to live their lives.

I also know that no life is perfect. I don't envy someone success in one aspect of their lives because I have seen too many times that it doesn't translate into success in other aspects of life. You can be a successful artist and feel like a failure in your relationship with your children. Or your marriage. You can have a book published and still be drowning in debt. Or have health issues that aren't fixable. You can be a recognizable name and still feel all alone and without friends in the world.

Too, success is subjective. There's always someone thinking they wish they were as successful as you while you desire to be as successful as the person you perceive as being ahead of you while that person is thinking they need to catch up to the person in front of them!

But upon more reflection, I realized that even though envy doesn't manifest in a jealous form for me, I do struggle with it. I just turn it inward instead of outward. I go into a big bookstore, look at the thousands of shelves, the millions of books, and think "Why should I write a book!? Every possible way to say something has already been said. There's no possible story left to write!" Or I think of a great new idea I want to try out in the studio until I pick up the latest paper art magazine and see a feature article showing another artist who's beat me to it. And they did a better job. I didn't think of adding texture. Sigh. Or I browse through a fabric catalog and realize that unless someone invents a brand new color, there's nothing new under the sun left to combine.

I turn envy into depression. An far less amusing version of Eeyore's self effacing "Why bother..." and "No one will notice me." Age has brought me a more positive perspective when relating to other people, but it's also broadened my perspective in a negative way. When I was younger I knew far less about.... everything. I knew less about art, about how business worked, about psychology, about publishing. Looking back, knowing less was a wonderful shield against feeling overwhelmed. If I had a good idea, I jumped on it with enthusiasm. If I wanted to do something, I started in with the assumption that I would be successful. And more often than not, perhaps not oddly, I was!

I can remember when the innocence that protected my optimism first started to wear thin, when it started to dawn on me that maybe things shouldn't be as easy as all that. That not everyone was successful. That maybe I wouldn't always be successful! And that was when I started to stumble, when I began to second guess myself, when I wondered if my confidence was misplaced. I began to question whether I truly was skilled enough, experienced enough, to do the things that only moments earlier had seemed as easy as play.

Now, life is more complicated than anything I can say right now to wrap things up with a miraculous, amazing affirmation. Life takes detours for a number of reasons. People succeed or don't succeed for reasons both inside and outside of themselves. But, it's still interesting to pause and remember that sometimes our own thoughts and reactions are our worst saboteurs. What could we do, what could we create, if we'd just get out of our own way for awhile? What can I do, what can anyone do, to reclaim the perspective that the world is full, not of risks, but of opportunities?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

With everything that the holiday brings, as well as unexpected non-holiday issues like sick and high need pets and plumbing problems, I haven't posted for .... ack! Two weeks! Well, perhaps everyone else was busy too and didn't notice my absence.

So now, I'm back and well, will you look at that - it's a new year! Dang, I really should have posted on New Year's Eve so I could have made some joke about "see you next year". Missed it.

I'm blessed with a studio, really an extra bedroom. It's rather large and it serves multi-purposes. Not only are all my art and crafting supplies and work space within it's walls, it's also my library, my office, my coat and costume closet, and most important to this conversation, it's also the guest bedroom. The disadvantage to that last use is that when we have company or family visiting, it almost always means any crafting or creating comes to a screeching halt.

And so it did this December once the holidays went into high gear. I forgot to factor that into my giftmaking plans. Several people will be receiving their gifts sometime .... soon. Soon being a relative term. Hopefully, soon soon. Right now I'm back at square one trying to reclaim my space and clear work space once again.

Which brings me 'round to a New Year's resolution. Maybe I should call it a goal. Or a priority. Whatever I call it, it's this - I need to find a balance between decluttering so I have room to create and not using the clutter as an excuse not to move forward with my creative plans.

I've been ping ponging back and forth between the two goals so often and so quickly, I never stick to either long enough to make enough of a difference to move the balance. It's been a stand off for several years now. Not that I don't get any mess cleaned up, I do. Over and over again. Not that I don't get anything created, I do that too. It always comes as a surprise to me when I actually manage it, but it does. The frustration is that I spent far more time doing neither or frittering or stuck somewhere in between the two.

I'm not sure what the solution is - tomorrow is my first personal post holiday day. I'll be taking down decorations and mulling over my options.

I guess it'll help to state my goals more succintly here. It's late and my brain is a bit fuzzy but here goes:

1. I want to make MORE art. Hmmm. Yeah. I guess it really is that simple. I don't really care what I make as much as I care about making it.
2. I want to make my creative space more organized.

I guess I do have a couple more specific goals as well -

3. I want to try my hand at more paper and assemblage art.
4. I want to go to at least one creative workshop or retreat this year. Anyone have any ideas on one (hopefully not too far travel distance) they would recommend?
5. I want to refashion some of my clothing (and costumes for Faerieworlds) and make wearable art.
6. Probably a goal on everyone's list - I'd like to finish up the most guilt producing of my unfinished projects.
7. I remembered one more - I want to look into local college classes to see if I can find one that will help me learn more photo shop skills. If that doesn't pan out then I simple want to learn some new computer photo manipulation techniques.
8. Oops, I lied. One more. I'm toying with the idea of starting an Etsy shop. Not that I have anything to put into it. But if I make art, I need to be responsible and find good adoptive homes for it, don't I?

Of course I have hopes and goals in other areas of my life as well so I'll be happy if I make even small strides in my list. Or big strides in just a few of them. It's sort of exciting, isn't it, standing at the start of a new year when the year is fresh and full of possibility!?

Do any of you have creative goals for the new year? Do you set specific goals? Plan general directions or themes? If you post about it on your blog, let me know so I can come visit.